ERIC Number: EJ767591
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun
Reference Count: N/A
Mental Models of Learning in Distance Education
Richardson, John T. E.
British Journal of Educational Psychology, v77 n2 p253-270 Jun 2007
Background: Interview-based research has shown that students in higher education hold a number of different conceptions of learning and of themselves as learners. There is debate about whether these conceptions constitute a developmental hierarchy. Aims: This study evaluated the Mental Models section of Vermunt and van Rijswijk's (1988) Inventory of Learning Styles (ILS) as a measure of students' conceptions of learning and sought to identify conceptions of learning as qualitatively different patterns of scores. Sample: A random sample of 1,000 students who were taking courses by distance learning with the Open University in the UK. Method: A translated and adapted version of the Mental Models section of the ILS was administered in a postal survey. Complete data were obtained from 441 students and were subjected to principal component analysis, cluster analysis and discriminant analysis. Results: The five scales in the Mental Models section of the ILS were homogeneous and achieved a satisfactory level of internal consistency, but two of the five scales could not be differentiated from each other in the students' responses. A cluster analysis identified four subgroups of students who had different patterns of scores on two discriminant functions. Conclusion: The four mental models identified in this study were broadly similar to those identified by Vermunt (1996) in an interview-based study. However, these do not seem to constitute a developmental hierarchy, and, following Vermunt, it is suggested that they are better interpreted as aspects of four overarching "learning styles" or "learning patterns".
Descriptors: Open Universities, Distance Education, Discriminant Analysis, Student Attitudes, Interviews, Cognitive Style, Foreign Countries, Surveys, Multivariate Analysis, Evaluation Methods
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom