The Relationship between Students' Approaches to Learning and the Assessment of Learning Outcomes

D. Gijbels*, G. van de Watering, F.J.R.C. Dochy, P.G.C. van den Bossche

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

82 Citations (Web of Science)


The purpose of the present study is to gain more insight into the relationship between students’ approaches to learning and students’ quantitative learning outcomes, as a function of the different components of problem-solving that are measured within the assessment. Data were obtained from two sources: the revised two factor study process questionnaire (r-spq-2f) and students’ scores in their final multiple-choice exam. Using a model of cognitive components of problem-solving translated into specifications for assessment, the multiple-choice questions were divided into three categories. Three aspects of the knowledge structure that can be targeted by assessment of problem-solving were used as the distinguishing categories. These were: understanding of concepts; understanding of the principles that link concepts; and linking of concepts and principles to application conditions and procedures. The 133 second year law school students in our sample had slightly higher scores for the deep approach than for the surface approach to learning. Plotting students’ approaches to learning indicated that many students had low scores for both deep and surface approaches to learning. Correlational analysis showed no relationship between students’ approaches to learning and the components of problem-solving being measured within the multiple choice assessment. Several explanations are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-341
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychology of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

Cite this