Learner Dispositions, Self-Theories and Student Engagement

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Journal Article
British Journal of Educational Studies, 2014, 62 (1), pp. 19 - 35
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This paper examines the concept of learner dispositions empirically and theoretically based on two related studies: one undertaken in the United Kingdom exploring students learning power, identity and their engagement in learning; and one undertaken in Australia, which explored the relationship between learning power and Dweckian self-theories. Three different measures of dispositions are used. Two of these - learning power and self-theories - approach dispositions as malleable but relatively slow to change attributes, while the third considers dispositions as potentially more contextually responsive. The two studies had the measure of learning power in common, enabling a statistical as well as a theoretical comparison between the two studies' models of learning dispositions and their contribution to the notion of engagement. The implications of these related studies are that, in order to foster deep engagement in learning, pedagogical attention needs to be paid to the formation of learning identity and the development of learning dispositions in the process of knowledge construction. While the different approaches to conceptualising dispositions were broadly compatible, each provided a different insight into this complex concept and suggests different but related pedagogical strategies for building engagement. The paper concludes with an exploration of the implications for dispositional research of autopoetic theory as an integrating conceptual framework. © 2014 © 2014 Society for Educational Studies.
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