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Taking abstract concepts and turning them into measurable variables is an important process in designing a research project. How we conceptualize (i.e. define) and operationalize (i.e. how we will measure) concepts affects our findings. It also affects whether we can compare results with other studies. For example, suppose we define age chronologically as the number of years since birth. In that case, we might operationalize age using the year they were born as a single indicator. If we wanted to be more precise, we might ask for their full birthdate. But this isn’t the only definition possible! In some cultures, age is defined by the Chinese lunar calendar and someone could be 1-2 years older than in our first definition. We might also consider other dimensions of age, such as social, biological, and psychological. This discussion will challenge you to engage in the process of conceptualization and operationalization, and to think about measurement.
For your prompt post, pretend that you are interested in studying binge drinking among college students and academic achievement. Conceptualize your variables, “binge drinking,” “college student,” and “academic achievement,” by writing a definition for each WITHOUT looking at any research on this topic. Using the definition you created, what indicators would you use to measure these variables in the real world? Are any of these concepts multidimensional? If so, what might the dimensions be?

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