2016, Cilt 6, Sayı 3, Sayfa(lar) 384-395
Scale of Accountability in Higher Education Institutions: A Study of Validity and Reliability
Didem DOĞAN1, Ahmet AYPAY2
1Aksaray University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences, Aksaray, Turkey
2Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences, Eskişehir, Turkey
Keywords: Accountability, Higher education, Scale development, Explanatory factor analysis, Confirmatory factor analysis
Despite being generally perceived as a phenomenon restricting freedoms, an ideal accountability behaviour is, actually, an important factor
for the improvement of an organization. The aim of this study was to develop a scale that measures accountability in higher education
institutions. For the generation of the scale items, the relevant literature was examined in detail both from national and international
sources. The views of the academics (N=11) on accountability in higher education institutions were acquired, as well. The scale, whose
content and language validity checks were performed, was applied to 200 academics, who worked at Turkish higher education institutions
and were chosen through random sampling. As a result of the explanatory factor analysis, which was conducted to explore construct
validity, 7 dimensions of the scale were identified. The confirmatory factor analysis which was conducted to check the accuracy of the
identified structure showed that the model fit perfectly with that structure (χ2/df=1, 2; RMESA=0.04; NNFI=.95; CFI=.95). The internal
consistency of the scale as measured by Cronbach alpha coefficient was calculated as .94. Based on the findings, it can be said that a valid
and reliable measurement instrument that measures accountability in higher education institutions was developed.
Accountability, one of the essential elements of a successful
management, is currently accepted as an important principle
to ensure the transparency in public enterprises. The concept
of accountability in education was more frequently discussed
after 1970s, it started to developed as a Standard based movement
of accountability in 1980s; in 1994 with the law The
Improving Americas Schools Act IASA the accountability
system at the level of province was started to be discussed.
Lately (2001) with the law of No Child Left Behind a more
permanent accountability system was provided and a specific
frame was presented to provinces to develop their own
accountability systems. (Perie, Park & Klau, 2007).
Higher Education Institutions have a great impact on social,
cultural and economic development of a region or a government.
The common aim of these institutions is to develop
human understanding. From this perspective, higher education
serves as an intellectual and cultural source. With being
on the agenda of the problem of quality in higher education
institutions, the concept of accountability has become quite
important. Public accountability has become an important
principle especially in the universities abroad. Accountability
generally became a topic for discussions in higher education
institutions in Turkey but an applicable accountability system
was not formed.
The growing demand for higher education led to a rapid
increase in the number of universities in Turkey and this case
brought up the problem of quality in higher education institutions.
It is very important that the universities developing
in terms of quantity should also develop in terms of quality
and being close with public. This understanding made the
concept of accountability a current issue in higher education
institutions. Bologna process, which is going on to ensure the
accountability and standardization in higher education institutions,
is a very great step in this issue. The aim of this process,
which 41 countries have attended, is bring the higher education
systems of the countries to the transparent, understandable
and competitive level. (Higher Education Council 2010).
When the national and international literature are studied,
it could not be encountered with an scale whose validity
and reliability are proven. In Some universities in developed
countries, some types of forms have been used to prove the
accountability of their own universities. The reason of this can
be considered that the perceptions on accountability have
changed and it is perceived as a concept closely related to culture
of societies. While developing the accountability system,
cultural and social elements should be taken into consideration
(Lingenfelter, 2003: 21). It is not possible obtain statistic values
determining the accountability level of these institutions, since
there is no accountability scale in the higher education institutions
in Turkey. A scale which measures accountability in higher
education institutions will compensate this missing.
In this article, the concept of accountability has been analyzed,
and the content and the subdimensions of accountability have
been presented. For this, it is primarily necessary to analyze the concept of accountability and understand the content and
subdimensions of accountability correctly. When the literature
is studied, it is possible to encounter so many concepts
about accountability. However, the concept of accountability
becomes more specific, when it is studied in terms of higher
education institutions. In the study, the classification about
accountability in higher education institutions were carried by
taking into consideration of higher education institutions and
conditions in Turkey. For this reason, related literature was
studied in a detailed manner and interviews were arranged
with academicians in Turkey.
