ABSTRACT

One of the earlier investigators of student learning, using strictly controlled laboratory conditions rather than classroom observations, was Pask (1976) who identified two basic learning strategies which he called 'serialist' and 'holist'. In Pask's earlier papers he described a

Rarely do groups of academics, when talking about the qualities they expect their students to develop, fail to mention such capacities as understanding, critical thinking, integration of concepts and ideas, intellectual independence [and] knowing how to find out rather than merely knowing. Yet when the objectives of tertiary study are discussed and the practices of university and college departments investigated, the question is raised as to whether the relation between assessment methods and students' approaches to learning is always considered when academics set examinations and other assessments ... Unfortunately there is a good deal of recent evidence to suggest that the quality of student learning in tertiary institutions is adversely influenced by inappropriate assessment methods. (p. 397)

Although staff report that they want their students to be analytical, critical and creative thinkers, problem-solvers able to understand and apply principles and key concepts to new problems; and to be independent and autonomous learners, students are receiving a different set of signals if examinations demand primarily recall of factual information and lower levels of cognitive processes. In fact, assessment has been identified as possibly the single most potent influence on student learning, narrowing students' focus to concentrate only on topics to be examined (that is, what is to be studied) and shaping their learning approaches (that is, how it is to be studied). (p. 268)

possible 4. to learn by heart the material you were studying 5. to concentrate on facts and details rather than issues and argu-

1. to really understand what you are studying 2. to try and integrate all the facts and details you covered 3. to reflect on key points in the study material 4. to link different themes and concepts together 5. to try to understand the implications of what you are learning.