Encuentro Educacional

ISSN 1315-4079 ~ Depósito legal pp 199402ZU41

Vol. 24 (1,2,3) enero - diciembre 2017 Edición Especial: 41-66

Validación de una adaptación en español de

la escala de Trice para medir el locus de control en estudiantes universitarios

Carlos Alberto Mayora Pernía1 y Nelly Fernández de Morgado2

1Universidad del Valle. Cali-Colombia;

2Universidad Simón Bolívar. Caracas-Venezuela. carlos.mayora@correounivalle.edu.co; nfernandez@usb.ve


El objetivo de este estudio fue adaptar la Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students (Trice, 1985) a una población de estudiantes universitarios venezolanos, así como, evaluar la confiabilidad y validez de la escala traducida. Se administró dicha adaptación a una muestra de

179 estudiantes de la Universidad Simón Bolívar. Se llevaron a cabo análisis estadísticos, tales como el coeficiente de Cronbach y el análisis de componentes principales. Adicionalmente, se correlacionaron los resultados de la escala con la calificación promedio auto reportada por los estudiantes. Los resultados muestran que la confiabilidad de la escala adaptada al español es apenas aceptable; además, el análisis de componentes principales reveló una estructura de cuatro factores muy diferente de la versión original en inglés. Se ofrecen posibles interpretaciones y se sugiere ahondar en esta línea de investigación.

Palabras clave: Locus de control académico; validez; confiabilidad; traducción inversa;

estudiantes universitarios.

Recibido: 25-07-2017 ~ Aceptado: 01-11-2017

Validation of a Spanish adaptation of Trice´s academic locus of control scale for college students


The aim of the present study was to adapt the Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students (Trice, 1985) to a population of Venezuelan university students, as well as, evaluating issues of reliability and validity of the translated scale. The resulting Spanish adaptation of the ALC was administered to a sample of 179 students from Universidad Simón Bolivar. Statistical analysis such as Cronbach and Principal Components Analysis, were conducted. Additionally, results from the scale were correlated with students’ self-reported grade point average (GPA). Results show that the reliability of the translated scale is barely acceptable; furthermore, the principal component analysis revealed a four- factor structure very different from the original English version. Possible explanations are given and further examination is therefore recommended.

Keywords: Academic locus of Control; validity; reliability; back-translation; college



Research shows that people differ on their perceptions of control over the events that happen in their lives. While some tend to perceive that fate, luck, other people and other external forces control what happens to them; others perceive themselves to exert such con- trol. Such perceptions of control are labeled as locus of control or LOC (Rotter, 1966). Traditional views on the LOC construct describe it as a dichoto- mic variable, with individuals showing a tendency towards either an external or an internal orientation. Over the years, this approach has changed. Current views on the construct tend to descri- be it as multidimensional, dynamic and contingent (Lefcourt, 1981; Levenson, 1973; Nowicki and Strickland, 1971;

Russell, 1982; Weiner, 1985). In other words, LOC is not a static trait in a per- son, but may vary according to time, context and situation. Children might be internally oriented in early years and develop to be more externally oriented. People might show an internal orienta- tion to explain their personal relations- hips, but might exhibit a more external orientation in terms of their academic performance.

Research on LOC is extensive and has expanded to include a wide num- ber of domains and situations (Halpert and Hill, 2011; Lefcourt, 1981) ranging from job satisfaction (Judge and Bono, 2001; Meyer, Stanley, Herscovich and Topolnytsky, 2002;), health (Wallston and Wallston, 1978; Wallston, Wallston and Devellis, 1978) to learning and

academic achievement (Findley and Cooper, 1983; Nunn and Nunn, 1993; Stipek and Weisz, 1981). Considering the variety of domains in which LOC has been researched and its contingent nature, an array of scales to measu- re it has been developed (Halpert and Hill, 2011).

For example, Rotter’s original scale (Rotter, 1966) was designed to measu- re general life’s expectancies; Nowicki and Strickland’s (1971) scale measu- res LOC specifically in children; and Walltons and Wallston (1978) offered a review of three methods of measuring LOC in health-specific situations (uni- dimensional scales, multidimensional scales and alternative methods using self-reports). More recently, Halpert and Hill (2011) have identified and re- viewed a total of 28 measures of LOC classified in 5 broad categories. In short, the abundance of existing sca- les for measuring LOC evidences the breadth of research on the construct, its wide-ranging application and its situa- tion-specific and context-related nature.

A particular area of interest, and the focus of this article, has been the relationship of LOC to academic per- formance and achievement. As in other fields, many studies have tried to esta- blish a relationship between LOC and success and failure in academic con- texts and different scales have been used. The overall assumption of this relationship is that students with an internal LOC will tend to exhibit bet- ter academic performance and higher levels of achievement (Agnew, Slate,

Jones and Agnew, 1993, Trice, 1985). According to this assumption, inter- nals, who consider they have control over their life, will take responsibility for their failures, monitor and adjust their behavior and regulate their per- formance. Externals, on the other hand, will display a more passive behavior, since they consider their academic re- sults depend on their professors, luck, fate and other external factors.

