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Impact of Entry Mode on Students' Approaches to Learning: A Study of Accounting Students

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This study examines the impact of prior learning experience on students' approaches to learning (SAL). It compares SAL of accounting students admitted to university in Australia on the basis of Institutes of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) qualifications (TAFE-to-university) and through direct entry mode (Year 12-to-university). The motivation for the study lies in the need to understand potential learning differences to inform learning interventions for optimal learning outcomes for all students—regardless of entry mode. The findings suggest that prior TAFE learning experience impacts SAL in university. However, the findings question the stereotypical view of the TAFE learning context as fostering surface approaches to learning, as higher scores on deep and achieving approaches were recorded by TAFE-to-university students. The level of adoption of a surface approach was found to be less among students undertaking predominantly third-year units regardless of entry mode. This study's findings have important implications for designing curricula and assessment for accounting units to cater for all students from different educational pathways, for university teachers to adopt an inclusive approach, and for higher education access policy.

Keywords: Entry pathway; Institutes of Technical and Further Education (TAFE); higher education; students' approaches to learning (SAL); study process questionnaire (SPQ)

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09639284.2012.661605

Affiliations: 1: Swinburne University of Technology, Australia 2: Monash University, Australia

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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