Definition of Accountability
Lexical meaning of the concept of accountability is: the quality
or state of being accountable, and obligation or willingness to
accept responsibility or to account for ones actions (Merriam-
Websters Dictionary of English usage, 1994). Evans (2008: 10)
stated that accountability concept is misunderstood as if it had
been a negative sanction for something going wrong. While
accountability is perceived as a concept consisting only financial
and highly important political activities in advance, current
social changes have led to some conceptual shifts in the
responsibility of accountability. Responsibility of accountability
is no longer a phenomenon which is limited with time and
place, and it has become a social and political concept thanks
to developing media and growing public. From the point of
public administration, as an important element in modern
administration accountability can be defined as all administration,
principles, supervision which are applied to guarantee
that politicians should use sate resources and authority for the
benefit of public (Behn, 2003: 11-12; Mulgan, 2002: 45).
The content of accountability concept
Accountability issue is a very complex and exhaustive concept
(Aypay, 2015; Kearns, 1994: 141; Wagner, 1989: 7). When
related literature is studied, accountability in higher education
institutions can be evaluated as basic subdimensions such as
academic accountability, administrative accountability, financial
accountability, transparency, responsibility, responsiveness
and explanation (Vidovich & Slee, 2001; Goetz & Jenkins, 2001;
Lingenfelter, 2001; Mulgan, 2002; Evans, 2002; Leveille, 2006;
Accountability in higher education institutions should not only
deal with financial accountability and it should also involve
academic accountability which includes the activities of faculty
members such as making surveys, publishing the surveys, carrying
out educational activities and servicing for public. Academicians
who should have academic freedom should account
for in terms of academic. Cahn (1983) stressed that academic
freedom does not mean that they are out of control and throw
off the responsibility of accountability. In addition to financial
accountability, rectors, deans, high school managers and
department heads in higher education institutions are able to
account for academic performance of their departments (akt.
Administrative accountability reminds the hierarchical structure
of the organization in reality. Vidovich ve Slee (2001) divide
accountability into four categories; upward, downward, inward
and outward. These accountability types also make possible to
communicate between administrators and superiors.
Upward accountability represents the conventional relation
between subordinate and superior. Upward accountability
involves procedural, bureaucratic, legal and vertical accountability.
Downward accountability is that an administrator in higher
education includes his subordinate to decision process.
Inward accountability moves activities of superiors on occupational
and ethical standards to the center. Accountability in
universities and high schools is located in this class.
Outward accountability means that higher education institution
are responsible for their customers, shareholders,
supporters and public. Market and politic accountability are
located in this class.
Responsibility of accountability in higher education institutions
refer to accountability related that academicians and administrators
carry out their occupational responsibilities. Accountability
phenomenon lay responsibilities below for administrators
Managers should show that they use their power in right
Managers should prove that they have responsibilities and
effort to realize the objectives of their institutions
Managers should report the performance of the institutions
Managers should evaluate the sources in terms of productivity
Managers should ensure the quality of the services that
they presented to public and the programs that they
They should prove that they serve for public.
Responsibility means individual preference and activities oriented
authority without ones reference. While accountability
is for the others, responsibility is for ones own (Mulgan, 2003).
Financial accountability is an obligation to present an exhaustive
and honest report by persons who use public funding about
planned and materialized usages. Financial accountability
involves some financial systems for internal and external controlling
and expense controlling of public institutions. Higher
education institutions are high cost educational level and it is
also an educational field where highly educated persons, qualified
man power and experts and professionals are employed.
Therefore, it is necessary for these intuitions to have expensive
infrastructure in addition to expensive machinery and equipment
(Gedikoğlu, 2013). It is actually inescapable from accounting
for public because of such an over coasting structure. Since
higher education institutions have responsibility to account
for government and public, they should use funds effectively
and affordably and cooperate with shareholders. However,
this is not an easy process. With the increasing demand for
higher education recently, it is really hard to increase productivity
while decreasing the cost. In this situation, deactivation
accountability mechanism makes it complicated. Because an
accountability system is an important tool for productivity and
developing of the organization (Leveille, 2006).
