The Inventory of Learning Styles in Higher Education (ILS)

This 120-item questionnaire was created in the Department of Educational Psychology at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. It aims to identify students' learning 'style', defined as a coordinating concept which brings together specific learning strategies in combination both with mental models of learning and with orientations to different possible outcomes (e.g. obtaining a qualification, being interested in new material, etc.) (Vermunt & Van Rijswijk, 1988; Vermunt, 1995). Only the scales to measure learning strategies will be described here.

Fifty-five items cover strategies of'information-processing' and 'metacognitive regulation', with responses being made on a five-point continuum from 'I do this seldom or never' to 'I do this almost always'. Alpha coefficients of internal reliability vary between 0.48 and 0,89.

The three information-processing strategies cover;

• Deep processing (with subscales for relating and structuring and for critical processing). For instance; '1 try to see the connection between topics discussed in different chapters of a textbook'; 'I try to be critical of the interpretation of experts.'

• Step-wise processing (with subscales for memorizing and rehearsing and for analysing). For instance: '1 repeat the main parts of the subject-matter until I know them by heart'; '1 analyse the successive steps in an argument one by one.'

• Concrete processing. For instance: 'I pay particular attention to those parts of a course that have practical utility.'

The three regulation strategies are:

• Self-regulation (with subscales for self-regulation of learning processes and results and for self-regulation of learning content). For instance: 'To test my learning progress, I try to answer questions about the subject-matter which I make up myself; 'In addition to the syllabus, I study other literature about the subject concerned.'

• External regulation (with Subscales for external regulation of learning processes and for external regulation of learning results). For instance: 'I learn everything exactly as I find it in the textbooks'; 'I test my learning progress solely by completing the questions, tasks and exercises provided by the teacher or textbook.'

• Lack of regulation. For instance: 'I notice that it is difficult for me to determine whether I have mastered the subject-matter sufficiently.'

Other Inventories of Learning Strategies

A number of other instruments have been developed to measure learning strategies used in schools and colleges. These include the Self-regulated Learning Interview Schedule (Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1986, 1988), the Learning Activities Questionnaire (Thomas & Bain, 1984), the Study Process Questionnaire (Biggs, 1987) and the Learning Strategies Survey (Kardash & Amlund, 1991). The content of all these measures is of potential relevance in occupational settings, but none of the instruments is immediately usable outside the educational context for which it was designed.

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