With the exception of a few studies (Cassidy, 2012; Findley and Cooper, 1983), most empirical research su- pports the assumption that internal LOC is related positively to academic achievement both at school (Nunn and Nunn, 1993; Shepherd, Owen, Fitch, and Marshall, 2006; Sisney, Strickler, Tyler, Wilhoit, Duke, and Nowicki, 2000) and college (Curtis and Trice, 2013; Ghasemzadeh and Saadat, 2011;

Hasan and Khalid, 2014; Trice, 1985). Furthermore, an indirect relationship between LOC and academic achie- vement has been found; that is, LOC has been shown to be a predictor of a number of behaviors that in turn pre- dict academic achievement. Such be- haviors include, for instance, studying behavior (Bodill and Roberts, 2013); effective note-taking and other study skills (Agnew et al, 1993); self-es- teem and general self-efficacy (Krenn, Wuerth, and Hergovich, 2013); vo- cational outcome expectations (Işik, 2013); stress-coping strategies and trait anxiety (Arslan, Dilmac and Hamarta, 2009), among others.

This brief introduction shows that the there is ample research on the re- lationship between LOC and academic achievement. Yet, further research on this area is still called for. First of all, a recent review of the literature (Mayora and Fernandez, 2015) reveals an uneven geographical distribution of the studies available. While most studies have been conducted in the U.S. and Europe, and there appears to be a growing interest in South Asia and Africa, studies in Latin America are still scarce. Second, of the few studies known to date, diffe- rent scales to measure LOC have been used which renders the comparison among studies difficult. Furthermore, the studies available in Latin America (Bolívar and Rojas, 2008; Hernandez and Esser, 2000; Nunes, 2011; Serrano, Bojórquez and Vera, 2009) have re- sourced to either translated versions of general LOC or scales developed by the authors without considering al- ready existing and validated academic LOC scales. Particularly, our search of such studies have found that, for exam- ple, Trice’s Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students (ALC) has not been translated into Spanish or used in any Latin American context.

This represents a considerable void taking into account the specificity of the referred scale and its proven validity and reliability among North American college students (Curtis and Trice, 2013; Trice, 1985; Trice, Ogden, Stevens and Booth, 1987) and non-American popu- lations (see Ibrahim, 1996). Finally, as Dornyei and Taguchi (2010) have poin-

ted out, the process of translating ins- truments often seems to be taken lightly by researchers, even when this process is of crucial importance for the validity of the instruments being adapted.

Thus, the purpose of the current study is to develop a Spanish adaptation of Trice’s ALC and test its psychome- tric properties in a sample of students at a public university in Venezuela. A broader aim is that this study will fur- ther future research in the field in a less frequently studied context by providing an adapted instrument known for its validity and reliability.

Theoretical foundation

Scales for the study of LOC in college students

As stated earlier, many studies have focused on the relationship between LOC and academic achievement or be- haviors that lead to it. It is noteworthy, though, that many of these studies have used general-life scales to measure the LOC construct such as Rotter’s (1966) or Levenson’s (1973). This is in contrast with the generally accepted academic position that the LOC construct mi- ght indeed be domain specific. In line with this belief, some researchers have developed scales aimed at measuring the construct specifically in academic settings and especially with college-le- vel students. In this section, we offer a brief overview of these scales.

To the best of our knowledge, only

three scales can be considered to meet

these two requirements (being aca- demic-specific and college-students intended). These are Lefcort’s (1981) Multidimensional-Multiattributional Causality Scale (MMCS), the aforemen- tioned Trice’s (1985) Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students (ALC) and Arocha and Lezama’s (2007) Academic Locus of Control Inventory (ILCA the original acronym in Spanish). Other academic-specific scales, such as Crandall’s Intellectual Achievement Responsibility Question- naire (Crandall, Katkovski and Crandall, 1965) and Krampen’s (1988) Domain-specific IPC Scales, do not meet the requirement of being origina- lly intended for college students.

Lefcourt’s MMCS was originally designed to measure LOC in college students in two domains: achievement and affiliation. It was not originally in- tended to measure academic LOC, but since it was intended for “the beginning university undergraduate” (Lefcourt, 1981: 250), the achievement domains refers specifically to academic achieve- ment and study-related situations. The scale comprises two sets of 24 Likert- type items (one set for achievement and another for affiliation) which in turn contain 12 items describing success experiences and 12 items describing failure experiences each. Although a strong believer of the predictive value of LOC, Lefcourt was critical of the dual view of the construct within the social learning framework proposed by Rotter (1966) and Bandura (1971). Thus, his scale aligns more to Wiener’s

attributional motivation theory (1985). As a result, this scale measures not only the internality-externality dimension, but also includes a stability dimension. In addition, internal and external cau- ses are consistent with common causal attributions (effort, ability, situation/ context and luck) identified in attribu- tional theory.

