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The Application of the Principles of Measurement in the Field of Education

Let us begin by discussing the concept of measurement and measurement scales.

Concept of Measurement

Measurement refers to the process by which the attributes or dimensions of some physical object are determined. When used in the context of learning, it refers to applying a standard scale or measuring device to an object, a series of objects, events or conditions, according to practices accepted by those who are skilled in the use of the device or scale.

E.L. Thorndike stated that ‘anything that exists at all, exists in some quantity; and anything that exists in some quantity is capable of being measured’. Measurement of any kind is a matter of determining how much or how little, how great or how small, how much more than or how much less than. The Encyclopedia of Educational Research explains measurement in more refined terms; to measure means ‘to observe or determine the magnitude of a variant.

Measurement answers the question of ‘how much? In our day-to-day life, we measure the height, weight, miles travelled, etc., the tailor measures the dimensions of an individuals body to prepare dress according to required size, the shopkeepers weigh different commodities like rice, wheat, sugar, fruits, vegetables etc. We have a wrong notion that measurement takes place only with tapes and scales. 

The ranking of contestants in a debate competition can be considered as measurement, rating of human behaviour comes under measurement. Hence, measurement may be defined as, ‘the assignment of one of a set of numbers to each of a set of persons or objects according to certain established rules.

Measurement involves the process of quantification. Quantification indicates to what extent a particular attribute is present in a particular object. It has been observed that measurement in any field always involves three essentials:

(Identification and definition of quantity, attribute or variable that is to be measured.

Determining the set of operations by which the attribute or variable may be made perceivable.


Self-Instructional Material

Establishing a set of procedure for translating observations into quantitative statement of degree, extent or amount.

Types of measurement 

Measurement is of two types: 

(i) physical measurement and

(ii) mental measurement/ psychological measurement/educational measurement.

(i) Physical measurement: Physical 

measurement is the measurement of the object which has absolute existence.

 For example, we measure the weight of rice, etc. Here, we directly measure the height or weight of an individual and all the measuring tools of physical measurement start from zero. Physical measurement is always accurate and quantitative, and there are some set of tools for physical measurement all over the world.

(ii) Mental measurement: Mental measurement is also known as ‘educational measurement’ or ‘psychological measurement, It is always relative and there is no absolute zero in case of mental measurement. For example, for measuring the intelligence of a person we have to take the help of intelligence tests which are subjective in nature. Through his response, we can know the level of intelligence of the person concerned. Mental measurement is both qualitative and quantitative in nature, and there are no fixed tools for such

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E.L. Thorndike Encyclopedia of Educational Research


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