Asking Questions: The Difference between Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Preferences

By Francesco Sofo and Michelle Berzins.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study compares the thinking style of undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) university students and answers two research questions posed by the study’s design. First, is there a difference amongst the thinking styles of university students who are enrolled at either the UG or PG level of tertiary education? Second, is there a difference amongst the thinking styles of university students enrolled in management, education and information technology courses? Using the Thinking Style Inventory (TSI) validated by Sofo (2008) as the data collection tool, 767 university students, comprising 491 UGs and 276 PGs were assessed to determine their thinking style profiles.

Overall, UG students were found to have a relatively similar thinking style profile compared to PG students since there was no significant difference found on four of the five styles. The results reveal that the UG students demonstrated a statistically significant higher difference in their preference to apply an inquiring thinking style (that is, to ask questions) when compared to the PGs’ use and preference of the same style of thinking. Apart from this difference, the pattern of results was similar in both samples. The highest preference was for the exploring style which emphasises a desire to consider alternative perspectives, and the least preferred style was the creative one where thinking in pictures is preferred. Other results indicated statistically significant differences among students enrolled in the three different cognate areas.

Keywords: Thinking Style, Comparative Analysis, Survey Questionnaire, Undergraduate, Postgraduate

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.199-212. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.304MB).

Prof. Francesco Sofo

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Canberra, BRUCE, ACT, Australia

Associate Professor of Human Resource Development, and currently convener of postgraduate programs in Professional Development Education and Human Resource Development. Career goal is to be the best he can in assisting in the learning and development of individuals, teams and organisations. Fellow of both the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian Human Resource Institute.

Dr. Michelle Berzins

Sessional Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Education (University of Canberra). Recipient of two Chancellor’s Commendations and an Australian Postgraduate Award for research into cartel conduct. Research interests include white collar crime, critical thinking and the transfer of learning.


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