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A.L. Dumitrescu1, C.B. Dogaru2, C. Duta3, D. Badita2, C. Toma2, E.E. Iorgulescu4

1University "Lucian Blaga" Sibiu (ROMANIA)
2University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Carol Davila", Bucharest (ROMANIA)
3niversity of Medicine and Pharmacy "Carol Davila", Bucharest (ROMANIA)
4University of Bucharest (ROMANIA)
The purpose of this study was to compare the learning orientations of first year students from four Romanian faculties (Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, Dental Technicians College from “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy and Faculty of Chemistry, University of Bucharest).

Students’ learning orientations were measured by means of the Learning and Studying Questionnaire (LSQ) that was developed, validated and used in the Enhancing Teaching and Learning (ETL) Environments in Undergraduate Courses project of the University of Edinburgh, UK. Only the first section of the questionnaire was included in the present study: “What do you expect to get from the experience of higher education?”. The first part of the LSQ scale contained seven items covering learning orientations and reflecting four main functions of higher education – academic, vocational, personal and social - and two distinctive kinds of interest in the courses being taken – extrinsic and intrinsic: Intrinsic reasons (Items 1, 2 and 3); Social and personal reasons (Items 4 and 5); Career reasons (Item 6). The “lack of purpose” (Item 7) represents a negation of the defined orientations. A five-point Likert scale is used to register students’ responses to the items. Subscales were formed by adding together the responses on the items in that subscale and dividing the total by the number of items.

In total 208 students answered the questionnaire (mean age 20.23 ± 2.15; 74.5% females). For the whole sample, significant gender differences were observed for the learning orientations’s subscales with female students scoring higher on Intrinsic reasons (4.36 ± 0.56 vs. 4.09 ± 0.66, P<0.05); Social reasons (4.39 ± 0.62 vs. 4.16 ± 0.69, P<0.05) and Career reasons (4.54 ± 0.69 vs. 4.25 ± 0.97, P<0.05) subscales. Age correlated significantly with Intrinsic reasons (r = -0.205; P = 0.003) and with Social reasons subscales (r = -0.217; P = 0.002). Statistically significant differences were observed for Intrinsic reasons (P<0.0001), Social reasons (P = 0.003) and Lack of purpose scale (P = 0.001) according to faculty. Regarding Intrinsic reasons scale, first year chemistry students scored statistically significantly lower than their colleagues (3.85 ± 0.61 vs.4.60 ± 0.40 Medical, 4.15 ± 0.61 Dental Tehnicians, 4.52 ± 0.45 Dental), while dental technicians students scored lower than their medical (P<0.0001) and dental colleagues (P = 0.003). Regarding Social Reasons subscale, dental students scored higher than first year chemistry (4.56 ± 0.53 vs. 4.21 ± 0.75, P<0.05) and dental technicians students (4.56 ± 0.53 vs. 4.12 ± 0.52, P = 0.003). Regarding Lack of purpose scale, chemistry students scored statistically significant higher than medical students (2.67 ± 1.43 vs. 1.74 ± 1.05, P = 0.001).

As significant differences in learning orientations were observed according to gender and faculty, it is important to understand students' expectations of higher education and to further investigate the possibilities to enhance the offer of the educational institution.