These issues would require documents to have been created by those involved, which is unlikely to be the case
Documents do not tell us the whole story about educational policies. Politicians try to present their policies in as favourable a way as possible, so documents need to be treated with care and not simply taken at face value. Schools do not always carry out policies in the way government expects them to
They involve more intense social interactions where asking questions of those involved after the event is likely to produce meaningful data
MARXISM Able to study a large sample and establish a correlation that supported their hypothesis (existence of the correspondence principle) However Questionnaires about attitudes and personality traits may lack depth, and students who complete them may misunderstand the questions or not take them seriously
NEW RIGHT PERSPECTIVE ON EDUCATION Quick way of collecting data from a large sample of people
Assess the strengths and limitations of questionnaires in the study of social class and educational attainment. (20 marks)
Abstract ideas- deferred gratification
Issues are large scale that are hard to replicate ina lab or to find a suitable real life situation to manipulate in a field expt
In a 1968 San Franciscan primary school, Rosenthal and Jacobson told teachers that a random selection of students had achieved the highest scores in IQ tests and should be monitored as they were expected to display ‘unusual intellectual gains’ in the year ahead. Further tests showed that this random set of pupils did indeed show a great gain over an 18 month period. This study shows the powerful effects of labelling and the self-fulfilling prophecy but is open to ethical criticisms.
Large scale issues requiring a research method that can investigate large numbers of respondents relatively quickly and cheaply Cannot use on: These topics require direct observation or an examination of formal documentation
Require detailed recording of actual events
However doesn't produce data that can be easily categorised or counted to establish correlations Interviewer bias
Small scale topics on which governments generally do not keep statistical data
CLASS- EXTERNAL Govt doesn’t always collect stats of interest to Sociologists – For example the 87% of children who do not receive FSM are all lumped together, even though they range from the super rich to those just above the poverty line
ETHNIC- INTERNAL However researcher can not hide presence in class and so teachers behaviour may change (Hawthorne effect) so reducing validity of study
Difficult to observe
Large Scale Topics, observation of small groups is likely to produce unrepresentative data
L10 methods in context
Methods In Context
P.E.R.V.E.R.T• Practical – time and money, difficult to analyse, interviewer training• Ethical – is it right or wrong?• Reliable – Can it be replicated?• Validity – Are the results true to life?/ Social Desirability/Hawthorne Effect• Evidence of studies – What studies have used this method?• Representativeness – does it reflect society as a whole?• Theoretical - Positivist or Interpretivist
Methods Used in Education • Experiments • Questionnaires • Structured Interviews • Unstructured Interviews • Structured Observation • Participant Observation • Official Stats • Documents
Task• Using the workbooks printed, go through each research method• Read through the methodological location and using this information (& your own knowledge) identify whether it is a positivist or interpretivist methods• In the box Characteristics underneath prepare a statement explaining the theoretical perspective and why
Task• Using the workbooks printed, go through the textbook identifying each research method• Identify general advantages and disadvantages (using previous knowledge also)• Then evaluate in relation to Education
Documents Education in the PastStereotyping in School Books Official Curriculum Registers Reports CANNOT USE ON:WC experiences of schooling Classroom interaction Labelling
In Context: Documents• Useful source of information about policies• E.g. parliamentary debates/speeches about policies/government regulations and guidance issued to schools• Give an insight into reasons for educational policies as well as criticisms of them What are the disadvantages of using documents?
• PRACTICAL- A lot of public information e.g. school policies, school brochures, websites, pupil reports• ETHICAL- few ethical issues with public documents as placed in public domain. Issues with private documents e.g. teachers diaries, pupils books• RELIABILITY- direct comparisons can be made e.g. attendance registers. However accidents when completing them can reduce reliability
• CREDIBILTIY- schools wants to present themselves in a positive ways to parents so may not be valid• REPRESENTATIVNESS- Some documents legally required from all schools and colleges so high in rep. However not all behaviour recorded e.g., racist incidents. Personal documents by teachers and pupils less representative as personal opinion• VALIDITY- Can provide important insights into meanings held by teachers and pupils. However all documents open to diff interpretations
Questionnaires Class & Achievement Parental Attitudes to Education Subject ChoiceMaterial Deprivation & Achievement CANNOT USE ON: WHY? Classroom Interaction Labelling Gender & Class Behaviour
In Context- Bowles & Gintis• Measured students personality traits using a questionnaire• Questionnaires compared with students school grade averages and exam scores.• Found a correlation between personality traits valued by employers (passivity, obedience) and high scores at school Strengths and Weaknesses?
