Instruments for school self-evaluation: lost in translation: a study on respondentstextquotesingle cognitive processing

Jerich Faddar, Jan Vanhoof, Sven De Maeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


School self-evaluation (SSE), as an important leverage for quality assurance, often relies on surveys among staff members to collect information on the schools functioning. The extent to which respondents cognitively process items as developers intended them determines the cognitive validity of SSE results. However, it is unclear what problems occur in respondents cognitive processes which lead to cognitively invalid SSE results and how respondents positions in the school affects these cognitive processes. This study draws on cognitive interviews conducted with 20 teachers and principals to understand their thinking process while answering an SSE survey. Cognitively invalid results were analysed using a content analysis to identify problems in respondents cognitive processes. Findings showed that respondents experience semantic and syntactical issues when interpreting items. While elaborating, problems were found regarding items topic and focus, particularly concerning whom to make a statement about. Issues also emerged in the response stage, especially that the dont know option was not used as intended. Respondents positions influence their understanding about whom a statement is required and how self-evident some items are to them. These problems should be taken into account by developers of SSE surveys and other instruments that intend to measure organisational characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-420
Number of pages24
JournalEducational assessment, evaluation and accountability
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Instruments for school self-evaluation: lost in translation: a study on respondentstextquotesingle cognitive processing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this