Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students conceptions of formal learning and experiences of informal learning

Boulton-Lewis, Gillian M., Marton, Ference, Lewis, David, & Wilss, Lynn A. (2000) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students conceptions of formal learning and experiences of informal learning. Higher Education, 39(4), pp. 469-488.

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Abstract

This paper describes an investigation of conceptions of learning held by 22 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from three universities in Queensland, Australia. Other areas investigated were students' experiences of informal learning, their reasons for studying and the strategies they used to learn. Research into conceptions of learning is gaining impetus and current beliefs include the premise that approaches to learning adopted by university students, and hence learning outcomes, are closely related to their conceptions of learning. There is substantial research focused on Aboriginal learning styles in early childhood and primary school which indicates that Aboriginal children prefer to learn in a practical way as well as through observation and imitation and trial and error. Very little research has focused specifically on Aboriginal university students' conceptions of learning. Results of this study found that these students view and approach formal university learning in much the same way as other university students and most hold quantitative conceptions of learning. The most interesting result was the difference between students' conceptions of formal learning and their experiences of informal learning. Many students' experiences of informal learning were grounded in practical activities or exhibited a cultural focus, however, most formal learning is not dependent upon practical or cultural knowledge. It is proposed that formal learning for Indigenous students recognise and include an Indigenous perspective such as integrating, where appropriate, practical strategies for learning. We also suggest that Indigenous students be helped to develop conceptions that will enable them to learn formal, theoretical material successfully.

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ID Code: 75463
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: HERN
DOI: 10.1023/A:1004060422023
ISSN: 1573-174X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Higher Education (130103)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Deposited On: 24 Aug 2014 23:43
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2014 23:43

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