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Lesson 1 research methods (variables & hypothesis)
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Operational definitions

Operational Measures

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Operational definitions

  1. 1. Operationally Defining Concepts: Measurement Dr. Serena
  2. 2. Outline: 1. An overview of research questions and hypotheses 2. Constructs and operational definitions 3. Scales of measurement 4. Modalities of measurement 5. Other Aspects of measurement
  3. 3. Research Questions. . . • Are a question • Either describe behavior/perception – Qualitative – Can involve one variable/concept • Or relate behaviors/perceptions to other variables – Quantitative – Must involve two variables/concepts
  4. 4. Hypothesis • A predictive statement of relationship between 2 concepts. – An educated guess or prediction – Always involves two variables • Associational relationship: where you find one, the other occurs. • Causal relationship: one causes a change in the direction of the other one.
  5. 5. Hypotheses can. . . • Predict a positive relationship • Predict a negative relationship • Predict a curvilinear relationship • Predict a relationship
  6. 6. Positive Linear Relationship 0 2 4 a1 a2 a3 a b
  7. 7. Negative (Inverse) Linear Relationship 0 2 4 a1 a2 a3 a b
  8. 8. Curvilinear 1-5 6-10 11-20 21+ Years Experience 42.00 44.00 46.00 48.00 MeanWraparoundFidelityScore
  9. 9. Inverted Curvilinear 3 or less From 4-6 From 7-10 From 11-15 Meeting Attendees 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 2 2.1 MeanWraparoundFidelity
  10. 10. Relationship • Nondirectional hypothesis/research question – E.g., How do Tribe A and Tribe B differ in their child-rearing practices?
  11. 11. Directional or Nondirectional? • Children of immigrants and children of native- born citizens differ in their job satisfaction. • College students who have firm career goals achieve higher GPAs than those who do not have firm career goals.
  12. 12. Restate into Research Question • H1: Individuals who exercise regularly and individuals who do not exercise regularly differ in their confidence levels.
  13. 13. RQs and Hypotheses Exercise • State the purpose of your research • State a few hypotheses related to your research • State some research questions
  14. 14. Model
  15. 15. Measurement • The assignment of numerals to objects or events according to rules.
  16. 16. Empiricism • What to observe • Whom to observe • How to observe • When to observe • How to analyze the data
  17. 17. Operationalization Choices • Conceptualization is the refinement and specification of abstract concepts • Then we operationalize (developing rules for inclusion and exclusion) based on previous definitions or based on concepts in conceptual definition
  18. 18. Concepts as Constructs • Concepts are constructs derived by mutual agreement
  19. 19. Theory • Theories summarize our observations, explain mechanisms underlying a particular behavior and make predictions about the behavior. Reward  Motivation  Performance
  20. 20. Overview of Measurement • Two aspects of measurement are particularly important in… planning a research study or reading a research report: – Often there is not a one-to-one relationship between the variable measured and the measurement obtained (knowledge, performance and exam grade) • Usually several different options for measuring any particular variable (types of exams and questions on exams) – Direct measurement (height, weight) vs indirect measurement (motivation, knowledge, memory, marital satisfaction)
  21. 21. Variables • A variable is any concept that varies. – Between persons – In time – In intensity – Etc.
  22. 22. Variables Must be Defined • Conceptual definition • Operational definition • Conceptual fit
  23. 23. Operational Definitions • Operational Definition: is the definition of a variable in terms of the actual procedures used by the researcher to measure and/or manipulate it. • Similar to a ‘recipe,’ operational definitions specify exactly how to measure and/or manipulate the variables in a study. • Good operational definitions define procedures precisely so that other researchers can replicate the study.
  24. 24. Latent (Hidden) Variables • Latent variables correspond to some type of hypothetical construct • Require a specific operational definition with indicators measuring the construct
  25. 25. Scaling Latent Variable Observed Item 1 Observed Item 2 Observed Item 3 Observed Item 4 e1 e2 e3 e4 Graphical depiction of a scale:
  26. 26. Scale • Scales typically denote sets of questions which become mathematical combinations of concepts.
  27. 27. Scaling • How do we define or “capture” or measure a nebulous concept? • By “taking stabs” from several directions, we can get a more complete picture of a concept we know exists but cannot see.
  28. 28. Why Three or More Items are Necessary To Locate the Construct in Multidimensional Space
  29. 29. Indicators and Dimensions • Indicator – An observation that we choose to consider as a reflection of a variable we wish to study. • Dimension – A specifiable aspect of a concept.
  30. 30. Variable Dimensions • Multidimensional • Unidimensional
  31. 31. Dimensions or Subscales
  32. 32. Scale Exercise
  33. 33. Index (Manifest Variables) • Composite measure that summarizes and rank-orders specific observations and represents some more general dimension • Political Activism – Wrote a letter to a public official – Signed a political petition – Gave money to a political cause – Gave money to a political candidate – Wrote a political letter to the editor – Persuaded someone to change his or her voting plans
  34. 34. Validity and Reliability of Measurement • How do you decide which method of measurement (operational definition of a construct) is the best? • there are two general criteria for evaluating the quality of any measurement procedure – validity – reliability
  35. 35. Modalities of Measurement • One can measure a construct by selecting a measure from three main categories • There are three basic modalities of measurement: – self-report – physiological measurement – behavioral measurement • behavioral observation • content analysis and archival research
  36. 36. Self-report Measures • You ask a participant: – To describe his/her behavior – To express his/her opinion – To characterize his/her experience in an interview – To characterize his/her experience by using a questionnaire with ratings
  37. 37. Physiological Measures • Physiological manifestations of the underlying construct – e.g., EEG, EKG, galvanic skin response, perspiration, fMRI
  38. 38. Behavioral Measures • Behaviors that can be observed and measured – E.g., reaction time, reading speed, focus of attention, disruptive behavior, number of words recalled on a memory test • How to select the right behavioral measure? – Depends on the purpose of the study • In clinical setting, the same disorder can reveal itself through different symptoms • In studying memory, we want to have the same measure for all subjects to be able to compare them
  39. 39. Measures • Identify one concept related to your research • How did other scholars measure it?
  40. 40. Exam • Readings • Understand terms • Understand how to read a journal article • References • Required to cite readings
  41. 41. Work Camp • Research Purpose (Introduction Section) • Model – Come to class with a few models • Hypotheses/Research Questions • Measures (Method Section)
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Operational Measures

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