Transparency concept related to accountability concept is
essentially whether every individual can reach accurate information.
When accountability is studied in terms of transparency,
it can be said that both concepts are related and complement
each other (Eryılmaz & Biricikoğlu, 2011). Transparency
frequently used with accountability concept involves the processes
publishing and sharing the information about standard
processes and regulations about working institutions by using
an understandable language (OECD, 2002). Transparency is
to share information about institution with shareholders in
time, accurately and in an understandable way (Gedikoğlu,
2013). Providing accountability in higher education institutions
depends on the creation of transparent policies in these institutions.
Responsiveness is used to mean willingness of subordinates to
meet the demand of superiors (Mulgan, 2003). Responsiveness
which supports accountability involves that services standards
in higher education initiations should be created sufficiently. In
this context, higher education institution should have mechanisms
answering demands and complaints of public to ensure
accountability. On the other hand, responsiveness of higher
education institutions is very important to strengthen the connection
between public and these institutions.
Explanation of higher education institutions for their activities
to public is a reflection of social accountability which a kind of
accountability emerging recently. Social accountability is very
important recently. Developing information and communication
technology enables that public more questions public
institutions (Eryılmaz & Biricikoğlu, 2011). Accountability in
higher education institutions should be for both persons working
in institutions and public. Higher education institutions
which are defined as semi- public institutions account for students,
parents, industry and business world, professional organizations
and public. Therefore, releasing to the public more
concrete performance indicators like the number of students
and personnel is very important for an ideal accountability for
higher education institutions.
A successful accountability system is all purpose and multidimensional
(Lingenfelter, 2001). This accountability responsibility
should not only be in national level but also in international
level (Stensaker & Harvey, 2011).
How can accountability system be created in higher education
Critical suggestions are presented in this literature field to create
and make applicable an effective and functional accountability
system which is going to solve most of the problems in
higher education institutions (Behn, 2003; Burke, 2005; Bowen,
1974; Doğramacı, 2007; Leveille, 2006; Vidovich & Slee, 2001).
Accountability is a must to get better results in higher education
institutions, but applied accountability types generally
is not going to be useful to enhance the performance.
Therefore, there need for new approaches providing better
results in accountability in higher education institutions.
We may describe most of the applied accountability systems
as complex, ineffective, rough, exaggerated. The systems,
formed by reports prepared by using data which are
misleading, hyperpolitical, and unsuccessful to answer the
key questions never create effective results.
There is need for an accountability mechanism which
focuses on the priorities of the government and nation and
compels both academicians and legislators to take responsibilities
for their success.
There is need for accountability which presents valid and
reliable information to monitor objectives, results and
problems, and prompts creativity, sources and will to
enhance the performance.
A functional accountability system should provide confidence
rather than fear and motivate to reach higher objectives
rather than adapting minimum regulatory principles.
Accountability system should not be a tool to differentiate
the problems and to postpone the solution of the problem.
Then we cannot take risk to have lower expectations and
standards in our higher education institutions.
While a functional accountability mechanism in higher
education institutions are respecting legal limits between
educational managers and politicians and government and
institutions, it should also be determined to enhance the
Accountability system should be appropriate for the competitive
end different structure of the higher education
institutions. This system should create new situations for
perfectness in terms of the distinctive mission for all higher
Accountability system in higher education institutions;
should give more importance to success in student learning
and high quality in researches.
An effective accountability system in higher education
institutions should reduce the superficial comparisons and gradation which increase unnecessary costs, compel some
institutions to decrease academic standards and exclude
the students who need more time and help to be successful.
Accountability system in higher education should provide
answers for shareholders, students, related citizens and
legislators on the logical issues such as student learning,
graduate rates, students needs and costs.
