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What do student learning inventories really measure? A critical analysis of students' responses to the Approaches to Learning and Studying Inventory

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Student learning inventories are used by both researchers and educators as tools to identify ‘at risk’ students. This article critically interrogates the results of one of these inventories, the 18-item Approaches to Learning and Studying Inventory. In-depth interviews were held with a purposive sample of 10 first-year engineering students who had completed the inventory. During interviews, students were asked to elaborate on their responses for those items where they gave inconsistent or contradictory responses. The analysis of these data pointed to a range of underlying reasons for apparently contradictory responses to the inventory items. In some instances students were confused by the statement, in some they picked on a particular word instead of the meaning of the statements, and sometimes they gave responses which referred to a particular context. These findings highlight the difficulties in interpreting inventory responses, particularly when used in a culturally diverse classroom.
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Keywords: approaches to learning; approaches to studying inventory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Research in Engineering Education,University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Publication date: 01 November 2012

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