Applying learning strategy questionnaires: problems and possibilities

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This article discusses measuring learning strategies by means of questionnaires. In ‘multi-method’ research, in which think-aloud measures are compared with questionnaires, low or moderate correlations are found. A conclusion often drawn is that learners are not able to verbally report on their learning activities. Alternative explanations concern two other possibilities: first, that different learning strategies may be measured by the two methods; second, that the measuring methods may be aimed at different learning tasks. Keeping these prerequisites in mind, we constructed a task-specific questionnaire directly based on a taxonomy for coding think-aloud protocols in text studying. We found a higher correlation (r=.51) between the questionnaire and think-aloud protocols than is regularly reported. A case-study, in which four students answered the questionnaire while thinking aloud, led to new insights into why a questionnaire may lead to somewhat different ratings of activities than the think-aloud method. Based on these results, task-specific questionnaires may be improved. Our studies involved a fair comparison between a questionnaire and think-aloud protocols. We cautiously conclude that if task-specific questionnaires are meticulously constructed and examined in new ways, they might become reasonably adequate alternatives for the labor-intensive think-aloud method in measuring learners’ learning strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-109
JournalMetacognition and Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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