Patterns of response to an approaches to studying inventory across contrasting groups and contexts

  • Noel Entwistle
  • Hilary Tait
  • Velda McCune


The development of the Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) is reported, which incorporates a revised version of the Approaches to Studying Inventory. This questionnaire was completed by three separate samples; 1284 mainly first-year students from six British universities, 466 first-year students from a Scottish technological university; and 219 students from a ‘historically disadvantaged” South African university. Analyses of these data were designed to explore the patterns of response found in sub-groups which varied in terms of their levels of attainment and contexts. Maximum likelihood analysis of the largest sample confirmed the expected three factors of deep, surface apathetic, and strategic approaches to studying, and almost identical patterns were also found in the other two samples, and in students having contrasting levels of attainment. There were, however, some interesting minor differences in the South African sample. K-means relocation cluster analysis was then carried out on the largest sample and produced clusters with generally coherent patterns of response. However, one persistent low attainment cluster showed unexpected, dissonant patterns of response, combining moderately high scores on the sub-scales of both deep and surface apathetic approaches, associated with low scores on the strategic approach.

Key words

Students Student achievement Study difficulties Study skill University 


Les auteurs rendent compte du développement d’un questionnaire intitulé ‘Approaches and Study Skills Inventory’ for Students’ (ASSIST) qui incorpore une version révisée de ‘Approaches to Studing Inventory’. Le questionnaire a été rempli par trois échantillons distincts: 1284 étudiants de première année de six universités britanniques, 466 étudiants de première année d’une université technologique écossaise, et 219 étudiants d’une université sud-africaine connue pour son public socialement défavorisé. Les analyses de données ont été conduites pour explorer les patterns de réponses trouvées dans les sous-groupes présentant des variations dans leurs niveaux d’acquisition et dans leurs contextes. L’analyse des données réalisée sur le plus grand échantillon confirme l’existence des trois facteurs attendus d’indifférence profonde, d’indifférence de surface et de stratégies d’approche dans les études; des patterns presque identiques ont été également trouvés dans les deux autres échantillons et pour des étudiants ayant des niveaux contrastés d’acquisitions. On a cependant trouvé quelques différences mineures intéressantes dans l’échantillon sud-africain. Une analyse de cluster a ensuite été effectuée sur le plus grand échantillon et a produit des clusters avec des patterns de réponse en général cohérents. On a cependant observé un cluster récurrent et inattendu chez les étudiants en difficulté concernant un pattern dissonant de réponse combinant des scores modérément élevés aux deux sous-échelles d’indifférence profonde et de surface associés à des scores faibles d’approche stratégique.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noel Entwistle
    • 1
  • Hilary Tait
    • 2
  • Velda McCune
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Higher & Further Education, MHIEUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghU.K.
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Sociology, MerchistonNapier UniversityEdinburghU.K.

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