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J Family Community Med. 2012 Jan-Apr; 19(1): 33–37.
PMCID: PMC3326768

Reliability and validity of an Arabic version of the revised two-factor study process questionnaire R-SPQ-2F

Abstract

Objective:

How students accomplish their learning and what they learn is an indicator of the quality of student learning. An insight into the learning approaches of a student could assist educators of the health profession in their planning for the first year of study. The aim of this study was to develop a reliable and valid Arabic version of the revised two-factor study process questionnaire.

Materials and Methods:

The translation of the revised two-Factor Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) into Arabic was done by an established forward–backward translation procedure. The Arabic version was then distributed to high school graduates applying for a place in the medical program at King Fahad Medical City. A total of 83 students voluntarily completed the questionnaire. The internal consistency and construct validity of the Arabic version of the R-SPQ-2F were computed.

Results:

The exploratory factor analysis revealed two components. The two factors were similar to the main scales described in the original English questionnaire. The main scales were the deep and surface approach. The items for the subscales (deep motive, deep strategy and surface motive, surface strategy) had a high internal consistency of more than 0.80.

Conclusions:

The results of this study should provide a valid and reliable instrument for the evaluation of the study approaches of Arabic speaking students.

Keywords: Learning approach, R-SPQ-2F, study process

INTRODUCTION

To secure places in universities, most students in secondary schools are under pressure to obtain very high marks. The educational system compels them to engage in ‘surface learning,’ in which there is reproduction of factual knowledge.

The quality of student learning is how students go about their learning and what they learn. The concept of surface versus deep learning is a key feature to the development of a self-directed learner.[1] Surface learning means the acquisition of knowledge only with the external motivation of passing exams. However, deep learning involves the acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the underlying principles, mechanisms, critical thinking, analysis, and possible applications. Motivation in deep learning is described as internal, with self-satisfaction and ownership of learning as the main motivating factor for the learner. Surface and deep learning can coexist, depending on the factors that promote the learning style of the learner. Gibbs describes factors that contribute to deep learning as an integrated curriculum, the match between the assessment and objectives, intrinsic motivation, and a learner-centered educational environment.[1]

The teacher in the health profession plays a vital role in this process by the nature of the tasks assigned and methods of assessment employed throughout the curriculum. The quality of teaching is determined by the teachers’ approach to teaching, their perception of the teaching context and their level of understanding of the subject matter. Trigwell et al. has made a distinction between the two approaches, a conceptual change / student-focused approach and an information transfer / teacher-focused approach.[2] In the conceptual change approach, the teachers’ aim is to change the students’ way of thinking with a student-focused strategy. In the information transfer approach, teachers see their role as transmitting information to students without consideration for the students’ experience or participation. There is a strong link between the teaching approach and learning strategy. The learning process is context-rich involving many factors that guide and steer learning.

Learning processes have been addressed by many inventories. Many are derived top–down from psychology, focusing on the information processing theories.[35] In a context-dependent matter, such as, student learning, this seems unsuitable. A student's approach to learning depends on various factors, such as, the students’ values and motives, their perceptions of task demands, teaching and assessment methods, and the classroom climate. The Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ) was developed with the intention of considering these various context-related factors. The SPQ consisted of 43 items. Then, it was further reviewed to make it more concise and simple to administer. A revised two-factor study process questionnaire consisting of 20 items was developed.[68]

It would be preferable for the educators of health professions to have some insight into the learning approaches of students who apply to health colleges. This could assist in guiding the educational planning and focus for the initial study years. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop an Arabic version of the revised two-factor study process questionnaire,[8] by translating the revised two-factor study process questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) into Arabic and estimating its reliability and validity.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The R-SPQ-2F is an instrument that can be used by teachers to evaluate the learning approaches of students. It consists of 20 items that assess the deep and surface learning approaches. A five-point Likert scale is used to evaluate the learning approaches (1 = ‘the item is never or only rarely true of me’ to 5 = ‘the item is always or almost always true of me’). The R-SPQ-2F has already been validated in English.[8]

The translation of the R-SPQ-2F into Arabic followed an established forward–backward translation procedure. Independent translations of the R-SPQ-2F into Arabic, by the authors, were combined into a common version. There was more than 90% agreement in the translations. Any differences found were discussed at a meeting and an agreement on the translation was reached between the authors. A native English speaker, fluent in Arabic translated this provisional Arabic version back into English. This back translation was found to be nearly identical to the source document. The Arabic version [Appendix] was then tested independently in a pilot of three native Arabic teachers and three students, for problems in acceptance and comprehension of the questionnaire content or the phrasing.

