Students' views of their learning environments and their implications for quality in tertiary teaching

Year: 1994

Author: Clarke, John A.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

One thousand, two hundred and forty-nine students from 10 Schools in five Faculties at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, completed the Perceptions of Learning Environments Questionnaire (PLEQ), a semi-structured but open-ended questionnaire designed to gather their perceptions about their learning environments. For any learning environment that they chose from a supplied list (large/small group lecture, seminar, one-to-one teaching, practical setting on/off campus), they were given the opportunity to write about events that they liked, did not like, felt helped their learning or felt hindered their learning ("statements"). In each case, they were also asked to indicate why ("reasons").

The data were classified into 55 categories of "statements" and 47 categories of "reasons". In almost all cases, the categories had positive and negative dimensions, e.g. "feedback" was either "provided" or "not provided". Analysis of the students' views indicate that, within their learning contexts, "like" and "helps learning" on the one hand and "dislike" and "hinders learning" are synonymous; and, for them, effective teaching is relevant, experiential and interactive while ineffective teaching lacks structure and direction, is inappropriately paced, lacks variety and occurs in a classroom that lacks discipline. The implications of these views and the existence of both forms of teaching are examined in terms of the quality debate.