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An exploratory study of situated conceptions of learning and learning environments.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1/03/2006
JournalHigher Education
Journal number2
Volume51
Number of pages16
Pages243-258
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper describes a study designed to test whether situated conceptions of learning can be measured using questionnaires, and the relations between these aspects of students’ awareness, their awareness of other environmental variables, and their learning outcomes. A situated conception of learning is one that is evoked and adopted by students in response to their perceptions of their learning tasks in a particular context. It may reflect the aims they have for their studies, once they have started that study and experienced that study environment. The results from this small-scale, limited-context study showed that when students perceived the learning environment as being more supportive of learning, they were more likely to describe a situated conception of learning that was more closely aligned with those promoted by the University. They also had higher scores on the deep approach to learning scale, lower scores on the surface approach scale, and expected to leave university with a higher degree classification. These associations, which suggest that situated conceptions, like prior experience of learning, may be a crucial indicator of learning approach and outcomes of learning, are sufficiently large to warrant more rigorous investigations.

Bibliographic note

This paper, which was peer reviewed by two international experts in the field of teaching and learning in higher education, reports the development and use of a questionnaire-based measure of students' situated conceptions of learning. It develops the notion of situated conception of learning, a conception of learning that is evoked by students' perceptions of their learning tasks. As such, it develops the qualitative research from Ashwin (2005), and shows that, for a larger sample, there are strong and significant relations between the ways in which students understand their academic tasks, their approaches to learning, and their anticipated learning outcomes. This suggests that the way in which students understand their learning tasks may play an important role in affecting the quality of their learning. Whilst Trigwell led the research project that led to this output, the contribution to the paper of the two authors was equal. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Education