Improving Student Learning Outcomes in a First Year Business Subject: International Journal of Learning

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The aim of this research was to investigate whether teaching and learning strategies that encourage students to adopt a deep approach to learning can improve their learning outcomes on a written task. This research was conducted within a first year business course offered at a major Australian university. Staff teaching the course were concerned about students’ written communication abilities and observed that academic performance on written tasks did not necessarily reflect their level of knowledge articulated through other methods. The study was conducted across two phases. In the first phase, students completed and discussed the results of the Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ) which identified their approach to learning in the particular context. The second phase involved implementing a teaching and learning activity that aimed to improve student learning outcomes on a written task by developing a shared understanding of the expectations of the task. This activity was based on the Structure of Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy (Biggs, 1991). Self peer and teacher feedback was integrated throughout this process. The results indicated that the majority of the participants made considerable gains. Student success, however, was not uniform. The general pattern of results indicated that students with an expressed desire to learning made greater improvement across the course of the study. These results are consistent with other studies. The analysis of the results also revealed that students who did not demonstrate a strong preference to either surface or deep approaches to learning (as measured by the SPQ) in this context also made considerable gains. The overall results of this study were very encouraging and have given valuable feedback about the process of developing and embedding teaching and learning strategies in the curriculum. Further, this study provided impetus for policy development and restructuring of the entire first year of the undergraduate degree program.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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