Mohammad Ahmad Alkhateeb, Hashemite University, Jordan
Osamah Abdel Qader Bani Milhem, Hashemite University, Jordan


The study attempted to characterize students’ conceptions of learning and approaches to learning and revealing the correlation between the students’ concepts and approaches to learning. The researchers used qualitative content analysis and a descriptive approach. The study population comprised 90 male and female students of the Faculty of Educational Science in the HU University, Jordan, during the 2019/2020 academic year. The quantitative concepts were dominating among students (87.77%), especially the concept of learning as a knowledge increase (33.33%). On the other hand, the qualitative concepts of learning were low (12.22%), especially on the person change (2.22%). In addition, there was an emergence of a new concept of learning outside the traditional concepts, namely learning as exam preparation. The results showed that the deep approach to learning was low, and the surface approach to learning was high. The results further showed a correlation between the quantitative concepts of learning and the surface approach to learning, as well as a correlation between the qualitative concepts of learning the deep approach to learning. Hence, the general conclusion implies that if teachers are to place learners at the heart of the learning process, they must be aware of the concepts of learning and learning approaches of the students.


approaches to learning; concepts of learning; university students; surface approach to learning; deep approach to learning

Full Text:



Abhayawansa, S., & Fonseca. L. (2010). Conceptions of learning and approaches to learning? A phenomenographic study of a group of overseas accounting students from Sri Lanka. Accounting Education, 19(5), 527-550.

Alamdarloo, G., Moradi, S. & Dehshiri, G. (2013). The relationship between students’ conceptions of learning and their academic achievement. Psychology, 4(1), 44-49.

Allan, B. (2003). Approaches to learning and academic achievement of Filipino students. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 164(1), 101-114.

Biggs, J. & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching for quality learning at the university: what the student does? (3rd ed). New York, NY: Open University Press.

Boulton-Lewis, G., Marton, F., Lewis, D., & Wilss, L. (2000). Learning in formal and informal contexts: Conceptions and strategies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students. Learning and Instruction, 10(5), 393-444.

Chiou, G., Lee, M., & Tsai, C. (2013). High school students’ approaches to learning physics with relationship to epistemic views on physics and conceptions of learning physics. Research in Science and Technological Education, 31(1), 1-15.

Cicchetti, D. (1994). Guidelines, criteria, and rules of thumb for evaluating normed and standardized assessment instruments in psychology. Psychological Assessment, 6(4), 284-290.

Cohen, J. (1960) A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20, 37-46.

Dahlin, B., & Watkins, D. (2000). The role of repetition in the processes of memorising and understanding: A comparison of the reviews of German and Chinese secondary school students in Hong Kong. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70(1), 65-84.

Duarte, A. (2007). Conceptions of learning and approaches to learning in Portuguese students. Higher Education, 54(6), 781-794.

Duff, A., & McKinstry, S. (2007). Students’ approaches to learning. Issues in Accounting Education, 22(2), 183-214.

Edmunds, R., & Richardson, J. (2009). Conceptions of learning approaches to studying and personal development in UK Higher Education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79(2), 295-309.

Entwistle, N. J., & Peterson, E. R. (2004). Conceptions of learning and knowledge in higher education: Relationships with study behaviour and influences of learning environments. International Journal of Educational Research, 41(2004), 407-428. https://doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2005.08.009.

Güner, T. D., & Rıza, A. A. (2008). Examining learning approaches of science student teachers according to the class level and gender. US-China Education Review, 5(12), 54-59.

Hong, Y.-Y., & Salili, F. (2000). Challenges ahead for research on Chinese students’ learning motivation in the new millennium. Journal of Psychology in Chinese Societies, 1(2), 1-12.

Khan, M., Abdou, B., Kettunen, J., & Gregory, S. (2019). A phenomenographic research study of students’ conceptions of mobile learning: An example from higher education. SAGE Open, 9(3), 1-17.

Klatter, E. B., Lodewijks, H. G. L. C., & Aarnouste, C. A. J. (2001). Learning conceptions of young students in the final year of primary education. Learning and Instruction, 11(6), 485-516.

Lai, P. Y. M., & Chan, K. W. (2005, 28 November-2 December). A structural model of conceptions of learning, achievement motivation and learning strategies of Hong Kong teacher education students. Paper presented at Australian Association of Research in Education Parramatta Conference, Sydney.

Lee, M.-H., Johanson, R., & Tsai, C.-C. (2008). Exploring Taiwanese high school students’ conceptions of and approaches to learning science through a structural equation modeling analysis. Science Education, 92(2), 191-220.

Li, W.-T., Liang, J.-C., & Tsai, C.-C. (2013). Relational analysis of college chemistry-major students’ conceptions of and approaches to learning chemistry. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 14(4), 555-565.

