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Changing Academic Environment and Diversity in Students’ Study Philosophy, Beliefs, and Attitudes in Higher Education

By Mohammad Alauddinh and Adrian Ashman

Abstract

The diversity of students in higher education in Australia and elsewhere has changed significantly over the past two decades. The existing literature has provided limited clarity in terms of their effects on teaching and learning or on the way in which social and cultural changes shape what university students think about the teaching and learning process. Employing a large data set of survey responses from a leading Australian university, this paper provides an analysis of student perceptions of the teaching and learning process, in regard to their study philosophy, beliefs, and attitudes. Survey data were analysed in two stages. First, factor analysis was used to explore themes (or dimensions) within the survey. Multivariate analysis of variance was then undertaken using students’ factor scores as dependent variables, and age, sex, ethnicity, study discipline, study level, academic performance, and sex-ethnicity interaction as grouping variables. Three factors (Deep Learning, Expediency, and Responsibility) appeared to reflect students’ study philosophy, beliefs, and attitude toward teaching and learning. Students’ response on the three factors varied according to age, sex, ethnicity, study discipline, and academic performance, and sex-ethnicity effects. Students in business-related disciplines appeared to display greater expediency than peers in other disciplines, treating university education like any other commodity.

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