Methods In Context: Chubb & Moe’s• Survey of parental attitudes to schooling• Surveys- asking people a fixed list of questions (either written questionnaire or interviews)• Chose it to make generalisations about parents views on the way schools should be run and on how much chose parents should have• What are the strengths and weaknesses?1. Interpretivists argue using a fixed list of q’s imposes the researchers meanings on respondents by limiting what answers they can give2. Survey may therefore have produced results that suited their New Right perspective
Tony Sewell (2002)• Gave 150 black 15-year old pupils a questionnaire in 5 different schools.• Sewell found that 80% said that peer group pressure to do badly in education was the biggest barrier to their learning.
Questionnaires in Context• Hasley Heath and Ridge (1980) tried to measure relative importance of cultural/material factors in educational achievement.• Smith and Tomlinson (1989) use questionnaires to explore racism in education.
• Practical- Useful for gathering large quantities of basic info quickly and cheaply from large numbers of pupils,. Teachers or educational establishments. Correlations between achievement, attendance and behaviour can be studied against school size, class size, number of staff• Sampling Frames- Schools a good source of ready made sampling frames. List of pupils and staff kept.• Response Rate- Often low however when conducted in schools response rates can be higher than other areas. Pupils, teacher and parents used to completing questionnaires issued by schools
• Researching Pupils- Children have short attention spans so short questionnaire more effective than lengthy interview. However limits amount of information that can be gathered. Issues for pupils with low literacy in completing questionnaires.• Operationalising Concepts- Turning abstract ideas into a measurable form is difficult. Young people have poorer grasps of abstract ideas, so les likely to understand questions• Samples- School may not keep lists that reflect researchers interests e.g. lists of pupils sorted by ethnic origin• Validity- Life experiences of children are narrower so may not be able to answer q’s.
Experiments Teacher expectations Classroom interaction Labelling Pupils self concepts NOT USED ON:Gender & Achievement WHY? Education PolicyElection & Segregation
Methods in Context: Rosenthal and Jacobsen• Field Experiment• Allow researchers to manipulate a real, naturally occurring social situation to discover cause-and-effect relationships• Rosenthal and Jacobsen able to manipulate classroom interaction by labelling pupils to see whether this would cause a SFP• Researchers cannot control all variables that might have led to pupils ‘spurting’ so cannot be certain that they have in fact discovered the real cause of their improved performance
Experiments in ContextLab experiments:• Harvey and Slatin (76): examined whether teachers had preconceived ideas about pupils of different social classes. The study showed that teachers did label certain social classes.• Mason (73): looked at whether negative or positive expectations had the greater effect. Mason found that the negative reports had a much greater impact that the positive one on the teachers expectations.
Other Examples• Ray Rist and Howard Becker- Labelling in Primary Schools
• Application in class-Classroom has clear boundaries in terms of space and time., making it easier for researcher to achieve a degree of control over the situation and develop an effective field expt.• Reliability- Simple & therefore easy to repeat. Schools have broadly similar features so expts can be repeated in broadly similar ways• Ethical Problems-Young ppl are more vulnerable & less able to understand what is happening to them. Therefore less able to give informed consent
• Limited Application- Expts small scale and only examine a single aspect of beh. Larger issues like Social Class & Achievement cannot be studied• Controlling all variables- Schools large, complex institutions & many variables affect beh of teachers and pupils e.g. type of school, class size. Impossible to identify and control all variables that might exert an influence on teachers expectations
Structured Interviews Class & Achievement Material Deprivation & Achievement Parental choice of schools CANNOT USE ON: Classroom Interaction The official curriculum
• Response Rate- Take less time than unstructured interviews and so they are less disruptive to schools activities. Researchers more likely to receive official support therefore may increase response rate.• Reliability- Easy to replicate therefore large scale patterns in educational beh can be identified e.g. In gender and subject choice.• Validity- As young ppl tend to have better verbal than literacy skills, interviews may be more successful than written questionnaires as a way of obtaining valid answers. However the formal nature of structured interviews (similar to exams, lessons and controlled school situations) means pupils are unlikely to feel at ease and therefore may be less forthcoming.