Scores range from 0 to 192 if both achievement and affiliation are con- sidered. The Likert-type items range from 0 to 4. In the achievement scale, higher scores in items describing effort and ability indicate a tendency to in- ternality; whereas higher scores items related to situation/context and luck in- dicate a tendency to externality.

Lefcourt (1981) reports that

Cronbach alphas range between .58 and

.80 for items in the achievement-exter- nality subscale and between .50 and .77 in the achievement internality subscale. The achievement scores of the MMCS correlate positively and significantly with Rotter’s I-E LOC Scale (coeffi- cients ranging between .23 and .62). Lefcourt himself acknowledged that “social desirability can be a contamina- ting influence in the assessment of lo- cus of control” (1981: 254) when using the MMCS especially in the achieve- ment-externality subscale. The vali- dity of this scale for measuring LOC in college students has been establi- shed in several studies (Lefcourt, von Baeyer, Ware and Cox, 1979; Powers and Rossman, 1983; Powers, Douglas, Lopez, and Rossman, 1985). As for the predictability of the results of this scale

and academic achievement, Lefcourt et al. (1979) found that the scale did not predict achievement-related behaviors, while Kanoy, Wester and Latta (1990) found that high achieving female colle- ge students scored higher on the inter- nality subscales of the MMCS.

The Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students (ALC; Trice, 1985) is a 28-item True/False survey format instrument designed to measure LOC in a college/university context. Scores can range from 0 to 28 with high scores indicating a more ex- ternal orientation. The items were writ- ten by graduate students in psychology classes. Education students from a state university were test-retested, five wee- ks apart. The resulting 28 items scale was given to 82 freshmen from a pri- vate, open-admissions liberal arts co- llege enrolled in a general psychology course. Test-retest reliability was .92 over a five-week interval and internal consistency was .70 using the KR-20 coefficient. Results of the study showed the scale to predict study behavior, to correlate with other LOC scales, to co- rrelate with achievement motivation, and to have non-significant social desi- rability scores.

Many studies have used the ALC and have validated its potential to tackle LOC and to predict academic achieve- ment. Trice et al. (1987) confirmed the concurrent validity of the ALC Scale in three studies of college students. Results showed significant correlations in the predicted directions between academic success variables and the

ALC Scale scores. Although significant correlations in the predicted directions between academic success variables and the ALC scores have been found most of the time, results vary. For ins- tance, Carpenter (2010) studied a sam- ple of 132 students in graduating classes from four Midwestern, baccalaureate of nursing programs. The schools were both private and public institutions lo- cated within the same state. The study aimed at determining whether LOC was predictive of students’ performan- ce on the ATI Comprehensive Predictor Exam and the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Internality was found to be significantly related to the NCLEX-RN. Also, logistic regression showed that a student with an internal LOC was 6.7 times more likely to pass the NCLEX-RN. However, regression analysis showed that other variables, such as anxiety, organization, self-re- gulation, and prior knowledge, were best at predicting success on the ATI Comprehensive Predictor Exam.

The ALC (Trice, 1985) has been used in different settings and along with academic relevant variables such as ab- senteeism (Trice, 1987 and Trice and Hackburt, 1989), academic achievement (Carpenter, 2010; Chalak, Nasri, and Tabrizi, 2014), GPA (Ibrahim, 1996), goal achievement (Akin, 2010), persis- tence (Lee, Choi and Kim, 2013), pro- crastination (Dervishaliaj and Xhelili, 2014; Janssen and Carton, 1999); study skills (Jones, Slate and Marini, 1995; Onwuegbuzie and Daley, 1998), gra-

duate school intention (Landrum, 2010, Nordstrom and Segrist, 2009), ins- tructional dissent (Buckner and Finn, 2013), Internet addiction and social self-efficacy (Iskender and Akin, 2010) and attachment security (Kurland and Siegel, 2013).

The properties of the ALC have also been tested with students from different cultural and geographical contexts. Among the different geogra- phical settings where ALC has been used, besides the USA, include Albania (Dervishaliaj and Xhelili, 2014), Iran (Chalak, Nasri, and Tabrizi, 2014), Oman (Ibrahim, 1996), and Turkey (Akin, 2010). For example, Akin (2010) examined 627 university students from Sakarya University to study the rela- tionship between ALC and goal achie- vements while Dervishaliaj and Xhelili (2014) studied the relationship between ALC and procrastination in 45 stu- dents attending graduate programs at the Department of Education and the Department of Albanian Literature, at the University of Vlora Ismail Qemali.

Recently, Curtis and Trice (2013) revised the ALC to investigate its fac- tor structure as well as to confirm its current pertinence. 322 psychology students from a competitive-admis- sion, midsized southeastern university volunteered. Four factors were pro- duced from the principal component analysis, named hopelessness, distrac- tibility, poor student attitude, and im- paired planning. Seven items from the original scale did not load significantly on any of these four factors; therefore,

upon content and technical examina- tion, their elimination was suggested. McDonals’ statistic showed high es- timates of internal consistency for all factors. The internal consistency relia- bility of the revised overall scale (α=

.68) was similar to that of the 28-item scale (α= .66). Furthermore, the resul- ting scale was similar to the original with respect to its relations to grade point average (GPA), attendance, and measures of academic entitlement, pro- crastination, depression, and anxiety.