In this study, which is a kind of quantitive survey study, threedifferent participant groups were used. The detailed informationis indicated below. the content validity study of the scalewas carried out by 5 academicians; two of them have administrativefunction in higher education institutions and threeof them are experts in educational administration. The studyof language validity which determines the appropriatenessbetween the accountability scale in higher education institutionsand Turkish grammar structure was carried out by twoinstructors who are experts in the field of Turkish Languageand Literature. The study of structure validity and reliabilityof scale; were carried out on the academicians working in thestate universities. In the sampling of this study, there are 200academicians working at 30 different state universities in 2015and then were chosen through random sampling. The age andseniority characteristics of the academicians participating thestudy are indicated at Table 1
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|Table 1: Demographical Characteristics of the AcademiciansParticipating the Research
The sufficiency of the sampling group was determined throughKaiser- Meyer- Olkin (KMO) test and the test result is KMO=.91.This value is higher than .90, and this indicate that he extent ofsampling is perfect Şencan, 2005). According to Kline (1994) forenough sampling extent., sampling number should be doubleamount of the number of items in the scale. According toÇokluk and colleagues (2010) when the assumptions on samplingextent are taken into consideration, extent of sampling is enough if it corresponds at least two criteria existing in literature.When all these information is taken into consideration, itcan be said that the sampling extent of this research is enoughto develop the accountability scale in higher education institutions.
Constitution of Item Pool
Various activities should be carried out for a functionalaccountability mechanism in higher education institutions.Since the accountability mechanisms may change from countryto country even from region to region, while the item pool wasconstituted, the interviews were arranged with the academicianswho work at in higher education institutions in Turkeyand have different titles and experiences. The data obtainedfrom interviews were studied with content analysis and findingswere used to constitute the item pool. Besides, nationaland international literature related to this subjects werestudied in a detailed manner and the accountability policy indeveloped countries and accountability behaviors at successfuluniversities were searched.
Language Validity Test
After scanning the related literature in a detailed manner, 70items related to accountability were written down to constitutean item pool. Language validity studies of the items werecarried out by two instructors who are expert in the field of Turkish language and literature. Table 2 shows a part of formused to provide Turkish language validity of draft scale.
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|Table 2: Language and Meaning Validity Fidelity Form of Accountability Scale in Higher Education Institutions
After proofreading by the experts, interviews were arrangedwith a vice dean and a faculty member who is an expert inthe field of educational administration to evaluate each itemseparately to test content validity of survey. During interviews,8 items which is evaluated as appropriate were deleted fromapplicant scale.
Content Validity Test
An application whose one part is presented below was carriedout to test content validity of the scale by 3 persons; one ofthem is a vice dean who has also an administrative duty at theuniversity and the other two are the experts in the field of educationaladministration. The items graded lower than 7 by theexperts were deleted from scale since they are accepted as inappropriate. For this reason, the number of items deleted fromscale is 8. after this process, by calculating Lawshe contentfactor, the number of items reduced from 65 to 57. In Table 3shows a part of the form given to the experts to test contentvalidity.
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|Table 3: Content Validity Fidelity Form of Accountability Scale in Higher Education Institutions
Lawshe Contet Velidity rates were calculated to test the contentvalidity of scale. The grades obtained from experts judgementswere calculated with Lawshes (1975) formule.
Lawshe contents factors of the research were calculated andeight items whose content factor rate is lower than .99 weredeleted from draft scale. The content rates of the other 57items are calculated as one. According to Lawshe the contentfactor should be at least , 99 in a research accompanied by fiveexperts. Therefore, it can be said that it is appropriate for theremaining items to be in the scale.
The structure validity and reliability analyses of scale itemsare the other steps of the study and these steps were appliedto 200 academicians working at state universities determinedthrough random sampling. The scale applicant whose contentvalidity was completed in five point Likert scale extending fromstrongly disagree to strongly agree.
Testing form composed to collect data is gathered on the internetwith a link which has an explanatory information. A link onwhich there is an accountability scale in higher education institutionswas sent to the academicians working in higher educationinstitutions. The number of academicians who answeredthe scale on the link is 200.
