Indicators: from counting to communicating

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The use of indicators for analysing quality of life conditions and differential access to resources and opportunities has gained attention in both academia as well as the planning practice and policy arena. However, teaching methods and usage of indicators is a challenge since it requires the practice of going through all the steps of developing indicators in a short period of time. These steps range from counting, construction, and operationalisation of the indicators to more policy and learning related steps that require a critical and reflective process. This gradient (from the traditional and mechanistic to the critical) is also reflected in the evolution of the indicators movement. To analyse and illustrate this development, we documented the education, fieldwork and research on indicators carried out at our faculty in the past 20 years. Our experience suggests that indicators have a great potential to bring the worlds of academics (research and education) and of planning and policy making closer together. However, we believe that in the education process it is of utmost importance to emphasise the shift in the role of indicators from one of traditional counting and description towards a more critical and communicative role. We present a framework to show the existing dichotomies and how to incorporate this shift in indicator development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal for education in the built environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2014


  • METIS-304788


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