Higher Education

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 599–612 | Cite as

“Do I need research skills in working life?”: University students’ motivation and difficulties in quantitative methods courses

  • Mari MurtonenEmail author
  • Erkki Olkinuora
  • Päivi Tynjälä
  • Erno Lehtinen


This study explored university students’ views of whether they will need research skills in their future work in relation to their approaches to learning, situational orientations on a learning situation of quantitative methods, and difficulties experienced in quantitative research courses. Education and psychology students in both Finland (N = 46) and the USA (= 122), who thought that they would need research skills in their future work, differed significantly from the students who were not sure whether they would need these skills. The students, who considered research skills important for their future work, were more task-oriented, used a deeper approach to learning and experienced fewer difficulties in the learning of research skills than other students. This finding implies that experiences in learning, learning approaches and situational orientations are related to expectations about future work. For instruction, this means that if we were somehow able to change students’ experiences and orientations towards research into a more positive direction, students might be better prepared for their future work.


Learning of research Research skills in working life Motivation in research learning Difficulties in research learning Conceptions of research 



This research was supported by the Academy of Finland, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, and the Turku University Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mari Murtonen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erkki Olkinuora
    • 1
  • Päivi Tynjälä
    • 2
  • Erno Lehtinen
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Institute for Educational ResearchUniversity of Jyväskylä JyväskyläFinland

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