Discontinuous Levels of Complexity in Coherent Educational Measurement: The Roles of KidMaps, Wright Maps, and Construct Maps

The possibility of developing systems of comparable measures of education outcomes requires focused attention on the discontinuous levels of complexity separating the contexts in which developmentally, horizontally, and vertically coherent forms of assessment information (Wilson, 2004) could be applicable. Our attention is rarely drawn to differences in language use across denotative (concrete), metalinguistic (abstract), and metacommunicative (formal) levels of complexity, but ignoring these levels may be an important factor impeding communication in education and other fields (Star & Ruhleder, 1996). Recent social studies of science document the role of metrology in extending language's capacity for simultaneous abstract general structure and continuity, on the one hand, and local concrete malleability and innovation, on the other (Star & Griesemer, 1989). Three classes of tools routinely used in educational measurement--KidMaps, Wright Maps, and Construct Maps--are shown to be associated, respectively, with the denotative (data), metalinguistic (instrument), and metacommunicative (theory) levels of complexity. Examples of each kind of map are used to illustrate how, in Golinski's (2012) terms, "Practices of translation, replication, and metrology have taken the place of the universality that used to be assumed as an attribute of singular science." Concluding comments focus on philosophical implications for a social ethic springing not from a system but from the paradox of fully realizing both global human totality and individual human singularity, following Ricoeur (1974).

William P. Fisher, Jr. received his doctorate from the University of Chicago, where he was mentored by Benjamin D. Wright and supported by a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Research Fellowship. Dr. Fisher is recognized for contributions to measurement theory and practice that span the full range from the philosophical to the applied in fields as diverse as special education, mindfulness practice, clinical chemistry, and survey research. His articles have appeared in journals spanning a similarly wide range of fields, from education and psychology to nursing and occupational therapy to physics and metrology. Dr. Fisher’s entry on metrology and measurement in the 2011 World Standards Day paper competition won third prize, which is notable given the focus on engineering and natural science topics usually emphasized by the competition sponsors, SES, the Society for Standards Professionals, and the US National Institute for Standards and Technology. In efforts toward this same end of fostering more informed dialogue between the natural and social sciences, Fisher began contributing in 2008 to an ongoing conference hosted by the International Measurement Confederation (IMEKO) on the human and social value of measurement. Work in this area ultimately led to an IMEKO Joint Symposium co-hosted by Fisher and Mark Wilson at UC Berkeley in August 2016.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 2:00pm
PDF icon Fisher presentation1.21 MB