Operational and theoretical are connected discourse categories that describe two basic types of scientific and cognitive activity, as well as the structural components and levels of knowledge that result from these activities. The operational and theoretical typology is founded, first and foremost, on the separation of operational and theoretical research as two distinct paths, scientific and cognitive attitudes (Zimbler-DeLorenzo, 2021). As a result of observation and experiment, the operational definition determines the object of science. Improvement and development of the conceptual apparatus, as well as work with various types of conceptual schemes and models, are all part of the theoretical definitions.
Both operational and theoretical definitions are naturally linked and imply one another in the comprehensive framework of knowledge. Operational definitions describe the process of the growth of research by determining facts from observations and experiments and by assigning new responsibilities to researchers (Zimbler-DeLorenzo, 2021). The theoretical definitions, on the other hand, aim at improving and developing conceptual equipment, opening new possibilities for interpreting and predicting events, and to some extent, guide operational study (Formenti, 2019). The regular functioning and growth of science need unity and the connection between operational and theoretical definitions.
The example of theoretical definition can vaguely describe or present a determined object. For instance, a stable basic atomic particle with little mass is the theoretical definition of an electron. An example of an operational definition can be a variable’s definition in terms of the operations or procedures that are utilized to measure or alter it. For example, the amount of feet or inches a person possesses is the operational definition of height. Instead of defining abstract ideas, the operational definition is used to describe particular measures.
Formenti, L. (2019). Perspectives on context: metaphors, epistemologies, and theoretical definitions. Exploring learning contexts: Implications for access, learning careers and identities, 45.
Zimbler-DeLorenzo, H. (2021). Consistency in data collection: creating operational definitions. In Exploring Animal Behavior in Laboratory and Field (pp. 19-31). Academic Press.