Creating communicative contexts: A factor analysis of the inservicing questionnaire raises an interesting question

Year: 1994

Author: McKinnon, David, Arthur, Michael, Butterfield, Nancy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

A questionnaire was designed as a pre- and post-measure of possible change in the reports of participants in an inservicing program for communication partners of students with severe intellectual disability. The program targeted the knowledge and skills that professionals need to have and their concerns in relation to assessment, programming and instruction in communication processes with these students.

Factor analyses conducted on the questionnaire revealed an interesting phenomenon. The solution computed on the pre-intervention cohort revealed no interpretable factors. The solution computed on the post- intervention group yielded an interpretable solution congruent with the constructs of the researchers.

The lack of a clear solution in the pre-test analysis indicates that the respondents did not differentiate clearly between the constructs of assessment, programming and instruction with respect to communication. This raises the question: is the factor analysis of a good questionnaire able to produce interpretable results in the absence of respondents' background knowledge? Issues relating to the design and strength of such instruments are raised and explored.