What Do Children Think Learning Is? Their Conceptions of Learning


This paper presents the results of a study that explored the conceptions of learning held by some students in the lower, middle and upper grades of primary school. Using data collected through interviews six qualitatively different conceptions of learning were identified. These conceptions ranged from having a social orientation at the lowest level to having a meaning orientation at the highest level. The highest conceptions of learning contained many features in common with the adult conceptions of learning identified by Marton, Dall'Alba and Beaty (1993). The emergence of these different conceptions of learning support the notion that learning has multiple meanings which may be dependent on the interrelationship between individuals, contexts and cultures.


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