Evaluation of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire for Predicting Academic Performance in College Students of Varying Scholastic Aptitude

By Burlison, Jonathan D.; Murphy, Chanda S. et al. | College Student Journal, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Evaluation of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire for Predicting Academic Performance in College Students of Varying Scholastic Aptitude


Burlison, Jonathan D., Murphy, Chanda S., Dwyer, William O., College Student Journal


All 15 subscales of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1993) were administered to 352 undergraduate students taking Introductory Psychology. Their scores were evaluated with respect to incremental validity (in addition to ACT scores) they provided for predicting course grades. Results indicated that only two of the subscales, Self-efficacy, and Time and Study Environment, contributed incremental validity. When the students were disaggregated by ACT composite, and the low, medium, and high ACT groups were evaluated separately, Self-Efficacy dropped out of the model for the low ACT group, and only time and study environment provided incremental validity. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for increasing the structure of college courses to improve performance among students.

KEYWORDS: Academic motivation, intelligence, scholastic ability, MSLQ, self-efficacy

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As America attempts to adjust to the burgeoning global economy and the migration of jobs to other countries, one of the major themes is the need to produce more knowledge workers, especially in the STEM disciplines (i.e., science, technology, engineering, and math). Closely related to this challenge is the ongoing problem of how to increase learning, retention, and graduation rates among the nation's college students. In spite of the fact that this issue has attracted a plethora of literature, solutions have been difficult to implement. In recent years the 6-year graduation rate from America's colleges and universities has been only 57% (Horn, 2006).

With respect to accounting for individual differences in academic performance, it is generally accepted that valid measures of academic aptitude (e.g., Scholastic Aptitude Test [SAT], American College Testing [ACT]) are among our most fruitful predictors. In terms of student departure rates, the national average of 43% drops to around 8% in highly selective colleges and universities, which attract the most academically gifted students (Tinto, 1993). Because of its potential mutability, however, the other requirement for scholarly performance, motivation to learn in an academic setting, has attracted a host of research attention, in part because of the hope that interventions with various strategies could increase it where it is lacking, with the result that student performance would improve.

Much has been written on the importance of integrating the social and academic aspects of college students' experience to increase motivation and maximize retention and scholarly achievement (for a discussion, see Braxton, 2000). Research in this arena is replete with explanatory constructs such as self-efficacy, intrinsic and extrinsic goal orientation, task value, learning style, control orientation, self-regulated learning, and expectancy for success. Interestingly, few studies addressing academic performance have focused on the incremental validity of motivational/personality variables, after the predictive ability of cognitive and academic aptitude measures (e.g., ACT, SAT, intelligence tests) has been taken into account (see Brown, 1994; Lounsbury, et. al., 2003; and Wolfe & Johnson, 1995).

MSLQ development. In an attempt to determine the impact of these motivational variables on academic performance, one line of research has been to develop surveys to measure student motivation and self-efficacy in academic situations (e.g., Holtzman & Brown, 1968; Midgley, Kaplan, Middleton, Maehr, Urdan Anderman, Anderman, & Roeser, 1998; Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1993; VandeWalle, 1997). One of the better known surveys in the research literature is the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ), developed by Pintrich et al. (1993) to measure two constructs thought to be integral to academic performance: (a) students' motivation to achieve for academic success and (b) their use of various learning strategies. …

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