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Good morning everyone! For today, we're going to discuss about Measurements,
Conceptualization and Operationalization in quantitative research.

As we all know, researches examine and measure precise concepts and issues in their
paper and they effectively do so by following two processes, namely conceptualization and
operationalization.

First things first, let start simple. All research papers come to be because it contains concepts.
So what do you think are concepts? Any ideas from the class?

So when we talk about concepts, we are pointing out to the words/symbols used to represent
mental images of an idea (a person, behavior, event, object) which we are trying to investigate in
our research.

For example, the concept “feminism” does not exist in the real world. But one can measure
whether somebody talks a lot about men and women being equal, going to the rallies about the
equality of men and women, and giving speeches about the equality of men and women. From
the measurement of these behaviors, one can construct a measurement for "feminism."

There are other examples of concepts listed on your book on page 110. Judging from the list,
you can see that you cannot really measure society, politics, or a person's personality but you
somehow have an idea about them, right?

Inorder to avoid generalization, we try to specify concepts and classify information into certain
aspects, and this is what we call dimensions. Ofcourse, a concept may have multiple aspects or
dimensions in a study.

This where we also get our variables, which refers to the individual and specific dimension of the
concept we want to focus on.

We'll explain this bit a little later with an example.

With this, when we refer to the process of conceptualization, we are specifying what we mean
when we use particular terms or we are simply definining our concepts and variables. We are
refining and developing abstract concepts by asking questions such as what do you think of it,
what do these theories say about your concept and how do you define it?

Let's look at an example.

You see, there are things in life we have experienced and have knowledge of which we cannot
always define. Take the word socioeconomic status or SES for example.

For me, the first thing that comes to my mind related to this word is income. Let's now call on
B#__ and G#__. For you, by just using one or two words, how would you define SES?

From the answers, we could say that this concept really encompasses a lot of things, as all of
these ideas are related to the topic. With this, all of them can actually be used to measure a
person's SES.

And when you and others generally agree on what the word SES means, then the process done is
also what conceptualization is all about.

This finalizes the shared meaning and understanding of the definition of your abstract idea.

Because in research, it is crucial to specifically indicate and specify what you really mean in
the topic. Using abstract concepts like SES, fear, power and society which are too broad and
subjective will lead to ambiguity, making the idea is unclear and confusing because it can be
understood in more than one way and we would not want our research paper to be like that too,
right?

So inorder to avoid this, we need to specifically conceptualize concepts so that everyone


including you, your partner and your respondents will know exactly what it is you would like to
measure. This process is what we call as operationalization, which is where we specify what
what we will observe in the research. It will further specify the points to make your abstract
concept more concrete and measurable.

Our task here is to achieve measurement validity. This includes answering the questions what
will be measured, how will it be measured in this study and what rules will be used to measure
the concept.

When we conceptualize, we specify what we mean by a term. This is what we call as getting
the nominal definition. And when we operationalize, we identify the specific rules we will use to
indicate on measuring the concept. We then get the operational definition of a concept in this
process.

Conceptualization is the refinement and specification of abstract concepts while


operationalization is the development of specific research procedures.

Let's go back to our concept, socioeconomic status.

In conceptualization, you would be asking yourselves: What do I think of SES? How do I define it?

However, in operationalization, you would resort to the question: What method or way will I use
to tell whether someone has good socioeconomic status? or How will I know if a person has a
good economic standing?

To answer these questions, we will then make use of indicators, which are instruments which
gives us more information on the variable we are studying. To say more precisely, they are
conditions which indicates the presence or absence of the concept we are studying. They give a
very clear measure of things as they make an idea numerically comparable.

Indicators could be in the form of:


Self-reports (by the responses of your respondents in direct questions)
Index or Scales (uses several attributes to measure a complex concept... for an instance, you
may let your respondents answer a scale of 1-10 model rating their satisfaction in a particular
thing, with 10 being the highest)
Direct observation (observing behavior coded by the researcher)
Archival records (existing recorded information like getting information through birth birth
certificates)

They can also have several attributes or levels which represents a value.
For example, our concepts is studying customer preferences. A gender indicator may have two
attributes: male and female. A customer satisfaction scale may be constructed to represent
five attributes: strongly satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neutral, somewhat dissatisfied, strongly
dissatisfied. These can be since these indicators will gives us more information on the variable
we are studying.

