Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

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The research glossary defines terms used in conducting social science and policy research, for example those describing methods, measurements, statistical procedures, and other aspects of research; the child care glossary defines terms used to describe aspects of child care and early education practice and policy.

A proportion times 100.
The percent of observations in a sample that have a value below a given score.
Pile Sorting
A task used to elicit judgments of similarity among items in a specific domain. The technique uses a set of index cards on which the name or short description of a domain item is written; the respondent is asked to sort them into piles according to their similarity.
Pilot Study
A small scale research study that is conducted prior to the larger, final study. The pilot study gives researchers a chance to identify any problems with their proposed sampling scheme, methodology, or data collection process. These studies are very useful in accessing strengths and weakness of a potential study. For example a pilot study might be conducted in a small sample of early childhood classrooms to identify potential difficulties when videotaping teacher-child interaction. Findings from the pilot are used to find solutions to these problems and to modify the approach that will be used in the larger study.
Point Estimate
A statistic calculated from a sample that is an estimate of some single characteristic of the population. For example, the sample mean is the point estimate of the population mean.
Poisson Distribution
A distribution that describes the number of events that occur in a certain time interval or spatial area. For example, the number of child care arrangements during a given period of time.
Poisson Regression
Poisson regression is a form of regression analysis used to model or predict outcomes (Y variables) that are numerical counts (e.g., number of days a student is absent from school). It is best used for counts of rare events (e.g., number of unexcused absences over the school year).
Pooled Cross-Sectional Data
Pooled cross-sectional data (repeated cross-sectional data) are collected from different (independent) samples from the same population at different points in time. These data are contrasted with panel data that are collected from the sample at different time points. The early care and education program participation surveys administered as part of the National Household Surveys Program are examples of pooled cross-sectional data.
In statistics, the population includes all members of a clearly defined group. The population can be comprised of a group of individuals (e.g., all children ages zero to 5) or of organizations (e.g., all programs providing early childhood education to 3- and 4-year old children). Samples are drawn from the population and the statistical results that are derived from random samples can be used to estimate characteristics of the whole population.
Potential Outcomes Framework of Causality
The potential outcomes framework of causality is based on the idea that every subject has different potential outcomes depending on their "assignment" to a condition (for example, assignment to treatment and control group or to different types or levels of treatment). It recognizes that the effect of assignment on an individual subject can only be directly observed for one condition. Statisticians use this framework to assess causality in observation (nonexperimental) studies.