Empirical Direction in Design and Analysis

By Norman H. Anderson | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Serve the Student should be the foundation and guide for educational systems. The measure of teaching is not what is taught, but what is learned. Teachers are coaches; their job is to coach students along their life paths of learning. Consonant with the cornerstone of Serve the Student, formal education should be conceptualized and organized as an organic part of lifelong learning.

Transfer is the goal of education. Instruction should facilitate development of knowledge systems and work skills that will be needed and useful in life. To be effectual, instruction needs to determine the structure and operation of knowledge systems in relation to life needs.

The foregoing principles are general; they apply to all teaching. What do they imply for the first-year graduate course in design and analysis? In this course, students need to develop abilities to understand data, design and conduct investigations, write reports of their investigations, and/or critically evaluate such reports by others. In short, they need to develop skills of scientific inference, whether in academic research or in the diverse applications of psychological science in practical affairs.

But scientific inference is primarily extrastatistical. The knowledge systems needed in scientific inference are mainly empirical, as was discussed with the Experimental Pyramid of Chapter 1. Statistical inference should thus be subordinated to and integrated with extrastatistical inference based on substantive knowledge systems. Serve the Student thus leads to an empirical direction in design and analysis.

This empirical direction is pursued in this book. Other texts, in contrast, are dominated by a statistical perspective appropriate for the statistics department, but ill-suited to an empirical department. Statistical concepts and techniques can be invaluable in empirical research, but they need to be learned—and taught—as organic parts of scientific inference.

This book is only a step in this empirical direction. The first-year course in design and analysis is a concern of the whole field. It deserves cooperation among those who teach statistics in every institution. It deserves cooperation from other faculty whose students take this course. Above all, it deserves massive empirical research on effective teaching and transfer. The main concern of this book is to facilitate development of the empirical perspective—as a guide along our personal paths of lifelong learning.

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