Understanding student learning in context: relationships between university students’ social identity, approaches to learning, and academic performance
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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.
KeywordsHigher education Student learning Approaches to study Student social identity Learning community
The authors are pleased to acknowledge the financial support of the Australian Research Council through grant DP0988334. We are also grateful to our colleagues and the students of ‘Gh Asachi’ Technical University, and ‘AI Cuza’ University, Iaşi, Romania for their assistance in conducting the study.
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