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ISPS:

DEFINING VARIABLES
OPERATIONALLY

KDPM & KPLI


LECTURE NOTES

INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION
The method or procedure used to measure a
variable is called an operational definition. Thus an
operational definition tells what operation is
performed (and observed) and how it is measured.
If you can measure a variable directly using
standard systems of measurement, you do not
need to define it operationally. Eg: depth ruler,
temperature thermometer, time stopwatch.
Defining operationally involves finding equivalent
ways of measuring something indirectly that cannot
be conveniently measured directly. Eg: pendulum
activity measure period in terms of number of
swings per 15 seconds because time of one swing
could not be measured conveniently.
SSS, MPKS

INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION
Different investigators may use different
operationally definition for the same variable.
Example: investigation to test the effects of Vitamin E
on the endurance of a person.
The variable endurance of a person could be defined
operationally many different ways;
The number of hours a person could stay awake.
The distance a person could run without stopping.
The number of jumping jacks a person could do
before tiring.

Operational definition should be EXPLICIT


enough that another investigator could carry
out the measurement without any further
information from the investigator.
SSS, MPKS

EXAMPLE 1

A study was done to determine if safety advertising had


any effect on automobile accidents. Different numbers
of billboards were put up in Keningau over a period of
four months to see if the number of people hospitalized
because of auto accidents was affected. In January, five
billboards carried safety messages; in February there
were ten, in March there were fifteen; and in April there
were twenty.During each of these four months, a record
of the number of people hospitalized because of
accidents was measured.
Identify the MV and RV.
How was each variable operationally defined?
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SAMPLE ANSWER FOR EXAMPLE 1


MANIPULATED
VARIABLE

SAFETY ADVERTISING
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION
Number of safety billboards put up in the
town during each month
Observed : safety billboards

RESPONDING
VARIABLE

Operation to measure: counting the


number of billboards erected each month

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION
Number of people who are hospitalized
because of automobile accidents.
Observed : people who are hospitalized
because of automobile accidents.
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Operation to measure: counting the


number of hospitalized people

EXAMPLE 2

A study was done to determine the effect that exercise


has on pulse rate. Teacher trainees rode bikes for
different numbers of kilometers and then their pulse
rate was measured. One group rode 10 km, a second
group rode 20 km, a third group rode 30 km and a fourth
group rode 40 km. Following the exercise the pulse rate
was immediately measured by counting the pulse for
one minute.
Identify the MV and RV.
How was each variable operationally defined?
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SAMPLE ANSWER FOR EXAMPLE 2


MANIPULATED
VARIABLE

AMOUNT OF EXERCISE
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION
Number of kilometer a person rode
Observed : distance in km

RESPONDING
VARIABLE

Operation to measure: counting


(measuring) the number of kilometers a
person rode
PULSE RATE

OPERATIONAL DEFINITION
Number of heartbeats felt at the wrist
following exercise.
Observed : heartbeats.
Operation to measure: counting number of
heartbeats
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NOW ITS YOUR TURN


DO THE FOLLOWING EXERCISE
INDIVIDUALLY.
REMEMBER !!!! THERE ARE A VARIETY
OF WAYS TO OPERATIONALLY DEFINE
A VARIABLE. WRITE AT LEAST THREE.
BE CREATIVE. I KNOW YOU CAN
HONESTLY DO IT!!!
THINK! THINK! THINK!

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EXERCISE 1
A student wants to measure the absorbency
of paper towels.
How does he operationally define
absorbency of paper towel?
Possible Operational Definitions
1. Measure the amount of water that remains after a
crumpled paper towel has been placed in 25 ml of water
for 5 minutes.
2. Measure the amount of water that collects after 25 ml of
water has been poured through a crumpled paper towel.
3. Measure the height that water reaches after the end of a
folded paper towel has been inserted in water for 15
minutes.
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EXERCISE 2
You want to operationally define the variable
size of a person.
Write at least 3 ways this variable could be
defined operationally.
Possible Operational Definitions
1. The reading in kilograms obtained when a person steps on
a scale.
2. The smallest number showing when a person stands
against a ruler which extends from the floor up.
3. The amount of water that overflows when a person is
submerged in a full bathtub.
4. The amount of tape required to encircle the chest, waist
and hips.
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EXERCISE 3
You are an expert in agriculture. You are
using beans in an experiment.
Write at least 3 ways to define operationally
the variable amount of plant growth.
Possible Operational Definitions
1. Count the number of leaves on a plant. Wait two weeks
and count them again.
2. Measure the distance from the soil to the uppermost leaf.
Ten days later, measure it again.
3. Weigh the plant and its pot. Wait one month and do it
again. The difference is how much it grew.

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EXERCISE 4
A primary school has a program for increasing
students enjoyment of reading.
List at least 3 ways that enjoyment of reading could
be operationally defined. Think of some specific
things you could measure with your students that
would indicate their enjoyment of reading.
Possible Operational Definitions
1. Amount of time students voluntarily spend at the reading
table.
2. Number of references to books read during sharing time.
3. Number of voluntary book reports.
4. Number of books taken home.
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EXERCISE 5
One of the goals of SK IPKS is that all children acquire
a concern for their environment.
What are some of the ways that we might operationally
define this variable? Describe at least three.
Possible Operational Definitions
1. The number of special projects students choose to do on
environment matters
2. The weight of rubbish picked up on the playground each week
3. The number of paper bags thrown away (instead of reused) from
the cafeteria
4. The number of paper towels used in the washrooms
5. The number of posters on environmental matters in a show-yourconcern-with-a-poster contest
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EXERCISE 6
An investigation is underway to see how the initial
temperature of a liquid affects the amount of
evaporation.
Describe at least three ways that amount of
evaporation could be operationally defined.
Possible Operational Definitions
1. Measure the depth of the liquid. Measure it again twentyfour hours later.
2. Pour a known quantity of liquid into an open container.
Measure its volume again three hours later.
3. Weigh the container of liquid. Twenty minutes later, weigh
it again. The difference is the amount of evaporation.
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THANK YOU
POUNSIKOU
XIE XIE
ARIGATO
DANKE
DANK U WEL
NANEDRI
GARCIAS
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