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Mária B. Németh and Anita Habók: Hungarian Teenagers’ Attitudes to Learning: a study of 13- and 17-year-old students

Effective learning is a key issue when knowledge is expected to be successfully and permanently renewed. The PISA studies revealed that Hungarian students do not attain the desired targets. Consequently, the Centre for Research on Learning and Instruction within the University of Szeged, Hungary, examined the affective characteristics of 13- and 17-year-old students in relation to learning, in November 2005. A questionnaire similar to the one used by the PISA study in 2000 was administered to 3385 students aged 13 and 2037 students aged 17. The samples reflected aspects concerning regional coverage, gender and socio-economic background. The questionnaire targeted four categories (learning strategies, motivation, self-related beliefs, learning situations and preferences) divided into 13 characteristics comprising 49 items. Subjects had to evaluate presented statements on four point Likert scales. The instrument proved to be reliable for both populations. 13-year-olds exhibited a more positive attitude to learning, judging their learning qualities and activities more favourably than the 17-year-old students. Their interest in mathematics proved to differ greatly, in contrast to similar use of elaboration strategies. There was no significant difference between the two age groups with respect to their interest in reading. A preference for memorization was shown by the Hungarian students as a learning strategy. The findings of the PISA study regarding a prevalence of instrumental motives over other mastery motives were confirmed. Most students feel confident about their verbal abilities, in contrast with their expectancy regarding the attainment of mathematical objectives. The interest in mathematics is essentially lower among the 17-year-old students. Co-operative learning evaluation has improved greatly since 2000. Individual student groups exhibit great differences in cognitive performance. However, there is little difference, if any, with respect to affective personality features. A possible explanation for this minimal difference might be found in the similar classroom factors affecting students’ personality. The information revealed by the results on student attitudes may contribute to the development of programs aiming at improving academic success and student efficacy.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 106. Number 2. 83-105. (2006)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: B. Németh Mária és Habók Anita, H–6722 Szeged, Petőfi S. sgt. 30–34.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia