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Investigating the relationships between approaches to learning, learner identities and academic achievement in higher education

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-400
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education
Issue number3
Early online date18 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017


This study considers relationships between approaches to learning, learner identities, self-efficacy beliefs and academic achievement in higher education. In addition to already established survey instruments, a new scale, subject area affinity, was developed. The scale explores the extent to which students identify with their area of study and imagine being part of it in future. The new scale showed strong psychometric properties when it was tested on a sample of 4,377 students at a research intensive university. The new scale correlated positively with both the deep approach and self-efficacy scales. The new scale also correlated negatively with the surface approach scale. K-means cluster analysis identified seven distinct groups of students who espoused interpretable combinations of approaches, self-efficacy and subject area affinity. Cluster membership was associated with differences in academic achievement. Implications are discussed.

    Research areas

  • learner identities, approaches to learning, organised effort, self-efficacy beliefs, academic achievement

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