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Re: qualitative vs. quantitative

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  • Re: qualitative vs. quantitative

    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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