Publication details [#19627516]

Wegner, Elisabeth, Christian Burkhart, Mona Weinhuber and Matthias Nückles. 2020. What metaphors of learning can (and cannot) tell us about students' learning. Learning and Individual Differences 80 (May 2020).
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Article in journal
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Metaphors can help to express implicit beliefs about concepts such as teaching and learning. Metaphors have been, therefore, increasingly used in educational science. Little is known, however, about how metaphors relate to individual differences in learning. Therefore, in two studies (N = 129 high school students and N = 59 university students) we examined whether metaphors can be linked to students' approaches to learning. We found two types of metaphors: learning-oriented metaphors focusing on learning processes and outcomes, and self-referential metaphors solely focusing on motivational aspects of learning. Learning-oriented metaphors were associated with a deep approach in learning, and self-referential metaphors with a surface approach. There was no difference in cognitive ability between both groups, and no differences between students from different kinds of study programs. We conclude that metaphors indicate the general level of reflection about learning, which is a base for the adoption of a deep or a surface approach in learning.