Educational research is a social science that has greatly developed over the past years. However, it does not enjoy the high reputation the natural sciences or other social sciences such as economy have traditionally enjoyed. This presentation is the answer to Lagemann´s call for action (2002) to strengthen educational research and to historian Carl Kaestle´s recommendations (1993) to increase the reputation of educational research. We believe that one of the problems in our field is the lack of valid scientific instruments which help us obtain reliable scientific data. It is critical that educational researchers can count on these instruments. However, these instruments are not always available for all the different educational areas to study. In this presentation we argue in favour of designing and conducting our own scientific instruments.
The main objective of this presentation is to offer a model for the creation and the validation of instruments to obtain scientific knowledge in the educational field. In order to do so, we will describe the endeavors of creating a quantitative instrument that helps researchers build qualitative data. We will also explain the process of getting the instrument validated.
The instrument we have designed is a Likert scale questionnaire, one of the most commonly used instruments in social and educational science research (Croasmun and Ostrom, 2011; Echauri et al, 2014). If we want to link research and practice, we need a method that collects quantitative data and that can help researchers draw qualitative findings and conclusions. Likert scales take into account the human aspect of education – the educators´ opinions and views- and they are excellent tools to measure parameters for groups of people.
We have validated our questionnaire by two procedures: statistical analysis and experts´ judgment. The former assesses our instrument´s overall coherence by calculating its internal reliability; the latter assesses the instrument´s content by having a group of experts analyze each of the items of the questionnaire individually.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
In the results section of this presentation we explain the measures obtained in the validations and how they helped us build the final version of our questionnaire. This final version of our instrument has been tested on two groups of teachers from the USA and from Spain, as part of a doctoral dissertation. Through the process of creating a solid questionnaire, getting it validated, and testing it on two international groups of teachers, we have gained invaluable insight into the steps that need to be taken in such a complex process.
Being involved in this process has made us come to the conclusion that, while educational research needs to use scientific methods that ensure reliability, researchers cannot forget the complexity of the educational science, which is larger than quantifiable data. We believe that quantification needs to be a tool that helps educational researchers understand our complex field of study, and not the other way around.