The Relationship between International Higher Education Students’ Writing Conceptions and Approaches to Learning


  • Yufan Yin University of Helsinki
  • Anna Parpala University of Helsinki
  • Auli Toom University of Helsinki



writing conceptions, approaches to learning, student learning, international students, higher education


Writing is challenging for international students, who often possess inadequate writing skills and are required to adapt to the new learning environment. Students’ approaches to learning have been shown to relate to some constructs of writing conceptions. Nevertheless, little research exists on the relationship between such conceptions and approaches to learning. This study explores writing conceptions, approaches to learning, and their interrelationship among international students. The data were collected from 162 international students at a research-intensive Finnish university using the HowULearn Questionnaire and the Writing Process Questionnaire. Data analysis included bivariate correlations, confirmatory factor analysis, t-test, latent profile analysis, and ANOVA tests. The results demonstrated how approaches to learning correlated with the writing conceptions of the participants. Three profiles were identified: deep and organised students (72.8%), deep and unorganised students (14.2%), and unreflective and unorganised students (13.0%). These profiles were statistically different in all writing conceptions, including blocks, procrastination, perfectionism, innate ability, knowledge transforming and productivity. Overall, students’ ability to reflect on their learning and organise their studying played an important role in their writing conceptions. Based on the findings, the study provides strategies for developing writing for international students and suggestions for enhancing teaching in host universities.


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How to Cite

Yin, Y., Parpala, A., & Toom, A. (2023). The Relationship between International Higher Education Students’ Writing Conceptions and Approaches to Learning. Journal of Writing Research, 14(3), 421–446.