Learning approaches and their relationship to undergraduate students’ academic performance at the University of Dar es Salaam

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University of Dar es Salaam
The purpose of this study was to investigate students learning approaches at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and their relationship to academic performance. It examines the context of teaching and learning and how these have determined students learning approach and whether academic performance can be associated with particular learning approaches. The objectives of the study were first, to examine learning approaches commonly used by students, secondly, to investigate lecturers’ views about the learning approaches used by their students and thirdly, to examine the relationship between learning approaches and students academic performance. The respondents were firstly, 1280 undergraduate students who were enrolled in different courses offered by the UDSE for the academic year 2010/2011 at the same time taking various courses from UDBS, CASS, CONAS, IDS, IKS. Secondly, were 39 lecturers from the same six teaching units. Data were collected using a modified Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ). The results on 15 out of the 20 SPQ items suggest that overall; UDSM students predominantly use deep learning approaches. Surface learning approaches featured highest on items related to assessment and examinations. Chi-square analysis based on students’ age; gender; type of school attended at ACSE show that learning approaches differ significantly in some items of the SPQ. For example, in terms of age, students above 24 years seem to have an elaborate study time; more males than females pay attention to details of assessment demands, learn more by rote, tend to question the things they hear in lectures and read in books and tend to look for suggested readings that go with lectures. In terms of type of school attended at ACSE, students from urban schools seem to use surface learning approaches more than those from rural schools; those from boys only schools use surface learning approaches more and pay more attention to assessment demands; those from girls’ only schools tend to use deep learning approaches and restrict their study to what is specifically set; those from boarding schools only use surface learning approaches and find the best way to pass examinations is to remember answers to likely questions. There was a significant difference in terms of programmes enrolled where those in BEd (Early Childhood Education) seem to relate new information with what they know more than those in the other programmes. There was no significant difference with regard to mode of entry to the University; and whether they attended public or private school. The correlation between GPA scores and learning approaches scores were significant in favour of females above 24 years of age, males of 18-24 years, public schools, boys’ only schools, and boarding schools and BEd (Early Childhood Education). The results were not significant in terms of location of school attended at ACSE (rural vs urban). From the above findings the study recommends that teaching and learning at UDSM to revisit the area of assessment and examination where students seem to depend highly on surface learning approaches. There is a dire need for comparative research in students learning approaches between UDSM and other Higher Learning Institutions in Tanzania
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF LB2368.T34K37)
College students, Academic achievement, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Kasumba, F. O (2014) Learning approaches and their relationship to undergraduate students’ academic performance at the University of Dar es Salaam, Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam.