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The dimensionality of approaches to learning: an investigation with confirmatory factor analysis on the structure of the SPQ and LPQ

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 23:51 authored by David KemberDavid Kember, Leung, DYP

Background: A recent review of research into students' approaches to learning suggested there was good evidence of meaning and reproducing orientations to study. In the former the student seeks the underlying meaning in study material, while in the latter attention is directed towards reproducing the text itself. The most widely used inventories of learning approaches also include a factor for an achieving approach and one contains another factor too.

Aims: The study aimed to examine the discrepancy between the dimensionality inherent in the design of instruments measuring approaches to learning and that indicated by subsequent factor analyses.

Methods: Confirmatory factor analysis was used to examine the dimensionality of approaches to learning. Seven models were fitted to parallel data sets from the Study and Learning Process Questionnaires.

Samples: The sample used for SPQ analysis was 4843 university students from Hong Kong universities. The LPQ data was drawn from a representative selection of 20 secondary schools in Hong Kong. The total number of usable questionnaires for the LPQ was 3254.

Results: For both sets of questionnaire data, the best fit was achieved by a model with two factors: meaning and reproducing orientation. The achieving motive and strategy subscales were significant indicators of both factors.

Conclusions: The results suggest that approaches to learning are described better by a two‐factor model than the three‐ or four‐factor ones on which the inventories are based.


Publication title

British Journal of Educational Psychology








Faculty of Education


British Psychological Soc

Place of publication

St Andrews House, 48 Princess Rd East, Leicester, England, Leics, Le1 7Dr

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives


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