University of Leicester
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Methodological issues in the exploration of teacher thinking about reading : an evaluation of the reliability and validity of personal construct psychology

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:43 authored by Holly Jane. Smith
Much research relating to reading has neglected to examine the attitudes and beliefs of teachers themselves. This study seeks to redress this imbalance by articulating and exploring teachers' personal theories in their own words. The pilot work compared the viability of using semi-structured interviews, repertory grid techniques and standardised questionnaires to achieve this aim. The results revealed the theoretical eclecticism and child centred pragmatism of participating teachers.;Considering the feedback from the pilot studies it was decided the main study should be undertaken within the theoretical framework of Personal Construct Psychology (Kelly, 1955). The participants were twenty KS1 and KS2 teachers drawn from eight Leicestershire Primary Schools. The main study followed these teachers over a 12 month period. At three points, approximately 6 months apart, the participants were interviewed in depth using an adapted form of Kelly's repertory grid technique.;Analysis of repertory grid structure revealed that the pattern of construct relationships for individual teachers remained stable over time as the mean Coefficient of Convergence was 0.77 over a 12 month interval. Intensity and the percentage variance accounted for by the first factor (PVAFF) of principal component analysis were highly correlated with values ranging between 0.89 and 0.95 at different phases of the study, confirming that they are both measures of cognitive complexity. They also proved to be stable characteristics of the individual with test-retest reliability for Intensity of 0.87, and 0.73 for PVAFF over a 12 month interval.;Thus this thesis makes a contribution to the study of reliability and validity of repertory grid techniques in a limited domain. The reliability of structural measures derived from the grid was shown to be comparable to most psychometric tests, and feedback interviews with teachers demonstrated validity in the recognition by teachers of the cluster analysis computed from their repertory grids. Directions for future research are discussed.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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