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Students' adoption of course-specific approaches to learning in two parallel courses
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Work and organizational psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Work and organizational psychology.
Number of Authors: 2
2016 (English)In: European Journal of Psychology of Education, ISSN 0256-2928, E-ISSN 1878-5174, Vol. 31, no 2, 209-223 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research on students' adoption of course-specific approaches to learning in parallel courses is limited and inconsistent. This study investigated second-semester psychology students' levels of deep, surface and strategic approaches in two courses running in parallel within a real-life university setting. The results showed significant differences in course-specific adoption regardless of approach. However, the strategic approach seemed more stable. Sub-groups of students exhibited substantial variation: more than half of the students adopted similar approaches in both courses while large minorities showed great variability. Students scoring low on the surface approach, high on the deep approach or high on the strategic approach to learning were flexible in adopting different parallel approaches. However, students scoring high on the surface approach, low on the deep approach or low on the strategic approach seemed stable across contexts. This suggests that even smaller variations in teaching and learning environments can influence students' approaches to learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 31, no 2, 209-223 p.
Keyword [en]
Approaches to learning, Student variation, Swedish psychology students, Higher education
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129915DOI: 10.1007/s10212-015-0256-7ISI: 000372279000007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-129915DiVA: diva2:925759
Available from: 2016-05-03 Created: 2016-05-03 Last updated: 2017-08-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Högskolestudenters lärande: Ett lärstrategiskt perspektiv på studier i psykologi
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Högskolestudenters lärande: Ett lärstrategiskt perspektiv på studier i psykologi
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Learning in higher education : Approaches to learning among psychology students
Abstract [en]

University students’ approaches to learning influence academic achievement and qualities in learning outcomes. Approaches to learning develop in a process where student factors interact with factors of the learning context. Students’ subjective perceptions of their learning environment seem to be crucial.

This thesis draws on an established research stand in aiming to contribute to a deeper understanding of how students adapt their approaches to learning to perceived contextual factors in a specific learning context. In three studies, conceptions for development and variation of approaches to learning among psychology students at a Swedish university are examined.

Study I examined how approaches to learning vary with expected and final course grades, and student abilities to predict academic achievement (N = 189). Overall, students had low self-assessment skills, with students adopting surface approach to learning having the poorest skills. Students adopting a strategic approach to learning achieved high grades, while students adopting a surface approach to learning had poorer performances. Students adopting a deep approach to learning expected high grades but the exam did not favour a deep approach.

Study II aimed at describing similarities in factors that psychology students themselves, despite them adopting different approaches to learning, considered influenced their studying activities. A selective student sample described their studying activities in repeated interviews (N = 11, N = 7). The development of approaches to learning was described as a negotiation where different aspects of learning were related to each other. The students described a common set of reference points: 1) previous studying activities, 2) course recommendations, 3) learning outcomes, 4) assessment demands, and 5) estimated effort. Despite great variation in students’ tendencies to adapt approaches to learning, the adaption process resulted in a gradual homogenization of studying activities.

Study III examined whether minor variations in parallel learning contexts would give rise to differences in students’ regulation of approaches to learning and whether tendencies to vary differed between students with different approaches to learning (N = 195). All approaches to learning varied between learning contexts, but the strategic approach to learning varied less than surface and deep approaches. Students with a low surface, a high deep or a high strategic approach to learning varied most, while students with a high surface, a low deep or a low strategic approach to learning were more stable.

The results show that approaches to learning among psychology students seem to develop in a process of negotiation where different aspects of learning are interrelated. For strategic reasons, examinations seem to drive students towards a surface approach to learning. Students’ shared interpretations of factors of the learning context seem to result in a gradual homogenisation of studying activities, despite different students showing different tendencies to adapt their approaches to learning to a specific learning context. A strategic approach seems optimal for academic achievement. In summary, this thesis shows how fine-grained studies can contribute to a deeper understanding of the context specific development of students’ approaches to learning.

