Thursday, August 27, 2009

Art Blog: Qualitative versus Quantitative

A few years back, I started to work on my Ph.D. It was such an eye opening experience. At that point, I had 10 years of college credit under my belt. I had the obligatory Associates degree, Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Master of Fine Arts degree, two years to get art educator certified, another two years to get special education certified, and then I was on my way to earning more credits towards my Ph.D. I loved being in a doctorate program. I really loved it. I was doing so well. Then the bills started piling up. I had to stop because I was so worried I would never be able to pay the cost before I died! I let it go. Maybe I will finish when I when the lottery.

The point of this post is not about the absurd cost of trying to be well educated. Actually, I want to speak about something I learned during my doctorate work. When you get to that level of education, it is all about research. There are two kinds of research: Qualitative versus Quantitative. The second describes when you can quantify your findings. For example, I could write about how the results of my tests prove 78% did this when I did that. In other words, quantitative research deals with exact numbers. It is objective. Another example could be the Olympic runner ran this time. There is no way you can refute the time. It is solid. However, if you are talking about the score a gymnast gets while doing a workout or how does the TOP CHEF score after preparing a meal? That is another story. There is a subjective component to this score. In other words, there are people’s opinions that are in play. This is part of life. This is part of data gathering. However whenever subjectivity is involved, that is qualitative data.

While in the doctorate program, I found myself very securely in the qualitative category. So much of what I do and am interested in, depends on observation, my interpretations, and gathering past research to support my opinions. This is why qualitative research is a sticky wicket.
I am talking about all this now because it relates to a situation I am in right now. I find myself in an environment that is all about brass tacks. We need to count widgets. I am supposed to conform to the norm. I can’t. I don’t live in that kind of world.

The irony is that the students I teach everyday don’t live in that world either. We are all a subjective bunch. “One size does NOT fit all” for any of us.
This is why I feel very sad right now. I feel frustrated the world doesn’t understand why I feel like crap. We are not widgets.


1 comment:

namastenancy said...

I don't know what to say; I get a knot in my stomach when I think of what you are going through. I've been through similar stuff when I worked at UC - dealing with irrational management is always awful. Is there nobody higher up that you can go to or will that make it worse? It's a shitty time for you to be looking for a job or even losing your job because of bureaucratic stupidity but I hate to see you hurt and upset.
This is when I wished my voodoo would work.