Rethinking traditional survey-based research methods

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

On June 11th Dr Andy Maul, visiting OUCEA from University of California, Santa Barbara, gave a seminar at the Department of Education titled ‘Rethinking traditional survey-based research methods.’ The abstract is below:

“It is commonly believed that self-report, survey-based instruments can be used to measure a wide range of human properties of relevance to education and the social sciences, such as self-control, growth mindsets, and grit. However, the typical strategies employed for the validation of such surveys fall short of providing the kinds of rigorous tests of relevant hypotheses commonly expected in scientific research. This presentation will consist of three parts. In the first part, I will aim to illustrate the deficiency of common validation strategies by presenting a series of studies in which respondents were presented with survey items deliberately constructed to be uninterpretable, but the application of the mainstream validation procedures nonetheless returned favorable-appearing results. In the second part, I will attempt to diagnose some of the meta-theoretical issues that have contributed to the present state of affairs, in particular by examining the legacy of operationalist and behaviorist modes of thinking in the social sciences. In the third part, I will discuss some possible strategies for the improvement of surveys, and of survey-based research more generally.”

Andy’s presentation slides are available here.


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