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Theories of intelligence, learning behaviours and approaches to learning: A comparison between traditional and mature students

Baker, Trudy (2017) Theories of intelligence, learning behaviours and approaches to learning: A comparison between traditional and mature students. (Unpublished)


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Typically research in education has examined students’ intellectual strengths as a key correlate to academic success. It is now widely acknowledged that other individual differences, rather than intellectual intelligence alone, may have a greater influence. This current study will build on existing research and in addition look at student populations, and the increasing diversity pertaining to age between traditional and mature students. To assess how these populations differ, this study investigates how non-cognitive factors such as ‘theories of intelligence’ can influence learning behaviours and approaches to learning. A sample of 126 students participated in this study, 61 ‘Traditional’ students (22 years-of-age and lower) and 65 ‘Mature’ students (23 years-of-age and higher). Participants’ theories of intelligence, learning behaviours and approaches to study were measured using 3 self-reporting questionnaires. Theories of intelligence were measured using Dweck’s ‘Entity’ questionnaire; approaches to learning were measured using the ‘Approaches and Study Skills Inventory’ (ASSIST).The questionnaire used to measure learning behaviours was developed specifically for this research and was analysed using principle component factor analysis. The analysis identified 4 subscales; Perseverance, Resilience, Effort and Confidence, which were used to measure students learning behaviours. Results for theories of intelligence indicate a significant difference with mature students, overall tending to hold more of a growth mindset. Learning behaviours for both groups reflected a learning goal orientation; however there was still a significant difference between groups, with mature students displaying more of learning goal orientation then traditional students. Approaches to learning indicated that there was a significant difference and that mature students adopted a deeper approach to learning then that of traditional students. It is suggested that further research looking at how non-cognitive factors differ between the two groups is essential for gaining an understanding of the now diverse student undergraduate population.

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