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Student Learning and Academic Understanding - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128021446, 9780128023693

Student Learning and Academic Understanding

1st Edition

A Research Perspective with Implications for Teaching

Author: Noel Entwistle
Paperback ISBN: 9780128053591
eBook ISBN: 9780128023693
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 21st June 2018
Page Count: 398
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The research described in Student Learning and Academic Understanding had its origins in the pioneering work of Ausubel, Bruner, and McKeachie and followed two complementary lines of development. The first line extended the ideas of Marton on approaches to learning through an inventory designed to assess these approaches among large samples of students and using in-depth interviews with students about their experiences of academic understanding. The second line drew on a range of studies to explore the influences of university teaching and the whole teaching–learning environment on the quality of student learning. Taking the research as a whole shows the value of complementary research approaches to describing student learning, while the findings brought together in the final chapter suggest ways of supporting deep approaches and the development of personal academic understanding among students.

Student Learning and Academic Understanding covers a wide range of concepts that have emerged from interviews in which students use their own experiences to describe how they study and what they find most useful in developing an academic understanding of their own. These concepts differ from the traditional psychological concepts by being focused on the specific contexts of university and college, although they are also relevant to the later stages of school education.

Key Features

  • Explains the origins, meanings, and relevance of "deep" and "surface" approaches to learning
  • Introduces an array of concepts derived from the specific contexts of university education
  • Illustrates how in-depth interviewing can be used to explore students’ ways of thinking
  • Provides a series of heuristic models to guide thinking about the influences on student learning
  • Includes an inventory on approaches to studying and experiences of teaching for use by teachers


Students and researchers in educational psychology, cognitive psychology, and developmental psychology

Table of Contents

  1. The evolution of psychological concepts describing human learning
    2. Predicting academic performance using psychological measures
    3. Using interviews to describe the development of students’ learning
    4. Approaches to learning and learning styles
    5. Strategic approaches to studying
    6. Forms of understanding and knowledge objects
    7. Measuring approaches to learning and studying
    8. Influences on approaches to learning and studying
    9. Implications of the research findings
    Appendix: Inventories used to assess different approaches, and a description of phenomenographic interviewing and analysis


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2018
21st June 2018
Academic Press
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Noel Entwistle

Noel Entwistle, PhD, was the Bell Professor of Education in the University of Edinburgh from 1978 until 2005 and previously Professor of Educational Research in the University of Lancaster. With his original degree in physics, Dr. Entwistle taught physics for three years before moving into educational research at the University of Aberdeen where he obtained a PhD in educational psychology. Subsequently, Fellow of the British Psychological Society, the Society for Research into Higher Education an the Scottish Council for Resarch in Education with honary doctorates from Gothenburg and Turku. Editor of the British Journal of Educational Psychology and the international journal, Higher Education.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK


"…I believe it is a prime text for the rapidly developing field of SOTL. It is a book of particular relevance to academics in various disciplines who wish to engage in evidence-based research on their own practice, by drawing on key ideas, research methodologies and examples of research strategies that support their engagement. It is also a very valuable text for research students – PhD and master’s by thesis - looking for ways of developing and discussing their own research methodologies and research outcomes. It would also be of interest to experienced researchers in the field in showing a coherent account of an important line of research on student learning in higher education." -- Michael Prosser, The University of Tasmania, Australia

"This book sets out the accumulated wisdom of one of the leading [educational psychologists] who has spent over 40 years engaging with and developing this field of research. The book is written in a highly engaging manner and is shaped by a passionate commitment to enable others to understand and to continue to develop this work. Noel Entwistle takes the reader through his ‘line of research’ and how this led to a focus on how students develop academic understanding. He provides an introduction to a way of thinking about teaching and learning in higher education, a map of the most significant ideas that underpin this way of thinking, and a manual for those who want to contribute to this body of research. … This is a thoughtful, scholarly, and engaging book, which offers the reader a wonderful introduction to and explanation of [this] line of research, and has the potential to provide the basis for a broader conversation about teaching and learning in higher education. It is a book that needs to be read, debated, and built-upon as a seminal text in the field." -- From review by Professor Paul Aswin, University of Lancaster, UK  in the international journal Higher Education 2019.

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