Qualitative assessment represents a particular methodological paradigm. A paradigm can be viewed as a system of inquiry marked by distinctive epistemological foundations, corresponding conceptual assumptions, and characteristic methods and modes of procedural practice. This entry discusses those ideological foundations, considers their assumptions, and traces their translation into the procedures and practices that jointly constitute qualitative assessment.

Qualitative methods (summarized in Table 1) are frequently described in contrast with quantitative methods. This distinction simultaneously sharpens and blurs distinctive features of each. By drawing attention to the preference of the former to attend to qualities of experience that extend beyond, or transcend, the numerical indexing that predominates in the latter, this distinction highlights their differences at the level of operations or outcomes. But this distinction has limitations, and ...

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