A blind spot in higher education research? A call for the explicit use of qualitative survey validation methods

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education Vol. 35

July, 2012, 373 pages
Published by
N. Brown, S.M. Jones, & A. Adam
ISBN
0 908557 89 2
Abstract 

his paper draws attention to the potential for using qualitative pretesting techniques for increasing the validity of questionnaires returning quantitative data. Using a sample of all higher educational research publications from HERDSA 2008-2011, a total of 69 questionnaires for collection of quantitative data were identified. Of these, 18 (26%) were researcher developed questionnaires where no validation processes were reported, 14 (20%) used an institutional questionnaire, and 20 (29%) used an existing validated instrument. No examples of qualitative pretesting were identified. In all cases research strength could have been increased by improving survey validity through the use of documented qualitative pretesting techniques, thereby facilitating connections through the research. The sample raises particular concerns for the questionnaires where no validation of any kind was reported, and that validation studies were rarely cited for institutional surveys. The paper concludes with a call for higher education researchers to recognise this blind spot and take advantage of qualitative validation processes.

Keywords: survey, validation, pretesting 

A blind spot in higher education research? A call for the explicit use of qualitative survey validation methods

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McCormack, Cathryn