Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Posts Tagged ‘usable knowledge’

Educational Crises and the Scramble for Usable Knowledge

Zachary Stein

Abstract: Quality-control efforts in the field of applied developmental psychology are just beginning. In this paper I set these efforts in a larger context to frame their significance and guide their direction. I argue that the challenges arising in the current post-national constellation are best understood as educational crises. The task demands of the global problem space increasingly outstrip available human capabilities. This situation is leading to a scramble for usable knowledge about education—defined broadly as any process intentionally undertaken to promote human development. There is a growing demand for techniques and technologies that catalyze the transformation of human capabilities; and this demand exceeds available supplies. Education becomes a growth market as specific types of human capabilities come to be recognized as scarce but valuable resources. This pressing global demand for innovative educational solutions and approaches has the potential to systematically distort the production of relevant usable knowledge. I present a set of general quality-control challenges that face the field of applied developmental psychology as it strives to meet the demands of a globalized crisis-ridden educational marketplace. I argue that the field should overcome temptations to circumvent peer review processes by going directly to consumers. I suggest adopting a general stance of epistemic humility so that research and collaboration are promoted and argumentative strategies that insulate approaches from criticism are avoided. Finally, I argue that more careful attention should be paid to the normative dimensions of educational enterprises, as they involve the creation of new values and raise ethical questions about the shape of what life ought to be like.

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Models, Metrics, and Measurement in Developmental Psychology

Zachary Stein and Katie Heikkinen

Abstract: Developmental psychology is currently used to measure psychological phenomena and by some, to re-design communities. While we generally support these uses, we are concerned about quality control standards guiding the production of usable knowledge in the discipline. In order to address these issues precisely, we provide an overview of the discipline’s various facets. We distinguish between developmental models and developmental metrics and relate each to different types of quality-control devices. In our view, models are either explanatory or descriptive, and their quality is evaluated in terms of specific types of disciplinary discourse. Metrics are either calibrated measures or soft measures, and their quality is evaluated in terms of specific psychometric parameters. Following a discussion on how developmentalists make metrics, and on a variety of metrics that have been made, we discuss the two key psychometric quality-control parameters, validity and reliability. This sets the stage for a limited and exploratory literature review concerning the quality of a set of existing metrics. We reveal a conspicuous lack of psychometric rigor on the part of some of the most popular developmental approaches and invite remedies for this situation.

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