• Question Design- More difficult to create q’s for use with young people because linguistic and intellectual skills are not fully developed. So may not understand long, complex sentences or some abstract concepts. Children therefore need more help clarification- which doesnt happen in structured interviews• Ethical Issues- Parental permission required• Power & Status Differences- Pupils and teachers are not equal in power affecting their behaviour. Pupils often alter their responses to seek adult approval by giving untrue but socially acceptable answers. Children see adults as authority figures so the researcher may come across as a ‘teacher in disguise’. Reducing the validity of the interview data.
Unstructured Interviews Teachers racialised expectations Pupils subcultures Parental attitudesHow school policies are actually implemented in practice CAN NOT USE ON: Patterns of Achievement Speech codes used in class
Methods in Context: Willis• Carried out unstructured group interviews to uncover the counter school culture of the ‘lads’• Allowing lads to talk freely in their own words about the way they viewed school, teachers and work. Giving an insight into their world• However UI are said to be unreliable- cannot be repeated in exactly the same way with other groups• Also the meaning of what is said in a group interview is open to the researchers own biased interpretation
Methods in Context• Girls changing perceptions and ambitions• Sue Sharpe used unstructured interviews to study girls attitudes to education, family & work• Open ended Q’s allowed rich qualitative data giving a valid picture of their feelings, aspirations and views• What are the weaknesses of her method?
• Power & Status Inequality- Overcome barriers of power & status inequality because of their informality a rapport can be established more easily.• Practical Issues- Pupils may be inarticulate or reluctant to talk so these give more time, space and encouragement to work out responses. Younger pupils have shorter attention span so may find this too demanding.• Validity- The difficulties in communicating with young people mean that unstructured interviews may be suitable because the interviewer cab clear up misunderstandings be explanting qs. Children may also have more difficulty in keeping to the point and may present contradictory or irrelevant responses to the qs
• Reliability- To put young ppl at ease interviewers maintain a relaxed atmosphere by nodding, smiling & making eye contact. However this cannot be standardised so different interviewers may obtain very different results & this would reduce the reliability of other findings.• Social Desirability- Pupils used to adults ‘knowing better’. Children more likely than adults to change their original answer when a question is repeated. Teachers present themselves in a +ve light to protect their professional self image, however an U. Interview allows researchers to probe behind this• Interviewer Training- Child interviews require more training in not interrupting answers, to tolerate long pauses and to avoid repeating questions.
Interviews in Context• Paul Willis conducted group interviews.• Jackson (2006) ‘Lads and Ladetts in school’ used semi-structured interviews
Official Stats Class & Achievement Education PolicyMaterial Deprivation & Achievement CANNOT USE ON: WHY? Classroom InteractionTeachers racialised expectations of pupils Labelling Gender & Classroom behaviour
Methods In Context• Government collects a vast amount of statistical data on the educational achievement of different ethnic groups• Official Stats save Sociologists time and money• Allows them to identify the patterns of differences in achievement between ethnic groups• However the stats do not explain the ethnic differences just shows they exist• Also Governments definition of ethnicity may be different from that of the sociologist, so the way official data is categorised may not be useful to the researcher.
