Higher Learning Research Communications

Digital Object Identifier



This paper aims to readdress the lack of empirical data concerning university learning and in particular the dynamics students’ conceptions of learning may have on students’ learning outcomes. This paper is written at a time when the EU commission for Higher Education (HE) through the Bologna Process declaration has put into action, since 1999, a series of reforms needed to make European Higher Education compatible, efficient and competitive for students and academics alike. One of the reforms was the development of learning outcomes in the form of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). As part of the process the European universities require to identify and describe the learning outcomes a student is supposed to achieve, in a particular course. The learning outcomes are, now, expected to be clearly specified in all the university course syllabuses. The main argument stated within this paper is that the design of effective learning outcomes, such as the ECTS, especially for curriculum development, cannot be successfully achieved in the absence of the students’ own experience of how they conceive learning to be, including the methods (approaches) they use for learning. Thus, the first aim of this investigation is to analyse the students’ conceptions of learning and the second aim is to examine, through prior research evidence, the effects these conceptions may have on learning approaches and specifically on learning outcomes. Drawing on a 2007 study of Cypriot students’ conceptions of learning, this paper discusses the possibility of a relation between these issues and outlines the importance of taking them into consideration when exploring learning outcomes, curriculum and syllabus design and the professional development of faculty.DOI: 10.18870/hlrc.v2i2.23