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Educational and Psychological Instruments

Links to databases and other resources for finding educational and psychological instruments. Also provides explanations, search tips, and other advice for locating and using instruments.

Contact the librarian at your campus for more help!

Ellysa Cahoy

University Park / World Campus:
Ellysa Cahoy
( or 814-865-9696)

Harrisburg / World Campus:
Bernadette Lear
( or 717-948-6360)

Reliability and Validity

How do you know whether you've found a “good” or “bad” instrument? Is the instrument well-designed?

Researchers often discuss the “validity” of instruments, rather than whether they are “good” or “bad.” According to the Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, validity is “the extent to which any measuring instrument measures what it is intended to measure.” Validity is an important indication of whether an instrument will be useful. Validity not only depends on the instrument itself, but how you use the instrument. Even if an instrument is generally considered to be “valid,” it might not be applicable to the particular group, behavior, or situation you are trying to study (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004, p. 1171).

At this point, the library doesn’t have staff with expertise to recommend or evaluate instruments. So, please contact your professor.

Using Instruments Ethically

If you find a copy of an instrument, can you just go ahead and use it?

No. Some instruments can only be purchased, administered, or interpreted by a licensed or certified professional.

Even if you are qualified to administer the instrument, there are a lot of other things you may need to do first. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Talking with your professor about whether the instrument is appropriate for your project.
  2. Getting Penn State IRB training and approval for your project.
  3. Getting the author’s/publisher’s permission to use the instrument.
  4. Getting any training or certification that is required to administer the instrument properly.
  5. Recruiting test subjects in a proper and ethical manner.
  6. Finding an appropriate environment to test them.
  7. Making arrangements for storing and analyzing your data.
  8. And more!!

Always consult with your professor about the design of your research project, before you undertake it!