Student Learning in Higher Education

Richardson, John T. E. (1983). Student Learning in Higher Education. Educational Psychology, 3(3-4) pp. 305–331.



There has been relatively little systematic experimental investigation of individual differences in student learning. The findings of mainstream laboratory‐based research are of limited value, though they are generally consistent with the results of surveys of student performance. Nevertheless, it has been possible to demonstrate qualitative and commensurable variation among individual students in both the outcome of learning and the process of learning, and in both formal experimental tasks and in normal academic studies. There has been limited success in attempts to manipulate cognitive processing by varying the anticipated form of assessment or by inducing variations in motivational factors. However, there are radical effects of matching the instructional procedures to the subjects’ cognitive approaches. More recent research has demonstrated considerable variation within individual subjects across different learning situations. Current discussion concerns the consistency, variability, and flexibility of individual learners, the identification of causal relationships, the validity of introspective reports and the adequacy of traditional research methodology.

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