Validity and Reliability of the VARK® Questionnaire

Is the VARK Questionnaire valid and reliable?

Researchers may want information on the statistical validity and reliability of the VARK Questionnaire. Dr. Walter Leite from the Research and Evaluation Methodology program at the University of Florida has conducted a study of VARK. The paper provides evidence of the validity of the VARK for measuring learning preferences and also presents its limitations.

The paper is published and the citation is:

Leite, W. L., Svinicki, M. & Shi, Y. (2010). Attempted Validation of the Scores of the VARK: Learning Styles Inventory With Multitrait-Multimethod Confirmatory Factor Analysis Models. Educational and Psychological Measurement. 70, 323-339.

The link for the article is:

The abstract reads:

Validity: The authors examined the dimensionality of the VARK learning styles inventory. The VARK measures four perceptual preferences: visual (V), aural (A), read/write (R), and kinesthetic (K). VARK questions can be viewed as testlets because respondents can select multiple items within a question. The correlations between items within testlets are a type of method effect. Four multitrait-multimethod confirmatory factor analysis models were compared to evaluate the dimensionality of the VARK. The correlated trait-correlated method model had the best fit to the VARK scores. The estimated reliability coefficients were adequate. The study found preliminary support for the validity of the VARK scores. Potential problems related to item wording and the scale’s scoring algorithm were identified, and cautions with respect to using the VARK with research were raised.

Reliability: They also explain that Cronbach’s alpha would underestimate the reliability of the VARK scores, because Cronbach’s alpha assumes that all items are parallel measures of the construct, which is not true with the VARK. Therefore, they provide estimates of reliability based on confirmatory factor analysis. The reliability estimates for the scores of the VARK subscales were .85, .82, .84, and .77 for the visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic subscales, respectively, which are considered adequate given that the VARK is not used for high-stakes decisions.