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Language, culture and approaches to studying: towards a more comprehensive 3P Model; a cross-cultural study of the 3P Model in university students

posted on 26.02.2017 by Thong, Matthew Keen Shui
Background: Language and culture are constructs that are difficult to quantify and measure; moreover, their effects on the process of learning and academic achievement can be difficult to determine. This thesis examined their effects using the theoretical framework of the Presage-Process-Product (3P) Model. The 3P Model allows the effects of various ‘presage’ factors on the ‘product’ of academic achievement to be mediated by the ‘process’ of approaches to learning. Aims: This thesis aimed to identify presage factors that measure those aspects of language and culture most salient to the learning process, and incorporate these presage factors into the 3P Model alongside self-efficacy and self-regulated learning, which have typically been considered separately from the 3P Model. The presage factors thus identified were language (proficiency, preference, use and experience) and conceptions of learning. Methods and Participants: An online survey was administered to 186 undergraduates enrolled in a first-year psychology unit. There were 177 participants enrolled at the Australian campuses of the university (165 domestic and 12 international students) and 9 participants from the Malaysia campus of the university. The sample ranged in age from 18-23 years (M = 19.21, SD = 1.21), with 36 males and 150 females. Various statistical techniques were employed to assess the 3P Model. Results: The cohort displayed a mixed pattern of transformative and reproductive conceptions of learning, as well as a mixture of deep and surface learning approaches, indicating a strategic or achievement-motivated approach to learning. English language scores did not predict deep approaches or achievement. Contrary to previous research showing that deep approaches lead to higher achievement than surface approaches, it was found that neither predicted achievement. Rather, self-efficacy was the only direct predictor of achievement. Conclusions: The deep-surface dichotomy of the 3P Model does not discriminate between high and low achievers. Instead, self-efficacy and the strategic approach are important predictors of achievement. The results have implications for how students are taught at university, and how course and assessment structures may be changed to encourage deeper learning.


Principal supervisor

Margaret Hay

Additional supervisor 1

Katrina Beryl Simpson

Additional supervisor 2

Wendy Ann McKenzie

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Education Portfolio

Campus location



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences