# Approaches to Study and the Quality of Learning. Some Empirical Evidence from Engineering Education

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## Abstract

In the late 1990s failure rates in a first-year introductory calculus course at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology reached peak levels. This paper reports on findings from an action research project that was set up in 2002/2003 to improve the situation. The study confirms that students approach their tasks differently which contributes to qualitatively different learning outcomes. Furthermore, patterns of achievement in mathematics and physics in secondary education keep reoccurring in the calculus course, even though the teaching and learning contexts are different. The paper does not provide any definite answer as to why groups of students get involved in distinctly different learning processes, and it will take further research to decide the nature of commitment to the learning tasks. However, inspired by the notion of ‘practices’ this paper raises a discussion about the role of intentionality in learning processes. When doing mathematics, students are also in a process of being engaged in and developing a practice. It is a major challenge for academic staff to contribute to communities of practice that are conducive to learning.

## Keywords

approaches to learning assessment calculus failure rates quality of learning## Preview

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