Methods In Context: Using Official Stats• Govt collects stats on education so using them can save Sociologists time and money• They are used by Sociologists to establish correlations between social factors e.g. link between FSM, exam success and maternal deprivation• However stats themselves cannot prove that deprivation is the cause of under achievement• Govt doesn’t always collect stats of interest to Sociologists
• Practical- Govt collect stats already saving sociologists time and money. Also allows to make comparisons e.g. Between achievement of different social classes, ethnic groups/genders. Also examine trends over time. Govt interested in same educational issues as sociologists so stats likely to be useful for researchers. However definitions of key concepts and issues may differ from those sociologists use e.g. Measuring achievement by 5 A*-C grades.• Representativeness- All state schools have to complete a census 3 times a year. Would be impossible for researchers to collect this quantity and range of data alone.
• Reliability- Govt uses standard categories and definitions of educational stats. Allowing the same process to be replicated year to year. However they may change definitions and categories e.g. Several definitions of ‘value added’ have been used to measure school performance, reducing reliability• Validity- Interpretivists challenge the validity of educational stats, seeing them as socially constructed (decided by parents, teachers, pupil). Schools may manipulate their statistical records because there is pressure to present themselves positively in order to maintain their funding and parental support. Undermining validity of stats. However some stats are less open to manipulations e.g. Pupil numbers on roll and exam results
Methods In Context: Lacey• Participant & Non-participant observations• Immersed in school life teaching some lessons and observing others, helping with cricket team and school trips.• Able to gain a detailed insight into social relations within the school to show how pupils polarised into pro and anti-school subcultures and impact on achievement• However can be time consuming (took him 18 months)• School may not be representative of others, so results may not be generaliseable.
In Context: Observations• Wright observed classroom interactions of over 1,000 pupils and teachers• Able to see how teachers actually behave towards pupils- rather than how they claim they behave.• She witnessed how teachers sometimes labelled Asian pupils negativelyWhat are the limitations to this research method?
Structured Observation Classroom interactionsTeachers ‘racialised’ expectations of pupils Labelling Gender & Classroom Behaviour CANNOT USE FOR: Class & Achievement Education Policy Material Deprivation & Achievement
• Practical Issues- Classroom well structured for obs as its a closed physical and social environment. Easy for observer to sit at back of class and record behaviour. Short duration of lesson means researcher doesnt get fatigued. Simplicity means they are quicker, cheaper and require less training• Reliability- Range of classroom behaviours are limited and therefore a limited number of behaviour categories can easily be established for use in observation. Therefore easy to replicate class obs. Structured obs generate quantitative data, meaning comparisons can be made
• Validity- Interpretivists criticise for a lack of validity, simply counting behaviour and classifying it into a limited number of pre determined categories ignores the meaning that pupils and teachers attach to it.• Observer Presence- Presence of a stranger using a checklist can be very off putting (and difficult to disguise). Likely to affect teacher and pupils behaviour reducing validity.
Participant Observation Classroom interactionsTeachers ‘racialised expectations’ about pupils Gender and the ‘male gaze’ Pupil subcultures CANNOT USE FOR: Class & Achievement Education Policy Material Deprivation & Achievement
• Validity- Likely to overcome the problem the status differences between pupils and researcher, allowing the researcher to gain acceptance by pupils resulting in more valid data. Children and teachers skilled at altering their behaviour when being observed by those in authority, making it difficult fore researchers to know if behaviour is genuine.• Practical Issues- May observer time to understand how a school functions. Class obs less disruptive than interviews so may be easier to gain permission. Observation restricted by class timetable, holidays, headteachers control over access etc
• Ethical Issues- Pupils more vulnerable- informed consent may not be given so obs have to be covert. Also protecting a schools identity, a poor public image as a result of research can damage a schools reputation and education of its pupils• Hawthorne Effect- Most obs have to be covert, so Hawthorne Effect is unavoidable to some degree. Teachers may be suspicious of an observer in their class and alter normal behaviour.• Representativeness- Can only be carried out on a very small scale. As there are over 35,000 schools & colleges representativeness is impossible to achieve
Observations in Context• Wright (1984): Ethnicity and Education• Mac an Ghaill (1994): participant observation used to study gender and ethnicity.