Higher Education

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 99–121

Misconceptions about the learning approaches, motivation and study practices of Asian students

  • David Kember

DOI: 10.1023/A:1004036826490

Cite this article as:
Kember, D. Higher Education (2000) 40: 99. doi:10.1023/A:1004036826490


There is a common perception that Asian students relyupon rote learning and prefer passive forms oflearning, though, this appears to be incompatible withevidence of their high levels of achievement. Thisapparent dichotomy is explained by showing thatmemorisation can occur in conjunction with theintention to understand. It could also result fromstudents learning material by heart because theyperceive that is what the course and assessmentrequire. Evidence from over 90 action researchprojects is used to disprove the common assertionsthat Asian students prefer passive learning and resistteaching innovations. It is argued that motivationdisplayed by Asian students is not well described byconventional definitions in psychology textbooks.Courses which provide good career preparation are asource of motivation but it is not an extrinsic formof motivation which depresses intrinsic motivation.There are high levels of achieving motive, but itfrequently has a collective nature rather than beingindividual and competitive.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Kember
    • 1
  1. 1.EDUHong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong

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