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This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Publication Details

Dissertation submitted to Dublin Institute of Technology in partial fulfilment of M.A. (Higher Education), 2015.


A cross-sectional quantitative study was implemented to identify and analyse student approaches to learning (SALs) in the four stages of an undergraduate optometry honours degree programme. Study results will be used to inform optometric educators of the SAL trends of this student cohort. Seventy-three undergraduate optometry students participated in the study. Individual participant SAL scores were calculated using the shortened Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) for a semester-long academic module identified for each programme stage. Only R-SPQ-2F main scale SAL scores measuring the deep approach (DA) and surface approach (SA) were included in the final analyses, due to poor internal consistency and reliability of subscale measures, as confirmed using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. Assessment scores across a range of assessment types represented measures of participant academic performance. No statistically significant differences were found in intra-or-inter-stage DA and SA scores as analysed using the paired t-test. Pearson correlational analysis elicited a negative correlation between the DA and SA scores for stage 4 data and for combined participant data. One-way ANOVA analysis showed no inter-stage or inter-gender SAL differences. Pearson correlation coefficient analyses showed no relationship between SAL and age. Overall, Pearson correlational analyses of SAL and assessment scores showed variable results, with no significant correlations found for most of these analyses. For stage 1 participants, the DA score and multiple choice questions, MCQ, (Online) scores were positively correlated. Stage 3 participant DA scores were positively correlated with Written Theory Question and Literature Review Assignment scores respectively. Stage 4 participants SA scores were negatively correlated with MCQ (Written) and Case Study Question scores respectively. It is envisaged that this study will form the foundation for ongoing investigation into SALs in undergraduate optometry students to further elicit the relationship between SAL and assessment methods across a wider range of academic modules. This information will be used in routine reviews of teaching and assessment materials for the DT224 optometry programme as well in the planning of continuing professional development (CPD) activities for graduates of the programme.