A direct indicators are which could be easily measured.

Let's go back to our concept, and choose a dimension. Let's say we chose to measure poverty.
How exactly are we going to measure this concept?
By using direct indicators, we focus on questions, data or observations relating to countable
or numerical facts. Thus, we are getting to know something which can be measured through
numbers. In our case, we can then measure poverty by asking our participants of their family's
income or on how many times they eat a day.

By using indirect indicators, we focus on questions, data or observations which can't be


measured by mere numbers, like learning about their social situation, behavior or way of life.
In this case, we can measure poverty by asking our participants whether they consider
themselves as poor or whether they are satisfied with their current life through letting them
answer a satisfaction scale: from strongly satisfied to strongly dissatisfied.

Figure 1
To summarize everything:
• Concepts are the words/symbols used to represent mental images of an idea.
• Dimensions are the aspects of the concepts.
• Variables are the individual aspects of the concepts.
• Indicators are the ones which will measure our variables with the help of the answered
information from the respondents.
Figure 2
• Our concepts is SES.
• We are focused in studying 3 dimensions or aspects in this concept.
• Our variables include wealth, prestige and power.
• Some indicators which may measure power can be a person's annual budget income or the
number of employees he has, which are direct indicators.
Measurement therefore is really important when it comes to measure our concepts in the real
world. This could be done through many different ways (survey items, interview questions,
observation, content analysis, data coding).

Measurement in research moves from abstract, like terms and concepts, to concrete, like
measures.

So what really is the role of measurement in quantitative research? (Explanation on book page
116-117)

Measurement allows us to describe fine differences between people in terms of characteristic in


question.
It also gives us consistent device for making such distinctions.
Lastly, it gives us the basis for more precise estimates of the degree of relationship between
concepts.

You may not know this but social science researchers resort in using multiple indicators
(multiple-indicator measure) in measuring a single concept. Why is that?

This is because first of all, many potential problems could arise in using single indicators. We
may incorrectly classify individuals because information is not that sufficient enough, and one
indicator may capture only a portion of a concept.
Also, doing so gives us more information and evidence, which will help us find more distinctions
between people and terms, benefitting us in proving a point or an idea in our research paper.

Possible Questions ni Ms:

Conceptualization in Qualitative Inquiry


- Specification of reliable operational definitions seems to rob such concepts of the richness
of meaning in qualitative data. Instead, they prefer to let the meanings of little-understood
phenomenon emerge from their observations. Probes into the deeper meaning and social
context of the process and outcomes in each case.

Differences of the three terms


Concepts are used in referring to an abstract object or objective entity (as in the the concept of
the two processes is hard to grasp).
Conceptions refers to a certain person's subjective idea of something (as in his
conceptions about the two processes seem a little misguided).
Constructs are broad concepts which are based on observations that cannot be directly
observed like social class, economic status and wellbeing. They are like mental representations
but it is less specific and more abstract than a concept is.

Connection
To summarize, there are things in life which we have experienced and have knowledge of which
we cannot always define, such as love and fear. Your idea of what these terms are are your
conceptions. Meaning, each one of us has his or her own conception on love.
When you and others generally agree on what these terms will mean, then this process is known
as conceptualization. The idea that you have agreed upon with others, that abstract object which
was then formed, is then what you call as the concept. Meaning, the concept of love is definitely
different to each one of us.

Short Recap
Concepts are words/symbols used to represent mental images of an idea we are trying to
investigate in our research.
Since concepts are too general, we the use dimensions to classify information through specific
aspects. A single dimension is what we then call as a variable.
Indicators are specific, indirect measures showing the absence and presence of a concept.

Interchangeability of Indicators
Now, in practice, the three terms (concepts, dimensions and indicators) are often
interchangeable.
• One difference is the level of abstraction:
A concept is highly abstract, a dimension is indeed abstract, and an indicator is concrete.
• One concept may have multiple dimensions, and one dimension may have multiple indicators.
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