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Does higher education promote independent learning?


Gow, L and Kember, D, Does higher education promote independent learning?, Higher Education, 19, (3) pp. 307-322. ISSN 0018-1560 (1990) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1007/BF00133895


There is general consensus in the literature that the goal of education is to increase the students' capacity to learn, to provide them with analytic skills and to increase their ability to deal with new information and draw independent conclusions. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the extent to which higher education does promote these abilities which can be summarised as independent learning. Quantitative data from the Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ) and qualitative data (semi-structured student interviews) from a tertiary institution in Hong Kong are compared with similar findings from institutions in other parts of the world. The relationship between demographic variables and the SPQ sub-scales appears to follow a pattern consistent with results from elsewhere. As students become older they are less likely to adopt a surface approach and more likely to adopt a deep one. However, there is a decrease in the use of a deep approach from first to third year of a course, suggesting that education at this tertiary institution does not promote independent learning. Possible explanations are derived from the literature and the student interviews. Implications for the structure of tertiary education in Hong Kong are discussed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Specialist studies in education
Research Field:Learning sciences
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Kember, D (Professor David Kember)
ID Code:130159
Year Published:1990
Web of Science® Times Cited:141
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2019-01-14
Last Modified:2019-01-14

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