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Evaluating human services is a task that can be very complex. People can have different interpretations of the same event. Another concern is that people are not always honest. Therefore, human services will gain from effective, high quality evaluations of data collection methods. This requires that the data collection methods supply accurate and dependable information.
This paper will define and describe 2 concepts of measurement known as reliability and validity,-provide examples and supporting facts as to how these concepts apply to data collection in human services, and evaluate the importance of the validity and reliability of data collection methods and instruments.
Funding for many non-profit human services organizations are dependent on the precise results of research and statistics gathered through various processes of data collection. Reliability and validity are two criterions that are used to judge the functions of research designs and measurements.
These criterions are something that should be looked at before, during, and after research to show the relevance and significance of human services.
Using the example of a weight scale is the perfect way to confer the idea of reliability and validity. If an individual of 150lbs. weighs themselves several times and gets several different readings, the scale being used can be considered unreliable. Now if that scale also reads 125 each time, it is rather reliable but invalid. However, the consistent, accurate reading of 150lbs. each time indicates that this scale is not only reliable, but also valid.
When thinking about validity, it is important to evaluate if the research is doing what it is supposed to do.
According to Rosenthal and Rosnow (2008), “The measure in question might be a psychological test of some kind, a group of judges who rate things, a functional MRI scanner for monitoring brain activity, or any other instrument or measuring tool”(Chapter 6). Is the data collected dependable? Does the correlation make sense? All of these questions are in reference to the design of the research, and validity is specifically tied to the soundness and force of that design.
Conclusion and internal validity refer directly to relationships drawn between correlating factors and the end results. According to “Measurement Of Validity Types” (2006), “Conclusion validity is the degree to which conclusions reached about relationships in data are reasonable” (Conclusion Validity). Studies that have shown a link between convicts in the prison system and the lifestyles encountered by children of single parents would be one example of conclusion validity. If the conclusion is valid, a direct link will be made between two correlating factors.
Internal validity is specifically concerned with casual relationships while conclusion validity is concerned with relationships in general (“Measurement Of Validity Types”, 2006). Observing that certain factors may be linked to certain outcomes, and examining all the possible links of an outcome is the main goal of internal validity. Another look at reliability will help in considering the precision of these predictions. Reliability represents the idea of accuracy, dependability, and consistency in research. Can the results be referred to as concrete?
Are there any loopholes in the research? Has the research communicated the proper information and does everything correlate? These are questions that would be directed at examining the reliability of research. Test-Retest and Inter-rater reliability are two ways to measure the results of research. When multiple people are given assessments of some kind or are the subjects of some test, then similar people under the same circumstances should lead to scores that are similar or duplicates (“Types Of Reliability”, 2011). This is the idea of inter-rater reliability.
Another mode of reliability is the administration of the same test among different participants and expecting the same or similar results (“Types Of Reliability”, 2011). This is known as Test-retest reliability. This method of measurement might be used to make determinations about the effectiveness of a school exam or personality test (“Types Of Reliability”, 2011). Surveys and other methods of research present the appropriate avenues for data collection. Data collection and measurement methods are used in human services to help organizations achieve leadership capacity and to achieve high performance outcomes.
Agencies that track the effectiveness of their services through field studies and surveys will have a record of techniques that have worked best to fulfill mission goals. The evidence of such reported facts will come in handy in terms of funding, policy efforts, and keeping professionals educated. From psychological and behavioral aspects, interviews, test groups, and random assignment are just a few ways to collect data in controlled and uncontrolled environments. Human services use these methods to apply theory to real life situations. Human services depends on the effective analysis and measurements of research.
Personal interpretations of measurements can be confusing. Therefore, reliability and validity are two ideas that refer to rating the effectiveness of research techniques. This paper has defined and described the two concepts of measurement known as reliability and validity, provided examples and supporting facts as to how these concepts apply to data collection in human services, and has evaluated the importance of the validity and reliability of data collection methods and instruments. Human services agencies rely on research to remain knowledgeable and capable of providing appropriate services to disadvantaged populations.
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