The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire: Score validity among medicine residents

David A. Cook, Warren G. Thompson, Kris G. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Context The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) purports to measure motivation using the expectancy-value model. Although it is widely used in other fields, this instrument has received little study in health professions education. Objectives The purpose of this study was to evaluate the validity of MSLQ scores. Methods We conducted a validity study evaluating the relationships of MSLQ scores to other variables and their internal structure (reliability and factor analysis). Participants included 210 internal medicine and family medicine residents participating in a web-based course on ambulatory medicine at an academic medical centre. Measurements included pre-course MSLQ scores, pre- and post-module motivation surveys, post-module knowledge test and post-module Instructional Materials Motivation Survey (IMMS) scores. Results Internal consistency was universally high for all MSLQ items together (Cronbach's α=0.93) and for each domain (α≥0.67). Total MSLQ scores showed statistically significant positive associations with post-test knowledge scores. For example, a 1-point rise in total MSLQ score was associated with a 4.4% increase in post-test scores (β=4.4; p<0.0001). Total MSLQ scores showed moderately strong, statistically significant associations with several other measures of effort, motivation and satisfaction. Scores on MSLQ domains demonstrated associations that generally aligned with our hypotheses. Self-efficacy and control of learning belief scores demonstrated the strongest domain-specific relationships with knowledge scores (β=2.9 for both). Confirmatory factor analysis showed a borderline model fit. Follow-up exploratory factor analysis revealed the scores of five factors (self-efficacy, intrinsic interest, test anxiety, extrinsic goals, attribution) demonstrated psychometric and predictive properties similar to those of the original scales. Conclusions Scores on the MSLQ are reliable and predict meaningful outcomes. However, the factor structure suggests a simplified model might better fit the empiric data. Future research might consider how assessing and responding to motivation could enhance learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1230-1240
Number of pages11
JournalMedical education
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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