Bond University

Article Title

Promoting Learning in Law


Today there is considerable interest in the enhancement of the quality of university teaching. In part this could be attributed to a change of focus in educational research during the last twenty years. The mid seventies and early eighties saw the development of a particular approach to the study of student learning that has significantly influenced teaching in higher education. The critical incident in this development was the work of Marton and his colleagues at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who argued for studies which focused on the students’ perspective and the ways in which they interpret their reality. Marton called the approach “phenomenonography”.3 Phenomenonography assumes that an understanding or conception of a phenomenon can be described in terms of a relation between an individual and that phenomenon. This method adopts a relatively open interview approach which generates qualitative descriptions of our understanding or conception of the phenomenon under study. The Swedish research indicates that our conceptions govern the way in which we think and act in a particular context. For example, how university students think about or conceptualise learning influences the ways in which they approach their study. The research distinguished between surface and deep approaches that students adopted to a learning task. Thus the relatively recent change in focus in educational research is reflected in a growing emphasis on student learning outcomes rather than classroom teaching — what students learn rather than how we teach.