The items that were not included (numbered 1, 5, 6, 8, 12, 18 and 19 in the original scale) seem to be related to issues that are not relevant nowa- days or fall outside the four themes that were considered (planning, hope- lessness, distractibility and attitudes). This result suggests that, in contrast to the most common structures of current LOC scales, based on attributions or domains, the resulting scale is ordered in terms of motivational/educational content.

Arocha and Lezama (2007) de- signed the ILCA as an instrument to measure the LOC of college students in Venezuela. They were motivated by the unavailability of scales to measure LOC in Spanish and, more important- ly, scales that measured LOC in acade- mic settings. The ILCA consists of 32 four-point-Likert-type items distribu- ted between two contexts (academic and interpersonal) and two achieve- ment dimensions (success and failures). Items are short affirmative statements (20 words as maximum length) and

the wording was the result of qualita- tive interviews of 100 college students from different universities in Caracas. Originally, the inventory was concep- tually based on Levenson multidimen- sional perspective of LOC, and so the proposed factorial structure predicted three factors: internal, powerful others and chance. However, pilot tests of the scale and factorial analysis rejected the proposed factorial structure and produ- ced a bidimensional structure, interna- lity and externality.

The final version of the ILCA was field validated with a non-probabilistic sample of 557 Venezuelan college stu- dents, aged 17 to 29, enrolled in diffe- rent universities in Caracas. All items loaded significantly on one of the two factors proposed (internality vs. exter- nality) and these two factors, in turn, explained 36% of the total variance in the sample. The internal reliability of the instrument (Alpha Cronbach) was estimated at 0.78 for the externa- lity dimension and 0.88 for the inter- nality dimension. A second validation study was conducted by the authors. In this, only 126 students from Central University of Venezuela (the largest and most important in the country) participated. Participants in the sample took the ILCA and also took a Spanish adaptation of Levenson I, P and C scale. Pearson product-moment correlations were estimated between both measures to determine convergent validity. The results showed moderate, positive and significant correlations between the internality subscale of the ILCA and

the internality subscale of Levenson’s, between the externality subscale of the ILCA and both powerful others and chance from Levenson’s.

There are moderate, negative and significant correlations between the externality subscale of the ILCA and the internality subscale of Levenson’s. In other words, ILCA and Levenson’s I, P and C scale measure similar cons- tructs. The fact that correlations were moderate was explained by Arocha and Lezama as an effect of the specificity component of their scale in contrast to Levenson’s general-life scope.

When considering Arocha and Lezama’s ILCA as a possible ins- trument for researching academic LOC among Spanish-speaking Latin American college students, the first advantage that comes to mind is the fact that it was originally produced in Spanish and that the wording of the items resulted from interviews from such populations. However, one limita- tion of this scale is that its validity is not backed by other studies. Furthermore, the authors themselves have acknowle- dged some items in the scale still need refinement and that further studies are also needed to establish its validity. A final consideration is that the authors do not provide guidelines on how to interpret scores, especially considering its Likert-type format.

To summarise, the Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students (Trice, 1985) has been used successfu- lly in different settings and populations

since 1985. It has been used in studies that correlate LOC with an array of variables relevant to academic success such as absenteeism, academic achie- vement, procrastination, study skills, and persistence. It has shown to be a pertinent, valid and consistent instru- ment to measure academic LOC in hi- gher education. However, studies with Latino students were not found in the literature review; therefore, its trans- lation, adaptation and validation in a Hispanic context is considered to be worth pursuing.



Universidad Simón Bolívar is lo- cated in Valle de Sartenejas, Caracas, Venezuela. It is a small, public, hi- gh-standard, tuition-free, science and technology-oriented university. Most students are admitted through a pro- cedure that includes their high school grade-point average (GPA) and results from an ad hoc comprehensive admis- sion exam.


A total of 179 freshmen took part in the study. 102 were male and 77 were female with ages ranging between 18 and 21. 70% are pursuing a 5-year de- gree while the rest are pursuing 3-year degrees. The GPA average of the group is 3.48 in a scale from 1 to 5, 3 being the passing grade.


Permission to translate and use the ALC was requested and obtained via email. The translation procedure was based on the guidelines provided by Dornyëi and Taguchi (2010). The procedure was as follows: (1) two di- fferent professionals -both Spanish na- tive speakers and highly proficient in English- translated separately the origi- nal scale from English into Spanish; (2) both translations were compared and discussed and differences were solved by consensus, thereby producing a re- fined translation called “version 1” for writing purposes; (3) version 1 was gi- ven to three non-target students from the USB and two English teachers and from their observations and comments version 2 emerged; (4) Version 2 was back translated by two different pro- fessional (one a native English speaker, the other a professional and certified translator); (5) both back-translated version were compared and discussed by the authors refining a last draft con- sidered the final one.

