, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 315-336
Date: 13 Mar 2012

Enhancing students’ approaches to learning: the added value of gradually implementing case-based learning

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Previous research has shown the difficulty of enhancing students’ approaches to learning, in particular the deep approach, through student-centred teaching methods such as problem- and case-based learning. This study investigates whether mixed instructional methods combining case-based learning and lectures have the power to enhance students’ approaches to learning, compared to instructional methods using either case-based learning or lectures. A quasi-experimental research was set up using a pre-/post-test design. Participants were 1,098 first-year student teachers taking a course on child development. Statistical analysis showed that students in a gradually implemented case-based setting, in which lectures gradually made way for case-based learning, scored significantly higher on the scales organised studying and effort management and significantly lower on the surface approach, compared to students in a completely case-based setting. Therefore, students in a gradually implemented case-based setting worked in a better organised way and spent more effort and concentration than students who experienced only case-based learning. Nevertheless, the gradually implemented case-based setting did not encourage students to apply deep approaches that aimed at understanding. Quantitative content analysis revealed that students in the gradually implemented case-based setting especially appreciated the variation in teaching methods and the specific combination of lectures and case-based learning.