DETERMINANTS OF PERCEIVED LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS

M. Ferreira, A.P. Cardoso, J.L. Abrantes

Instituto Politécnico de Viseu (PORTUGAL)
BACKGROUND
The aimed of this research is to identify some key determinants of perceived learning in higher education level. This study is rooted in the most recent concerns about teaching quality in higher education institutions and in the need of understanding the variables that might be determinants in the students’ learning outcomes. Issues relating perceived learning, namely in higher education, received little attention in the literature (Abrantes et al., 2007; Young et al., 2003; Paswan and Young, 2002). However, the understanding of some related key variables may contribute to valuable information for better higher teaching organizations and therefore more success academic.
Using data from 868 higher students of Polytechnic Institute of Viseu (Portugal), the authors examine the relations between constructs like perceived learning, learning performance, student interest on course and self-esteem.
Perceived learning involves self-assessment of students on the learning and their feelings towards the field of study (Marks, 200).
Learning performance assesses multiple dimensions of learning outcomes, such as students’ self-evaluation of knowledge, understanding, and skills and their desire to learn more (Young et al., 2003).
Student interest reflects input into the course, such as attention level in class, interest in learning the material, perception of a course’s intellectual challenge, and acquired competence in the field (Abrantes et al., 2007).
Self-esteem covers dimensions concerning feel lonely at school, have friends who break friendship and feel sad because he (she) have nobody to talk at school (Murasko, 2007).

METHODS
It is a transversal research, framed by a quantitative paradigm, which intends to analyse the relationship between constructs like perceived learning, learning performance, student interest on course and self-esteem. The research carried out involved administering a set of educational scales to a sample of 868 students of higher education level from Polythecnic Institute of Viseu (Portugal).
Except for self-esteem, these scales were used in prior educational studies and have been shown to exhibit sound psychometric properties. Lisrel software was used to develop the Structured Equation Model of perceived learning determinants.
These constructs are measured through existing scales: perceived learning (Marks, 2000); learning performance (Young et al., 2003); student interest on course (Paswan & Young, 2003) and self-esteem scale, namely concerning feel lonely at school, have friends who break friendship and feel sad because he (she) have nobody to talk at school (Murasko, 2007).

CONCLUSION
A structural model reveals that student interest on course is the primary influence on perceived learning, followed by learning performance. The self-esteem, namely the feel lonely at school, have friends who break friendship and feel sad because he (she) have nobody to talk at school influences negatively the student interest on course and also learning performance.
These findings provide information for teachers and school managers revealing the importance of higher education institutions develop pedagogical strategies that might integrate students in class and school, in order to improve the student interest and their involvement in the course and in learning.