Understanding tertiary student learning: are they independent thinkers or simply consumers and reactors?

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The central place of the learning environment and the personal characteristics of the learner in influencing whether students adopt deep or surface approaches to learning is well evidenced in the literature (for example, Marton & Saljo, 1976; Biggs, 1987; Entwhistle, 2001; Ramsden, 2003). For this reason, tertiary educators are constantly seeking opportunities to provide best practice in their university classrooms. Yet simply motivating students to participate in class does not necessarily alter overall learning styles (Herington & Weaven, 2008). Although the term "learning style" is somewhat problematic (Richardson, 2000), previous research has shown that students' tendency towards a particular learning strategy affects their learning-related performance (Heikkila & Lonka, 2006). This suggests that the process of "unlearning" previous learning styles may pose a significant problem for academics if they hope to change their students’ learning processes from surface to deep learning. As a profession, teaching at the tertiary level obviously draws upon a formal knowledge base. An important step in the translation of the formal knowledge base to enlightened practice is to draw upon tertiary students' experiential and informal knowledge. What learning-related concepts, and misconceptions do they hold? What is going on in the students' minds? Specifically, this paper will provide information on how three pre-service students currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts (Primary) course at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education (SHBIE), Univeristi of Brunei Daurssalam, Brunei Darussalam, approach study and how this approach can affect their concepts of learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-107
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of teaching and learning in higher education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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