Högskolestudenters lärande : Ett lärstrategiskt perspektiv på studier i psykologi

Sammanfattning: 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.

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