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The disposition to understand for oneself at university: Integrating learning processes with motivation and metacognition

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Velda McCune, Institute for Academic Development, University of Edinburgh, 7 Bristo Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9AL, Edinburgh, UK (e-mail: Velda.McCune@ed.ac.uk).

Abstract

Background

A re-analysis of several university-level interview studies has suggested that some students show evidence of a deep and stable approach to learning, along with other characteristics that support the approach. This combination, it was argued, could be seen to indicate a disposition to understand for oneself.

Aim

To identify a group of students who showed high and consistent scores on deep approach, combined with equivalently high scores on effort and monitoring studying, and to explore these students' experiences of the teaching–learning environments they had experienced.

Sample

Re-analysis of data from 1,896 students from 25 undergraduate courses taking four contrasting subject areas in eleven British universities.

Methods

Inventories measuring approaches to studying were given at the beginning and the end of a semester, with the second inventory also exploring students' experiences of teaching. K-means cluster analysis was used to identify groups of students with differing patterns of response on the inventory scales, with a particular focus on students showing high, stable scores.

Results

One cluster clearly showed the characteristics expected of the disposition to understand and was also fairly stable over time. Other clusters also had deep approaches, but also showed either surface elements or lower scores on organized effort or monitoring their studying.

Conclusions

Combining these findings with interview studies previously reported reinforces the idea of there being a disposition to understand for oneself that could be identified from an inventory scale or through further interviews.

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