Cram School Students’ Conceptions of Learning and Learning Science in Taiwan: International Journal of Science Education

Chin‐Chung Tsai, Pi‐Chu Kuo

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65 Citations (Scopus)


The cram school in Taiwan offers additional after‐school instruction to enhance students’ academic performance, and it provides a unique educational context to investigate students’ perspectives toward learning. The purpose of this study was to explore 45 cram school students’ (around 14 years old) conceptions of learning and learning science. The research data were gathered from interviews with each of the students, and the interview responses were further analyzed by a phenomenographic method. It was found that most of these students conceptualized learning or learning science as memorizing school knowledge, preparing for tests, or practicing tutorial problems and processing calculations. This study also revealed that about 76% of the students expressed coherent views between conceptions of learning in general, and those of learning science in particular. Further analyses of student interview responses suggested that the students held a quantitative view of learning (science) and they tended to atomize school knowledge while learning (science). Their motivation for learning was mainly driven by external factors, such as examination scores, and they probably employed a surface approach to learning. Moreover, their conceptions of learning or learning science might imply a dualist epistemology for the nature of knowing and knowledge. This study also showed some evidence that the special educational context of cram schools might guide students develop certain conceptions of learning, thus leading to particular study and motivational approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-375
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Science Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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