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ERIC Number: EJ1156001
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1536-6367
Rethinking Traditional Methods of Survey Validation
Maul, Andrew
Measurement: Interdisciplinary Research and Perspectives, v15 n2 p51-69 2017
It is commonly believed that self-report, survey-based instruments can be used to measure a wide range of psychological attributes, such as self-control, growth mindsets, and grit. Increasingly, such instruments are being used not only for basic research but also for supporting decisions regarding educational policy and accountability. The validity of such instruments is typically investigated using a classic set of methods, including the examination of reliability coefficients, factor or principal components analyses, and correlations between scores on the instrument and other variables. However, these techniques may fall short of providing the kinds of rigorous, potentially falsifying tests of relevant hypotheses commonly expected in scientific research. This point is illustrated via a series of studies in which respondents were presented with survey items deliberately constructed to be uninterpretable, but the application of the aforementioned validation procedures nonetheless returned favorable-appearing results. In part, this disconnect may be traceable to the way in which operationalist modes of thinking in the social sciences have reinforced the perception that attributes do not need to be defined independently of particular sets of testing operations. It is argued that affairs might be improved via greater attention to the manner in which definitions of psychological attributes are articulated and greater openness to treating beliefs about the existence and measurability of psychological attributes as hypotheses rather than assumptions--in other words, as beliefs potentially subject to revision.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A