Exploring the reliability and validity of the learning styles questionnaire (LSQ) in an Arab setting

Published date14 October 2019
Date14 October 2019
AuthorD.A. Yousef
Subject MatterEducation,Educational evaluation/assessment
Exploring the reliability and
validity of the learning styles
questionnaire (LSQ) in an
Arab setting
D.A. Yousef
Department of Business Administration, UAE University,
Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates
Purpose This study aims to examine the reliability and validity of the learning style construct
conceptualizedby Honey and Mumford (1986) in educational settings in the UnitedArab Emirates.
Design/methodology/approach Two independent samples from the UAE were used: one comprised
1,463 undergraduatestudents at the UAE University, and the other comprised152 undergraduate students at
the American University of Ras Al Khaimah. The data were analyzed using Cronbachs alpha, inter-
correlationsand conrmatory factor analysis (CFA).
Findings Measured by alpha coefcients, the outcomes suggest that the learning styles questionnaire
(LSQ) had moderate internal consistency in both samples. The inter-correlations reveal positive (weak to
modest) correlationsamong the four learning styles for both samples, implying a lack of support for the two
bipolar dimensionsproposed by Kolb. CFA failed to support the four learning stylesdescribed by Honey and
Research limitations/implications This study used only two samples to test the reliability and
validity of the instrument. Second, other statistical tools (e.g. test-retest, item analysis) usually used to
determine the reliability and validity of instruments were not used. Furthermore, the study was conducted
over a shortperiod; nonetheless, it has various implicationsfor researchers, educators andmanagers.
Originality/value This investigation represents the rst attempt to assess the LSQs reliability and
validity in educational settings in the UAE. The ndings contribute to the study of learning styles and
Keywords Learning style, Learning styles questionnaire (LSQ), Validity, Reliability,
Conrmatory factor analysis (CFA), Higher education, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Paper type Research paper
The identication of the learning styles among students in higher education has received
attention from researchers and practitioners worldwide. This is predominantly due to the
importance of knowing studentslearning styles for students themselves, and for educators
and administrators (Cano, 1999;Naik, 2003;Dembo and Howard, 2007;Penger et al.,2008;
Massey et al., 2011;Yousef, 2016;Tyndall, 2017). Consequently, a considerable number of
publications pertaining to this topic have been published in recent decades (Reid, 1987;
Torres and Cano, 1994;Fox and Ronkowski, 1997;Cano, 1999;Rosati, 1999;Loo, 2002;Jaju
and Kwak, 2000;Novin et al.,2003;Giordano and Rochford, 2005;Zualkernan et al.,2006;
Pallapu, 2008;Naik,2003, 2009;Goorha and Mohan, 2010;Massey et al.,2011;Naik and
Girish, 2012;Yeung et al., 2012;Al Buali et al., 2013;Naik, 2013). Despite the importance of
learning style preferences and the sizable number of publications pertaining to learning
Received11 October 2018
Revised18 April 2019
21July 2019
29July 2019
Accepted29 July 2019
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.27 No. 4, 2019
pp. 446-464
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-10-2018-0113
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
style preferences, some scholars still discredit learning styles and learning style theories.
This discredit might be due to number of factors such as lack of scientic support for
learning styles theories (Willingham et al., 2015), critical problems with learning style
theories (An and Carr, 2017), fundamental conceptual limitations of learning style theories
(Newton and Miah, 2017), lack of empirical evidence that taking into account students
learning style preferences will result in better learning (Pashler et al., 2009;Bishka, 2010;
Reiner and Willingham, 2010;Rohrer and Pashler, 2012;Cuevas, 2015;Rogowsky et al.,
2015;Bretz, 2017;LeBlanc, 2018) and learning styles being classied as a myth(Geake,
2008;Reiner and Willingham, 2010;Lilienfeld et al., 2011;Dekker et al.,2012;Pasquinelli,
2012;Rato et al.,2013;Howard-Jones, 2014;Kirschner,2017).
Given the rich literature surrounding the termlearning style, numerous denitions have
emerged. The concept has been seen as the characteristics of the cognitive, affective and
physiological behaviors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive,
interact with, and respond to the learning environment(Keefe, 1979, p. 4). Dunn (1990,
p. 353) views the idea as the wayeach learner begins to concentrate, process and retain new
and difcult information.Loo (2002, p. 349) perceives it as the consistent way in which a
learner responds to or interacts with stimuli in the learning context,while Felder (1996)
posits that learning style consists of the characteristics, strengths and preferences in the
way they take in and process information(p. 18). Learning style has also been dened as
the way in which a learner prefers to take in and processinformation(Rosati, 1999, p. 17)
or as a description of the attitudes and behaviors, which determines an individuals
preferred way of learning(Honey and Mumford, 1992,p.1).Claxton and Ralston (1978)
understand learning style as a consistent way of respondingto and using stimuli in the
context of learning, while De Bello (1990) refers to learning style as how people retain
A number of instruments have been developedto assess the learning styles of managers
and students in higher education (Kolb, 1984,1985,1996, 1999;Dunn et al.,1985;Honey and
Mumford,1986, 1992;Felder and Silverman, 1988;Caneld, 1992;Fleming and Mills, 1992;
Gagne et al., 1992;Grasha, 1996). Honey and Mumford (1986) developed the learning styles
questionnaire (LSQ), which is a popular measure. Because of its simplicity and cost-
effectiveness, the LSQ has been widely used to assess managerslearning styles (Allinson
and Hayes,1988, 1990;Kenningtonet al., 1996;Ibbetson and Newell, 1996;Wong et al.,2000;
Seymour and West-Burnham, 2007;Yousef, 2015), and students in higher education
(Packwood and Sinclair Taylor, 1995;Sangster, 1996;Duff and Duffy, 2002;Cofeld et al.,
2004;Lashley and Barron, 2006;Mak et al., 2007;Oravcova, 2009;Chan and Mak, 2010;
Sangvigit et al., 2012;Azizet al.,2013;Lee and Sidhu, 2013;Guraya et al.,2014;Yousef,2016,
2018;Bhatnagar and Sinha, 2018). However, the LSQ has also been heavily criticized as
lacking reliability and validity (Fung et al.,1993;Duff, 2001;Duff and Duffy, 2002;Klein
et al.,2007;McCarter, 2008;Kappe et al.,2009).
Although the LSQ has been used in a number of studies in Arab-speaking nations
(Barron et al., 2009;Guraya et al.,2014;Al-Hazmi et al., 2017;Yousef, 2015,2016,2018), an
extensive literaturereview revealed a lack of research on the LSQs reliability and validity in
these countrieseducational settings. This is a pertinent gap, as the educational
environments in Arabic-speakingstates tend to differ from Western ones, in which the LSQ
was developed and has been widely used. This situation also differs from East Asian
contexts, where the reliabilityand validity of this instrument have been examined. As far as
the cultures of the Arabic-speakingnations go, the UAEs is characterized by collectivism, a
high power distance, a strong sense of gender roles (in relation to the cultural dimension of
masculinity-femininity), and high uncertainty avoidance. UAE culture share similarities
The reliability
and validity of

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