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On the role of discipline-related self-concept in deep and surface approaches to learning among university students

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


M. J. Platow, K. I. Mavor, D. M. Grace

School/Research organisations


The current research examined the role that students' discipline-related self-concepts may play in their deep and surface approaches to learning, their overall learning outcomes, and continued engagement in the discipline itself. Using a cross-lagged panel design of first-year university psychology students, a causal path was observed in which students' Semester 1 deep approach to learning positively predicted their Semester 2 psychology-student social identification; this relationship was mediated by students' actual Semester 1 learning. Moreover, relatively high levels of Semester 2 psychology-student social identification led to a desire for further engagement in the discipline through an enhanced intent to continue their psychology studies. In contrast, discipline-related self-concept was not observed to act as a precursor to learning approaches. Overall, the current data provide clear evidence not only for the validity of the deep learning approach construct, but for the theoretical claims associating a deep learning approach with an impact on self-concept, and the educational value of encouraging a deep learning approach both for short-term academic performance and for continuing motivation to engage in the discipline. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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