Developing deep learning approaches and personal teaching efficacy within a preservice teacher education context

Christopher Gordon, Ray Debus

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    151 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: University students' approaches to learning have been demonstrated to affect learning outcomes across a wide range of courses, favouring the use of a deep approach. Interventions to promote the use of deep approaches have had mixed success, with the most successful interventions involving large-scale course redesign. AIMS: This paper describes a study in which contextual modifications were implemented in an existing preservice teacher education programme to increase students' use of deep approaches to learning and reduce their reliance on the use of surface approaches, without the need for major redesign. Students' perceptions of their competence in performing the tasks of teaching (personal teaching efficacy) were also expected to improve in response to improvements in quality learning. SAMPLE: Three cohorts of students (N = 134), enrolled in a preservice teacher education degree programme at a rural university in New South Wales, Australia participated in the study. METHOD: A longitudinal quasi-experimental design was used, with Cohort 1 acting as a control while Cohorts 2 and 3 represented treatment groups. Repeated measures were taken on Biggs' (1987b) Study Process Questionnaire, a modified version of Gibson and Dembo's (1984) Teacher Efficacy Scale and the Academic subscale within Lefcourt's (1981) Multidimensional-Multiattributional Causality Scale. An action research paradigm was embedded to enable the development and refinement of the altered teaching approaches. RESULTS: Results indicated that the modifications to teaching methods, task requirements and assessment processes applied to the treatment group encouraged changes in students' approaches to learning by firstly reducing their use of surface approaches and later increasing the use of deep approaches. While both treatment and contrast groups exhibited equivalent growth in teaching efficacy, differences between cohorts were noted in the sources that informed personal teachingefficacy at the conclusion of the course. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the study succeeded in its major goal of improving the quality of teaching and learning in this teacher education programme. The results conform to the findings of previous research and are consistent with learning approach theory. While the specific contextual modifications used in the current study may not necessarily be transferable to other settings, the processes employed in the generation of those modifications could find wider applicability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)483-511
    Number of pages29
    JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    Dive into the research topics of 'Developing deep learning approaches and personal teaching efficacy within a preservice teacher education context'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this