Measurement Assignments for Psy 527/627 at Missouri State University (2007-2016)
The goals and outcomes of this assignment are:
- To critically analyze a measurement system.
- To work together as a team and share as a class using web technology.
Each semester the instructor with help from current students will select a different measurement issue.
The issue for the current semester is:
- the measure of graduation rate. Discuss the various ways it is computed and the pros and cons of each. Find the graduation rate of a local high school and compare it to national or regional averages. Discuss any measurement issues that might be present.
- the measure of happiness. This topic has been in the news recently with respect to the happiness of teens. Discuss the various ways it is computed and the pros and cons of each. Discuss any measurement issues that might be present.
- the assessment of the quality of on-line courses. This topic will become increasingly important as more courses move from the traditional brick and mortar classroom to variations of electronic delivery. Discuss the various ways they could be assessed and the pros and cons of each. Discuss any measurement issues that might be present.
- the measurement of "overweight" and "obesity". Discuss the different definitions of each and how (or if) the definitions have changed over the years. Focus on who is making the measurement and if they have anything to gain by changing the criteria. Discuss any measurement issues that might be present.
- the measurement (estimate) of the number of deaths due to complication of abortion from the pre Roe v. Wade to the present. Focus on who is making the measurement and if they have anything to gain or lose by changing the criteria. Discuss any measurement issues that might be present. Note - this is NOT a debate on whether or not abortion should be legal. You may respectfully disagree with one another about statistics and sources, but personal attacks will not be permitted. Please try to be as objective as possible.
- the measurement (estimate) of the number of nursing graduates at the various levels of education in the United States last year. How many were men and how many were women? What was the average starting salary of each?
- the measurement of patient satisfaction with electronic medical records.
- the measurement (estimate) of the number of deaths due to complication of abortion from the pre Roe v. Wade to the present.
- How many uninsured or underinsured individuals are there in your county? What is their proportion relative to the population? How good is your estimate? Are there potential political contaminations of the estimate? How could you make a better estimate?
- How can the cost/benefit of mammograms for women between the ages of 40 and 50 be measured?"
- How can the cost/benefit of PSA tests for men between the ages of 50 and 60 be measured?
- the measurement (estimate) of homosexuality. The repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has left the military with some interesting questions. For example, is homosexuality a dichotomous (0 or 1) variable where either you are or you aren’t a homosexual, or is it a continuous or scale variable with many different levels. If it is dichotomous, how do you categorize individuals? If it is a scale variable, how do you measure it? Different students may have different opinions and I ask that you present your arguments, but respect the opinions of others.
- the measurement of cell phone radiation on cancer risk. In general, this will be a discussion of how you would measure the increase or decrease of cancer risk for anything that we might contact. Your goal is not to take a stand on whether or not cell phones increase (or decrease) the risk of cancer, but on the measurement issues surrounding this controversy.
- the measurement of empathy. What is it and how can it be measured? If it could be measured, how could it be used?
- the measurement of diversity in the workplace. Your job will be to discover and discuss the pros and cons of various measures of diversity in the workforce. You are encouraged to seek out the human resources department in your workplace and question them about the issues surrounding this controversy and how they deal with them.
- the measurement of hospital quality, Your job will be to discover and discuss the pros and cons of various measures of hospital quality.
- the creation of a ten item survey of general personal health. What ten items would you ask to determine a person’s general health and how would you combine them to result in a single number.
- the measure of suicides and attempted suicides in your county. Focus on the accuracy of the number you find and the difficulty of accurately estimating these values. Talk with appropriate individuals if possible.
- the measurement of the degree of compliance with health and safety regulations at hospitals. How can this be done? What is the cost and benefit of doing so?
- a single number that will be used to select students for a bachelor’s nursing program? Your board of education is pushing hard for more diversity and inclusiveness in your selection of students for your program, yet standards are to remain high. Propose and justify a measurement system for your board.
- the estimated annual medical cost to the United States of undocumented immigrants. Focus on the accuracy of the number you find and the difficulty of accurately estimating these values. Talk with appropriate individuals if possible. If you work at a hospital, for example, you might try to find the annual estimated cost to the hospital of undocumented immigrants.
- how gifted students are measured and selected for grade school. I would encourage you talk with appropriate individuals if possible. You might contact your local school and ask how gifted students are measured and selected, for example.
- the measurement of concussions in high school sports. How are estimates of concussions made? What are the issues surrounding the measurement of concussions? Are there individuals or groups with agendas that might have a stake in the estimates?
- the measurement of legal and illegal opioid use in the United States (see the June 15, 2015 issue of Time magazine). How are estimates of opioid use made? Focus on the issues surrounding the measurement of opioid use? Are there individuals or groups with agendas that might have a stake in the estimates?
- the measurement of patient satisfaction by hospitals. Since some payments to hospitals are dependent upon the measure of patient satisfaction, this is a fairly important topic. If you work in a hospital, you might check with the person who writes the reports for patient satisfaction for a start on the topic. The major focus of your paper should be a critique (good and bad) of the measurement system, not on its use.
- the measurement of patient acuity. Since hospital staffing ratios are often dependent upon the patient acuity, this is a fairly important topic for the nursing profession. The major focus of your paper should be a critique (good and bad) of the different measurement systems, not on their use.
- measurement of the number of annual deaths due to medical errors.
The steps for this assignment are as follows:
- Collect information about this topic using whatever resources you have available, including the web, books, journals, other individuals, etc.
- In the discussion board set up in Blackboard for this purpose, share your information and discuss the measurement issues with the other students in the class.
- Write a three to four page paper using both your information and the class discussion. The paper should present a critical analysis of the measurement topic. Possible issues include a definition of the topic, a discussion of the accuracy of the data, an analysis of possible political agendas of sources, and a general discussion of measurement issues surrounding the topic.
- Upload the critical analysis document into your Gradebook.
- Both the paper and the quality of your contribution to the class discussion will be assessed with a rubric.
A good starting point is a book by Joel Best (2004), More Damned Lies and Statistics: How Numbers Confuse Public Issues, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Text - Introductory Statistics: Concepts, Models and Applications - "Measurement"