Are values more important than learning styles? - Factors influencing student performance at an international university

Year: 2006

Author: Lietz, Petra, Matthews, Bobbie

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Educators frequently face the question of the extent to which they can actually influence student learning, particularly as learners are also influenced by many other factors. In particular, it is of interest to identify so called malleable variables - that is factors which can be influenced by educators as compared with variables that educators are unable to change.

In this study, longitudinal data from a cohort of about 200 BA students at an international university in which the language of instruction is English are examined to investigate the way in which various student background factors influence changes in student performance over the three-year program. In particular, it is examined how students' values - as measured by the Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ) (Schwartz et al., 2001) - and approaches to learning - as measured by the Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ) (Biggs, 1987) - operate to influence student achievement both directly and indirectly. Finally, results indicate whether values or learning approaches have a greater impact on achievement once other factors, such as prior achievement, English proficiency, extracurricular activities and the educational background of the parents have been taken into account.