Profiles

Maria Öhrstedt. Foto: Magnus Svensson

Maria Öhrstedt

Vik. Universitetslektor

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Education
Telephone 08-120 763 63
Email maria.ohrstedt@edu.su.se
Visiting address Frescativägen 54
Room 2532
Postal address Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik 106 91 Stockholm

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Maria Öhrstedt (et al.).

    University students’ approaches to learning influence academic achievement and qualities in learning outcomes. Approaches to learning develop in a process where student factors interact with factors of the learning context. Students’ subjective perceptions of their learning environment seem to be crucial.

    This thesis draws on an established research stand in aiming to contribute to a deeper understanding of how students adapt their approaches to learning to perceived contextual factors in a specific learning context. In three studies, conceptions for development and variation of approaches to learning among psychology students at a Swedish university are examined.

    Study I examined how approaches to learning vary with expected and final course grades, and student abilities to predict academic achievement (N = 189). Overall, students had low self-assessment skills, with students adopting surface approach to learning having the poorest skills. Students adopting a strategic approach to learning achieved high grades, while students adopting a surface approach to learning had poorer performances. Students adopting a deep approach to learning expected high grades but the exam did not favour a deep approach.

    Study II aimed at describing similarities in factors that psychology students themselves, despite them adopting different approaches to learning, considered influenced their studying activities. A selective student sample described their studying activities in repeated interviews (N = 11, N = 7). The development of approaches to learning was described as a negotiation where different aspects of learning were related to each other. The students described a common set of reference points: 1) previous studying activities, 2) course recommendations, 3) learning outcomes, 4) assessment demands, and 5) estimated effort. Despite great variation in students’ tendencies to adapt approaches to learning, the adaption process resulted in a gradual homogenization of studying activities.

    Study III examined whether minor variations in parallel learning contexts would give rise to differences in students’ regulation of approaches to learning and whether tendencies to vary differed between students with different approaches to learning (N = 195). All approaches to learning varied between learning contexts, but the strategic approach to learning varied less than surface and deep approaches. Students with a low surface, a high deep or a high strategic approach to learning varied most, while students with a high surface, a low deep or a low strategic approach to learning were more stable.

    The results show that approaches to learning among psychology students seem to develop in a process of negotiation where different aspects of learning are interrelated. For strategic reasons, examinations seem to drive students towards a surface approach to learning. Students’ shared interpretations of factors of the learning context seem to result in a gradual homogenisation of studying activities, despite different students showing different tendencies to adapt their approaches to learning to a specific learning context. A strategic approach seems optimal for academic achievement. In summary, this thesis shows how fine-grained studies can contribute to a deeper understanding of the context specific development of students’ approaches to learning.

  • 2016. Maria Öhrstedt, Petra Lindfors. European Journal of Psychology of Education 31 (2), 209-223

    Research on students' adoption of course-specific approaches to learning in parallel courses is limited and inconsistent. This study investigated second-semester psychology students' levels of deep, surface and strategic approaches in two courses running in parallel within a real-life university setting. The results showed significant differences in course-specific adoption regardless of approach. However, the strategic approach seemed more stable. Sub-groups of students exhibited substantial variation: more than half of the students adopted similar approaches in both courses while large minorities showed great variability. Students scoring low on the surface approach, high on the deep approach or high on the strategic approach to learning were flexible in adopting different parallel approaches. However, students scoring high on the surface approach, low on the deep approach or low on the strategic approach seemed stable across contexts. This suggests that even smaller variations in teaching and learning environments can influence students' approaches to learning.

  • 2015. Maria Öhrstedt. EARLI 2015 Book of Abstracts, 728-729

    Previous research suggests an interplay between students’ well-being, learning activities, and learning outcomes. This study explores the linkages between students’ approaches to learning, perceived stress, as well as expected and final grades within a sample of first-semester psychology students at a Swedish university. The results suggest that students adopting surface approaches to learning perceive higher levels of stress, while strategic approaches seem associated with lower levels of perceived stress. There was no association between deep approaches to learning and perceived stress. Students adopting surface approaches or reporting high levels of perceived stress expected lower course grades than students adopting deep or strategic approaches to learning. Students adopting surface approaches or perceiving high levels of stress typically overestimated their final course grades. The highest levels of perceived stress were reported by students who achieved quite good, but not excellent grades. The discussion relates these findings to the potential influence of various factors such as perceived demands and feelings of control. Possible practical applications of the findings are also discussed.

  • 2015. Maria Öhrstedt. NoFa5 Book of Abstracts, 153-153

    The SAL (Student Approaches to Learning) tradition focuses on mapping and assessing students’ approaches to learning in the learning context of higher education. Previous research suggests that approaches to learning are indeed sensitive to modifications in the learning context, and influence the quality of student learning. However, the knowledge regarding variations in student approaches relating to learning flexibility is still limited.

    This study investigates whether a natural learning context, providing parallel and resembling courses, involves different approaches to learning. Second semester psychology students were asked to describe their approaches to learning separately for two parallel courses. The analyses suggest that even though individual students seem to exhibit a consistent core regarding their approaches to learning, alternations between similar learning contexts can bring about large changes in both surface and deep approaches to learning. Strategic approaches to learning seem less flexible, but not unaffected.

