Identifying Changes in International Business Undergraduates' Conceptual Understanding

Sue Ashley, Harmen Schaap, E de Bruijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Higher professional education aims to prepare students for professional practice, for which students will need to develop conceptual understanding. Conceptual understanding requires a synthesis of relevant facts, theories and practices. This research explores what types of change take place in students’ conceptual understanding during a bachelor course. Forty-four senior international business majors in the Netherlands wrote expository essays at the beginning and end of a 14-week course. A rubric was used to grade the essays on six components of conceptual understanding using a 5-point scale. Results indicated five types of change: regressive, minor, modest, substantial and major. The most significant increases in conceptual understanding appeared to relate to context-specific or conceptual knowledge. Results also indicated that individual students’ conceptual understanding changed in different ways, with improvements in some components and deterioration in others, particularly global context. Discussion includes suggestions to account for the different types of change, and curricular implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1308
Number of pages14
JournalScandinavian Journal of Educational Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Conceptual understanding development
  • Expository essays
  • Higher professional education
  • International business
  • International education
  • Rubric
  • international education
  • higher professional education
  • international business
  • rubric
  • expository essays


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