The instrument (see appendix B) was adapted and presented to parti- cipants as a Google Drive Survey, so that it could be taken on line and then a couple of pilot tests were administered and final adjustments were made. After obtaining permission from the Head of the Language Department and consent from the professors who were to serve as proctors, guidelines and preparation were given. After giving their informed consent (see appendix A), students took

the survey during class time at the be- ginning of the term. One of the authors assisted proctors in situ whenever ne- cessary.

Results were downloaded from Google Drive as an Excel document and data were then exported to SPSS 19 and processed.


Academic Locus of Control: Defined as the perception of whether internal or external factors exert con- trol over different academic behaviors and situations. It was measured by a Spanish adaptation of The Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students (ALC; Trice, 1985) which consists of 28 True/False items. Scores can range from 0 to 28 with high scores indicating a more external orientation.

Students’ bio data: After the 28 items of the scale, students were asked to provide some personal information, specifically, their gender and the type of major they were pursuing either a 5-year degree (usually for engineering and other basic science majors) or a 3-year degree (usually for business ma- nagement, international trade, electro- nics and other similar majors).

Grade point average: Defined as an indicator of academic success, it is a measure that is calculated by multi- plying the grade the student obtained in each completed subject by its co- rresponding number of credits. These products are then added and the sum is divided between the total of credits the

student has registered thus far. Students were asked to self-report their GPA as a last question at the end of the students’ bio data questionnaire.


To determine the reliability and validity of the Spanish adaptation of the ALC, three types of analyses were conducted. First, the descrip- tive analysis of the results included descriptive statistics such as mean, standard deviation, maximum and minimum. Considering that many studies have examined the relations- hip between sex and LOC (Mayora and Fernández, 2015) a one-way ANOVA was run to see if there were any differences in LOC according to sex. To know the relationship between ALC and GPA, a Pearson product-moment correlation was run. The Alpha-Cronbach coeffi- cient was estimated to determine re- liability and a principal component analysis was conducted to determi- ne the validity of the scale.


Descriptive results

Results from the administration of the translated version of the ALC are shown in table 1. The mean score was 7.26 with a standard deviation of

3.5. The maximum score was 17 and the most frequent score was 7 over the 28-point possible score for the ques-

tionnaire. These results suggest that the majority of the students in the sample have a tendency towards internal aca- demic locus of control. Regarding sex, the mean for the 102 male students was 7.65, with a standard deviation of 3.76, while the mean for the 77 female stu- dents was 6.74, with a standard devia- tion of 3.3. A one-way ANOVA shows that this slight difference is not statisti- cally significant.

Students self-reported GPA shows a mean of 3.48 with a standard deviation of 0.55. The maximum score reported was 4.8 and the most frequent reported score was 3,3. Based on these results, it can be said that students show an average performance with a mean that barely surpasses the minimum passing grade of 3 points in a scale of 1 to 5 in the scoring system of Universidad Simón Bolívar. Results are summari- zed in table 1.

Table 1. Descriptive statistics for students’ self-reported GPA, scores in the Spanish version of the ALC scale, and scores in the ALC by sex





Reported GPAa





ALC-Sp scorea





ALC-Sp femb





ALC-Sp malec





a: N= 179; b: N=77; c: N=102

Source: The authors (2017)

Instrument reliability

To determine the reliability of the translated version, Alpha-Cronbach co- efficient was estimated. Internal con- sistency for the complete scale was ac- ceptable but low (α=.66). Examinations of reliability coefficients per item re- vealed that deletion of any item would increase or reduce the overall internal consistency of the complete scale im- portantly. The possible coefficients in the event of excluding any of the 28 items ranged between 0.63 and 0.68.

Instrument validity

To determine the validity of the instrument, a Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was conducted on the 28 translated items with oblique rota- tion (Promax) following Curtis and Trice (2013) validation and revision procedure. First, it was needed to de- termine if the data met the assumptions of the PCA, namely 1) multiple varia- bles on a continuous level; 2) linear relationship among all variables; 3)

sampling adequacy; and 4) suitability for data reduction. Assumption 1 was granted by the fact that the answers to the items in Trice’s ALC, originally true or false, can be scored as 1 point or 0 in terms of correct or incorrect answers, and therefore can be considered as con- tinuous variables and not ordinal. The rest of the assumptions were tested through statistical procedures available in SPSS. In this case, the correlation matrix determinant, the results of the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) Measure of Sampling Adequacy and Bartlett’s test of sphericity were considered.

All results showed that the data and sample were barely acceptable for the PCA. Although our variables were con- tinuous, some authors recommend lar- ger Likert-type scales instead of dicho- tomic ones such as the true-false scale used in the ALC. The determinant for the correlation matrix was .013, and the KMO was .64, both indicating sli- ghtly low linear relationship among all variables, since ideal values for the determinant are closer to zero and equal or higher than .81 for the KMO. The Bartlett’s test was significant to

.05 (x2= 733, p< .05). Again, this result also suggested that the sample and data were far from ideal values for a PCA and reached barely acceptable and con- siderably low values. In spite of that finding, it was decided to proceed with the PCA.

