Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Education

First Supervisor

Denise Kirkpatrick


Conceptions of learning are the fundamental beliefs and ideas people hold about their own learning. To a large extent, these understandings determine the way in which learning tasks are tackled and, ultimately, the outcome of learning experiences. Using a phenomenographic approach, this study explored the conceptions of teaming held by six students in the lower, middle and upper grades of primary school. Data collected from a series of individual in-depth interviews resulted in the identification of six distinctly different conceptions of learning. At the most basic level, the students articulated their understanding of learning in a very general sense. This level is a unique finding of this study and has been termed Generic Learning. At the next level, students associated learning with being physically involved and Doing Things. As they progressed to more advanced understandings, the importance of Knowing More Things and Knowing Harder Things about their world was evident. Making sense of material was characteristic of the two final and most sophisticated conceptions which were labeled Searching for Meaning and Constructing New Understandings. These six categories show that primary school students perceive learning in a variety of ways. Therefore, teachers must not assume that all students perceive learning homogeneously, but rather endeavour to understand the differences and the implications these differences are likely to have on the way students approach their own learning. This knowledge will enable teachers to develop improved teaching methods that will facilitate learning, whatever their students' conceptions of learning may be.