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Rigor, validity and standards of judgment

Issues concerning the rigor and validity of educational research are important yet variously understood.

This short video is a good introduction and the second goes into a bit more details

This is also a good outline of issues concerning rigour, validity and critique


If you go to Appendix 2 of Jack's 2005 keynote for the Act, Reflect, Revise III Conference, Brantford Ontario, Canada accessible from:

You'll see that he describes Winters' 6 criteria for rigor in action research drawing on:

Winter, R., 1989. Learning From Experience. London; Falmer.

He also gives the url http://www.bath.ac.uk/~edsajw/peggy.shtml for Peggy (Kok) Leong's dissertation, which deals with validity really well:

Leong, K., 1991. Action Research: The Art of an Educational Inquirer. M.Ed. Dissertation. University of Bath.


In enhancing the validity of living theories I recommend the use of

Habermas, J. (1976) Communication and the evolution of society. London: Heinemann

Quotes can be accessed from here

Connelly's and Clandinin's (1990) point about validity criteria for narrative inquiry:

We think a variety of criteria, some appropriate to some circumstances and some to others, will eventually be the agreed-upon norm. It is currently the case that each inquirer must search for, and defend, the criteria that best apply to his or her work. (p.7)

(Connelly, F.M. & Clandinin, J. (1990) Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, Vol. 19, No.5, pp. 2-14.)

Criticisms about subjectivity and validity were met by references to Popper’s point about the significance of mutual rational control by critical discussion:

Now I hold that scientific theories are never fully justifiable or verifiable, but that they are nevertheless testable. I shall therefore say that objectivity of scientific statements lies in the fact that they can be inter-subjectively tested. The word ‘subjective’ is applied by Kant to our feelings of conviction (of varying degrees)…… I have since generalized this formulation; for inter-subjective testing is merely a very important aspect of the more general idea of inter-subjective criticism, or in other words, of the idea of mutual rational control by critical discussion. (Popper, 1975, p.44)

(Popper, K. (1975) The Logic of Scientific Discovery, London; Hutchinson

& Co.)

The validity of the explanations that constitute living-educational-theories are strengthening through the critical discussions in validation groups of between 3-8 peers with responses to questions derived from Habermas’ (1976) four criteria of social validity that include:

i)  How could I enhance the comprehensibility of my explanation?

ii) How could I strengthen the evidence I offer to justify the claims I make?

iii) How could I deepen and extend my sociohistorical and sociocultural understandings of their influence in my writings and practice?

iv) How could I enhance the authenticity of my explanation over time and interaction to show that I am truly committed to the values I claim give meaning and purpose to my life?

(Habermas, J. (1976) Communication and the Evolution of Society. London; Heinemann.)

Standards of judgment

Whitehead, J. (2000) The Living Standards of Practice and Judgement of Professional Educators. A paper produced while a visiting professor at Brock University, Ontario June 2000. Access from http://actionresearch.net/writings/stand/brst.html

Whitehead, J. (2000) Legitimising living standards of practice and judgement: How do I know that I have influenced you for good? A paper presented at the Third International Conference of the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association, 24-27 July, 2000, Herstmonceaux Castle, Surrey, U.K. Access from http://actionresearch.net/writings/writings/castleOK.doc


Rigour - Winter's


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