For the PCA, the expected number of factors was pre-established based on Curtis and Trice (2013) results of a four factor structure. Eleven components had eigenvalues over Kaiser’s criterion of 1. Among these, four components meet the criterion of having loadings superior to .40. Eight items loaded in Factor 1 (9, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and

28); two items in Factor 2 (12 and 27);

three in Factor 3 (5, 6 and 14); and 2

in Factor 4 (15 and 25). These four fac- tors combined explained 31.2% of the variance. Thus only 15 items were re- tained in this model and 13 items were excluded. Table 2 shows the loadings of the items in each factor, their commu- nalities, the variance explained by each factor and the list of excluded items.

Relationship between ALC and self-reported GPA

The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient for the translated version of Trice’s ALC and self- reported GPA of the 179 students in the sample was low, negative and non- significant (r= -0.141, p=0.61). As predicted by the theory, lower scores in the ALC, associated with internal LOC, co-occur with higher scores in self-reported GPA. However, since this relationship is non-significant, it could be a result of chance and no relationship can be considered in the given context and with the current sample.

Table 2. Principal component analysis of the data




% of variance explained





22: A veces me deprimo, entonces no hay forma de que logre lo que sé debería estar haciendo.




28: Planeo bien y sigo mis planes.



9: A veces siento que no hay nada que pueda hacer para mejorar mi situación académica.



10: Nunca me desespero, siempre hay algo que puedo hacer para mejorar mi situación.



20: Me distraigo fácilmente.



21: Es fácil que me convenzan de no estudiar.



23: Probablemente me vaya mal en

algún momento del futuro cercano.



24: Cambio de opinión constantemente

con respecto a mis metas académicas.



12: Hay muchas cosas más importantes

para mí que obtener buenas notas.




27: Me gustaría graduarme de la universidad, pero hay cosas más importantes en mi vida.



5: Al menos una vez, he tomado un curso porque era fácil sacar buena nota.




14: En algunas asignaturas no es necesario ir a clase.



6: A veces, los profesores se hacen una idea inicial de mí, y luego, no importa lo que haga, no puedo cambiar esa impresión.



25: Siento que algún día voy a hacer una verdadera contribución al mundo, si me esfuerzo para lograrlo.




15: Me considero altamente motivado para lograr éxito en la vida.



Items excluded:

1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18, 26

Source: The authors (2017)


In the current study, a strong orien- tation towards internal LOC was found. This contrasts with the results from previous research in which a tendency towards externality has been found in Latin American societies (De Grande, 2013; Laborín, Vera, Durazo and Parra, 2008; Prawat, Byers, and Durán, 1981) especially associated to socioeconomic status and educational background. In other words, given the percentage of people in Latin America who live in poverty and who have not had access to secondary or tertiary education, ex- ternality tends to be frequent in these countries. It can be speculated that in this data that was not the case since participants were college students who had already completed secondary edu- cation and were pursuing a tertiary education degree.

This study also found no statisti- cally significant difference in LOC be- tween males and females. Results con- cerning the relationship between LOC and sex have often been contradictory with some studies reporting statisti- cally significant difference between males and females (Ghasemzadeh and Saadat, 2011; Haider and Naem, 2011;

Ibrahim, 1996; Laborín et al., 2008; Prawat et al., 1981; Trice, 1985) while others reporting the contrary (Bodill and Roberts, 2013; Cassidy, 2012). Even in those cases where a difference has been found, the reported tendencies towards either externality or internality have not been consistent. What can be

concluded from this finding is that sex and LOC are unrelated in the context of the present study.

As for reliability, this study found barely acceptable levels of internal consistency as measured by the Alpha Cronbach index. Trice’s (1985) origi- nal scale reported KR-20 internal con- sistency index of 0.70, Ibrahim (1996) reported the Omani version reached an Alpha Cronbach reliability index of 0.58, and Curtis and Trice’s (2013) revi- sion reached an Alpha Cronbach of 0.68 and a Mcdonald’s index of 0.86. The Alpha Cronbach found in this study of

0.66 can be seen as consistent with pre- vious studies, higher than the Omani’s version and close to the reliability of the English version. In this regard, Curtis and Trice (2013) have highlighted that the Alpha Cronbach might not be suita- ble to measure the internal consistency of this scale.

To discuss the validity of the ins- trument, it is necessary to compare the resulting factorial structure of the present study with the factorial struc- ture of the original English version of the scale. This comparison is shown in table 3, with items that are consistently distributed in both scales highlighted in bold face.

Table 3. Comparison of the factorial structures of the English and Spanish versions of the ALC


Curtis and Trice (2013)

This study













No factor


1,2,3,4,7,8,10,11,13,16,17, 18, 26

Source: The authors (2017)

From table 3, it is clear that the fac- torial structures of both versions differ greatly, with only three items consis- tently loading on the first factor for both scales and one item on the third.

