Students' perceptions of the differences between formal and informal learning

Anna Eckerdal, Kate Sanders, Jonas Boustedt, Lynda Thomas, Robert McCartney

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

18 Citations (SciVal)


Research has shown that most learning in the workplace takes place outside of formal training and, given the swiftly changing nature of the field, computer science graduates more than most workers, need to be able to learn computing topics outside of organized classes. In this paper we discuss students' perceptions of the difference between formal and informal learning of computing topics, based on three datasets: essays collected from a technical writing course at a single university; the results of a brainstorming exercise conducted in the same course; and semi-structured interviews conducted at six institutions in three countries. The students report strengths and weaknesses in informal learning. On the one hand, they are motivated, can choose their level of learning, can be more flexible about how they learn, and often retain the material better. On the other hand, they perceive that they may miss important aspects of a topic, learn in an ad hoc way, and have difficulty assessing their learning.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2011


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