View Full Version : Re: qualitative vs. quantitative

08-14-1998, 04:58 AM
It seems that I may have opened up a little can of worms here regarding
my advice to use qualitative analysis for snack-cake catching. Chris
Welch is surely correct by indicating that a sophisticated technological
analysis may reveal things unavailable by other methods (on the other
hand, sophisticated observational analysis can allow insight not afforded
by cameras--but that is a topic for another day). Yet, we must take into
account the purpose of the assessment. Remember, the goal is to get the
trainees to a point where they are not overwhelmed by a barrage of
pastries (ahh, yes, I can see Lucy and Ethel on the candy assembly line now).
What is the best way to determine the problems the trainees have and
how to rectify those problems? What does best mean? Does it take into
account practicality (e.g., moving a motion analysis lab around the factory
floor versus watching people and asking questions), time, money, and
cost-to-benefit ratio -- or does it only mean the most precise quantification?
Can cheaper, faster (maybe), less involved methods do the trick? Heck,
maybe a little relaxation training and attention-focusing skills would suffice!
Will a sophisticated biomechanical analysis require expensive outsourcing or the
purchase of equipment (tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars) -- both of
which may create so much overhead as to raise the price of the product? For
example, if people had an MRI every time they went to the doctor for musculoskeletal
pain, our health costs would be staggering. Instead, physicians use a variety
of other methods (often low-tech and qualitative; e.g., palpation & manual
muscle/joint tests, ROM, case histories, etc.) to diagnose problems and prescribe
intervention strategies.

The point is this: not all problems can be solved, are best solved, or need to
be solved, by throwing technology at them. This statement does not
deride technology, but rather, suggests that often times simple low-tech methods
can work, have their place in the assessment tool kit, and should be considered.
This means further that the practioner should have working knowledge of both
sophisticated and not-so-sophisticated methods so that she or he can make
decisions on what to use and when.

Jeff Ives, Ph.D.
Dept. Exercise and Sport Sciences
Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY 14850

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