Students’ Metaphors as Descriptors of Effective and Ineffective Learning Experiences


The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how college students characterise their learning experiences. A Scholarship of Teaching and Learning research project was undertaken in which students were asked to describe, and create metaphors for, effective and ineffective learning experiences. Our focus was on experiences explicitly and solely perceived by students (i.e., listening to their voices) rather than on outcome-based or performance-based measures. Data was collected from 142 U.S. students attending both four-year and two-year higher education institutions. Three categories to describe effective/ineffective learning experiences emerged from an analysis of the metaphors: Connection/Disconnection, Empowerment/Disempowerment, and Engagement/Disengagement. Implications for instructional practice and for the use of metaphor as a method to understand student voices in SoTL research are explored.
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