Measuring Paradigm

January 24th, 2007

I was thinking about setting up a framework for measuring learning processes, my first thought being to set up a construct encompassing all parts and aspects of the skill in question. That would, in theory enable to measure the learning process the traditional scientific way: Splitting up a problem in bits of manageable (and also, measureable) size and operate on those.

I am not sure whether this approach would be feasible.

The problem with it is, it seems difficult to model the synergy-effects taking place in learning. If you already know something, you will have an easier time understanding a related concept. For example, if you know how to speak a foreign language, the next one you learn will be easier for you, especially, if it is related to the one you already know (such as Spanish and French).

Besides this, I am just not sure that a skill or a “piece of knowledge” (what is a piece of knowledge anyway?) can be split up in separate parts meaningfully – especially when it comes to hard-to-quantify measures like “style” or, even more so, “soul”.

One might ask, why do we stick with this logic-based paradigm of measuring? I would say, because it is scientific, in the sense that it is (supposed to be) repeatable: With it, I should be able to figure out, it takes so much time to learn this or that skill ono average and make meaningful predictions about how long it takes for you – as opposed to staring at a Picasso, trying to emulate it your whole life and never getting even close. Usually the very reason for measuring is to make predictions about the future. If there would be another paradigm besides the one dissected above that would yield accurate and reliable results, that would be just as good.

Now the question is, are there any other kinds of measuring paradigms out there?

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carlos Vieira  |  April 18th, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I find your idea hard in practice (at least if you don’t have an instructor). Being able to tell apart and measure a skill requires knowledge in that skill, which, since you’re learning, you don’t have.

  • 2. Zoltan  |  April 18th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    If you have an instructor, that makes measuring much easier – since he already taught people for years and years and has seen tens or hundreds acquire the same skill over and over… so the instructor has experience in judging, just like you said. The real beauty would be to find a measuring method where you could systematize this and not make it dependent on the judgment of a person…

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