An Investigation Into The Relationship Between Chinese University Students’ Engagement With A Deep Approach To Learning And Their Perception Of The Learning Environment Towards Student-Centred And Technology-Enhanced Teaching

  • Huifang Shang

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Chinese universities have carried out a series of reforms toward student-centred and technology-enhanced teaching in the last decade. This research aims to investigate how university students handle their learning tasks with a deep approach to learning in a mixed learning environment with student-centred and technology-enhanced teaching. This research builds on previous studies indicating that students’ perception of a learning environment determines how they approach their learning. However, these studies also find that students’ perception of a student-centred learning environment does not always facilitate a deep approach to learning. This research examines students’ perception of the mixed learning environment, explores its influence on their engagement with a deep approach to learning in business studies, and provides insight into the contextual factors that determine how they perceive the learning environment.

This research is a multi-institutional investigation conducted in three Chinese universities in Henan province of Mainland China and adopts a mixed-methods approach in a sequential explanatory design. In the first stage of the investigation, quantitative data are collected using a self-administered questionnaire to measure business students’ engagement with a deep approach to learning and their perception of the learning environment. Then, these quantitative data are analysed using descriptive and inferential statistical methods to describe the specific ways students engage with a deep approach to their learning and examine its relationship with their perception of the learning environment. In the second stage of the investigation, qualitative data are collected from focus groups with students and semi-structured interviews with teachers. Content analysis is conducted using a deductive approach to check the authenticity of quantitative data collected by self-reported questionnaires and, from the perspectives of students and teachers, explain the findings of quantitative analysis. The qualitative results provide an in-depth understanding of the reasons behind the quantitative results.

This research finds that most university students have adopted a deep approach to their learning; however, the learning environment cannot facilitate them reaching an ideal state of using that approach. This research reveals that students’ interest in learning is not encouraged in the current learning environment toward student-centred teaching, and students have limited abilities to use the learning strategies required for a deep approach to learning. Students’ motivation and learning strategies do not contribute much to their intention to understand the learning materials. Another finding is that teachers’ use of technology in classrooms can amplify students’ perception of a student-centred learning environment. Students’ perception of the technology-enhanced learning environment strongly influences how they perceive the features reflecting the humanist perspective of a student-centred learning environment. In addition, this research also finds that the Chinese national culture has thwarted teachers’ changes toward student-centred teaching. However, integrating technology into teaching is found to create a new culture that promotes teachers’ changes in their conception of teaching. In the light of these findings, this research informs educational researchers, policymakers, and university administrators of considerations for improving a learning environment to enable students to reach a deep approach to learning.
Date of Award2 Nov 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGlynn Jones (Main Supervisor) & Wayne Bailey (Co-Supervisor)

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