Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Educators' Attitudes toward Educational Research Scale

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article reports results of a confirmatory factor analysis performed to cross-validate the factor structure of the Educators' Attitudes Toward Educational Research Scale. The original scale had been developed by the author and revised based on the results of an exploratory factor analysis. In the present study, the revised scale was given to 564 PreK-12 in-service educators (teachers, school counselors, administrators, etc.) working at schools in a big mid-Western city in the US. The scale had 29 Likert-type items intended to measure eight dimensions of the variable (at least three items per dimension). Obtained fit indices indicated a good fit between the data and the hypothesized factor structure. All parameter estimates were acceptable. Since there were no established variables in the literature to serve as criterion variables in the measurement of educators' attitudes toward educational research, data were collected on three variables (years of experience as an educator, research methods courses taken, and use of sources to learn about research findings) predicted to be correlates of this construct. To examine which ones might serve as criterion variables, analyses were performed to correlate these variables with subscale scores from the Educators' Attitudes Toward Educational Research Scale. Regarding the results of these correlational analyses, there was a high level of agreement between the present study and the previous exploratory factor analytic study which also looked at the same correlations, measuring the related variables in the same way as the present study did.

Key Words

Educational Research, Teacher Attitudes, Factor Analysis, Scale Development.

Educational research and attitudes toward it has always been a source of discussion due to a number of reasons. The first reason is that the methodology used in educational research makes it a complicated science. For example, contrary to natural sciences, many variables in education cannot be studied under strict control. This generates limited generalizability of educational research findings due to unique effects of the participants and the context of the study (Berliner, 2002). Second, limited utilization of research findings in educational practice has been a concern (Bracey, 1998; Levine, 2007). Third, practitioners' perceptions of educational research have generally been negative (Isakson & Ellsworth, 1978; Levine). Fourth, in educational research classes, students have usually had negative attitudes toward educational research (Isakson & Ellsworth, 1979; Onwuegbuzie, Slate, Paterson, Watson, & Schwartz, 2000). In addition to these reasons, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and legislation thereafter appear as a more recent and powerful reason. No Child Left Behind has emphasized the importance of doing scientifically based research and employing evidence-based practices in schools (Levine). Such language implies that educational research will have more weight in daily practices of educators and that educators should be informed consumers of educational research. From the perspective of educators, this means increased responsibility to make oneself knowledgeable in research methods and to apply these methods in their own schools/classrooms to improve their practices.

All of the issues above highlight the importance of educators' attitudes toward educational research as a variable. Accordingly, effective investigation of the issues mentioned above necessitates reliable and valid measurement of attitudes toward educational research. Yet, there has not been much theoretical or empirical work in this area. Even though there have been a number of instruments that were intended to measure practitioners' or students' attitudes toward educational research, which were developed by researchers for their specific studies and/or relatively small populations (e.g., Papanastasiou, 2005; Richardson & Onwuegbuzie, 2002; West & Rhoton, 1994), only one instrument intended for a larger group of educators could be located. …