Attempts to demonstrate a relationship between students' approaches to studying in higher education and their perceptions of their academic context have been bedevilled by limitations of the research instruments and the problem of aggregating students' perceptions and approaches across different course units. The extended version of the Course Experience Questionnaire (Wilson et al., 1997) and the Revised Approaches to Studying Inventory (Entwistle et al., 2000) were adapted for use in distance education and administered in a postal survey to students taking seven courses by distance learning with the Open University. Usable responses were obtained from over 2100 students. Both instruments proved to be remarkably robust, and the students' scores on these two instruments shared 61% of their variance. Students' perceptions of the academic quality of courses in distance education are strongly associated with the approaches to studying that they adopt on those courses.
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