Individual differences in research methods learning among undergraduate psychology students

Balloo, Kieran ORCID: (2016) Individual differences in research methods learning among undergraduate psychology students. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]


Research methods is a challenging subject for students. Few studies consider the factors that may explain difficulties and predict differences in research methods knowledge and research skills. Using mixed methods across three linked empirical studies, the role of individual differences in research methods learning was explored among undergraduate psychology students. Study 1 (N = 259) employed a longitudinal design to track how students’ research methods knowledge develops throughout their three-year degree programmes. Research methods experts structured their knowledge in more organised schemas than students, whose knowledge improved during methodology training, then represented different structures a year after training finished. Domain-specific anxiety and self-efficacy, self-regulated learning strategies, deliberate practice and prior knowledge were significant predictors of knowledge and skills. Findings were triangulated with a thematic analysis of perceived individual differences (N = 8). Study 2 (N = 93) utilised Q methodology to identify conceptions of research and research methods learning. Seven distinct groupings of conceptions were described in qualitative detail. Significant associations were found between these groupings and students’ knowledge and skills, as well as their year of study. Study 3 (N = 32) utilised an experimental design to test the ability to modify variables with a scaffold of research methods learning, based on findings from studies 1 and 2. Most study 3 results were non-significant, but small effect sizes indicated increases in the use of some self-regulated learning strategies and motivational factors due to exposure to metacognitive prompts and attributional retraining, while some anxiety scores reduced. A conceptual change intervention appeared to modify some conceptions of research and research methods learning. Students who completed plans exhibited significantly higher research methods knowledge, but none of the interventions demonstrated significant effects on knowledge. Findings are interpreted in relation to a theory of adult knowledge development and implications for instructional design are discussed.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Roehampton
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Supervisors: Pauli, Regina; Worrell, Marcia
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2022 01:22
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2022 01:22
Uncontrolled Keywords: research methods; undergraduate psychology students
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170103 Educational Psychology
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520102 Educational psychology

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