Data are Data, Analysis is Art

learning and ed management analytics worship is a related madness, either symptom or contributing factor depending on vantage point… perhaps part of a syndrome?


Most of the literature in my field comes from economists, education researchers that more often than not employ econometric models, and quantitative macro sociologists.

There is nothing wrong with that.

However, a recent rash of reading of such reports brought to mind how we conflate data with analysis. The former is something approaching empirical objectivity (huge caveats there) while analysis is the more subjective interpretation of reality.

For example, “450,000 students enrolled in for-profits in 2004” is a data point. The usual interpretation of that in research on for-profit college expansion is, “for-profits respond to unmet consumer demand.”

However, I can see the same data point and artfully interpret it to mean something like, “economic change, deregulation, and social policies constrained practical options for a half million workers to participate fully in the labor market. This created a demand for credentials to the benefit of for-profit education companies”.

I am…

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