European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 417–433 | Cite as

Understanding student learning in context: relationships between university students’ social identity, approaches to learning, and academic performance

  • Ana-Maria Bliuc
  • Robert A. Ellis
  • Peter Goodyear
  • Daniela Muntele Hendres
Article

Abstract

This research focuses on understanding how socio-psychological dimensions such as student social identity and student perceptions of their learning community affect learning at university. To do this, it integrates ideas from phenomenographic research into student learning with ideas from research on social identity. In two studies (N = 110, and N = 97) the relationships between student social identity, perceptions of the learning community, approaches to learning, and academic performance were explored. Our findings suggest that a strong student social identity is associated with a deep approach to learning, which in turn is linked to higher academic performance. Also, perceptions of learning community mediate the relationship between student social identity and deep approaches to learning. Significantly, a surface approach turns out not to be associated with student social identity or perceptions of the learning community, but it is negatively related to academic performance. Our research argues for the value of an integration of complementary frameworks, emphasising social and psychological aspects of the learning experience that can be used to improve our understanding of how and why students vary in the quality of their learning.

Keywords

Higher education Student learning Approaches to study Student social identity Learning community 

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media BV 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana-Maria Bliuc
    • 1
  • Robert A. Ellis
    • 1
  • Peter Goodyear
    • 2
  • Daniela Muntele Hendres
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Teaching and Learning, Carslaw Building (F07)The University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.CoCo, Faculty of Education and Social WorkUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Psychology“A.I. Cuza” University of IasiIasiRomania

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