The influence of teachers' teaching approaches on students' learning approaches: the student perspective

S.A.J. Beausaert*, M.S.R. Segers, D.P.A. Wiltink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Research on the relation between teaching and learning approaches has been mainly conducted in higher education and it is not yet clear to what extent the results can be generalised when it comes to secondary education. Purpose: the purpose of this study was to research how students in secondary education perceive their teachers’ approaches to teaching in different disciplines, and how this relates to their own learning approaches. Additionally, differences in teaching approaches between mathematics and language teachers were investigated. Sample: the participants in this study were 128 students randomly selected at two secondary schools in two different cities in the netherlands. Both schools are located in a city with more than 200,000 inhabitants. The students are spread across three different educational levels: lower secondary vocational education (vmbo, 12–18?years), higher secondary education (havo, 12–18?years) and academically oriented vocational education (vwo, 12–18?years). Design and methods: in this cross-sectional study, instead of teachers’ self-reporting, teaching approaches were measured by student perceptions, which were gathered by means of a questionnaire (n=128). Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to identify whether perceived teacher approaches predicted students’ learning approaches. Finally, analysis of variance (anova) and analysis of covariance (ancova) were carried out to explore differences in how students in mathematics and dutch-language courses perceived the teaching approaches of their teachers and which learning approaches they consequently adopted. Results: results indicate that a teacher-centred approach predicts a surface approach to learning and a student-centred approach predicts a deep approach to learning. Next, it was found that students in dutch-language courses perceive their teachers as more student-centred, and are hence more likely to adopt a deep approach to learning than students in mathematics courses. Conclusions: these results suggest that when schools aim to support students in developing deep-learning approaches, attention on a school level should be paid to teachers’ approaches to teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalEducational Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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