The impact of curriculum change on health sciences first year students’ approaches to learning
- 550 Downloads
This study aimed to use a learning inventory (the Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students, ASSIST) to measure the impact of a curriculum change on students’ approaches to learning in two large courses in a health sciences first year programme. The two new Human Body Systems (HUBS) courses were designed to encourage students to take a deep approach to learning. ASSIST was completed by 599 students enrolled in a biology class in 2006 that was part of the old curriculum, and by 705 students at the beginning and end of the new HUBS courses in 2007. Changes in students’ approaches to learning over time were examined. The ASSIST scores for both HUBS courses reflected the dominance of a surface approach, followed by a strategic and then a deep approach. However, by the end of the year, students were taking a deep and strategic approach to their studies to a greater extent, and a surface approach to a lesser extent. Moreover, students enrolled in the new course adopted a deep approach to their studies to a significantly greater degree than those studying the old curriculum. Despite the predominance of a surface approach, the results suggest that it is possible to bring about small but significant positive changes in students’ learning behaviour in a very large class through curriculum change. The proportion of students preferring a surface approach, and results showing that high performance on the final exam was significantly correlated with a surface approach, probably reflected contextual factors, including assessment, and is the focus of ongoing curriculum development.
KeywordsLearning inventory ASSIST Curriculum change Evaluation Health science first year
Students enrolled in BIOL115 in 2006 and HUBS191 and 192 in 2007, and the Committee for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT), University of Otago, for funding from a Research into University Teaching Grant.
- Biggs, J. B. (1999). Teaching for quality learning at university. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Entwistle, N. (2000). Promoting deep learning through teaching and assessment: Conceptual frameworks and educational contexts. Paper presented at the first annual conference of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme. Leicester. Retrieved from http://www.etl.tla.ed.ac.uk/publications.html, 2 May 2008.
- Entwistle, N., & McCune, V. (2004). The conceptual bases of study strategy inventories. Educational Psychology Review, 16(4), 325–345.Google Scholar
- Entwistle, N., & Ramsden, P. (1983). Understanding student learning. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
- General Medical Council. (1993). Tomorrow’s doctors: Recommendations on undergraduate medical education. London: GMC.Google Scholar
- General Medical Council. (2003). Tomorrow’s doctors. London: GMC.Google Scholar
- Laurillard, D. (1997). Rethinking university teaching. A framework for the effective use of educational technology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Lonka, K., Olkinuora, E., & Makinen, J. (2004). Aspects and prospects of measuring studying and learning in higher education. Educational Psychology Review, 16(4), 301–323.Google Scholar
- Marton, F., & Saljo, R. (1976). On qualitative differences in learning: I Outcome and process. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 4–11.Google Scholar
- McDonald, F., Bond, C., Spronken-Smith, R. A., Reynolds, J., & McMartin, A. (2009). Evaluating the impact of curriculum change in a large health science first year class. Assessment and Evaluation, in prep.Google Scholar
- Prosser, M., & Trigwell, K. (1999). Understanding learning and teaching: The experience in higher education. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to teach in higher education (2nd Ed ed.). London: Routledge and Falmer.Google Scholar
- Speth, C. A., Lee, D. J., & Hain, P. M. (2006). Prioritizing improvements in internet instruction based on learning styles and strategies. Journal of Natural Resources & Life Sciences Education, 35, 34–41.Google Scholar
- Spronken-Smith, R. A., Bussink-Smith, N., Grigg, G., & Bond, C. (2009a). Millennium graduates’ orientations to higher education. College Student Journal, in press.Google Scholar
- Spronken-Smith, R. A., Bond, C., Bussink-Smith, N., & Grigg, G. (2009b). The relation between orientations to higher education and curricular experiences. Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, in prep.Google Scholar
- Tait, H., Entwistle, N., & McCune, V. (1998). ASSIST: A reconceptualisation of the approaches to studying inventory. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving student learning. Improving students as learners (pp. 262–271). Oxford: The Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.Google Scholar
- Webster, R. (2002). Learning styles and design: The use of ASSIST for reflection and assessment. Proceedings of the 2002 Annual International Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA), Perth, Australia. [Online conference proceedings]. Available: http://www.herdsa.org.au/index.php?page_id=175.