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What is an effective learner? A comparison of further education students' views with a theoretical construction of effective learners

McQueen, H; Webber, J; (2013) What is an effective learner? A comparison of further education students' views with a theoretical construction of effective learners. Journal of Further and Higher Education , 37 (5) pp. 715-735. 10.1080/0309877X.2012.684040.

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Abstract

Following an investigation of students' views of one further education college's teaching and learning model (McQueen and Webber 2009), a second project, reported here, sought to review students' ideas about what constitutes an effective learner. For this project a set of 36 statements was constructed based on theoretical models and research about effective learning. A total of 102 further education (FE) students aged 16-21, drawn from both vocational and academic courses, contributed to focus group discussions about their definitions of an effective learner, whether their views have changed since school and who, if anyone, helps people to become effective learners. They then individually rated the statements for both importance and the extent to which each element described them as learners. In general, what was considered important correlated with self-descriptions of students (p = 0.01). However, there were some exceptions. For example, statements in the category of self-management and regulation were given higher ratings for importance than for 'like me'. Females believed ability is fixed, and valued collaboration significantly more than males. Overall the statements were found to match many of the points raised by the students in their focus groups. Two further items were referred to: these were the importance of intrinsic motivation and positive teacher-student and peer relationships. The latter was discussed in the vocational groups; those on academic courses were more critical of being 'spoon-fed' information to pass exams. Engaging students in discussion about learning is suggested as a useful meta-cognitive strategy to develop characteristics of effective learners. © 2013 Copyright UCU.

Type: Article
Title: What is an effective learner? A comparison of further education students' views with a theoretical construction of effective learners
DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2012.684040
UCL classification: UCL > School of Education
UCL > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice & Society
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1528415
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