Investigation of evidence for the internal structure of a modified science motivation questionnaire II (mSMQ II): a failed attempt to improve instrument functioning across course, subject, and wording variants†
The Science Motivation Questionnaire II (SMQ II) was developed to measure aspects of student motivation in college-level science courses. Items on the SMQ II are structured such that the word ‘science’ can be replaced with any discipline title (e.g., chemistry) to produce a discipline-specific measure of student motivation. Since its original development as the Science Motivation Questionnaire and subsequent refinement, the SMQ II and its discipline-specific variants have been used in a number of science education studies. However, many studies have failed to produce acceptable validity evidence for their data based on the proposed internal structure of the instrument. This study investigated if modifications could be made to the SMQ II such that it produces consistent structural evidence across its use in various forms. A modified SMQ II (mSMQ II) was tested with wording variants (‘science’ and ‘biology’ or ‘chemistry’) in general biology and in preparatory and general chemistry courses at several institutions. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis were used to cull problematic items and evaluate the structure of the data based on the relations posited by the SMQ II developers. While extensive revisions resulted in acceptable data model fit for the five-factor structural models in most course and wording conditions, significant issues arose for the single-factor scales. Therefore, potential users are cautioned about the utility of the SMQ II or its variants to support the evaluation of classroom practices. A reflective review of the theoretical underpinnings of the SMQ II scales call into question the original framing of the scales and suggests potential alternatives for consideration.