Interdisciplinary Approaches to Learning How Assessment

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65). By controlling these two aspects of a scientific experiment, researchers are able to establish the specific causality of the phenomenon being studied. In this regard, Kahle and Riley note that, "Traditionally, causality is established through strict control and randomization over all other factors while experimentally manipulating the variable or variables in question" (2004, p. 165). Finally, Gliner and Morgan (2000) report that the internal validity (discussed further below) and the ability to infer causality based on the results of a study can be enhanced through the random assignment of the participants to intervention vs. control groups.


What is meant by internal validity and external validity in leadership research and discuss three factors within each (internal and external) validity factor?

Internal validity. According to Chandler and Lyon, generally speaking, "Validity refers to the establishment of evidence that the measurement is actually measuring the intended construct. Measures can be reliable without being valid, but cannot be valid without being reliable" (2001, p. 102). With respect to internal validity, this term refers to the degree of validity of the assertions being made by a researcher concerning the effects of the independent variable(s) on the dependent variable(s) (Pedhazur & Schmelkin, 1991). According to Pedhazur and Schmelkin, "In the broadest sense, this can be stated in the form of the question: Is what has taken place (i.e., the phenomenon observed) due to the variables the researcher claims to be operating (e.g., manipulated variables), or can it be attributed to other variables?" (1991, p. 224). By taking steps to ensure the internal validity of a study's design, researchers can rule out alternative explanations for the results they obtain. In this regard, Pedhazur and Schmelkin add that, "In essence, the validity of the answer to this question depends on the plausibility of alternative answers, that is, alternative explanations. It follows that internal validity is the sine qua non-of meaningful research" (1991, p. 224).

Internal validity can be enhanced by ensuring there are relevant controls in place, but researcher bias remains a confounding factor in the interpretation of the results that emerge from any study (Berg, 2007). For example, according to Pedhazur and Schmelkin, "Other things equal, the more powerful the controls one exercises, the more internally valid the study. The tendency to overlook evidence that goes counter to one's expectations and hypotheses, or to misinterpret, even rationalize, such evidence, is quite common" (1991, p. 225). A number of threats to internal validity exist, including those described in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Threats to Internal Validity




This threat includes events that took place in the course of a study that might have affected its outcome. Whether a given event poses a threat to the internal validity of a study depends on the specifics of the study.


This type of threat refers to changes that people being studied undergo with the passage of time, including growing older, gaining experience, becoming tired, hungry, and the like. The concern is that responses (e.g., learning, motivation, aggression, concentration) attributed to treatments may be, in part or wholly, due to such maturational processes. It is also possible for maturation to interact with treatments.


When people are measured several times on the same variable, their performance may be affected by, among other things, practice, memory of earlier responses, sensitization and/or conjectures regarding the purpose of the research and the expectations of the researcher. For example, given a pretest, followed by some treatments, and then a posttest, observed changes in, say, learning, attitudes, empathy, and altruism, may be a consequence of the pretest and/or the interaction between the pretest and the treatments


Internal validity is compromised when differences in outcomes of different treatments may be attributed, to a greater or lesser extent, to aspects of the instruments used. This may occur when, for example, measures believed to be equivalent are not equivalent (e.g., they tap somewhat different competencies, orientations, or they differ in difficulty, in appeal). Another example would be cosmetic changes in instruments, which in actuality constitute changes in what they are measuring. A related example is one in which no changes are made in the instruments, but the researchers become more proficient in using them in the course of the study

Source: Pedhazur & Schmelkin, 1991, p. 225

External validity. According to Neuman, external validity refers to "the ability to generalize from experimental research to settings or people that differ from the specific conditions of the study" (2003, p. 535). Likewise, Gliner and Morgan (2000) report that, "External validity is an aspect of research validity that depends in part on the quality of the sample. External validity asks the question of generalizability: To what populations, settings, treatment variables, and measurement variables can this effect be generalized?" (p. 158). Although some researchers may associate the external validity of a study with its internal validity, Gliner and Morgan (2000) maintain these are two completely independent constructs that must be evaluated separately. According to these authorities, "Questions dealing with the external validity of a study are based on the principle that a good study should be rated high on external validity, or, if not, the author should at least be cautious about generalizing the findings to other measures, populations, and settings" (Gliner & Morgan, 2000, p. 159).


Discuss why research is critical to the leadership profession, both in profit and non-profit realms.

The results of well-conducted research can be of enormous value to the leadership profession in virtually any setting in countless ways. For example, Zanna (2003) reports that, "Leadership is quite clearly a social psychological phenomenon that is inextricably grounded in social relations, group life, and the psychology of group membership. Not surprisingly, the study of leadership has long been a central concern of social scientists" (p. 1). Likewise, according to Neuman, "Educators, administrators, government officials, business leaders, human service providers and health care professionals regularly use social research findings and principles in their jobs. Social research can be used to raise children, reduce crime, improve public health, sell products or just understand one's life" (2003, p. 1). Ongoing research serves to contribute to the body of knowledge that is used by leaders to achieve organizational goals and motivate followers. Moreover, the results of research in effective leadership can help provide a set of best industry practices that can be used to improve the performance of organizations at all levels (Rosenbach & Taylor, 1998).


Identify and critically discuss one published research article that you studied during your graduate studies. Talk about its strengths and weaknesses from a research design perspective.

Area III: (Core Study Area)


A major responsibility of leaders is to manage change within their organizations. Thoroughly describe the change process.

On the one hand, change is inevitable in an organizational setting, but on the other hand, people tend to dislike change because it disrupts their comfort zone and requires them to learn new ways of doing things that require extra time and effort on their part. For instance, Axelrod (2001) emphasizes that in many cases, organizational leaders fail to achieve the full advantages of a change initiative and attribute their failure to an inability to harness sufficient resources or support for the effort, but the real reason is the approach they used to effect the change. In this regard, Axelrod notes that, "What they often fail to recognize is that the very change management process they employed is the root cause of the problem" (para. 1). In other cases, people may be so reluctant to change their routine that they will actively engage in efforts to thwart the implementation of change and sabotage any change efforts by management (Zaccarro & Klimoski, 2001). It is therefore the responsibility of organizational leaders to communicate the need for any change, ensure that all stakeholders recognize the inevitability of the process and that everyone involved is focused on achieving the same outcome (Chemers, 1997). In sum, communication of the envisioned change to all of the affected stakeholders preparatory to the change initiative, continuing open dialogue during the change process as well as following implementation are all key ingredients for success. In this regard, Day, Halpin and Zaccaro (2004) point out that ensuring this level of communication throughout the change process is a fundamental responsibility of the organizational leadership team.


Select one organization, either where you work, or one you want to write about, and discuss a significant possible change for this organization. Include the topics of organizational development, organizational culture, followership, and mission as part of this discussion.

As the nation's largest healthcare provider, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for the provision of tertiary and outpatient medical services for millions of veterans, and in some cases, their families as well (VA, 2011). Since its founding, the VA has been tasked with assuming an advocacy role on behalf of veterans, but this role has shifted in recent years to one that is more characteristic of…

Sources Used in Document:


About VA. (2011). Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from / landing2_about.htm.

Avolio, B.J., & Bass, B.M. (2002). Developing potential across a full range of leadership:

Cases on transactional and transformational leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence

Erlbaum Associates.

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