Validity in Assessments: Content, Construct & Predictive Validity

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  • 0:05 Validity Defined
  • 1:06 Factors That Impact Validity
  • 2:22 Measurement of Validity
  • 2:47 Types of Validity
  • 5:33 The Relationship…
  • 6:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Melissa Hurst
Ensuring that an assessment measures what it is intended to measure is a critical component in education. Assessment results are used to predict future achievement and current knowledge. This lesson will define the term validity and differentiate between content, construct, and predictive validity.

Validity: Defined

The term validity has varied meanings depending on the context in which it is being used. Validity generally refers to how accurately a conclusion, measurement, or concept corresponds to what is being tested. For this lesson, we will focus on validity in assessments.

Validity is defined as the extent to which an assessment accurately measures what it is intended to measure. Let me explain this concept through a real-world example. If you weigh yourself on a scale, the scale should give you an accurate measurement of your weight. If the scale tells you you weigh 150 pounds and you actually weigh 135 pounds, then the scale is not valid.

The same can be said for assessments used in the classroom. If an assessment intends to measure achievement and ability in a particular subject area but then measures concepts that are completely unrelated, the assessment is not valid.

Factors That Impact Validity

Before discussing how validity is measured and differentiating between the different types of validity, it is important to understand how external and internal factors impact validity.

A student's reading ability can have an impact on the validity of an assessment. For example, if a student has a hard time comprehending what a question is asking, a test will not be an accurate assessment of what the student truly knows about a subject. Educators should ensure that an assessment is at the correct reading level of the student.

Student self-efficacy can also impact validity of an assessment. If students have low self-efficacy, or beliefs about their abilities in the particular area they are being tested in, they will typically perform lower. Their own doubts hinder their ability to accurately demonstrate knowledge and comprehension.

Student test anxiety level is also a factor to be aware of. Students with high test anxiety will underperform due to emotional and physiological factors, such as upset stomach, sweating, and increased heart rate, which leads to a misrepresentation of student knowledge.

Measurement of Validity

Validity is measured using a coefficient. Typically, two scores from two assessments or measures are calculated to determine a number between 0 and 1. Higher coefficients indicate higher validity. Generally, assessments with a coefficient of .60 and above are considered acceptable or highly valid.

Types of Validity

There are three types of validity that we should consider: content, predictive, and construct validity. Content validity refers to the extent to which an assessment represents all facets of tasks within the domain being assessed. Content validity answers the question: Does the assessment cover a representative sample of the content that should be assessed?

For example, if you gave your students an end-of-the-year cumulative exam but the test only covered material presented in the last three weeks of class, the exam would have low content validity. The entire semester worth of material would not be represented on the exam.

Educators should strive for high content validity, especially for summative assessment purposes. Summative assessments are used to determine the knowledge students have gained during a specific time period.

Content validity is increased when assessments require students to make use of as much of their classroom learning as possible.

The next type of validity is predictive validity, which refers to the extent to which a score on an assessment predicts future performance.

Norm-referenced ability tests, such as the SAT, GRE, or WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children), are used to predict success in certain domains at a later point in time. The SAT and GRE are used to predict success in higher education. These tests compare individual student performance to the performance of a normative sample.

In order to determine the predictive ability of an assessment, companies, such as the College Board, often administer a test to a group of people, and then a few years or months later, will measure the same group's success or competence in the behavior being predicted. A validity coefficient is then calculated, and higher coefficients indicate greater predictive validity.

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