An instrument for measuring student opinions on economic issues

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to design and validate an instrument suitable for ascertaining student opinions about various economic issues.

An initial pool of statements concerning various economic issues was compiled from several sources. This pool was then reduced to seventy-five items. Development of the instrument was then initiated through a pilot study. The seventy-five item pool was submitted to a group of students with no prior formal exposure to economics and not currently enrolled in an economics class. The results were then factor analyzed. The result was a forty item instrument measuring opinions concerning five economic issues.

Next, this forty item survey was tested to determine if the instrument would ascertain changes in student opinions after the completion of an introductory economics course. The methodology employed was the use of two groups of students--control and treatment. Each group was administered a pretest and a posttest. Eight student characteristics were considered as independent variables.

As a result of the treatment, students changed their opinions slightly concerning selected economic issues. The instrument was sensitive in detecting these small changes in opinions.

The instrument also revealed that these opinion changes were related to the following student characteristics: (1) degree of dogmatism; (2) marital status; (3) college attended; and (4) whether or not a student intended to transfer to a senior college.