Higher Education

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 169–194 | Cite as

Approaches to learning, evaluations of teaching, and preferences for contrasting academic environments

  • Noel Entwistle
  • Hilary Tait


Previous research has demonstrated that the academic environments provided by departments in higher education have direct effects on students' approaches to studying. But other studies have indicated that these effects are mediated by the students' own perceptions of those environments. Here two studies are reported which explore the relationships between approaches to learning, or study orientations, and perceptions of the academic environment. Those perceptions are measured in two distinct ways, one which minimises the effects of differential perceptions, and one which highlights them. Factor analyses of the responses of three groups of students taking engineering and psychology are used to clarify the nature of the relationships between study orientations and perceptions of the academic environment. It is found, as in earlier studies, that there are relationships which associate deep approaches with perceptions of relevance, and surface approaches with a heavy workload. But here it is also shown that students with contrasting study orientations are likely to define effective teaching in ways which reflect those orientations. Implications both for the design of feedback questionnaires and for the improvement of teaching and learning in higher education are discussed.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noel Entwistle
    • 1
  • Hilary Tait
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

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