Assessment of Educational Research Literacy in Higher Education: Construct Validation of the Factorial Structure of an Assessment Instrument Comparing Different Treatments of Omitted Responses

By Ophoff, Jana Groß; Wolf, Raffaela et al. | Journal for Educational Research Online, May 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Assessment of Educational Research Literacy in Higher Education: Construct Validation of the Factorial Structure of an Assessment Instrument Comparing Different Treatments of Omitted Responses


Ophoff, Jana Groß, Wolf, Raffaela, Schladitz, Sandra, Wirtz, Markus, Journal for Educational Research Online


1.Relevance of Educational Research Literacy

Educational Research Literacy (ERL) is the ability to purposefully access, comprehend, and reflect scientific information as well as apply the resulting conclusions to problems with respect to educational decisions (Groß Ophoff, Schladitz, Lohrmann, & Wirtz, 2014; McMillan & Schumacher, 2010; Shank & Brown, 2007). ERL can be described as part of Assessment Literacy (Brookhart, 2011; DeLuca, LaPointe-McEwan, & Luhanga, 2016), comprised of different competence facets like Information Literacy (e.g., Catts & Lau, 2008), Statistical Literacy (e.g., BenZvi & Garfield, 2004), and Critical Thinking (e.g., Meltzoff, 2010). These facets can be allocated to the research cycle, which was used in the current study as conceptual framework for the development and construct validation of an assessment of ERL in Higher Education in the present study (see section 2).

Due to continued scientific progress, advanced ERL is important not only for social participation (cf. Grundmann & Stehr, 2012), but is a fundamental requirement for Continuing Professional Development (e.g., Jindal-Snape, Hannah, Smith, Barrow, & Kerr, 2009; Rankin & Becker, 2006). However, Borg (2010) emphasized, that although current and future practitioners in education need to engage themselves with research, they do not necessarily have to engage themselves in research. Nonetheless, engagement with research in educational contexts is not without difficulties. While scientific evidence is formulated falsifiable and generalizable, educational practice aims at solving problems instantly and efficiently. It is this gap between theory and practice that frequently leads both students and practitioners to view research information as abstract, irrelevant factual knowledge, which cannot be applied to practical problems (Benson & Blackman, 2003; G. T. L. Brown, 2004; Hammersley, 2004; Harper, Gannon, & Robinson, 2012; Zeuch, Förster, & Souvignier, 2017). Furthermore, the ability to reflect and use evidence is neither necessarily developed nor retrieved optimally in adulthood (Barchfeld & Sodian, 2009). As students, graduates and professionals will be responsible for imparting relevant competencies to future generations, education plays a central role. Hence, future educators must be trained to use research knowledge in practice (Shank & Brown, 2007). Higher Education institutions particularly are suitable for this as they provide research-based education.

Research literacy currently is included in the general definitions of standards and objectives for German Higher Education degrees (Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, 2005; German Science Council, 2000), and can also be found in degree programs in Educational Science, e.g., in Teacher Education curricula (Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Baden-Württemberg, 2011; Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, 2004). In German Higher Education, Educational Science is an umbrella term for different study programs that address the theory and practice of education and training, both from a more general view (e.g., Teacher Training, Educational Studies1) and with focus on certain age groups (e.g., Early Education) or specialized subjects (e.g., Health Education).

Traditionally, German Higher Education institutions offered one-tier study programs that led to Diplom- or Magister Artium degrees or were completed, for example in the case of teacher training, by the so-called State Examination. Following the Bologna Reform agreement in 1999, however, Germany has committed to switch over to the Bachelor and Master degree system by 2020, which has mostly been completed as of 2011 (Federal Ministry of Education and Research, 2015). But in Teacher Education, only 11 of the 16 German federal states have implemented the two-tier degree system as of 2015 (Standing Conference of the Ministers of Educations and Cultural Affairs, 2015). …

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