    The findings add to the theoretical idea of considering approaches to learning as a flexible construct, which is sensitive to smaller transitions in learning contexts. From a practical view, the results support the idea that there are ways of designing powerful learning environments.

  • 2015. Maria Öhrstedt, Petra Lindfors, Max Scheja. EARLI 2015 Book of Abstracts, 908-908

    Psychology students' perceptions of the correspondence between approaches to learning and academic outcome were mapped and compared with actual influence. Both quantitative and qualitative data were analysed. Preliminary results suggest a successive homogenization of student activities related to coursework. The perception of applying more "efficient" ways of dealing with coursework, corresponding better to examination demands, was identified as an important driver. Although the development towards perceived efficacy could be described as students successively adopting higher levels of surface approaches to learning, students in general judged such approaches as resulting in poorer examination grades, compared to deep approaches. However, surface approaches to learning were negatively correlated to examination grades, but to a lesser extent than students thought, while deep approaches turned out to be less influential. Strategic approaches to learning stood out as having the most positive impact on course grades, both as judged by the students and in actual fact.

  • 2014. Maria Öhrstedt, Petra Lindfors. Assessing transitions in learning, 30-30

    The Student Approaches to Learning (SAL) tradition focuses on assessing student transitions taking place in the learning context of higher education. Previous research suggests that approaches to learning are indeed sensitive to transitions in the learning context, and affect the quality of student learning. However, the knowledge regarding variations in student approaches relating to learning flexibility is still limited. This study investigates whether a natural learning context, providing parallel and resembling courses, involves different approaches to learning. Second semester psychology students were asked to describe their approaches to learning separately for two parallel courses. The analyses suggest that even though individual students seem to exhibit a consistent core regarding their approaches to learning, transitions between similar learning contexts can bring about large changes in both surface and deep approaches to learning. Strategic approaches to learning seem less flexible, but not unaffected. The findings add to the theoretical idea of considering approaches to learning as a flexible construct, which is sensitive to smaller transitions in learning contexts. From a practical view, the results support the idea that there are ways of designing powerful learning environments.

  • Maria Öhrstedt, Petra Lindfors.

    While expecting high grades is important for achieving high grades, previous research suggests that students’ ways of approaching their studies relate to academic outcomes. Focusing on first-semester students being new to a discipline, this study investigated how approaches to learning and expectations were related to expected and final academic outcomes within an educational setting. Before a written examination, psychology students (N = 189) completed the 52-item version of ASSIST and estimated course grades. Later, final grades were added. Results showed that 18 per cent of the students provided perfect ratings of their final grades while most underestimated their grades. A surface approach was associated with expecting lower grades while the strategic and deep approaches were associated with expecting better grades. Both surface and high strategic approaches were associated with better final grades while there was no statistically significant association for the deep approach. Taken together, students being new to a discipline have difficulties estimating their grades. Overall students reporting either a surface or strategic approach achieved the grades they expected. For the deep approach, there was no such association. To conclude, the variations between approaches probably relate to the discipline being new and to the examination favoring a strategic approach.

  • Maria Öhrstedt, Max Scheja.

    Background: Previous research indicates that critical student features, such as approaches to learning and decisions of how to organise studying activities, develops in bi-directional interactions between personal and learning environmental factors. However, attempts to influence students’ studying activities in certain directions by manipulating the learning environment often prove unsuccessful. A deeper analysis of the student perspective is needed, since students’ subjective perceptions of the learning environment to a great extent will influence their individual ways of going about studying and learning.  In particular, we need to clarify which aspects steer students’ towards focusing on certain studying activities in a particular course context.

    Purpose: This study aimed at elaborating the student perspective of the process of selection of studying activities by searching for similarities in references to factors perceived as guiding this process among students representing very different combinations of approaches to learning.

    Sample, design and methods: Students’ approaches to learning were evaluated with the Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) in two successive psychology introductory courses (N=261). A random (N=5) and a purposive (N=6) student sample was then selected and interviewed. Seven of the students also took part in follow-up interviews six months later. The qualitative analysis aimed at mapping and extracting similarities in students’ perceptions of and dealing with the selection of studying activities.

    Results: Despite great differences in students’ approaches to learning and reported actual studying activities, all students interviewed referred to a common set of reference points perceived as guiding their ways of studying, i.e. their perception of 1) previous studying experiences, 2) course recommendations, 3) learning outcomes, 4) assessment demands, and 5) time and effort spent on studying.

    Conclusions: Students’ selections of studying activities are suggested to be seen as a process of negotiation based on input from certain reference points. In the course context under study the targeting process resulted in a general homogenization of studying activities and permitted students to feel they were studying efficiently. Although possible generalization of the results remains to be investigated, it is suggested that understanding students’ perceptions of reference points and general understanding of the targeting process could contribute to a better grasp of how student factors, course contexts, and students’ perceptions of these, interact.

Show all publications by Maria Öhrstedt at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 12, 2018

Bookmark and share Tell a friend