Perspectives on Thinking, Learning, and Cognitive Styles

By Robert J. Sternberg; Li-Fang Zhang | Go to book overview

Thus, investigating, in a phenomenographically inspired way, the views of learning held by these students, revealed valuable information that we believe would not otherwise have become apparent. It is from such information about views of learning held by different groups of students that we can continue to explore and refine what we understand about the phenomenon of learning.

We did not really find defining differences in terms of learning for this group of Indigenous students as compared with other groups of students in other studies. However, they have several characteristics in common with other students who do not have extensive experience of academic studies. Nevertheless, there was considerable variation within the group, which is consistent with the possible range of learning styles postulated on the basis of other research in Aboriginal learning from other theoretical perspectives. Instead of trying to characterize these students as individuals or as a group, it is more fruitful, we believe, to capture their ways of making sense of studying. When we do this, we find some remarkable changes in the second-year students in their ways of experiencing learning in a concretely situated sense and in their ways of going about it. These changes have been referred to as the widening of the lived space of learning, that is, the opening up of previously taken-for-granted aspects of studying. As these students experienced, in their studies, ways of thinking that were different from their own, we could claim that by experiencing variation, their thinking opened up to variation and ensuing alternative options.


Acknowledgment

The research upon which the study was based was funded during 1997 to 1999 by an Australian Research Council Large Grant. We also acknowledge the financial support of the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences.


References

Biggs, J. (1997a). Study process questionnaire manual: Student approaches to learning and studying. Hawthorn, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Biggs, J. (1997b). Student approaches to learning and studying. Hawthorn, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Boulton-Lewis, G. M., Marton, F., & Lewis, D. (1997). Conceptions of learning held by Aboriginal students in a tertiary program in indigenous primary health care. In R. Murray-Harve & H. C. Silins (Eds.), Learning and teaching in higher education: Advancing International perspectives, Proceedings of the Higher Education Research & Development Society of Australasia conference (pp. 21–36). Adelaide, South Australia: Flinders Press.

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