Structured conceptualization. A framework for interpreting evaluation results

  • Caracelli V
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The structured conceptualization method can be used as a descriptive and interpretive tool for understanding results from evaluations and applied social research programs. A case study of women in Fordham University's EXCEL reentry program for adults demonstrates the use of this method in the descriptive and exploratory phase of research. Two groups of women were identified and contrasted on the California Q-set which contains 100 personality descriptors. ANCOVAs revealed few statistically significant differences between Integrators, women with focused career goals, and Seekers, women with unfocused career goals. However, when differences between Integrators and Seekers on each of 100 personality items are overlaid on a map of these items which was generated by the combined use of multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis procedures, a pattern is observed which is readily interpretable and indicates that these two groups are not homogeneous. Similarly, women who completed their first year of college were contrasted on all 100 personality items with women who did not complete their first year of study. The method of structured conceptualization is viewed as useful in helping evaluators make sensible inferences from findings even when statistically significant differences are not evident because of low statistical power due to small sample sizes or inadequate measures. Further, the method can serve as a tool for examining and strengthening statistical conclusion validity when multiple significance tests are used. © 1989.

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  • Valerie J. Caracelli

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