Appendix
Arabic version of the revised two-factor Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) with the method of calculating main scales and subscales

The questionnaire was distributed to Saudi High School graduates applying for enrollment to study Bachelor of Medicine at the King Fahad Medical City (KFMC), Faculty of Medicine. The KFMC Faculty of Medicine is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and provides a six-year MBBS degree program for undergraduate students. The Arabic version was tested on a sample of 85 high school graduates who volunteered to participate in the study. The dimensions of the four components were examined by an exploratory factor analysis. This aims to check whether the items contributed to the intended component. Cronbach's alpha values for each component were then computed to determine the scale reliabilities.[9] The results from the final test of the Arabic version of the R-SPQ-2F are given in detail.

RESULTS

The aim of this study was to test the validity and reliability of the Arabic version of the revised two-factor Study Process questionnaire. The construct validity was evaluated by an exploratory factor analysis, which revealed two components. The two factors were similar to the main scales described in the original English questionnaire. The main scales were the deep and surface approaches. As shown in Table 1, the 20-item load was on two factors. Items 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19, and 20 were the load on factor 1. Items 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 17, and 18 were the load on factor 2.

Table 1
Exploratory Factor analysis of the Arabic version of the R-SPQ-2F voluntarily completed by high school graduates applying to join the medical program at KFMC (n = 83)

Cronbach's alpha was calculated to assess the internal consistency of each factor. The items for the subscales (deep motive, deep strategy, and surface motive, surface strategy) had a high internal consistency of more than 0.80. As seen in Table 2, factors 1 and 2 had a Cronbach's Alpha coefficient of .93 and .90, respectively.

Table 2
Internal consistency of the Arabic version of the revised two-factor study approach questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F)

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

The revised two-factor study approach questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) was translated into Arabic and tested for validity and reliability. The Arabic version was voluntarily completed by high school graduates (n = 83).

The items were loaded on two components. These two factors, as seen in the original English version, represent the main scales of the study approaches.[8] Factor 1 consists of items 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19, and 20. These represent the Surface Approach (SA). The approach has two subscales, surface strategy and motive. The surface strategy (SS) subscale characterizes a student with a narrow target. The Surface Motive (SM) implies that the student's strategy is adapted because of the fear of failure.

Items 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 17, and 18 represent factor 2, which is described as the Deep Approach (DA). It can be further distinguished into Deep strategy and Deep motive. Deep Strategy (DS) corresponds to students who attempt to maximize the meaning in their studies. Deep Motive (DM) symbolizes a student with an intrinsic interest in the subject matter.

As shown in the appendix, the subscales of the deep and surface approach can be obtained by adding specific items from the main scales. The subscales have an acceptable internal consistency with Cronbach's alpha coefficient average of more than .80. These results are in line with the original English version, which has been tested for validity and reliability.[8]

The Arabic version of the questionnaire is available in the appendix. A limitation of this study was the sample size, which was relatively small in comparison to the original validation study.[8] Nevertheless, the results of the Arabic translation of the R-SPQ-2F showed good reliability, acceptable construct validity, and feasibility of use. The results of this study support the use of the Arabic version, to evaluate the study approaches of Arabic speaking students.

Footnotes

Source of Support: Nil

Conflict of Interest: Nil

REFERENCES

1. Gibbs G. Improving the quality of student learning. Bristol: Technical and Educational Services; 1992.
2. Trigwell K, Prosser M, Ginns P. Phenomenographic pedagogy and a revised approaches to teaching inventory. Higher Educ Res Dev. 2005;24:349–60.
3. Moreno V, DiVesta F. Cross-cultural comparisons of study habits. J Educ Psychol. 1991;83:231–9.
4. Schmeck R, Geisler-Brenstein E, Cercy S. The Revised Inventory of Learning Processes. Educ Psychol. 1991;11:343–62.
5. Weinstein C, Schulte A, Palmer D. Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) Clearwater, FL: H and H Publications; 1987.
6. Biggs JB. Student approaches to learning and studying. Camberwell, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research; 1987a.
7. Biggs JB. The Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ): Manual. Hawthorn, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research; 1987b.
8. Biggs J, Kember D, Leung DYP. The revised two-factor study process questionnaire: R-SPQ-2F. Br J Educ Psychol. 2001;71:148–9.
9. Schmitt N. Uses and abuses of coefficient alpha. Psychol Assess. 1996;8:350–3.

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