Learning intervention and the approach to study of engineering undergraduates

Solomonides, I.P., 1996. Learning intervention and the approach to study of engineering undergraduates. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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The aim of the research was to: investigate the effect of a learning intervention on the Approach to Study of first year engineering degree students. The learning intervention was a local programme of learning to learn' workshops designed and facilitated by the author. The primary aim of these was to develop students' Approaches to Study. Fifty-three first year engineering undergraduates at The Nottingham Trent University participated in the workshops. Approaches to Study were quantified using data obtained from the Revised Approach to Study Inventory (RASI) which was also subjected to a validity and reliability study using local data. Quantitative outcomes were supplemented using a qualitative analysis of essays written by students during the workshops. These were analysed for detail regarding student Approach to Study. It was intended that any findings would inform the local system of Engineering Education, although more general findings also emerged, in particular in relation to the utility of the research instrument.

It was concluded that the intervention did not promote the preferential Deep Approach and did not affect Approaches to Study generally as measured by the RASI. This concurred with previous attempts to change student Approaches to Study at the group level. It was also established that subsequent years of the Integrated Engineering degree course are associated with progressively deteriorating Approaches to Study. Students who were exposed to the intervention followed a similar pattern of deteriorating Approaches suggesting that the local course context and its demands had a greater influence over the Approach of students than the intervention did. It was found that academic outcomes were unrelated to the extent to which students took a Deep Approach to the local assessment demands. There appeared therefore to be a mis-match between the Approach students adopted to pass examinations and those that are required for high quality learning outcomes. It is suggested that more co-ordinated and coherent action for changing the local course demands is needed before an improvement in student Approaches will be observed.

These conclusions were broadly supported by the results from the qualitative analysis which also indicated the dominating effects of course context over Approach. However, some students appeared to have gained from the intervention in that they reported being in a better position to evaluate their relationships with the course demands following the workshops. It therefore appeared that some students could be described as being in tension between the desire to take a Deep Approach and the adoption of less desirable Approaches as promoted and encouraged by the course context. It is suggested that questions regarding the integrity of the intervention are thereby left unresolved even though the immediate effects of it are quite clear.

It is also suggested that the integrity of the research instrument is open to question in that the Strategic Approach to Study scale failed to be defined by one factor under common factor analysis. The intentional or motivational element which previously defined this scale was found to be associated with a Deep Approach factor within the local context. The Strategic Approach was found to be defined by skill rather than motivation. This indicated that some reinterpretation of the RASI and in particular the Strategic Approach to Study scale is needed.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Solomonides, I.P.
Date: 1996
ISBN: 9781369313505
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 04 Sep 2020 11:28
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2023 09:15
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/40630

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