‘Towards a mapping of the student world’: The identification of variation in students' conceptions of, and motivations to learn, introductory accounting
Lucas, U. and Meyer, J. H. F. (2005) ‘Towards a mapping of the student world’: The identification of variation in students' conceptions of, and motivations to learn, introductory accounting. The British Accounting Review, 37 (2). pp. 177-204. ISSN 0890-8389
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bar.2004.10.002
This paper is concerned with a strand of educational research that seeks to support students in developing a better awareness and understanding of themselves as learners. Since it is difficult to ‘know’ our students individually there is value in knowing more about the dimensionality of variation within cohorts of students and the impact that this variation has upon their learning (i.e. how they vary in their engagement of accumulative (surface) or transformative (deep) learning processes). The paper identifies a means of identifying variation within a subject discipline: the linkage of a generic model of student learning (operationalised through the Reflections on Learning Inventory (RoLI©) [Meyer, J.H.F., 2000. An overview of the development and application of the Reflections on Learning Inventory (RoLI). Paper presented at the First RoLI Symposium, Imperial College, University of London, September; Meyer, J.H.F., 2004. The domain of the RoLI and recent extensions to it. Paper presented at the Second RoLI Symposium, Imperial College, University of London, 17th February] with a subject-specific Expectations of Learning Accounting (ELAcc) Inventory. The power of this approach lies in its ability to identify those discipline-specific conceptions and motivations that may be related to accumulative or transformative learning processes. The linked RoLI and ELAcc inventory was administered to 1211 students of introductory accounting across five UK universities. The findings show that there are variations in conception and approach to learning between students who specialise in accounting and those who do not, and between male and female accounting students. They also show the ways in which different conceptions of the subject of accounting are linked with transformative, accumulative and pathological learning processes. The main contribution of this paper is, firstly, to demonstrate that the linked RoLI and ELAcc inventory provides a means of identifying variation within cohorts of students and, secondly, to show that the linked inventory is effective in identifying educationally and statistically significant variation in a student cohort. The findings identify aspects of the linked inventory that require further development and raise important questions to be addressed by further research. However, in its current form the linked inventory also provides an initial diagnostic instrument that may be used to support students in their learning and as a basis for teaching interventions.