Kindling fires: examining the potential for cumulative learning in a Journalism curriculum

Leigh Kilpert, Suellen Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study investigated context-dependency of learning as an indicator for students' potential to continue learning after graduation. We used Maton's theoretical concepts of 'cumulative' and 'segmented' learning, and 'semantic gravity', to look for context-independent learning in students' assessments in a Journalism curriculum. We postulated whether the curriculum constrained or enabled cumulative learning. Students' responses to assessments were coded by their degree of context-dependency, or semantic gravity. We found that, firstly, students are overly successful in producing context-dependent answers but struggle to deliver context-independent responses. Secondly, students were not effective when they used higher level knowledge principles without the foundation of lower level ones. Lastly, the marking criteria were encouraging markers to reward context-dependent answers over context-independent ones. This study has implications for educators interested in curriculum design that enables cumulative learning in discipline specific contexts. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-52
Number of pages13
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01


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