The validity and reliability studies of the scale were appliedto the data obtained from 200 academicians who filled theaccountability scale higher education institutions. principalcomponent analysis (exploratory factor analysis- EFA) was carriedout through varimax rotation method to test the structuralvalidity of accountability scale in higher education institutions.Factor loading in analysis determines as .30 and then confirmatoryfactor analysis (CFA) was carried out to test the accuracyof the exploratory factor analysis. In the research, confirmatoryfactor analysis was carried out by using LISREL packet program.The reliability of the scale was identified by calculating CronbachAlpha internal contingency ratio.
|In this section, there are findings related to the validity and reliability
of accountability scale in higher education institutions.
Findings of Validity
Before factor analysis which was carried out to reveal the factor
loading and determine the structural validity of the scale,
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) ratio (.91) and Barlett Sphericity
p=0.000) test were applied to determine the appropriateness
of the data obtained from scale. According to findings, these
tests came to the opinion that sampling number is appropriate
for making factor analysis.
It was seen that the core values of scale were gathered in 10
factors higher than 1 and variance ratio was explained as 73 % as consequence of first EFA carried out to determine the structural
validity of the scale. Afterwards one of the items which
did not belong to any factors and had a relation over .85 with
each other was deleted from scale and EFA was made again. A
structure with 8 factors was obtained because of repeated EFA
and it is determined that one factor is composed by only one
item. This item also was deleted from the scale. 18 items were
deleted from scale as consequence of repeated processes.
After deleting the items, a 7-factored structure consisting of
39 items was obtained as consequence of repeated EFA. Factor
loading of items are appropriate and factors explain the 62%of
the total variance. Table 4 shows factor loading of 39 items in
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|Table 4: Factor Loading of Scale Items Obtained as Consequence of Exploratory Factor Analysis
Table 4 shows factor loading belonged to exploratory and
confirmatory factor analyses and significance values (t) of
expected factor loading in confirmatory factor analysis. When
t values in the table were analyzed, it was understood that
factor load belonged to the items were statistically significant.
When Table 2 was analyzed, it is understood that factor loading
of the first dimension consisting eight items varied between
.57 and .79. factor loading of the second dimension consisting
of eight items vary between .46 and .69. Factor loading of
the third dimension consisting four items vary between .52
and .78. Factor loading of the fifth dimension consisting of
five items vary between .43 and .80. factor loading of the sixth
dimension consisting of six items vary between .42 and .70 and
factor loading of the seventh dimension consisting of three
items vary between .65 and .72. Table 5 shows the explanation
variance rate of factors of scale obtained from exploratory factor
According to Table 5, factors belonged to the scale explain
62.86 % of total variance as consequence of exploratory factor
analysis. This factor explains 13.16% of total variance. This
dimension is called as financial since this factor is consisted of
the items reflecting the financial dimension of accountability
in higher education institutions. The second factor explains
10.79% of total variance. This dimension is called as transparency
since this factor is consisted of the items reflecting the
transparency in higher education institutions. The third factor
explains 8.96% of total variance. This dimension is called as
responsibility since this factor is consisted of the items expressing
the responsibility of accountability of higher education
institutions. The fourth factor explains 8.34% of total variance.
This factor is called as responsiveness since the items in this
factor are related responsiveness of higher education institution
for public demands and requests. The fifth factor explains
8.30% of total variance. This factor is called as administrative
accountability since the items belonged to this factor are related
to administrative accountability of the institution. The sixth
factor explains 7.67% of total variance. This factor is called as
academic accountability since this factor is consisted of the
items reflecting the academic accountability in higher education
institutions. The seventh factor explains 5.61% of total
variance. This dimension called as explanation since this factor
is consisted of the items related to the concept of accountability
for explanation for public in higher education institutions. In the analyses done with the same research group, the relation
among the sub dimensions of the scale was studied and the
correlation among the factors are indicated ate Table 6.
When Table 6 is analyzed, it is understood that all the factors
have significant relation (p<.001) with each other.
