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Occupational Therapy Students' Approaches to Learning: Considering the Impact of Culture

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Learning approaches describe the way that individuals approach tasks or learning situations and are influenced by individual characteristics and specific learning contexts. Cultural factors are likely to have an impact on various aspects of learning, yet the literature disagrees over the extent to which culture influences approaches to learning. With increasing cultural diversity in student cohorts and the contributions of culturally Western therapists to occupational therapy programmes in developing nations, this issue is worthy of exploration within the context of pre-registration education.

The Approaches to Study Inventory was used to explore differences in the approaches to learning of United Kingdom and Bangladeshi occupational therapy students studying in their home countries. Significant differences between the groups revealed that the Bangladeshi students displayed both stronger tendencies for deep approaches to learning (p < 0.05) and for less integrated superficial approaches to learning (p < 0.05). This apparent contradiction required careful consideration.

There is no single correct way to learn. This study's results reinforce the need for cultural sensitivity in not only clinical but also educational contexts. The cultural biases underpinning the constructs of deep and superficial learning approaches are explored. Educators are encouraged to recognise the potential for culture to influence how students engage within the learning environment and how they themselves construct learning opportunities.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at http://www.cot.co.uk/british-journal-bjot/british-journal-occupational-therapy

    Submissions can be made at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjot

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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