Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 6, No. 3 (2009)

Using Likert Scales with images: Addressing validity concerns

Laura Reynolds-Keefer, University of Michigan-Dearborn
Robert Johnson, The University of South Carolina
Tammiee Dickenson, The University of South Carolina
Laura McFadden, The University of South Carolina


In the current study, the researchers explored validity issues relating to the use of Likert scale assessments that use pictures or images to depict selection choice. Likert scale assessments with this type of pictorial anchor (e.g., smiley faces) are often developed for the assessment of young children or non-readers; however, teachers and researchers seldom consider the potential importance of the type of picture selected. Because data from such assessments may inform instruction or serve as the basis for research findings, validity issues surrounding the importance of the picture selected may be informative. In this study, 136 first and third grade elementary school students were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 versions of a short reading attitudinal instrument with response scales indicated by differing pictorial anchors (i.e., sad/happy face, clouds/sun, and NO/YES). An ANOVA analysis was used to explore validity type of picture, grade, and gender. The findings of this study indicated that the type of pictorial anchor used in Likert scales contributes some variability in studentsí responses.

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