ERIC Number: ED220021
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-May
Reference Count: 0
The Language of Qualitative Issues. AIR Forum 1982 Paper.
Duckwall, Julia M.; Johnson, F. Craig
The communication of research findings among collegiate institutional researchers is considered in relation to the contribution of qualitative language in general, and catastrophe theory in particular. The qualitative language of catastrophe theory may help reduce the arbitrariness of description, through identification of qualitative features that can be simplified in a formal way, and through development of models that can be exchanged and that can lead to further enquiry. Three applications of this language are considered. The first illustrates how the notion of economy of scale can be used to communicate topological, geometric, and algebraic conclusions from the same data. The second begins with the problem of searching for qualitative features in a large amount of data and presents an orderly process for doing this, and the third focuses on the problem of timing in conducting research or in taking action. The applications are arranged in ascending order of dimensionality to show how more complex problems lend themselves equally well to a qualitative mathematical approach. Data from two studies of economy of scale in the nine state universities of Florida are examined, and the qualitative feature of hysteresis is used to explain a critical feature of learning and to suggest other qualitative features of bimodality, inaccessibility, sudden jumps, and divergence. A model relating funding and public confidence in higher education is also presented. The analyses may have value for institutional researchers who need a theoretical model and a qualitative language to exchange qualitative results in order to address more competently larger social and political issues. (SW)
Descriptors: College Planning, Comparative Analysis, Decision Making, Educational Finance, Higher Education, Information Dissemination, Institutional Research, Mathematical Formulas, Models, Research Design, Research Methodology, Research Problems, Research Utilization, Statistical Analysis, Theories, Time
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: AIR Forum; Catastrophe Theory; Qualitative Analysis
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research (22nd, Denver, CO, May 16-19, 1982).