Does field of study have an impact?

Team: Dr Lillian Smyth, Dr Ken Mavor, Prof Michael Platow,

We all know a law student isn’t the same as a physics student. We also know that the process of studying law is very different to the process of studying physics. Our earlier work demonstrated that thinking of yourself in terms of being a student in your field-of-study and the norms and expectations you see as being associated with being that student are both influences on how you approach learning. Given the heterogeneous nature of students and study processes by field of study, we wondered if these processes might look different for students in different fields. For example, in fields that are more applied (i.e. linked to a professional identity), do we find stronger effects, since the identity might be longer lived? In fields with a “harder paradigm” (i.e. the rules are set. Think: the Laws of Physics), is there less variation in approaches that one where principles are concepts can be argued and norms are more open to negotiation (e.g. the multiple lenses and paradigms for studying sociology)?

Smyth, Mavor & Platow (2017)

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