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Perceptions and their influences on approaches to learning

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Author(s): Jenna Tudor | Roger Penlington | Liz McDowell

Journal: Engineering Education
ISSN 1750-0044

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 69;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: student perceptions of engineering education | retention | learning contexts | engineering education research

ABSTRACT
This paper aims to highlight the importance of considering students’ perceptions of and approaches to undergraduate engineering education. Whilst considering techniques to maximise the retention of engineering students, it is also posited that understanding how students perceive their learning contexts at university is vital. It is also essential that we understand how these perceptions influence students’ approaches to their studies.This paper builds on existing research which takes a discipline focus to a discussion of the relationships linking quality of learning with generic research into approaches and perceptions of teaching and learning. It discusses an ongoing research project which is making use of a mixed methods research platform to investigate the complex nature of students’ perceptions and approaches. It is presented as a valuable methodology for adoption by engineering education researchers.The research is based on an exploratory sequential mixed methods design where the qualitative data is dominant. Initial analysis of the data collected during the pilot phase, supported by relevant literature, has been used to identify areas of the learning context which appear to influence students’ approaches to the engineering modules involved in the study. Some of the emerging themes are discussed in this paper with consideration for the impact on the teaching of engineering.
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