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Title: Exploring learning conceptions in a culturally diverse post-graduate science classroom
Author: Thomson, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 2117
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2017
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This research explored the learning conceptions of a culturally diverse population of post-graduate health and life sciences students at a Scottish university; and investigated the relationship between their learning conceptions and academic achievement. There is a vast literature on conceptions of learning deriving from a variety of disciplines, although few studies have addressed the conceptions of experienced learners. A mixed methods approach was implemented, which is underpinned by a phenomenographic methodology. The participants comprised individuals from thirty-two nations, which were broken down into five cultural clusters. Quantitative data were gathered from 156 students, using the Conceptions of Learning Inventory (COLI) (Purdie & Hattie, 2002) and their predicted, and actual, academic performance at the end of their first semester. Three focus groups further explored students’ understanding, and experiences, of learning and assessment. There were some cultural differences in conceptions of learning identified in this study; generally, students from Central Africa scored most learning conceptions higher than students from other cultural clusters. There were no learning conceptions that predicted academic achievement with this group of post-graduate health and life sciences students, although there was a relationship between predicted academic performance and ‘personal development’ and ‘broadening horizons’. Possible explanations for these outcomes are presented. Contrary to previous research, predicted academic performance was not correlated with academic achievement. There were no cultural differences in academic achievement, but more students from Central Africa predicted that they would perform well than students from other cultural clusters. There is some support for learning conceptions sitting in a nested hierarchy, as found by previous research, but this study cannot confirm the exact order of these learning conceptions. In light of these findings, suggestions for future research are considered, with an emphasis on the relationship between learning context and conceptions of learning; and longitudinal research focusing on the development of learning conceptions. Implications of the outcomes from this study for university learning and teaching, as well as international and staff development policies, are presented.
Supervisor: Edwards, Richard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: learning conceptions ; international students ; post-graduate students ; Students, Foreign--Stirling (Scotland) ; Graduate students--Stirling (Scotland) ; College students--Stirling (Scotland)