In attempting to enhance the student learning experience and improve performance, guidance can be drawn from theories of learning, from adult students’ own accounts of their learning and from the experiences of lecturers. This chapter opens with an exploration of learning theories that throw light upon adult learning, such as constructivism, embedded learning and equilibration theory. Particular emphasis is given to ways that learning and performance may be either ‘inhibited’ (thus preventing students from achieving their potential) or ‘motivated’ (so as to take students to the ‘take-off’ stage of engaged, independent learning). Students’ attitudes and approaches to higher education study can be key factors in successful learning and may act as either inhibitors or motivators. This chapter offers a theoretical and contextual background to the strategies suggested later in the book, with an emphasis on the implications for successful teaching and learning in an era of widening participation.
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