ERIC Number: ED203748
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1981
Reference Count: N/A
What Do Open University Students Initially Understand About Learning? Study Methods Group Report No. 8, 1981.
Morgan, Alistair; And Others
The conceptions of learning of 29 students enrolled in the Social Science Foundation course of Open University, Great Britain, were analyzed in relation to the five conceptual categories of learning reported by Saljo (1979). The first three of these concepts describes learning as an increase in information, knowledge as external to the student, and the process of learning as involving the transfer of knowledge from an external source to the heads of the learners. In contrast, the essence of the other two of Saljo's concepts seems to be that knowledge is construed by individuals as a result of an active effort on the part of the learner. It is suggested that the difference between these two broad concepts is very similar to the distinction between surface and deep level approaches to learning tasks identified by Marton and Saljo (1976). A deep approach is usually but not always required by Open University course materials; yet, some of the students had little awareness of these different demands. Students who adopt a surface approach to studying concentrate on trying to remember as much detail as possible rather than on trying to understand the overall meaning. The students' descriptions of learning, some of which are included, were found to fit easily into the framework Saljo offers. It is suggested that students' concepts of learning seem likely to be linked to students' approaches to individual study tasks and to their orientation to study. Understanding subject matter as a goal in itself and understanding as a route to personal development are study orientations that are similar to Saljo's conceptions of learning as the neutral abstraction of meaning and learning as the understanding of reality in a personally relevant way. (SW)
Descriptors: College Students, Educational Research, Foreign Countries, Higher Education, Learning Motivation, Learning Processes, Learning Theories, Open Universities, Student Attitudes, Student Development, Study Habits, Surveys
Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes England MK7 6AA.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Open Univ., Walton, Bletchley, Bucks (England). Inst. of Educational Technology.