The first factor in Curtis and Trice’s revised version of the ALC was labeled as hopelessness, and it includes items such as “I sometimes feel that there is nothing I can do to improve my situa- tion” (item 9) and “I get depressed so- metimes and then there is no way I can accomplish what I know I should be doing” (item 22). Both items 9 and 22 loaded significantly on the first factor along with item 23 suggesting that the resulting first factor in this study can be associated with hopelessness. Yet, other items that in this study load on the same factor such as items 21 (“I can be easily talked out of studying”) and 24 (“I keep changing my mind about my career goals”) seem unrelated to feelings of hopelessness. In the face of these discrepancies, the following ten- tative explanation can be advanced. It is well known that Venezuela has been experiencing a profound social and political crisis for the past three years

(Flannery, 2015). This crisis has had a particularly serious impact in public autonomous universities. So much so, that a number of conflicts between the State and public universities as well as protests led by students have taken pla- ce (The Economist, 2014; von Bergen, 2015). It might be the case that, as a re- sult of this state of affairs, the feeling of hopelessness has increased among college students. Thus, they can be easily distracted from studying becau- se they feel hopeless about their futu- re. Likewise, this increased feeling of hopelessness can also be a reason to change their minds about career goals. Venezuela has experienced in recent years one of the largest exodus in its history especially among college gra- duates and undergraduates (AFP, 2015; Tovar, 2015). The decision to leave one’s own country because of uncer- tainty and hopelessness regarding one’s own future might translate into cons- tant decision-changing regarding one’s general and academic goals. It must be highlighted, though, that this explana- tion is only speculative and needs to be confirmed in future studies.

Factor 2 in Curtis and Trice was labeled distractibility and it comprises items that refer to how easily students get distracted from studies and aca- demic duties such as item 26 (“There has been at least one instance in school where social activity impaired my academic performance”). There is no correspondence between Trice and Curtis’ second factor and the second factor resulting in this study which comprised items 12 and 27. Both items seem to be related to situations in which students consider there are things that are more important than grades (item

12) or graduating (item 27). In Curtis and Trice’s study, item 3 loaded on the third factor (poor student attitude) and item 12 did not load in any factor. Once again, a possible explanation for this might be related to the current si- tuation in the country. As political and economic instability rises, students mi- ght be reconsidering their priorities and as emigration sets as a feasible future path, current grades and academic du- ties might be pondered and reevaluated as priorities.

Curtis and Trice’s third factor was labeled as poor student attitude and five items loaded on it. In this study, three items loaded on this factor and only one is consistent with Curtis and Trice’s, Item 14, which refers to students per- ceiving that attendance is not always important. The other two items, item 5 (“At least once, I have taken a course because it was easy to get a good gra- de”) and item 6 (“Professors sometimes make an early impression of you and

then no matter what you do, you cannot change that impression”) also seem in- dicative of an attitude of little concern or lack of commitment towards acade- mic duties such as effort and attendan- ce. Due to the evident disparity in the items loading this third factor, it is not possible to use the same label.

Regarding the fourth factor, it can be seen that the original factor and the one resulting here are too different to compare. The fourth factor resulting in the current study includes only two items and both seem to be related to intrinsic motivation (item 15: “I consi- der myself highly motivated to achieve success in life” and item 25: “I feel I will someday make a real contribution to the world if I work hard at it”). This contrasts significantly with the fourth factor in the original English version of the scale whose authors labeled as im- paired planning.

Finally, in the original factorial analysis of the English version, six items were excluded while in the cu- rrent study there were 13. In both stu- dies, items 1 (“College grades most often reflect the effort you put into clas- ses”) and 8 (“Some students, such as student leaders and athletes, get free ri- des in college classes”) were excluded. The exclusion of item 8 did not come as a surprise since in the Venezuelan context policies regarding participa- tion in sports differ greatly from those in the USA. When explaining the ex- clusion of these items in their study, Curtis and Trice (2013:826) stated that “The items that were eliminated seem

to reflect issues that were much more in the forefront 30 years ago when the scale was developed”, suggesting that in the present such issues might not be that relevant. In this particular study, cultural and contextual differences mi- ght explain this result. The items were written by North American students in the 80’s and their attitudes and percep- tions regarding academic performance might be very different from those of Venezuelan students in the 2010’s. The same reason might underlie the diffe- rence in the composition of the factors.


The current study sought to transla- te and validate Trice’s (1985) Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students with a sample of 179 college students from a public university in Venezuela. Results indicate that relia- bility of the translated scale is barely acceptable. The principal component analysis revealed a four-factor struc- ture that considerably differs from the factorial structure of the original English version. The factorial struc- ture of most LOC scales tends to be based on dimensions (internal vs. ex- ternal), attributions or domains (Curtis and Trice, 2013) while the structure of the ALC was found to be based on motivational/educational content. The structure of the Spanish version is also based on motivational/educational con- tent. Yet, only one factor seems to be consistent with the structure of the ori- ginal (namely hopelessness) while the

other three factors reflect very different orientations (distractibility vs. priori- ties; poor student attitude vs. lack of commitment; and impaired planning vs. intrinsic motivation). Furthermore, in this study the number of items loading on factors 2, 3 and 4 are con- siderably scarce and the numbers of items excluded is considerably large.

