APPROACHES TO STUDYING AND LEARNING BY PRE-SERVICE SCIENCE STUDENTS AT A SOUTH AFRICAN INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING
Central University of Technology (SOUTH AFRICA)
The study sought to explore pre-service science students’ approaches to studying and learning. It endeavoured to answer the following research questions: (a) What are the study preferences of the students in the two groups? (b) What study process skills do the students employ? (c) Is there a significant difference in the study approaches of students in the two groups? (d) What contextual variables influence students’ approaches to studying in this study?
The sample consisted of 65 students – 34 second- and 31 third-year students enrolled for a Bachelor of Education degree in Natural Sciences at a university of technology in South Africa. The sample consisted of 34 (52.3%) male students and 31 (47.7%) female students whose ages ranged from 18 to 23 years.
The Revised Two Factor Study Process Questionnaire consisting of 20 items was used to collect data from the participants. Additional biographical information was requested from the students regarding their gender and study preferences. The findings revealed that 50.8% of the students preferred to study in the library, 47.7% preferred to study alone, and 52.4% preferred to study either with one friend (26.2%) or in a small group (26.2%).
The findings indicated that there was no statistically significant difference in the study approaches of the students when the two groups were compared for the full scale. Although there were observable differences when the scale was divided into deep and surface approaches to learning, the difference still was not statistically significant. There were statistically significant differences between the deep and surface scale within the two groups. On the whole, the students from both groups appeared to lean more towards employing deep approaches to learning (mean scores of 3.52 and 3.63 respectively) than the surface approaches (2.49 and 2.71), with the third-year group having higher mean scores than the second-year group of students. This implies that the third-year group has adjusted better to the demands of tertiary education than the second-year group.