Why do students change their learning approaches? A mixed-methods study

Qiuzhi Xie, Li fang Zhang, Ronnel B. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the changeability of learning approaches via a longitudinal design (Study 1) and explores the factors that potentially influence the use of and change in learning approaches through a qualitative research method (Study 2) in a Chinese cultural context. In Study 1, 439 Chinese university students participated in the pre-test, and 352 of them also participated in the post-test 9 months later. The results of repeated measures MANOVA show that students’ deep learning approach did not change, but they increasingly used surface learning approach during their studies. In Study 2, 26 students from Study 1 joined focus group interviews. The results of content analysis indicate that assessment requirements, quality of teachers, students’ interests, and perceived peer influence affected learning approaches. These influences could also explain the differences in learning approaches based on academic disciplines and year of study. Theoretical and practical implications in education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1108
Number of pages20
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • assessment
  • interest
  • Learning approaches
  • learning environment
  • teachers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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