Assessing students' development in learning approaches according to initial learning profiles : a person-oriented perspective
Faculty of Social Sciences. Instructional and Educational Sciences
Studies in educational evaluation. - Oxford
, p. 33-40
University of Antwerp
Research regarding the development of students learning approaches have at times reported unexpected or lack of expected changes. The current study explores the idea of differential developments in learning approaches according to students initial learning profiles as a possible explanation for these outcomes. A learning profile is conceived as the degree to which students use aspects of deep and surface approaches in their learning process and taking into account the dynamic interrelations between these aspects. Two cohorts of students in a teacher-training course-module completed questionnaires measuring their learning approaches, in a pre-test post-test design. Analyses on the whole sample indicated few significant changes in students learning approaches during the course-module. Only a significant decrease in the deep motive subscale was found. Hierarchical cluster-analysis revealed four groups of students with specific initial learning profiles: a deep approach profile, a surface approach profile, an all-low profile and an all-high profile. Using a regressor variable approach, significant differences in growth were found for the initial learning profiles on the surface approach to learning and the deep strategy scale, even after controlling for other significant background variables such as students academic discipline and gender. These results suggest that unexpected developments in students learning approaches, or lack of significant changes at a whole-group level, may be partially due to dynamic (contradictory) tendencies at the sub-group level. Findings point towards the need of looking at approaches to learning at a more fine-grained level.