Orientations to Teaching and Their Effect on the Quality of Student Learning

By Kember, David; Gow, Lyn | Journal of Higher Education, January-February 1994 | Go to article overview

Orientations to Teaching and Their Effect on the Quality of Student Learning


Kember, David, Gow, Lyn, Journal of Higher Education


There exists now a voluminous literature that characterises "student learning." Of particular importance to this article are the attempts to categorise and classify underlying conceptions of student learning. Conceptions of student learning have been divided into five hierarchical categories: learning as the quantitative increase in knowledge, learning as memorisation, learning as acquisition of facts and procedures that can be retained and/or utilized in practice, learning as the abstraction of meaning, and learning as an interpretative process aimed at the understanding of reality |28~. Beaty, Dall'Alba and Marton |2~ have subsequently identified the same five conceptions and added a sixth: "changing as a person."

These conceptions of learning are important because of the evidence that they have a strong influence upon the study approach students use for particular study tasks |for example, 34~. The terms "surface" and "deep" are now commonly used to describe student approaches to learning after the pioneering work of Marton and Saljo |23~. With the surface approach the student concentrates upon the surface features of a text or study task, resulting in a tendency toward a reproductive orientation to study tasks: the student attempts to memorise material thought likely to be relevant to examination questions. A deep approach, on the other hand, is evidenced when students concentrate upon the underlying meaning of readings or projects, usually because of an intrinsic interest in the material.

We might want to speculate whether there is a similar relationship between conceptions or orientations to teaching and the way courses are taught, for this relationship might, in turn, affect the quality of student learning. There has been less research, however, into corresponding classifications for teaching. Because it is now widely agreed that teaching does have a profound effect on student learning, such work could be quite useful. There is now a substantial body of evidence on the effect of teaching method, learning tasks, assessment demands, and workload on student approaches to learning. Observations that students make heavy use of reproductive approaches have been found to coincide with factors such as: high workloads |6, 7~; surface-level assessment demands |9, 33~; low levels of intrinsic interest in the course |10~; and lack of freedom in the learning environment |27~.

In this article we discuss data from a questionnaire we developed, which identifies two orientations to lecturers' teaching at institutions of higher education: "knowledge transmission" and "learning facilitation." The learning facilitation orientation is made up of five subscales with labels: problem solving, more interactive teaching, facilitative teaching, pastoral interest, and motivator of students. The knowledge transmission orientation has four subscales: training for specific jobs, use of media, imparting information, and knowledge of subject.

We go on to relate data from this questionnaire to results of longitudinal surveys on the quality of student learning using the Biggs |3~ Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ). This instrument incorporates scales that examine the extent to which deep and surface approaches to study are employed. We believe that our study does establish a relationship between lecturers' orientations to teaching and the quality of student learning.

Pratt |26~ has recently reported a phenomenographic study of the conceptions of teaching of adult educators. He suggests five classifications for conceptions of teaching: delivering content, modelling ways of being, cultivating the intellect, facilitating personal agency, and seeking a better society. Our orientations are rather broader than Pratt's conceptions but there is a correspondence between our "knowledge transmission" orientation and Pratt's "delivering content" conception. Our learning facilitation orientation seems to encompass both the "cultivating the intellect" and the "facilitating personal agency" conceptions.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Orientations to Teaching and Their Effect on the Quality of Student Learning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.