ASSESSING SOME COMPONENTS OF LEARNING TO LEARN
University of Szeged/MTA-SZTE Research Group on the Development of Competencies (HUNGARY)
The theoretical background for the present research was provided by research on learning to learn (L2L). The first research projects on L2L date back to the 1970s. Since then L2L has been a frequently used notion in education but it lacks conceptual clarity. An important stage in research on L2L was the 2000 Lisbon summit. Key competencies were defined which are necessary for lifelong learning. Since L2L was also placed among the key competencies, more intensive research efforts started. Conferences and meetings were organised to discuss the definition and components of L2L, and to discover related research projects. Among these three research groups were found which had substantial experience in this field. The University of Helsinki started a large-scale research project in the 90’s and set up a theoretical framework for L2L. The University of Bristol developed the Effective Life Long Learning Inventory, which is a measurement tool for the analysis of learning effectiveness and learning power. The University of Amsterdam focused on cross-curricular skills, which were studied using a test consisting of eight sections. With the cooperation of these research groups and internationally well-known researchers a new L2L framework was created. This framework focused on three fields: the cognitive, affective and metacognitive fields.
Our university had the opportunity to carry out research in L2L as a part of the Developing Diagnostic Assessments project and we started developing measurement tools. The goal of the present research was to analyse students’ opinions about themselves and the school concerning effort and perseverance, self-efficiency, learning strategies, self-esteem, cooperation, competition, critical thinking, and support. We also looked for relationships between these, and analysed the effects of mothers’ education on students’ opinions. It is known that mothers’ education is a factor with a strong effect on students’ school performance in Hungary. Our research was carried out in spring 2012 in an online format with the goal of establishing whether the online questionnaire had appropriate reliability for students. We were looking for significant differences between 3-6th graders (n=1261), and attempted to identify correlations existing between the eight fields of the questionnaire, and the effects of mothers’ education on students’ responses. The students participating in the study were from various regions throughout Hungary and participated in the study on a voluntary basis.
As regards the reliability of the eight fields of the questionnaire we found acceptable reliability for all grades. We revealed significantly decreasing trends across grades in most fields. Effort and perseverance, for instance, showed a significant decrease (p<0.05). Comparing the results of Grades 3 and 6 we detected a significant decline in all fields except for critical thinking (p<0.05). However, we found higher ratings for Grade 5 in the field of critical thinking. It is worth noting that according to our results students get more support from others in Grade 4. A reasonable explanation for this finding is that Grades 4 and 5 constitute a transition period from the lower primary to the upper primary level. Students need more support in coping with the new school subjects. As regards mothers’ education, on the whole, it has a significant effect on students’ self-esteem, and on students’ effort and perseverance.