EDEV_507 Week 7_5

I sense a similarity between your study of reasons for the high dropout rate amongst black students and my attempt to map the personal epistemic cognition (EC) of Japanese university students. In both cases, there has been a significant body of research in other contexts. I won’t list the EC literature, but a brief search into black student dropout rates returned many studies in the U.S. context (e.g. Carpenter & Ramirez, 2007; Guryan, 2004; Steele, 1992), in South Africa (e.g. Letseka & Maile, 2008) and in other geopolitical areas. A further distinction can be drawn between dropouts in secondary and tertiary schooling (e.g. Lee, Cornell, Gregory & Fan, 2011, who compared the dropout rates between black and white students at the secondary level).

In my own research, I am compiling a list of constructs that the available survey instruments try to target and ask about. I would suspect that there are many equivalent instruments for researching black student dropout rates.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, so to speak (although if that has to be done, so be it), there may be much available research on which to base your reasoning and subsequent research design. In my case, I would dearly love the time (5 years), resources (software, technical skills in coding and interviewing, marksheet reader and marksheets for surveys, money for translation services, etc.), access (to students for surveys and to interview students) and Japanese language ability to conduct a bottom-up, from scratch phenomenology of EC. This is not possible. It seems more feasible for me to adapt or create a survey instrument based on existing ones, and use theoretical sampling of select cases (i.e. individuals) from the results to investigate possible and exploratory interviews for theory building.

You mentioned a survey that found that 40% of black students in your institution “lag behind in graduation” (can this be defined more precisely?) (Amann, 2016). What other information was captured by that study? Was the survey set up to produce descriptive statistics or was there a set of factors underpinning the questions? Or did the survey attempt to uncover the processes through which black students ‘progress’ from being comfortable first-year entrants (note my assumption here) to failing students later on in their college career?

Your study will be a very useful one. And I truly hope that it does allow you gain tenure. Best wishes,


Aman, J. (2016, November 21). Re: Week 7 – Research planning and design: Establishing your approach. [Online discussion post]. Retrieved from from https://my.ohecampus.com/lens/home?locale=en_us#

Carpenter, D. M., & Ramirez, A. (2007). More than one gap: Dropout rate gaps between and among Black, Hispanic, and White students. Journal of Advanced Academics, 19(1), 32-64.

Guryan, J. (2004). Desegregation and black dropout rates. The American Economic Review, 94(4), 919-943.

Lee, T., Cornell, D., Gregory, A., & Fan, X. (2011). High suspension schools and dropout rates for black and white students. Education and Treatment of Children, 34(2), 167-192.

Letseka, M., & Maile, S. (2008). High university drop-out rates: A threat to South Africa’s future. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council.

Steele, C. M. (1992). Race and the schooling of Black Americans. The Atlantic Monthly, 269(4), 68-78.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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