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Theme: Strategies and innovations in teaching and learning

An Evaluation of an Integrative Framework of Student Characteristics and Learning Approaches

Cecil A. L. Pearson & Colin J. Beasley
Murdoch University
Western Australia

Understanding how students learn has considerable relevance for better facilitating the successful transition of both local and international students to self reliant, independent and life long learners. This study evaluated the learning approaches of students in a second year university course which contained a large number of 'first year' international students. These 'first year' students were from overseas or small local colleges and were entering a mainstream Australian university for the first time. An integrative model was devised of personality factors, situational demographics, performance scores and questionnaire data of students' perceptions about their approaches to learning. The results demonstrate that several groups of cohorts, namely those identified as having an internal locus of control, local students, or female students, were more successful in the course, which was designed to increase self-regulated learning. However, it was also observed that even the less successful groups (external locus of control, overseas students, males) employed similar patterns of learning approaches (surface, achieving, deep), but they appeared less able to delineate the appropriate motives and strategies of the three approaches. The findings are discussed in terms of the need to more clearly determine the way students integrate task requirements, the properties of the learning context and the nature of the learning strategy employed.

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