Lindblom-Ylänne, S., Parpala, A., & Postareff, L. (2019). What constitutes the surface approach to learning in the light of new empirical evidence? Studies in Higher Education, 44(12), 2183-2195.

Marouchou, D. V. (2012). Can students' concept of learning influence their learning outcomes? Higher Learning Research Communications, 2(2), 18-33.

Marton, F., Dall’ Alba, G., & Beaty, E. (1993). Conceptions of learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 19(3), 277-300.

Monroy, F., & González-Geraldo, J. (2018). Measuring learning: discrepancies between conceptions of and approaches to learning. Educational Studies, 44(1), 81-98.

Monroy, F., & Pina, F. (2014). Factors affecting student approaches to learning: A systematic review. Educación XX1, 17(2), 105-124.

Mørk, G., Magne, T. A., Carstensen, T., Stigen, L., Åsli, L. A., Gramstad, A., … & Bonsaksen, T. (2020). Associations between learning environment variables and students’ approaches to studying: A cross-sectional study. BMC Medical Education 20, 120(2020), 1-8.

Núñez, R., Paiva, F., Lourenço, A., Cerezo, R., & Valle, A. (2013). The relationship between approaches to teaching and approaches to studying: A two-level structural equation model for biology achievement in high school. Metacognition Learning, 8(1), 47-77.

Owusu-Agyeman, Y., & Fourie-Malherbe, M. (2018). Learning conceptions and priorities of adult engineering students in higher education. Cogent Education, 5(1), 1528700.

Peterson, E., Brown, G., & Irving, S. (2010). Secondary school students’ conceptions of learning and their relationship to achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(3), 167-176.

Purdie, N., & Hattie, J. (2002). Assessing students’ conceptions of learning. Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 2(2002), 17-32.

Ramburuth, P., & McCormick, J. (2001). Learning diversity in higher education: A comparative study of Asian international and Australian students. Higher Education, 42(3), 333-350

Richardson, J. (2010). Conceptions of learning and approaches to studying among white and ethnic minority students in distance education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(4), 535-556.

Richardson, J. (2011). Approaches to studying, conceptions of learning and learning styles in higher education. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(3), 288-293.

Sadi, Ö., & Dagyar, M. (2015). High school students’ epistemological beliefs, conceptions of learning, and self-efficacy for learning biology: A study of their structural models. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 11(5), 1061-1079

Shen. K., Lee, M., Tsai, C., & Chang, C. (2016). Undergraduate students’ earth science learning: Relationships among conceptions, approaches, and learning self-efficacy in Taiwan. International Journal of Science Education, 38(9), 1527-1547.

Suyitno, I., Pratiwi, Y., & Martutik, R. (2019). How prior knowledge, prospect, and learning behaviour determine learning outcomes of BIPA students? Cakrawala Pendidikan, 38(3), 499-510.

Tsai, P., Chai, C., Hong, H., & Koh, J. (2017) Students’ conceptions of and approaches to knowledge building and its relationship to learning outcomes. Interactive Learning Environments, 25(6), 749-761.

Tsai, C. (2004). Conceptions of learning science among high school students in Taiwan: A phenomenographic analysis. International Journal of Science Education, 26(14), 1733-1750.

Tuononen, T., Parpala, A., & Lindblom-Ylänne, S. (2019). Complex interrelations between academic competences and students' approaches to learning - mixed-methods study. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44(8), 1080-1097.

Umapathy, K., Ritzhaupt, A., & Xu, Z. (2020). College students’ conceptions of learning of and approaches to learning computer science. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 58(3), 662-686.

Valadas, S. (2013). Conceptions of learning, approaches to learning and cognitive development: Students profiles in a Portuguese higher education institution. International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology, 2(1), 107-116.

Vettori, G., Vezzani, C., Bigozzi, L., & Pinto, G. (2018). The mediating role of conceptions of learning in the relationship between metacognitive skills/strategies and academic outcomes among middle-school students. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1985, 1-13.

Wallace, S. (2009). A Dictionary of Education. Oxford, CA: Oxford University Press.

Yang, X., Leung, F. & Zhang, S. (2019). Junior Secondary School Students’ Conceptions of and Approaches to Learning Mathematics and Their Relationships in Mainland China. Sustainability Journal, 11(9), 1-13.

Yildirim, A., & Simsek, H. (2005). Qualitative research methods in social sciences (5th ed.). Ankara: Seçkin Publications.



  • There are currently no refbacks.


Social Media:



 Creative Commons License
Jurnal Cakrawala Pendidikan by Lembaga Pengembangan dan Penjaminan Mutu Pendidikan UNY is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at

View Our Stats

Flag Counter