Widespread deficits in qualitative literacy--the ability to use and interpret data collected from interviews, observations, and similar methods--has contributed to a polarized public discourse, argued Mario Small, Grafstein Family Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, in his 2019 Spencer Lecture at the AERA Annual Meeting in Toronto.
While there have been considerable gains in quantitative literacy in recent years, Small argued, there has been no commensurate improvement in the public's qualitative literacy. As a result, both producers and consumers of news struggle to identify or produce empirically sound journalism and commentary. "This paucity is part of the reason that the election of Trump caught many unaware, that the rise of white supremacist movements seemed to many to come out of nowhere, and that our debates about everything from conditions in poor neighborhoods to the motivations of working class people have been stagnant," Small asserted.
Small maintained that the “habits of thought” practiced by skilled qualitative researchers can provide a path forward, and he outlined three indicators that researchers, journalists, pundits, and all those who strive to inform and influence the public should meet. What are these indicators? And how can they help improve the public discourse? Click on the links below to learn more.
In answering “What is one of the most critical skills that can be taught by teachers and in teacher ed programs? @MarioLuisSmall answers “Teach cognitive empathy.” #AERA19 #SpencerLecture #QualitativeLiteracy pic.twitter.com/Xf13D7IFKj— Temple Lovelace (@drlovelace) April 7, 2019