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Learning behaviour and learning outcomes: the roles for social influence and field of study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lillian Smyth, Kenneth I. Mavor, Michael J. Platow

School/Research organisations


Research has demonstrated a significant role of discipline social identification in predicting learning approaches, even controlling for individual differences. Smyth et al. (Educ Psychol 35(1):53–72, 2015. doi:10.1080/01443410.2013.822962) suggest that learners share discipline-based social identifications, and that this identification, in combination with relevant norms, influences the adoption of learning approaches. The current paper extends this analysis in two directions. First, the effect of broad field of study is examined for systematic differences across content domains. Secondly, the model examines effects on student perceptions of teaching quality and intentions to continue within a discipline. Results provide support for Smyth et al.’s (2015) model, demonstrating links between discipline identification, perceived norms, learning approaches and outcomes. Strongly identified students, students who perceived deep learning norms and students taking a deep learning approach all reported more positive outcomes. Disciplinary variations in responses to learning approaches and outcomes were also found, broadly in line with that found in the Biglan–Becher literature.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-95
Number of pages27
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Issue number1
Early online date17 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

    Research areas

  • Higher education, Social identity, Normative influence, Field of study, Learning approaches

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