n South African Journal of Higher Education - On the modelling of postgraduate students' conceptions of research

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



In contrast to the voluminous literature on undergraduate student learning there are relatively few studies that have set out to explore variation in postgraduate students engagement with research. The analogy is that research engagement represents a process of postgraduate learning, of comparable multivariate complexity to that of undergraduate learning, that explains variation in learning outcomes. In modelling terms, the conjecture is that there are multivariate sources of explanatory variation that shape the quality of learning outcomes. The research question is whether there is such variation, and whether it is amenable to statistical modelling. Based on the analogy between undergraduate and postgraduate learning, a simple prior knowledge and process core model of postgraduate learning is posited. Empirical findings from a number of studies that have reported variation in students' conceptions of research are used to explore some postulated properties of the undifferentiated core model and confirm its sensitivity to various response contexts. These implications of these findings are discussed in relation to research training and supervision.

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