Richardson, John T. E.
Conceptions of learning and approaches to studying among White and ethnic minority students in distance education.
British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(4),
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Background The attainment of White students at UK institutions of higher education tends to be higher than that of students from other ethnic groups, but the causes of this are unclear. Aims This study compared White students and students from other ethnic groups in their conceptions of learning, their approaches to studying, and their academic attainment. Sample A stratified sample of 1,146 White students and 1,146 students from other ethnic groups taking courses by distance learning with the UK Open University. Methods The Mental Models section of the Inventory of Learning Styles and the Revised Approaches to Studying Inventory were administered in a postal survey. Results The students' questionnaire scores were contaminated by response bias, which varied across different ethnic groups. When adjusted to control for response bias, the scores on the two questionnaires shared 37.2% of their variance and made a significant contribution to predicting the students' attainment. White students were more likely to exhibit a meaning-directed learning pattern, whereas Asian and Black students were more likely to exhibit a reproduction-directed learning pattern. However, the variation in attainment across different ethnic groups remained significant when their questionnaire scores and prior qualifications were taken into account. Conclusions There is a strong relationship between students' conceptions of learning and their approaches to studying, and variations in conceptions of learning in different ethnic groups give rise to variations in approaches to studying. However, factors other than prior qualifications and conceptions of learning are responsible for variation in attainment across different ethnic groups.
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