Approaches to Learning by Students in the Biological Sciences: Implications for teaching
This study is an investigation of the epistemological beliefs and study habits of students undertaking first year courses in Biological Chemistry and Biochemistry. In particular, we were interested in the relationship between students' epistemological beliefs about learning and knowledge, approaches to learning and achievement. The study adopted a mixed-methods approach in which quantitative and qualitative data have provided complementary insights into the beliefs and approaches adopted by these students. Our findings indicate that most students tend to adopt beliefs that knowledge and learning involves the accumulation of information and the capacity to reproduce on demand in examinations. Approaches to learning reflect these beliefs and are dominated by rote learning and preference for assessment by examination. Few students adopt strategies that emphasise the relationship of concepts to those already learnt or to applications relevant to biological science. Implications of this study for reform of university teaching practices as well as secondary practices are discussed.
International Journal of Science Education