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A qualitative perspective of high academic achievers’ self-regulated learning, learning styles, and learning strategies.

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Pressure from global and local changes have necessitated the need for transformation in higher education institutions. This has given rise to numerous studies conducted on teaching and learning in higher education. In the past, research efforts have tended to focus on academic underachievement and failure, and have inadvertently established a deficit discourse in South African higher education literature. This study responds to this deficit discourse by shifting the focus to high academic achievement. Specifically, this study sought to gain insight into high academic achievers’ learning through the use of a qualitative methodology. Self-Regulated Learning theory as well as a Learning Styles theory provided the theoretical framework for the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six high academic achievers studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Semantic thematic analysis was conducted in order to determine themes and patterns within the responses of these high academic achievers. Findings demonstrated the importance of the ability to self-regulate one’s learning, and gave insight into specific learning strategies used by high academic achievers when approaching study related tasks. Findings also suggest that high academic achievers display certain characteristics which are perceived to influence achievement, these include self-awareness, general motivation, and a proactive and disciplined attitude.