Before giving the findings related to confirmatory factor
analysis which was carried out to confirm the structural
validity of scale, a short information about fit indices used in
confirmatory factor analysis is presented in Table 7 (akt. Çokluk
et al., 2010).
Table 8 shows findings obtained from confirmatory factor
analysis. Table 8 shows that x-square value for fit indices scale
related confirmatory factor analysis and statistical significance
level [χ2=788, 31 df= 640]. Depending on degree of freedom,
low x square value (χ2) proves that suggested model is appropriate
for collected data. Fit ındices (χ2/df=1, 2; RMESA=0.04;
NNFI=.95; CFI=.95) obtained from confirmatory factor analysis
belonged to accountability model in higher education institutions
reveal that suggested model for scale has shown a perfect
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|Table 8: Confirmatory Factor Analysis Results related to Accountability Scale in Higher Education Institutions
As understood also from Table 8, the accountability superstructure
in higher education which is formed by the factors
called academic accountability, transparency, responsibility,
administrative accountability, responsiveness and financial
accountability is confirmed a consequence of analysis. Fit indices
of the model are on the perfect level.
Findings of Reliability
Cronbach Alpha ratio of 39 items and of each item were calculated
to test reliability of scale. Table 8 indicates internal consistency
ratio of items in scale. According to Table 9, internal consistency
ratio of the 39 items in scale. The internal consistency
ratio belonged to dimensions is as below. Cronbach Alpha ratio
belonged to financial accountability dimension is .89, Cronbach
Alpha ratio belonged to transparency dimension is .85,
Cronbach Alpha ratio belonged to responsibility dimension is
.90, Cronbach Alpha ratio belonged to responsiveness dimension
is .85, Cronbach Alpha ratio belonged to administrative
accountability dimension is .85, Cronbach Alpha ratio belonged
to academic accountability dimension is .77, Cronbach Alpha
ratio belonged to explanation dimension is .70.
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|Table 9: The Number of Items of Sub-dimensions of Accountability in Higher Education Institutions and Cronbach Alpha Internal
According to the analyses carried out to test reliability of scale,
Cronbach Alpha reliability ratio of scale and scale dimensions
reveal that scale is quite reliable
Although the concept of accountability in higher education
institutions is perceived as financial accountability, it is more
than this in reality. In fact, the institutions which give account
for should be dealt with a multi-dimensional approach (Lingen-felter, 2001). When the successful universities in developed
countries are studied, it is seen that these universities have a
distinctive accountability mechanisms.
According to exploratory factor analysis carried out to determine
the structural validity of accountability scale in higher
education institutions, the structure consisting 7 sub dimensions
and having 62% explained variance rate is obtained in the
study. It is an acceptable criterion for multi-dimensional scales
that explained variance rate of the structure is higher than
30% (Büyüköztürk, 2005). According to findings, variance rate
explained by accountability scale in higher education institutions
can be described as quite high. Therefore, the accountability
scale in higher education institutions is able to measure
the accountability in these institutions quite well.
Confirmatory factor analysis results carried out to determine
the accuracy of the estimated model (the model was presented
at appendix 1.) revealed that the estimated model had
a perfect fit (χ2/df=1, 2; RMESA=0.04; NNFI=.95; CFI=.95). The
evidence of perfect fix is that rate of low x-square to degree
of freedom is lower than 2 (Kline, 1994). The other fit indices
obtained from confirmatory factor analysis also support the
perfect fit (Brown, 2006: 84; Çokluk et al., 2010: 272).
Cronbach Alpha reliability ratio of sub dimensions of the scale
which was analyzed through internal consistency method
vary between .73 and .89. Cronbach alpha reliability ratio of
all items in scale is .84. One of the important indicators which
shows that the scale is reliable is 70 or higher reliability rate
(Cronbach, 1951: 302). Findings obtained from reliability
analyses have shown that the scale is quite reliable.
According to all findings obtained from the study of validity and
reliability of The Accountability Scale in Higher Education Institutions,
this scale can be used as valid and reliable to evaluate
the accountability in higher education institutions.
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