The Ideal***Inventory: a tool for pedagogical research

 

Introduction

This guide has been adapted from previous publications (see Norton, 2009).

Origins of the Ideal *** Inventory

The Ideal***Inventory had its origins in the Ideal Self Inventory (ISI) which was designed by Norton, Morgan & Thomas  (1995) as an alternative measure of self-esteem.  The questionnaires that were widely available to measure self esteem at that time seemed to Norton and her colleagues to consist of questions that might or might not relate to issues which make up an individual’s view of her or himself.  For instance, for some people the most salient features of their self-perception might be to do with body image, for others it might be popularity and for yet others it might be how good they are at sport.

To address this problem, the Ideal Self Inventory drew on principles of Kelly’s (1955) personal construct theory by asking respondents to describe their ‘ideal self’ in terms of what they personally thought was important to them. As such, it was a variation of the self-grid used by Button (1994) who asked people to elicit constructs and then to rate themselves using the concepts of ‘present self’ and ‘ideal self’.  The key feature of the ISI was that not only did participants decide for themselves what features were salient to them but they were also asked to rate themselves on their own self-generated dimensions, in order to give a constructivist measure of self esteem.

Since its original formulation, the ISI has been used in a variety of settings including that of a business management environment for training skills analysis and identifying training needs. In recent years, it has also been used extensively in research in higher education and has undergone several adaptations in a number of different publications, which has resulted in its metamorphosis from the ISI to the Ideal *** Inventory in which the stars are simply meant to represent the topic of investigation (Norton 2001a, b).

 

Constructing an individual Ideal***Inventory

 

Stage 1

The participants are asked to generate their own characteristics of whatever it is that the researcher is investigating using the concept of an ‘ideal/not ideal’ dichotomy.  Sometimes they might be asked to generate as many as ten characteristics or dimensions, sometimes it might be as few as five.  In this regard the Ideal *** Inventory is entirely flexible depending on the nature and purpose of the research.

Here is an example of the blank Ideal***Inventory that can be used to generate dimensions.  The participants are also asked to rank their dimensions, since experience has shown that they do not always think first of their most important dimensions when completing an inventory:

 

Example Ideal *** Inventory

Instructions

Using the form below, please list 3 characteristics that would describe your ideal lecturer.  On each line list their opposites to describe your not ideal lecturer. These descriptions can be words or short phrases. Please note that the opposites do not have to be literal opposites, it is how you choose to describe them that is important.

Please then put these characteristics into rank order by deciding which characteristic is the most important and assigning 1 to it in the column headed ‘Rank’, and continue until you reach the least important characteristic, and assign that 3. (This ranking is helpful where composite versions are to be constructed)

 

Rank

 

Ideal lecturer…

 

 

Not ideal lecturer…

3 Is a facilitator of student learning Is a subject expert who imparts knowledge
2 Motivates students to want to learn Believes motivation is intrinsic to the student
1 Conveys own enthusiasm for the subject Checks knowledge and understanding

Stage 2

In the second stage participants are asked to rate themselves on each of their own generated characteristics. In this way the Ideal *** Inventory gives an individual profile from each participant of the characteristics that are important or salient to them, rather than what the researcher might have thought was important.

Below is an example of an individual self-rated inventory. In this example, to aid clarity,  the rankings have been left off:

 

‘Ideal  Lecturer’ Inventory

 

Instructions

Please now look at each of the dimensions you have generated and circle the point, which most closely represents where you think you are as a lecturer.

Please note it is important that you circle the point where you think you are and not where you would like to be.

An ideal lecturer … 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 A not ideal lecturer …
Is a facilitator of student learning  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is a subject expert who imparts knowledge
Motivates students to want to learn  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believes motivation is intrinsic to the student
Conveys own enthusiasm for the subject  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checks knowledge and understanding

 

Analysis of the Ideal Lecturer Inventory scores

 

In the given example, the lecturer’s ratings are shown by a tick so given the scoring of the closer to the ideal the higher the score on a 7-point scale, this lecturer would score 16 out of a possible 21. As well as an overall score, the researcher may want to use individual characteristic scores.

Each participant’s response can also be examined in terms of an individual profile. By examining each characteristic quite marked variations can sometimes be seen within an individual’s Ideal***Inventory profile which might help us, in the above example, to draw some conclusions about this lecturer’s conception of learning and teaching.

For further information on how to construct and analyse an individual Ideal***Inventory see Norton, Morgan. & Thomas (1995).

 

Constructing a composite Ideal***Inventory

 

Having collated a number of individual Ideal***Inventories, a composite version may be produced for a number of different research purposes such as:

  • comparing students’ and lecturers’ perceptions of  a pedagogical issue. (See for example, Garner, Norton, Beaumont, Caldecott, & Asquith  2002; Mazuro, Norton, Hartley, Newstead,. & Richardson, 2000)
  • using a composite version produced by lecturers for students to rate themselves (see for example, Tilley & Norton, 1998; Williamson & Norton, 2002)

The procedure for producing a composite version can be carried out by the researcher through a process of content analysis (described in Tilley & Norton, 1998 and in Garner et al, 2000) or can be arrived at through group discussion and consensus.  This particular development was instigated by Williamson (2002) and has provided a fruitful way of engaging students in understanding through group discussion what is required in a finance and accounting programme. It has also been an interesting staff development exercise to see if lecturers working in finance and accounting could arrive at an agreed consensus.

