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LEARNING APPROACH AND OUTCOME: SOME EMPIRICAL OBSERVATIONS

ROGER SÄLJÖ
Instructional Science
Vol. 10, No. 1 (APRIL 1981), pp. 47-65
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23368266
Page Count: 19
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LEARNING APPROACH AND OUTCOME: SOME EMPIRICAL OBSERVATIONS
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Abstract

Various kinds of empirical investigations have shown that differences in learning strategies or approaches exist. In the present study it is argued that in many such studies, in spite of the disparities in the theoretical and methodological frameworks employed, the differences between strategies are often described in rather similar terms. What emerges from such research is quite often a distinction between a memorizing, reproductive strategy or approach on the one hand and on the other a strategy which is characterized as implying a focussing on comprehending main ideas and principles and, in general, on a more organizing and reflective attitude towards the learning material. The results of the empirical study reported here indicate: (a) that a similar distinction exists in every-day thinking about learning, and (b) that whether a person, according to his own spontaneous description, uses one or the other of these two approaches appears to have interesting consequences for the outcome. The main consequence of differences in approach may however perhaps not be found in how much people learn in a quantitative sense, but rather in what kind of information is focussed on and learned. It is argued that a more descriptively orientated psychology of learning is urgently needed, i.e. a kind of research which attempts to reveal what learning in real life is like and which furthermore in a more sensitive way tries to reveal the consequences of differences in strategy or approach for the outcome of learning.

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