Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Longitudinal and cross-sectional progress

Someone suggested on one of my videos on YouTube a while back that it would be great if we could make a video of the two people on that video a year later doing the same stuff so we could see progress. I think that’s a great idea, though I can’t do it in that particular case because one of the students has now returned home to Ukraine.

But that brings up a teaching topic I thought I’d write on today. There are two types of progress that you want to see in a martial art – longitudinal and cross-sectional progress. In longitudinal progress, you follow a particular individual over time, measuring skill in some way, and you should be able to see progress in that individual's skill. So, Bob should be more skilled at green belt than he was at white belt, and he should be more skilled at black belt than he was at green belt, and so on.

The other type of progress, cross-sectional, is where you look at a class full of people at one particular time and try to figure out if the black belts are generally more skilled than the brown belts, who are, in turn, generally more skilled than the green belts. In a good class you should see pretty obvious skill increments between groups of like-ranked students.

This is one of my outcomes measures for the viability of my classes at Mokuren dojo – if you attend one class, you should see higher-ranked students are generally more skilled than lower-ranked students, and if you follow one student over time you should see that student improving. A good martial arts class should create both cross-sectional and longitudinal improvements in the students' skills.

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