Abstract [sv]

Högskolestudenters lärstrategier inverkar på deras akademiska prestation och utvecklandet av olika kvaliteter i lärandet. Lärstrategier formas i en process där personfaktorer hos studenterna samspelar med lärkontextuella faktorer. Studenternas subjektiva föreställningar om lärmiljön tycks vara av avgörande betydelse.

Avhandlingens syfte är att utifrån en etablerad forskningstradition bidra till en djupare förståelse av hur studenter anpassar sina lärstrategier till sina föreställningar om lärmiljön i en avgränsad lärkontext. I tre delstudier utforskas förutsättningar för lärstrategiers utveckling och variation hos psykologistudenter på ett svenskt universitet.

I studie I undersöktes hur lärstrategier varierar med förväntningar på examinationsresultat, akademisk prestation och förmåga att predicera tentamensresultat (N = 189). Psykologistudenterna hade generellt svårt att göra en korrekt prediktion av sitt tentamensresultat. Det var allra svårast för studenter med ytinriktad lärstrategi. I enlighet med studenternas egna förväntningar uppnådde strategiskt inriktade studenter högre betyg, medan studenter med ytinriktad lärstrategi presterade sämre. Djupinriktade studenter förväntade sig att prestera väl men tentamen tycktes inte gynna en djupinriktad lärstrategi.

Studie II avsåg kartlägga vilka faktorer psykologistudenterna själva ansåg påverkade deras sätt att ta sig an sina studier, med målet att presentera likheter hos studenter som anammar olika lärstrategier. Ett urval av studenter beskrev sina studieaktiviteter i upprepade intervjuer (N = 11, N = 7). Formandet av lärstrategier beskrevs som en slags förhandling där olika aspekter av lärandet relaterades till varandra. Studenterna lyfte fram fem referenspunkter: 1) deras upplevelse av tidigare studieerfarenheter, 2) kursrekommendationer, 3) lärande, 4) examinationskrav, och 5) uppskattad arbetsinsats. Trots stor variation i studenternas benägenhet att anpassa sina lärstrategier till lärmiljön ledde anpassningsprocessen till en successiv homogenisering av studieaktiviteter.

Studie III undersökte om även mindre variationer i parallella lärmiljöer kunde ge upphov till skillnader i studenters reglering av lärstrategier och om tendenser att variera skiljde sig mellan studenter med olika lärstrategier (N = 195). Samtliga lärstrategier visade sig variera mellan lärkontexter, men strategiskt inriktad lärstrategi varierade i mindre grad än ytinriktad och djupinriktad lärstrategi. Studenter med låg ytinriktad, hög djupinriktad eller hög strategiskt inriktad lärstrategi uppvisade störst variation, medan studenter med hög ytinriktad, låg djupinriktad eller låg strategiskt inriktad lärstrategi var mer stabila.

Resultaten visar att psykologistudenters lärstrategier verkar utvecklas i en process där de relaterar olika aspekter av lärandet till varandra i en slags förhandling. Av strategiska skäl driver examinationer studenterna mot en ytinriktad lärstrategi. En gemensam tolkning av faktorer i lärmiljön tycks resultera i att studenters studieaktiviteter successivt homogeniseras, trots att olika studenter visar olika benägenhet att anpassa sina lärstrategier till en specifik lärkontext. En strategiskt inriktad lärstrategi förefaller optimal för akademisk prestation. Sammanfattningsvis visar avhandlingen på hur kontextnära studier kan bidra till en förståelse av lärstrategiers utveckling.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Psykologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, 2017. 87 p.
Keyword
approaches to learning, psychology, higher education, student perspective, lärstrategier, psykologi, högre utbildning, studentperspektiv
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145455 (URN)978-91-7649-891-0 (ISBN)978-91-7649-892-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-09-22, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Avhandlingen är finansierad av Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten vid Stockholms universitet. Professor Petra Lindfors beviljades medel till en doktorandtjänst inom ramen för en strategisk ämnesdidaktisk satsning.

Vid disputationen var studie I och studie II inskickade till tidskrift men ännu inte publicerade.

Available from: 2017-08-30 Created: 2017-08-07 Last updated: 2017-08-21Bibliographically approved

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