This study aims to explore Taiwanese university students’ conceptions of learning biology as memorizing or as understanding, and their self-efficacy. To this end, two questionnaires were utilized to survey 293 Taiwanese university students with biology-related majors. A questionnaire for measuring students’ conceptions of memorizing and understanding was validated through an exploratory factor analysis of participants’ responses. As for the questionnaire regarding the students’ biology learning self-efficacy (BLSE), an exploratory factor analysis revealed a total of four factors including higher-order cognitive skills (BLSE-HC), everyday application (BLSE-EA), science communication (BLSE-SC), and practical works (BLSE-PW). The results of the cluster analysis according to the participants’ conceptions of learning biology indicated that students in the two major clusters either viewed learning biology as understanding or possessed mixed-conceptions of memorizing and understanding. The students in the third cluster mainly focused on memorizing in their learning while the students in the fourth cluster showed less agreement with both conceptions of memorizing and understanding. This study further revealed that the conception of learning as understanding was positively associated with the BLSE of university students with biology-related majors. However, the conception of learning as memorizing may foster students’ BLSE only when such a notion co-exists with the conception of learning with understanding.
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