On student performance and needs in the learning situation: An empirical study

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Learning for an Unknown Future Vol. 26

July, 2003, 692 pages
Published by
Helen Mathews and Rod McKay
0 90 8557 55 8

Empirical studies have confirmed that students adopt different approaches to learning. However, from an educational point of view it is interesting to note that students’ levels of processing are found to be malleable. The aim of this study was to identify the teaching needs of students who perform well and those who perform poorly, with a view to differentiating teaching that will provide a means of gaining a higher level of understanding and reduce shallow approaches to learning. The study was conducted as an action research project, and the results presented are based on a correlation study where two different sets of data were used. The first set of data was quantitative data from a questionnaire, and the second set was the complete set of marks awarded to the students for the end-of-term assessment. Students’ levels of processing are not entirely a matter of free choice. The learning environment, in a broad sense, sets boundaries that impact students’ interpretation of the situation, and accordingly influences their learning strategy. The study provides evidence of the need for differentiated teaching methods, especially as recruitment to higher education broadens.

Keywords: approaches to learning; adapted teaching methods

On student performance and needs in the learning situation: An empirical study

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Gynnild, V.