Initial findings of a mixed methods investigation into students’ perceptions and approaches towards learning.

Liz McDowell, Roger Penlington, Jenna Tudor

Abstract


A Mixed Methods research methodology is suggested in this paper as a suitable model for the process of evaluating teaching and learning. The aim of this paper is to introduce some findings which have been obtained from research into teaching and learning within engineering at a UK Higher Education Institution.

Students’ approaches, and the effects their perceptions have in determining their approaches to learning, have been explored. The data gathered highlighted some issues with regard to teaching and learning that are relevant to a range of courses and that can inform the quality enhancement of teaching provision. It is suggested that a mixed methods evaluation has advantages over standard institutional teaching and learning evaluations in allowing a greater understanding of the learning situations students encounter, how these situations are perceived, and how they affect students’ learning behaviour.

Amongst the issues raised by the research is the notion that students have definite ideas, expectations and opinions about their learning contexts. The concept of importance emerged to show that students were identifying perceptions and approaches to learning based on their importance rating of a subject. Patterns in students’ questioning behaviour were also identified, highlighting possible limitations to students’ academic development within lectures.

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