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Keeping an eye on individual cases—performance figures as targets

10/12/2017

David Osher and Sanjay Arora (AIR) visited the LIfBi for consultation meetings from October 9 to 11.

Vice President David Osher (AIR, third from left) and Senior Data Scientist Sanjay Arora (AIR, fifth from right) together with members of the executive level of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi).  

With about 1,800 researchers, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) are one of the largest and most influential nonprofit research facilities of the social sciences worldwide. David Osher, Vice President and Fellow of this organization, gave some methodological insights into his research during his presentation on the topic of “Learning and Development Research Based on US Panel Surveys”. On the basis of his assumption of the convergence of different professions, he reached the conclusion that a theoretical framework describing educational processes were to be found within “Developmental System Theory”. Tracking individual cases over time, this enables ideographic processes of analyses that will allow us to identify factors that make the success or failure of educational biographies understandable and predictable beyond mean values.

Sanjay Arora, also researcher at the American Institutes for Research and Senior Data Scientist, picked up on this thought in his presentation on the topic of “Using Longitudinal Data to Identify Leading Indicators of School and Student Performance”. Referring to the example of a school performance indicator, he illustrated the explanatory power that can be assumed for such a model.

Based on their experience from the US-context, the educational researchers appealed to their audience during both presentations not to resort to hasty measures in the case of insufficient performance data or figures but to correlate the data to the agenda of the institutions under current conditions: Those who do the right thing but come out with temporarily unsatisfying results will need more time to be successful; those who do the wrong thing and yet get good results should be advised differently.

Moreover, as part of the guest visit intensive discussions took place with representatives from key research units of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) as well as from third-party projects conducted at the LIfBi. They resulted in so many common links and connections that the guests were able to explain their own approaches with the charts of the LIfBi illustrating the theoretical foundation of the NEPS.