Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

James McMillan


Previous systematic reviews indicate a lack of reporting of reliability and validity evidence in subsets of the medical education literature. Psychology and general education reviews of factor analysis also indicate gaps between current and best practices; yet, a comprehensive review of exploratory factor analysis in instrument development across the continuum of medical education had not been previously identified. Therefore, the purpose for this study was critical review of instrument development articles employing exploratory factor or principal component analysis published in medical education (2006-2010) to describe and assess the reporting of methods and validity evidence based on the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and factor analysis best practices. Data extraction of 64 articles measuring a variety of constructs that have been published throughout the peer-reviewed medical education literature indicate significant errors in the translation of exploratory factor analysis best practices to current practice. Further, techniques for establishing validity evidence tend to derive from a limited scope of methods including reliability statistics to support internal structure and support for test content. Instruments reviewed for this study lacked supporting evidence based on relationships with other variables and response process, and evidence based on consequences of testing was not evident. Findings suggest a need for further professional development within the medical education researcher community related to 1) appropriate factor analysis methodology and reporting and 2) the importance of pursuing multiple sources of reliability and validity evidence to construct a well-supported argument for the inferences made from the instrument. Medical education researchers and educators should be cautious in adopting instruments from the literature and carefully review available evidence. Finally, editors and reviewers are encouraged to recognize this gap in best practices and subsequently to promote instrument development research that is more consistent through the peer-review process.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011

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