Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Pascarella, Ernest T.

First Committee Member

Paulsen, Michael

Second Committee Member

Morphew, Christopher

Third Committee Member

Bills, David

Fourth Committee Member

An, Brain


This study examines the effect of deep approaches to learning on development of the inclination to inquire and lifelong learning over four years, as an essential graduated outcome that helps students face the challenges of a complex and rapidly changing world. Despite the importance of the inclination to inquire and lifelong learning, some literature has attempted to operationalize this concept in practical ways. In another limited line of studies, researchers explored how the education process and deep approaches to learning affected students' cognitive development among first-year undergraduates. This dissertation focuses on the ways that the process of deep approaches to learning influences the development of the inclination to inquire and lifelong learning through the positive feelings from information acquisition and the conceptual change from meaningful structure of information.

The individuals in the sample were 1,914 first-year undergraduate students participating in the Wabash National Study on Liberal Arts Education at each of the 17 institutions in the study. This longitudinal study was designed to use three waves of data to control for student background characteristics, institutional types, overall exposure to organized instruction, and other college experiences. The current study employed ordinary least squares regressions with a weighting algorithm and also investigated whether the effects were general or conditional based on differences in race, gender, precollege total academic preparation, and precollege measure of need for cognition.

Using longitudinal, pretest-posttest deign with statistical control, this study found that the higher-order learning subscale, the integrative learning subscale, and reflective learning subscale generated a significant positive effect on the development of inclination to inquire and lifelong learning over four years. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that the effect of deep approaches to learning appear to be general rather than conditional. In summary, the results confirm that the growth of inclination to inquire and lifelong learning can be fostered through deep approaches to learning. The findings suggest that higher education educators should create a developmentally-appropriate learning environment for students to organize their knowledge into cognitive structure, which fosters the capacity for lifelong learning.


Cognitive development, Deep aproaches to learning, Higher Education, Inclination to inquire and lifelong learning, Need for cognition, Student learning stratgies


viii, 114 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 103-114).


Copyright 2013 Jui-Sheng Wang