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There was evidence, however, of considerable intrinsic experience which frequently seemed closely related to vicarious experience. Imagining all the bacteria on their boots coming off on to them...

For one LEARNING FROM LECTURES 101 lecture recalled by all three it seemed the lecturer did not achieve her usual level of vicarious projection. Similarly, the third student recorded more vicarious and more intrinsic experiences for an earlier lecture. In other words, in those lectures where the three students recalled higher levels of vicarious experience, all three also recalled higher levels of intrinsic experience. And conversely, when the incidence of vicarious experience was low, all three recalled high levels of extrinsic and low levels of intrinsic experience.

As far as this lecturer was concerned, therefore, there was an evident relationship between the levels of vicarious and intrinsic experience associated with her lectures.

There was other evidence too, from this and from the other two courses studied, which indicated that vicarious experience could be seen as pivotal and transitional. Where vicarious experiences were few in number, extrinsic experiences tended to be frequent, and where vicarious experiences were abundant, there was also greater numbers of intrinsic experiences, suggesting strongly that vicarious experiences could research paper introduction help serve as a bridge towards experiences of an intrinsic kind. The implication of this finding for teaching is clear-cut, especially when seen alongside the earlier finding that vicarious experiences were highest amongst students who knew the lecturer best and who were the most positive in their percep- tions of that lecturer. By seeking to heighten vicarious experiences amongst their students, lecturers may help to bring about the personal understanding which is the hallmark both of intrinsic experience of relevance and of a deep approach to learning.

Experience of Relevance and Student Learning As the study we have just described has shown, students seem to experience the relevance of lecture content in three ways, intrinsically, extrinsically or vicariously. And as we suggested earlier, intrinsic and extrinsic experiences can be related to deep and surface approaches to learning. Where an experience is intrinsic or an approach deep, students perceive learning as bound up with themselves as individuals. Learning situations are characterized by the demands they make, primarily in the form of exams, grades, etc. Students who experience relevance extrinsically similarly focus on what is necessary to fulfil external demands such as these. It is the vicarious experience of relevance, however, which is potentially the most important result of this study.

What that research fails to do, however, is to clarify the relation between those characteristics and skills and student learning. Vicarious experience establishes the nature of this relationship. Vicarious experience of relevance can thus be viewed as transitional, customized essays providing a bridge between extrinsic experience or a surface approach and intrinsic experience or a deep approach.

Through vicarious experience of relevance, therefore, it becomes possible for the lecturer to help students to go beyond the outward demands of a learning situation and make connections between the content of the lecture and their understanding of the world around them. Throughout a degree course, the processes of studying often proceed along a river of coursework essays — the equivalent of one essay every ten days in some universities (Nimmo, 1977). Essay-writing occupies this central place within higher education because it serves two fundamental purposes: it is both a tool of assessment and an avenue to learning. The coursework essay has not always had a part to play in assessment. Compared to the exam answer, coursework essays give students an opportunity to draw upon a wide range customized essays of sources and allow time for sustained reflection.

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As a learning activity, essay-writing makes particularly exacting best college essay writing services demands of the student. The student must not only apprehend and make sense of a topic, but go further and communicate what he or she knows within the framework of a formal, ordered statement. Essay-writing thus involves putting learning on display. But the task of constructing meaning is made doubly difficult because the student usually has to venture beyond the comparative security of lecture and seminar notes. Finally, what the student chooses to make use of has to be marshalled and deployed within 103 104 THE EXPERIENCE OF LEARNING a discussion of the topic. As a learning activity therefore, the process of essay-writing is inherently more complex than reading and listening, and its product may reflect even more strongly the personal sense which the student has made of what he or she has learnt. These two purposes of learning and assessment co-exist uneasily. In fact, if you try to really learn something, it would handicap you as far as getting a grade goes.... This comment illustrates one of the main findings of Becker and his colleagues.

A further source of tension has been less widely recognized.

In discussing essay-writing, it is tempting to make inferences from other domains of written expression, but the parallels are sometimes too easily taken for granted.

There is a gulf between, say, the specialist author and the undergraduate essay-writer which extends far beyond differences in knowledge or experience. The nub of the problem is the idiosyncracy of essay- writing, which arises from the setting in which the activity takes place.

Firstly, the knowledge of students is generally, though not invariably, inferior to that of their tutors. They may be hard pressed to communicate anything which the tutor does not already know. While the success of the specialist author comes from prompting readers to see some aspect of the world in a fresh way, the success of students may lie in the degree to which they can articulate and validate views of the world which are already familiar to the tutor. Secondly, specialist authors generally choose their own theme and write because they have something they want to communicate. For students, however, the initial stimulus comes from outside, not within. They are required to say something on a given theme whether or not they feel drawn to the topic and whether or not they feel they have something to say. Indeed, essay assignments are what Shaughnessy (1977) calls stipulative: not only topic but mode of expression, depth of treatment, sources, length and preparation time may all be specified in advance. These contextual features determine the V: conditions of studying, but they do not necessarily create an ideal medium in which learning can flourish.

LEARNING AND ESS A Y-WRITING 105 problem may come into conflict with the obligations of the task as assigned. Even customized essays in study skills manuals, where essays are normally a prime concern, there is a preoccupation with form rather than substance. Accomplishment in essay-writing is aften seen in terms of style or bibliographic finesse or as a matter of systematic planning and organization. Previous Research The neglect extends also to research (Hartley, 1980, p. Most studies of undergraduate essay-writing derive from an interest in the reliability of essay-grading rather than in student learning (see Rowntree, 1977 pp. The second is a questionnaire study of the essay-writing procedures of 80 Psychology students (Branthwaite et al. Other findings, however, are more specific to essay-writing. While originality and understanding were high amongst the criteria advanced by students, none of the seven tutors who also took part in the study mentioned originality and only one mentioned under- standing.

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