There are three possible reasons that might explain these disparities: a) the methodological limitations such as sampling inadequacy or lack of suitabi- lity for data reduction; b) poor quality of the translation; and c) remarkable cultural, social and contextual differen- ces between participants. We strongly believe the latter to be the most impor- tant, considering the current state of affairs in Venezuela’s political and so- cial situation.

Given the present result, we con- sider that Trice’s ALC might not be a suitable instrument to study academic LOC among Venezuelan students and probably among other Latin American college populations. However, further studies in which the limitations herein reported are overcome (a larger and more diverse sample, a new revision of the translation, and other validation procedures such as correlation to other measures of LOC) might yield different result and will be worth future efforts.

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Appendix A

Inform consent letter presen- ted to students before completing the Spanish version of the ALC (original in Spanish available at http://goo.gl/for- ms/D8mFX7EY1D)

Dear / a student,

This research aims to validate an instrument to identify the academic locus of control in college students.

“Locus of control” is a term in psy- chology that refers to control percep- tions people hold regarding events that happen to them. The instrument was originally developed in English for American students and our purpose is to adapt it to the Spanish-speaking Venezuelan context. The results of the survey will be used only for informa- tion and only for research purposes and not for commercial purposes, or eva- luation of this course; therefore, there are no right or wrong answers. Your answers will be treated confidentially. You will only be asked to provide your student ID card number at the end of the questionnaire and other demogra- phics for organizing and keeping track of the data obtained.

If you are interested in your per- sonal results and wish to receive more information about this research, please indicate so in the questionnaire and add your email.

By clicking YES, you accept the fo- llowing terms:

I have been notified of the aims and purposes of this study.

I agree to participate voluntarily.

I have been ensured that my answers to the questionnaire and perso- nal data will be treated confidentially.

I certify that my answers are com- pletely honest.

I authorize the release of the results in articles and academic papers, provi- ded that my name and other personal details are not disclosed.

Thank you very much for your par- ticipation and time.

I have read and accept the terms of the letter of consent. *

Yes No

Appendix B

Spanish version of Trice’s ALC

  1. La mayoría de las veces, mis califi- caciones reflejan el esfuerzo puesto en clases.

  2. Vine a la universidad porque era lo que se esperaba de mí.

  3. En gran medida, yo he sido quien ha fijado mis metas académicas.

  4. Algunas personas tienen un don para escribir, mientras que otros nunca escribirán bien, sin importar cuánto se esfuercen.

  5. Al menos una vez, he tomado un curso porque era fácil sacar buena nota.

  6. A veces, los profesores se hacen una idea inicial de mí y luego, no impor- ta lo que haga, no puedo cambiar esa impresión.

  7. Hay asignaturas en las que nunca

    podría salir bien.

  8. A algunos estudiantes, como los representantes estudiantiles y los atletas, les regalan notas en la uni- versidad.

  9. A veces siento que no hay nada que pueda hacer para mejorar mi situa- ción académica.

  10. Nunca me desespero, siempre hay

    algo que puedo hacer para mejorar

    mi situación.

  11. Yo nunca permitiría que las activi- dades sociales afectaran mis estu- dios.

  12. Hay muchas cosas más importantes

    para mí que obtener buenas notas.

  13. Estudiar todos los días es importan- te.

  14. En algunas asignaturas no es nece- sario ir a clase.

  15. Me considero altamente motivado para lograr éxito en la vida.

  16. Escribo muy bien.

  17. Ser puntual con mi trabajo siempre es importante para mí.

  18. Lo que aprendo está determinado más por las exigencias de la univer- sidad y las asignaturas que por lo que quiero aprender.

  19. Me demoro mucho para tomar de- cisiones que otros no toman en se- rio.

  20. Me distraigo fácilmente.

  21. Es fácil que me convenzan de no es- tudiar.

  22. A veces me deprimo, entonces no hay forma de que logre lo que sé de- bería estar haciendo.

  23. Probablemente me vaya mal en algún momento del futuro cerca- no.

  24. Cambio de opinión constantemente con respecto a mis metas académi- cas.

  25. Siento que algún día voy a hacer una verdadera contribución al mundo, si me esfuerzo para lograrlo.

  26. Ha habido por lo menos una ocasión en la que mis actividades sociales limitaron mi desempeño académi- co.

  27. Me gustaría graduarme de la uni- versidad, pero hay cosas más im- portantes en mi vida.

  28. Planeo bien y sigo mis planes.

AÑO 24, Nº 1, 2, 3 Enero - Diciembre 2017

Esta revista fue editada en formato digital y publicada en Diciembre de 2017, por el Fondo Editorial Serbiluz, Universidad del Zulia. Maracaibo-Venezuela

www.luz.edu.ve www.serbi.luz.edu.ve www.produccioncientificaluz.org