Friday, January 30, 2009

Week 4: Measurement and Sadistics... I mean statistics

Blog Question: What distinguishes Quantitative from Qualitative designs, what is the difference between “validity” and “reliability,” and what is meant by the terms “probability” and “significance?”

Relating Variables (Quantitative) v. Describing Variables (Qualitative)

Now, I know the title of this section Relating v. Describing may be too simplistic, but for now I will keep with it. More importantly, the distinction between the types of research is beyond a math/not math approach.

Quantitative research is based heavily upon establishing a relationship and the strength of the relationship between variables. Unfortunately, transportation fields are heavily quantified. There is an expanse of quantitative research establishing the relationship between speed and automobile fatality rates, or in my latest experience, I established the relationships of growth of marine port activity, world production and population. Goubril uses the example of online manuals and the relationship between experience and problem solving. Most importantly, qualitative research allows for the research to determine if there is truly a reason to investigate a problem. In particular, whether or not one can reject a null hypothesis is particularly useful, especially in dispelling chanch (Williams 56). Although, the test of a null is often underutilized by my own personal opinion. Morgan appears to divide quantitative research into correlational and experimental. Correlational is the same definition as qualitative in establishing relationships between variables and experimental looks for cause and effect.

I found the better definition of qualitative research to be just outside the readings in the 3rd chapter of Lauer and Asher. Lauer and Asher define qualitative research as “to give a rich account of the complexity of … behavior” (45). In particular, it is best to “expose the blindness and gullibility of specious quantitative research” (46). The problem with some (if not many) quantitative research is when the research makes and inaccurate jump to generalize to claim cause and effect (46). As a result, qualitative research asks different questions, normally referring to how or why a phenomenon exists. Morgan argues that qualitative research enables a “investigate the process” or “describe features”.

On a personal note, I find it better to incorporate both “qual” and “quant” into my research, particularly since planning is comprised my both the quantitative and qualitative disciplines.

Validity v. Reliability

To keep it simple, validity is the “ability to measure whatever it is intended to assess” (Lauer & Asher, 140). Reliability is the measurement of agreement (134). Each of the terms have separate subdivisions. The tree types of reliability are equivalency, stability, and internal consistency (135). The types of validity are content, concurrent, predictive, and construct (141). Now the differences between the two are based on their definitions, reliability is the “closeness of the data tone another, while validity is the closeness of the data to the intended target. However, there cannot be validity without reliability. Therefore, reliability influences validity. A very simple example is the bull’s-eye analogy (I will use it from Singleton and Straights Approaches to Social Research p. 94 since it was a very useful example for me a while back). If a marksman shoots a target and the many shots he takes are randomly dispersed, then there is low reliability and low validity (as well as high random error and low systematic error). But if the marksman shoots and the shoots are clustered but not on the bull’s-eye, there is high reliability but low validity because he missed the target. There is also the likelihood of high systematic error. Now if the marksman clusters his shots within the bull’s eye, then there is both high reliability and high validity.

Probability and Significance

Probability is simply the chance or percentage that something may occur.

Significance is referring to a specific probability, the acceptable probability, of making an error. Specifically Type I error, but Type II errors be included. Williams talks about a 5% or .05 level of significance, but this is referring to that there is a five percent chance that we have rejected the null but the null actually is true (a Type I error). There are specific tests for Type II errors, but there more important issues is that the more restrictive probability one uses to determine the level of significance or LOS (ie, .1, .05, .01) the there is a reduction in the likely hood of error type. A higher LOS of .01 has a smaller change of Type I error but an increased change of a Type II error, but a .1 has less of a Type II error but a higher probability of a Type I error. If anyone want more knowledge about this, please take the torture that is ExStat 801 :D

Edit: Dang I hate Word '07 formatting issues

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Week 3: Kinneavy is Classification

Good afternoon,

I guess I will begin with a quick narrative, description, and classification of myself for those who do not know me and since I was not present on the first day of class. I am a transportation/city planner by trade and might have taken my undergraduate philosophical training to far by literally attempting to be the philosopher-king of the city. I am interested in how people construct the reality of the automobile, transit, and pedestrian modes (modes defined within the transportation discourse). In any case, I will bring a different “window” into this reality so please feel free argue with me.

I find it interesting that Kinneavy et al. classifies discourse. Kinneavy is classification. However, this approach is flawed. Based on my own opinions, discourse is dynamic and considering that Kinneavy’s “classification” is a static essence approach to discourse then Kinneavy is either incomplete in defining the true totality of discourse or that it will fail as discourse changes. The authors then take the classifications, described each mode, and then evaluate it against the totality of the reality since the modes are essentially imperfect. However, if classification is Kinneavy’s approach to discourse, then all of the texts we read should fit into one, if not multiple modes. In some cases, Kinneavy’s modes did not fit well into some texts or were not applicable. I will describe these misfits below.

Garrett was incomplete with Kinneavy’s modes and stuck somewhere between a narrative and classification. (I was confused about Garrett but that could be because I come from an outsider discipline.) I felt that Garrett set up his articles beginning with narrative approach, but then switches into a classification mode. In essence, Garrett did a poor job in connecting the different modes, but he proves to be a good example of how the different modes overlap in an imperfect reality.

Analyzing Miller’s articles, I would conclude that Kinneavy missed a discourse mode. I would consider Miller to use a binary comparison mode. While evaluations compares between good and evil as one undesirable and one desirable outcome or values, there is a difference when comparing two different, both potentially desirable entities. Although the “high” or phronesis (If I remember my Aristotle correctly, this is “moral thought”) is more desirable than the lower practical approach. Still, while Miller may appear to be evaluative, I believe that her work is actually beyond Kinneavy’s modes.

Hackos and Redish appear to use multiple modes and the chapters are different, but overall both chapters are rather dynamic. Both chapters have some descriptive elements, such as task analysis, but on a whole, they are dynamic elements of reality, which is closer to a narrative. Chapter 3 begins as if it was an evaluation as to achieve a certain goal or goals. Chapter 4 is different. I would consider it to borderline on a new mode much like Miller’s argument. Chapter 4 asserts that there must be a context specific approach, which is dynamic. It would not be descriptive due to the dynamic nature, but it is a form analysis. However, it is neither the history-like narrative nor the criticism-like evaluation. As a result, the Hackos and Redish can be bent into Linneavy’s themes but they are also beyond Linneavy classification as well.

Phaedus is dynamic. It would fall under Kinneavy’s evaluative mode, but it has some of the other modes as well. The evaluative mode is strong in the discussion of love, eroticism, and rhetoric and the differences between desired and correct concepts are clearly noted. The dialogue format is an interesting quirk within the discourse mode. I would consider Socrates evaluative about the use or rhetoric, but also classifies and describes some elements. Phaedrus’s dialogue appears to be a narrative and introduces in a dialectic method that offers a dynamic view of reality while also affirming Socrates argument. This reading may have been the best representative of Kinneavy windows into reality.

Some extra personal comments:

I am still debating where this post is apart of Kinneavy’s modes. I would assume classification but I don’t want to limit it so hopefully I could be an unidentified mode as well.