DEFINITION OF LEARNING AND PREFERENCES FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF COURSES AND TEACHING OF FIRST YEAR ROMANIAN UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
The purposes of this study were to compare the learning meaning definitions and preferences for different types of course and teaching between first year undergraduate from four Romanian faculties.
Two subscales from the ASSIST questionnaire were selected to examine “Carol Davila” University students’ beliefs and preferences. The first subscale was Part A “What is learning?” and the second subscale was Part C “Preferences for different types of course and teaching”.
No gender differences were observed for the “Beliefs about Learning” total scale and his subscales (surface and deep) and for “Preferences for different types of course and teaching” total scale and deep subscale. However, when items of the “Beliefs about Learning” scale were analyzed, female students scored statistically significantly higher than males when considering the learning as “understanding new material for yourself” (4.36 ± 0.86 vs. 3.89 ± 0.87, P<0.05). Regarding “Preferences for different types of course and teaching” scale, female students scored statistically significantly higher on the Surface learning subscale (17.00 ± 3.04 vs. 15.51 ± 3.53, P<0.05). When individual items were considered, females scored lower on “exams which allow me to show that I’ve thought about the course material for myself” (3.95 ± 1.04 vs. 4.50 ± 0.74, P<0.05) and higher on “courses in which it’s made very clear just which books we have to read” than males: (4.30 ± 1.03 vs. 3.73 ± 1.51, P<0.05). Statistically significant higher values were observed for first year dental technicians comparing with first year dental students regarding their “Beliefs about Learning” on both the total scale (26.60 ± 2.47 vs. 24.82 ± 3.99, P<0.05) and its Deep subscale (13.52 ± 1.40 vs. 12.23 ± 2.55, P = 0.003). Regarding “Preferences for different types of course and teaching” items, dental students scored statistically significantly higher on the preference for “lecturers who encourage us to think for ourselves and show us how they themselves think” than dental technicians students (4.58 ± 0.95 vs. 4.22 ± 0.65, P<0.05). In the whole sample, age negatively correlated with the “Preferences for different types of course and teaching” surface subscale (r = -0.243, P<0.05).
Significant differences were found between dental students and dental technicians students on “Beliefs about learning” scale. Learning outcomes for undergraduate dental students could be enhanced by employing deep learning approaches to teaching and learning.