Background. An important purpose of tertiary education is that students develop more advanced, deep-level learning. Longitudinal, within-subject studies to examine intra-individual changes, however, are scarce. Aims. We aimed at gaining a broad picture of students' development in academic learning by taking many different perspectives. This involves the extent to which students report change, factors that contribute to this, the degree of stability of different aspects of learning, and changes in their interrelatedness. Samples. Participants were 276 full-time students from four different university departments, (60% women and 40% men). Methods. This study has a longitudinal within-subjects design. An inventory that measures learning strategies, learning orientations and mental learning models was administered after the first and third semester. Paired-samples T-tests were used to analyse changes within variables. Principal component analyses were performed to examine changes in the interrelatedness of variables. Results. Results showed that students became more meaning-directed learners during this period. Personological as well as contextual variables explained this. The factor structure underlying the variables became more clear and consolidated in the course of time. Conclusions. The results concerning intra-individual development are satisfying. The diffuse factor structure after the first semester is explained by a period of 'friction' in which students have to adapt to a new learning environment.