ERIC Number: ED220057
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-May
Reference Count: 0
Seven Maxims for Institutional Researchers: Applying Cognitive Theory and Research. AIR Forum 1982 Paper.
Hackman, Judith Dozier
Seven potentially useful maxims from the field of human information processing are proposed that may help institutional researchers prepare and present information for higher education decision-makers. The maxims, which are based on research and theory about how people cognitively process information, are as follows: (1) more may not be better; (2) augment humans with models; (3) chunk data wisely; (4) know decision makers; (5) heuristics are not always helpful; (6) arrange tables by patterns; and (7) negative evidence and new hypotheses are okay. Cognitive findings underlying each maxim are given, with concrete examples of how institutional researchers can apply the maxims to improve the collection, analysis, and especially the presentation of information for academic decision-makers. In regard to maxim 1, it is suggested that researchers should remember that people have difficulty combining more than six or seven bits of information at a time, without some kind of decision aid. The use of computer models for a limited range of structurable and semi-structurable academic decisions is probably the major application of maxim 2 currently found in universities. Three of the most frequently used heuristics are examined: availability, representativeness, and anchoring and adjustment. Four guidelines for arranging tables are as follows: round to four significant digits, use row and column averages or totals, present the main pattern of data in columns, and order the rows and columns by some measure of their size. It is suggested that when decision-makers remain open to alternative solutions and disconfirming evidence, their decisions may be more effective. (SW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: AIR Forum
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research (22nd, Denver, CO, May 16-19, 1982).