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ERIC Number: EJ993371
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 44
ISSN: ISSN-0950-0693
Conceptions of Biology and Approaches to Learning of First Year Biology Students: Introducing a Technique for Tracking Changes in Learner Profiles over Time
Quinnell, Rosanne; May, Elizabeth; Peat, Mary
International Journal of Science Education, v34 n7 p1053-1074 2012
We surveyed first year students at the start and at the end of their first semester of university biology (n = 285) as to their approaches to study ("surface", "deep") and their conceptions of biology ("fragmented", "cohesive"). Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to group students who responded similarly to the survey; this resolved four Learner Profiles based on specific combinations of approach to study and conception of biology. By comparing cluster membership at the start and end of the semester we could assess whether students (1) maintained their incoming approach to study and conception of the discipline of biology, i.e. their "Learner Profile" and (2) whether certain Learner Profiles were more persistent than others. Approximately half the student cohort did not alter their approach to study or conceptions of biology by semester's end. Students in the "disengaged" profile, i.e. who returned mostly negative responses to survey items, appeared the most resistant to changing their Learner Profile; while the greatest migration occurred towards less than desirable learning strategies (particularly to the "disengaged" profile). We were able to confirm the significant migration patterns by assessing the heterogeneity of each cluster at the start of semester clusters with respect to the students' approaches and conceptions at the end of semester. Thus we present a process to accurately track Learner Profile changes that may tell us more about how we can enhance students' learning and provide a means by which to gather the empirical data to support decisions relating to curriculum change. (Contains 7 tables and 2 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia