Approaches to Learning Mathematics: Preliminary Evidence of a Concise, Valid, and Reliable Instrument
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionZakariya, Y. F. (2023). Approaches to learning mathematics: preliminary evidence of a concise, valid, and reliable instrument. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1286394
We assess students’ approaches to learning mathematics not only to predict students’ learning outcomes but also for its crucial utilities in the teaching and learning process. These utilities range from evaluating effective instructional interventions, determining students with learning difficulties, and comparing teaching and learning experience in higher education. However, measures of the constructs have raised validity concerns among researchers. A root cause of these validity concerns is traceable to the failure of these measures to account for the content-specificity of approaches to learning. Building on a previously developed general measure of the constructs, I designed this study to bridge this gap by developing and validating approaches to learning mathematics questionnaire (ALMQ). 352 first-year engineering students who gave voluntary consent participated in the study. The students were mainly males with ages ranging from 15 years to 29 years. The average age was 20.67 years, and its standard deviation was 2.164. I analysed the generated data using confirmatory factor analysis and judged the consistency of hypothesised models with the generated data using a combination of criteria. The findings revealed a two-factor ALMQ with seven items which demonstrated an excellent global and local fit of the generated data. The standardised factor loadings for all the items were above 0.68 with an average of 0.73 showing the high strengths of the items in measuring their respective constructs. I also found a reliability coefficient of 0.81 for deep approaches, 0.77 for surface approaches, and 0.72 for the two-factor ALMQ. These findings suggest preliminary evidence of the validity and reliability of ALMQ. I discussed the practical implications of the findings for educators, policymakers, and researchers interested in improving the mathematics learning experience.