Transferring effective learning strategies across learning contexts matters: A study in problem-based learning


  • Mohammed Saqr University of Eastern Finland
  • Wannisa Matcha Prince of Songkla University
  • Nora'ayu Ahmad Uzir Universiti Teknologi MARA
  • Jelena Jovanovic University of Belgrade
  • Dragan Gašević Monash University
  • Sonsoles López-Pernas University of Eastern Finland



learning strategies, problem-based learning (PBL), learning analytics, sequence mining, process mining


Learning strategies are important catalysts of students’ learning. Research has shown that students with effective learning strategies are more likely to have better academic achievement. This study aimed to investigate students’ adoption of learning strategies in different course implementations, the transfer of learning strategies between courses and relationship to performance. We took advantage of recent advances in learning analytics methods, namely sequence and process mining as well as statistical methods and visualisations to study how students regulate their online learning through learning strategies. The study included 81,739 log traces of students’ learning related activities from two different problem-based learning medical courses. The results revealed that students who applied deep learning strategies were more likely to score high grades, and students who applied surface learning strategies were more likely to score lower grades in either course. More importantly, students who were able to transfer deep learning strategies or continue to use effective strategies between courses obtained higher scores, and were less likely to adopt surface strategies in the subsequent course. These results highlight the need for supporting the development of effective learning strategies in problem-based learning curricula so that students adopt and transfer effective strategies as they advance through the programme.

Implications for practice or policy:

  • Teachers need to help students develop and transfer deep learning as they are directly related to success.
  • Students who continue to use light strategies are more at risk of low achievement and need to be supported.
  • Technology-supported problem-based learning requires more active scaffolding and teachers’ support beyond “guide on the side” as in face-to-face.


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How to Cite

Saqr, M., Matcha, W., Ahmad Uzir, N., Jovanovic, J., Gašević, D., & López-Pernas, S. (2023). Transferring effective learning strategies across learning contexts matters: A study in problem-based learning. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 35–57.