 

Using the composite Ideal *** Inventory to rate individuals’ experience or attitudes/beliefs

Having constructed an agreed composite version by either content analysis or by group consensus, this can now be used to present to the sample of interest:

 

To guard against socially desirable responses when producing a composite version, the following hints may be helpful:

  • Do not title the columns ‘ideal’ and not ‘ideal’
  • Make sure all the ‘ideal poles’ of each dimension do not appear in the left hand column and all the ‘not ideal’ poles in the right hand column.
  • When scoring the inventory give 7 to the point nearest to the ideal pole and 1 to the point nearest to the not ideal pole, but remember to reverse the scoring where appropriate.
  • Give ‘neutral instructions such as: ‘Circle the point that is closest to your experience/attitude/belief for each dimension’

Below is an example of a composite inventory:

 

An ideal lecturer

Instructions

Below are some dimensions of what your colleagues think describes an ideal lecturer in higher education.  From your own experience of having taught students, please circle the point, which most closely represents where you think you are on each of these dimensions.

 

Is a subject expert who imparts knowledge  

–    –    –   –    –    –    –

Is a facilitator of student learning
Believes motivation is intrinsic to the student  

–    –    –    –   –   –    –

Motivates students to want to learn
Conveys own enthusiasm for the subject  

–    –   –   –    –    –    –

Checks knowledge and understanding
Has a genuine interest in their students’ well-being  

–    –    –    –    –    –    –

Believes students should be treated as adults
Encourages active participation  

–    –    –    –    –    –    –

Concentrates on delivering well-prepare lectures

In summary

The ideal *** inventory is just one tool to be used in pedagogical research. Its particular advantages lie in its flexibility and how it can be adapted to suit a number of different research purposes. Colleagues are invited to explore its uses for themselves and warmly welcomed to contact Lin Norton nortonl@hope.ac.uk for help, advice, more information or if they are interested in working in collaborative research projects. I am also happy to facilitate workshops on the Ideal***Inventory tailored to fit your specific requirements.

 

 

 

Publications relating to the Ideal *** Inventory

Button, E. (1994) Personal construct measure of self-esteem, Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 7, pp. 53-65.

 

Garner, W., Norton, L.S.  Beaumont, A. Caldecott,. S & Asquith, S (2002) The distance learning task as a pedagogical context for learning technologies in C.Rust (Ed) (2002) Improving student learning.  Improving student learning through the technologies. Oxford: The Oxford Centre for Staff and learning Development

Kelly, G.A. (1955)  A Theory of Personality: The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York: W.W. Norton.

Mazuro, C.., Norton, L.., Hartley, J., Newstead, S.. & Richardson, J.T.E. (2000)

Practising what you preach?  Lecturers’ and students’ perceptions of teaching practices. Psychology Teaching Review, 9, 2, 91-102

Meyer, J.H.F. Shanahan, M., Norton, L.S., Walters, D. Ward, S. & Hewertson, H. (2006) Developing students’ metalearning capacity: a grounded assessment framework. Inn C.Rust (ed) Improving Student Learning 13. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.

Norton, L.S. (2009) Action Research in Teaching and Learning. A practical guide to conducting pedagogical research in universities. Abingdon Routledge. ISBN13: 978-0-415-43794-3. Chapter 9. How can you develop and adapt pedagogical research tools? pp 155 -159 on the Ideal*** Inventory

Norton, L. S. (2001a) The Ideal *** Inventory: a research tool for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Paper given at the 1st Annual us/UK Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference (SoTL), 6 June 2001, London.

Norton, LS (2001b) The Ideal *** Inventory.  A useful tool for pedagogical research in higher education.  http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id495_ideal_inventory_norton.pdf (accessed 18.05.2011)

Norton, L.S., Thomas, S., Morgan, K., Tilley, A. & Dickins, T.E. (1998) Full-time studying and long-term relationships: make or break for mature students? British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 26,1, 75 – 88.

Norton, L.S., Morgan, K. & Thomas, S. (1995) ‘The Ideal Self Inventory: A new measure of self esteem’ Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 8, 4, 305-310.

Norton, L & Walters, D (2005) Encouraging meta-learning through personal developmentplanning: first year students’ perceptions of what makes a really good student. PRIME, (Liverpool Hope in-house journal) 1,1,109-124. http://www.hope.ac.uk/learningandteaching/downloads/learnwise/pr1.pdf (accessed 18.05.20111

Tilley, A & Norton, L.S. (1998) Psychology lecturers’ conceptions of the ideal student using the Ideal Self Inventory (ISI).  Psychology Teaching Review, 7,1, 14 – 23

Williamson, T. (2002) ideal *** inventory: Is there an ‘ideal’ Accounting & Finance i) programme, ii) student? Presentation at ILT North West Members’ Forum , Manchester Metropolitan University, April 2002.

Williamson, T & Norton, L (2002) Researching Learning and Teaching

Using the Ideal *** Inventory .Workshop presented at 3rd ILT Annual Conference (ILTAC 2002) Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, 26-28 June 2002

 

Citations

 

To use the Ideal***Inventory, please use the following references:

Norton, L.S., Morgan, K. & Thomas, S. (1995) ‘The Ideal Self Inventory: A new measure of self esteem’ Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 8, 4, 305-310.

 

Norton, L.S. (2009) Action Research in Teaching and Learning. A practical guide to conducting pedagogical research in universities. Abingdon Routledge. Chapter 9. How can you develop and adapt pedagogical research tools? pp155-159 on the Ideal*** Inventory

To use any information from this page please use the following citation:

 

Norton, L. (2011, June 1). The Ideal***Inventory: a tool for pedagogical research

Retrieved (insert date i.e. month, day, year) from http://linnorton.co.uk/

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