Correlation between Personality Traits, Learning Approaches and Academic Performance of Dental Students
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Abstract of the thesis
Dental educators are required to acquire the necessary knowledge about the diversity of their students in relation to their preferable learning strategies and their personality dispositions. These constructs may have significant impact on students’ academic achievements. Thorough understanding of these constructs will assist teachers to design better teaching tactics, assessment methods and more conducive curriculum to maximize the learning outcomes. The present study investigated the correlation between personality traits and approaches to learning in an international project. Aims were (i) to examine the influence of both measures on the academic achievement of dental students, and (ii) to provide recommendations for educators.
Materials and methods: Student volunteers from the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) are reported in this stage of this international project. Personality traits of dental students were determined using the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (Costa & McRae, 1985). These students were also asked to complete Bigg’s revised two-factor version of the study process questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) (Biggs, Kember & Leung, 2001) and provide their grade point average (GPA). The de-identified data were analysed using zeroorder correlation, Student t-test and multiple regression procedures.
Results: Of the 170 students who volunteered, a total of 115 (67.6%) students showed deep approach (DA) to learning. Moreover, a significant positive relation between GPA and DA was found, whereas negative relation between GPA and surface learning approach (SA) was reported. Two of the five personality traits, namely conscientiousness and openness were positively related to deep learning approaches. Conscientiousness and DA were the best predictors of GPA. Results from zero-order correlation also revealed that openness significantly predicted deep learning approach and GPA. On the contrary, neuroticism was positively related to surface learning approach and negatively related to GPA. Neuroticism was significantly higher in female students, and Arab students were more open to new experiences than their Malaysian counterparts.
Discussion and conclusions: The results indicated that openness to experience and intellectual curiosity in combination with purposefulness, discipline and an achievement-oriented attitude would predict deep approach to learning. Possession of those traits in addition to a deep learning approach tends to collectively enhance academic performance. Educators have a scholarly responsibility to have understanding of student learning when developing their teaching skills and so optimise educational investment by both student and educator.
An informed understanding of the general personality traits of students and the relationships of this to deeper learning and assessment performance can provide insight to the path to better teaching. Educators should consider the importance of student learning approaches, conscientiousness and openness to ideas in developing and renewing their teaching methods to improve students’ performance.
Researcher of the Thesis
- Wael Mousa Mohammad Al-Omari
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