Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 2 46 2.5 Validity, Reliability and Integrity With regard to the quality of my research, I identify some activities and considerations on validity, reliability and integrity that were especially important and guided or supported methodological decisions I took. For validity it was relevant that I theoretically explored the central issues before starting the empirical part of the study. The revealed insights about professional beliefs and relevant issues, were used to make decisions about the research design and to develop the research instruments. Instrument validity was further enhanced by extensively piloting and discussing the instruments with the research team (cf. ‘t Hart et al., 2005). Next to that, the careful selection of participants contributed to the validity of the study as well (cf. Malterud, 2001). The validity is also demonstrated by the fact that the central theme of this research was approached from multiple perspectives adopted in the distinct research questions. These perspectives were based not only on the insights of the theoretical part but also on participants’ contributions to the central topic, since some themes have emerged that were not expected beforehand, such as the position of teachers in relation to other pedagogical agents. This illustrates the openness and flexibility to take into account what was relevant according to the participants (cf. ‘t Hart et al., 2005). To enhance reliability, it was valuable that structured and semi-structured instruments were used (cf. Robson &McCartan, 2016). To improve the quality of the data collection, the researcher attended specific trainings on both qualitative interviewing and focus groups (cf. ‘t Hart et al., 2005; Robson & McCartan, 2016). The reliability of the data collection and analysis also benefited from my familiarity with the participants’ religious backgrounds because I lived in the vicinity of orthodox Protestant communities and worked at an orthodox Protestant teacher education institute. This appeared to be especially helpful for gaining participants’ trust as well as for understanding their religious language, which is necessary for the interpretative approach and our research aims. However, there was still distance between researcher and participants, as I was not fully part of the orthodox Protestant subculture. For example, I myself did not attend an OPPS as a child. That made it easier to maintain a critical stance, which also benefits reliability (cf. ‘t Hart et al., 2005; Smaling, 1997). It is likewise important to note that, although I had a central role as primary researcher (see Section 1.7), other researchers were constantly involved (cf. Malterud, 2001). This concerns first of all the research team that extensively discussed all phases of the study and all sub-studies; the team consisted of five members with different and complementary expertise in the field of teacher education, religious education and practical theology, which helped prevent biases. Other researchers too were involved in