Variations in perceptions of the learning environment and approaches to studying among university students in Pakistan

Ullah, Raza; Richardson, John T. E. and Hafeez, Muhammad (2013). Variations in perceptions of the learning environment and approaches to studying among university students in Pakistan. Prospects, 43(2) pp. 165–186.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-013-9264-z

Abstract

In Western countries students in higher education have been found to adopt various approaches to studying depending on their perceptions of their learning environment. There is evidence that certain constructs in this perspective transfer to other contexts such as Pakistan. In Western countries, students’ perceptions and approaches are also related to demographic and contextual factors such as age, subject of study, gender and year of study. Our aim was to determine whether similar relationships were apparent in Pakistani students. A survey was administered to 494 male and 418 female undergraduates in four subject areas across four years of study at two universities in Pakistan. The questionnaire concerned their perceptions of the learning environment, learning preferences, motivation and approaches to studying. Our research hypotheses were that their perceptions and approaches would vary with age, subject area, gender and year of study. Consistent with Western research, students in the arts and the social sciences perceived their programmes more positively and were more likely to adopt a deep approach to studying than were students in science and technology or business and management. Contrary to Western research, there were variations with age in students’ perceptions of their learning environment but not in their approaches to studying; there were gender differences in their perceptions and motivation; and there were variations in students’ perceptions but not in their approaches to studying across different years of the programmes. These variations appear to be specific to the context of higher education in Pakistan.

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