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Educational and Psychological Instruments

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

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 "reliability" and “validity” of instruments, rather than whether they are “good” or “bad.” According to this video and other resources from Sage Research Methods Core, reliability is about the consistency of test results. Validity is about whether test results represent what they are supposed to represent.

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, there are 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.

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