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Learning from tutorials: a qualitative study of approaches to learning and perceptions of tutorial interaction

Abstract

This study examines differences in university students’ approaches to learning when attending tutorials as well as variation in students’ perceptions of tutorials as an educational arena. In-depth qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with undergraduates showed how surface and deep approaches to learning were revealed in the students’ note-taking, listening, and engaging in dialogue. It was also shown how variation in the students’ approaches to learning were coherent with variation in the students’ perceptions of the tutors’ pedagogical role, the value of peer interaction, and the overall purpose of tutorials. The results are discussed regarding the paradox that students relying on surface approaches to learning seemingly are the ones least likely to respond to tutorials in the way they were intended.

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Acknowledgments

The author would like to warmly thank Dr. Velda McCune, Dr. Noel Entwistle, and Dr. Charles Anderson for advice on this study.

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Correspondence to Kim Jesper Herrmann.

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Herrmann, K.J. Learning from tutorials: a qualitative study of approaches to learning and perceptions of tutorial interaction. High Educ 68, 591–606 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9731-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9731-3

Keywords

  • Approaches to learning
  • Learning environments
  • Tutorials
  • Students’ perceptions