EDEV_507 Week 4_4

The study you posted is an interesting insight into educational research in Turkey. In reference to our mandate for this week, the paper (Tomul & Polat, 2013) is certainly an appropriate example of a quantitative, positivist study. It is notable that certain claims regarding socioeconomic factors were not shown to be supported in their empirical data. This has direct relevance to my own proposed thesis topic in which I aim to investigate theories in the Japanese context that have been developed in various parts of the world. The significance of a local context cannot be overemphasised.

A critical aspect of the quantitative research design process is correctly and appropriately operationalising the various constructs (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011). The variables selected at this stage need to map onto the underlying constructs appropriately and tightly. In Tomul and Polat’s (2013) case, I was not convinced that this step had been conducted entirely well. For example, the account of national differences in socioeconomic status on page 450 included a comparison between Germany and Japan. The difference (23% and 12% respectively) reported failed to include any discussion of the significantly different governmental and familial expense outlays in these societies. Also, the relative class imbalances between Germany and Japan (i.e. Germany has a much larger working class, but most Japanese self-report as middle class) also impact on socioeconomic statuses. Finally, the access to university education in Japan is now over 75%—partly a result of the social expectation to attend tertiary education and partly due to the ease of access to the increasing number of low-level universities. In other words, stark percentage numbers do not necessarily allow a simple creation of a variable. Similar issues can be found for many of the other variables.

I was surprised that Tomul and Polat (2016) did not attempt to discuss potential reasons why the variables Father’s Education and High School had a significant (in both senses) meaning in Turkey. The paper could have been restructured to allow these statistics to introduce an argument explaining this.

But I’d like to address a point that is perhaps (certainly) outside the remit of this week’s mandate. I realise that English is the lingua Franca in academic journals and that many researchers are not native speakers of English. Those working in a non-native tongue have my utmost respect and admiration. However, I found that at many points in this study the weaknesses in the language were serious factors in allowing an accurate comprehension of the details of the argument and the degree of trust in the integrity of the researchers.

Jim

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education (7th ed.). London: Routledge.

Tomul, E., & Polat, G. (2013). The effects of socioeconomic characteristics of students on their academic achievement in higher education. American Journal of Educational Research, 1(10), 449-455.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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