Validating Complex Program Aims: Constructing a Framework for the Validation of One Teacher Education Program’s Aim to Promote Inclusivity as a Fundamental Pedagogical Principle
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Educational programs are typically guided by complex overarching aims that demark broad expectations for program graduates. In practice, these aims tend to become operationalized into specific, measurable learning objectives, which form the basis for assessment of student learning. Research suggests that this practice limits the accuracy and validity of overarching program aims and may result in misrepresentation of student competency. This limitation is in part due to the use of traditional assumptions of measurement that operate on a validity of correspondence that is linear, singular, and value-free. Accordingly, through this research, I construct a framework for understanding the validity of complex program aims by drawing on contemporary validity theory. Specifically, I use an interpretive, argument-based approach to validation to connect, analyse, and evaluate multiple interpretations towards a program’s overarching aims. Methodologically, I draw on hermeneutics to collect validity evidence for the construction of a multiple perspective validity argument. I contend that this framework for validation results in a complex articulation of the quality of program coherence between program users’ interpretations of complex aims and their practices. In this dissertation, I apply this validation framework to one teacher education program and its aim to promote inclusivity as a fundamental pedagogical principle. In doing so, I provide a complex description of the multiple ways inclusivity is interpreted by diverse program users (i.e., senior program administrators, faculty members, and teacher candidates) and through various program structures. Thus in addition to articulating a validity argument for one teacher education program, this work also contributes a framework of inclusivity towards broader educational discourse.