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Internal Validity

Chapter Nine
Dr Nek Kamal Yeop Yunus
Faculty of business & economics
Sultan Idris Education University

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Internal Validity
Chapter Nine

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What is Internal Validity?

Internal Validity is when observed differences on


the dependent variable are directly related to the
independent variable, and not due to some other
unintended variable.
In other words, any relationship observed between
two or more variables should be unambiguous as to
what it means rather than being due to something
else.
The something else could be:

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Age
Ability
Types of materials used

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Threats to Internal Validity

Subject
Characteristics
Mortality
Location
Instrumentation
Testing

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History
Maturation
Attitude of subjects
Regression
Implementation

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Mortality Threat to Internal Validity (Figure 9.1)

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Location Might Make a Difference

(Figure

9.2)

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Subject Characteristics

The selection of people may result in differences, either


between individuals or groups, that are related to the
variables being studied.
This refers to a selection bias or subject characteristics
threat.
If not controlled, these variables may explain away
whatever differences are found in the study.
There are techniques used to either equalize the
differences or control these variables.

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Mortality

It is common to lose subjects as a study


progresses
This is known as mortality threat.
Loss of subjects limits generalizability and can
introduce bias.
Mortality is the most difficult threat to control
for internal validity.
An attempt to eliminate the problem would be
to provide evidence that the subjects lost were
similar to those who remained in the study.

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Location

The particular locations where data is


collected may create different results or
explanations known as location threat.
The best way to control for this is to keep the
location consistent for all subjects.
If this is not possible, the researcher should
ensure that different locations do not favor or
jeopardize the hypothesis.

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Instrumentation

The way instruments are used may


constitute a threat to the internal validity of
a study.
Some examples are as follows:

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Instrument decay
Data Collector Characteristics
Data Collector Bias

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Instrument Decay

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(Figure 9.3)

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A Data Collector Characteristics Threat

(Figure

9.4)

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Testing

A testing threat is when efforts are


achieved by the subjects due to practice
(i.e., pretest, post-test designed study)
An interaction also could cause this by taking
the test and being more aware of a possible
interaction, allowing the subjects to be more
responsive towards the treatment.

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A Testing Threat to Internal Validity


(Figure 9.5)

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History

A history threat is when an unforeseen


event occurs during the course of the
study.
Researchers need to be alert to any
possibilities of influences that may occur
during the course of the study.

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A History Threat to Internal Validity


(Figure 9.6)

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Maturation

Change during an intervention may be due to


factors associated with the passing of time rather
than the intervention.
Students could change over the course of a
study. This is known as a Maturation Threat.
Maturation is only a threat in studies using
pre/post data for the intervention group or in
studies that span a number of years.
The best way to control for this is to include a
well-selected comparison group in the study.

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Could Maturation be at Work Here?(Figure 9.7)

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Attitude of Subjects

The way subjects view a study and their


participation can be considered a threat to internal
validity, a.k.a. the Hawthorne effect.
Subjects may perform better based upon a feeling
of receiving special attention.
The opposite may occur, with subjects receiving no
treatment at all, resulting in poor performances.
A remedy to this would be to provide both groups
with comparable treatments or to make the
treatment a regular part of the study.

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The Attitude of Subjects Can Make a Difference

(Figure

9.8)

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Regression

A regression threat is possible when


change is studied in a group that has
extreme low or high performance in the
pre-intervention stage.
As with the maturation threat, this can be
controlled by the use of an equivalent
control or comparison group.

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Regression Rears Its Head


(Figure 9.9)

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Implementation

The experimental group may be treated in


ways that are unintended, giving them an
advantage.
This is known as an implementation threat.
This can occur in two ways:
1)

2)

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When different individuals are assigned to


implement different methods, and these
individuals differ in ways related to the outcome
When some individuals have a personal bias in
favor of one method over the other

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How to Minimize Threats to


Internal Validity

There are four alternatives a researcher can


use to reduce threats to internal validity:
1)
2)
3)
4)

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Standardize the conditions under which the study


occurs
Obtain more information on the subjects of the
study
Obtain more information on the details of the
study
Choose an appropriate design

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Illustration of Threats to Internal Validity


(Figure 9.10)

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Any questions? Dont know to ask


questions, eh?

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Thank You

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