Counting and timing behavior

In the applied science we call medicine, a patient visits a doctor due to some condition aversely affecting health. The applied medical model involves the doctor obtaining information to identify the problem (e.g., virus, unregulated cell growth, parasites, deteriorating muscle). After determining the cause of the health condition, the doctor prescribes an intervention aimed at curing or fixing the problem. The doctor exercises considerable discretion specifying the amount of an intervention. If the doctor recommended radiation therapy to kill cancer cells, the dosage is measured in rads or grays, both units describing the absorbed radiation dose. When a doctor suggests using pharmaceuticals, dosages are mainly calculated with the metric system such as liters and grams. Indeed, accurately calculating doses is a key portion for many health care worker such as the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Dosages within medicine are scrutinized so intensely due to the outcomes. Too little of a dosage and the intervention fails. Too much of a dosages and the patient suffers harmful effects. Just the right amount of the dose, called a therapeutic or curative dose, results in the patient overcoming the original problem.

As an applied science, education (as a whole) has missed the mark when it comes to applying precision in the process of describing the presenting problem, determining proper “dosages” or the amount of an intervention to implement, and evaluating subsequent intervention effects on learner behavior. Descriptions used to first identify the problem range from unobservable or ambiguous non-behaviors to real, measurable behaviors. Dosages or the amount of how much of an intervention a learner should receive is manifested through indirect measures like converted scores or with dimensionless units like percentage. The resulting effects on learner behavior make it exceptionally difficult to confidently understand what exactly changed and how well the learner profited from the intervention. Through the act of counting behaviors in time, the field of education has at its disposal a standard, absolute, universal unit of measurement (i.e., frequency) that enables education to function as other applied sciences like medicine who employ sensitive measures in treatment and evaluation of their subject matter. The nucleus of a science of education is frequency, found by counting and timing behavior.


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