2.2 A typical learner: Marcus

The following scenario describes a typical Higher Education learner. Marcus is an undergraduate student who likes to spend a lot of time with his friends and often plays football in his free time. He usually hands in his college assignments only just in time. He does not put a lot of effort into such tasks and frequently prepares them in a superficial manner  shortly before the deadline. Cramming on the nights before examinations is also a common occurrence for Marcus. Nonetheless he continues to think that he is dedicated to preparing for his registered courses and imagines that he is allocating sufficient time to learn for the associated tests. He continually complains that he does not have enough time available for himself. Since he does not plan his learning in any way (it just “happens”) and because he does not kept track of the hours he spends learning nor indeed his free time hours either, Marcus does not recognise where he could become more efficient and effective with his allocated study time.


Figure 2: Marcus takes a typical approach to his learning


Overall Marcus' grades appear to be a little below average. He is, nevertheless, really popular among his fellow students but, secretly, he wishes he could achieve better academic results. He does not, however, feel motivated and continues to lack self-efficiency. In other words, Marcus does not really believe that he is able to influence the way that he learns or even consider improving his performance. He thinks that he cannot change his learning approaches and, therefore, it is impossible for him to improve his results. This attitude also has an effect on his self-esteem. It is fair to say that he mostly studies alone and is more than a little embarrassed to ask for help or the support of his fellow students.

Ironically most of his peers see him as an idol, especially when it comes to sports or social events, so in reality he does not want to appear to have a weaker academic profile. In addition he does not know how to manage his academic studies more effectively i.e. by breaking tasks down into smaller subtasks. Thus each assignment seems to him to be almost unsolvable and, therefore, a great burden, which leads to further decreases in his learning motivation.

You may recognise various aspects of this scenario in terms of your own experience of learning. It is not unusual as it appears to be a typical occurrence in Higher Education particularly where students or learners have not been introduced to or indeed have experienced any strategies or choices of learning how to learn.

Last modified: Friday, 10 October 2014, 10:40 AM