The report presented below is a detailed analysis of two research studies in education and use of data in urban schools. For the purpose of this research, the qualitative research study will be ‘Towards an Understanding of Excellence in Urban Pedagogy: A Portrait of a High School’ by Renu Ahuja (2007). This study will be compared with the quantitative study of ‘At the Intersection of Statistics and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Potential and Potential Challenges of Learning Statistics through Social Activism’ by Noel Enyedy, Shiuli Mukhopadhyay, and Joshua Danish (2006). This research study analysis compares and contrasts the problem and purpose statements, the research questions/hypotheses, the literature reviews, the theoretical frameworks, and the research designs of the two qualitative and quantitative research studies indicated above.
The teacher is always the foundation of any system or education (Ahuja, 2007, p. 2). Therefore it is important to keenly examine the relationships which exist between schools as institutions and the perceptions and behaviors which the teachers have. To majority of students learning in the schools located in the urban environment, it is the schools which accord them the strongest, highly appreciated component of their worlds of education (Ahuja, 2007, p. 2).
About 40% of the minority children and another 35% of poor children learn in schools in the urban environments (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003; Zakariya, 1998, pp.8-9). It is therefore possible to learn significant lessons from the limited number of schools which are performing well and located in the urban environments. In as much as many measures have been taken to understanding the problems which many schools have to grapple with, the basic changes at the at the level of the classroom are yet to be seen (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 1).
An Analysis of the Two Research Studies As earlier noted, this is an analysis of the two research papers; a qualitative study of ‘Towards an Understanding of Excellence in Urban Pedagogy: A Portrait of a High School’ by Renu Ahuja (2007) and a quantitative study of ‘At the Intersection of Statistics and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Potential and Potential Challenges of Learning Statistics through Social Activism’ by Noel Enyedy, Shiuli Mukhopadhyay, and Joshua Danish (2006). The analysis is done on the following bases.
Comparing and Contrasting the Problem Statements of the Two Research Studies The activities which are usually undertaken in the successful schools located in the urban environment have always interested keen observers (Ahuja, 2007, p. 1). This keen interest has especially been developed by those who have had the opportunity of working in the schools located in the urban environments. Such an experience is likely to make an individual recognize that the fundamental role of improving the achievement of a student in a learning environment must be the main prerogative of not only the teachers but also the school administrations (Ahuja, 2007, p. 1).
It is the teachers who act as the foundation stones for the success of any education system. Many people believe that the teacher will automatically connect with the child, yet many people do not really understand how this connection is supposed to come about (Ahuja, 2007, p. 1). It is also common knowledge that the beliefs of an individual significantly affect the way they understand and acquire knowledge based on their experiences.
Therefore, the problem statement of the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) was that relatively minimal attention has been given to the structures and impacts of the beliefs of the teachers concerning the roles they play, the students they teach, the subject contents they teach as well as the schools where the teachers are employed (Ahuja, 2007, p. 1). Yet, these factors significantly influence the overall performance of a child in a learning environment.
The field of statistics as a community is yet to come develop ways of improving the way students who have for a long time been marginalized and poorly served perform (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 1). As earlier noted, attempts are being made at establishing the problems which are facing such kinds of schools. A community mapping project (CMP) was undertaken in Los Angeles based on pedagogy which was relevant in a cultural way (Ladson-Billings, 1995, pp. 465-491).
The study by Ladson-Billing was based on critical awareness, a general consensus to support cultural ability, and the capacity of academically developing students (Ladson-Billings, 1995, pp. 465-491). Studies indicate that potential rifts are likely to emerge between the goals of social justice and the goals of academic statistics in the course of learning relevant cultural statistics in a classroom environment (Ladson-Billings, 1995, pp. 465-491).
It should be noted that these tensions have an impact on the administration of learning and teaching of statistics (Ladson-Billings, 1995, pp. 465-491). Therefore, in comparison, the problem statement of the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) was that in spite of the spirited attempts at discovering the problems facing the marginalized schools, the statistics community is yet to realize the true impacts of pedagogic shifts in the classroom.
Comparing and Contrasting the Purpose Statements of the Two Research Studies The purpose of the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) was to identify and define procedures which lead to the excellence of sound classroom practices amongst the schools in the urban environment such as the New Horizon School (Ahuja, 2007, p. 4). The other purpose of this study was to establish the perceptions of the teachers and the administrators concerning the factors which affected the way they were committed to the success of the schools (Ahuja, 2007, p. 4).
In comparison, the purpose of the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) was to develop an environment in which the students who came from low-income families and marginalized communities could on their own recognize the way the concepts of statistics were related to the concept of equity (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 1).
Comparing and Contrasting the Research Questions/Hypotheses of the Two Research Studies The following were the research questions which guided the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007).
1) Which activities at the New Horizon School promote its general success?
2) In what way do the school environment and the leadership structures of the school promote excellent classroom practices in the school?
3) In what way do teachers exercise managerial control and to what extent do the teachers believe that such controls affect how efficient they are on their jobs?
In comparison, the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) was not guided by specific research questions. Contrary to the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) which was guided by research questions, the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) simply sought to identify the tensions which are likely to emerge between the goals of social justice and the goals of academic statistics (Enyedy et al, 2006, p.1). This study simply aimed at describing the impacts the above tensions would have on studying statistics.
Comparing and Contrasting the Literature Reviews of the Two Research Studies A review of literature from the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) reveals that the school principals are the individuals who regulate access and resources while also being at the helm of making decisions of what is likely to be executed in the classroom (Ahuja, 2007, p. 2). In the same way, it is the teacher who controls whatever is likely to be executed in the classroom.
Studies have shown that the sound knowledge of the principles by which teaching and learning are governed is the rationale behind providing leadership at institutions of learning (Fink & Resnik, 2001, pp. 589-606). The kind of leadership provided at institutions of learning is also influenced by leadership abilities such as hiring the right teachers for the posts and developing a learning culture involving all the members of the school locality.
Research indicates that how successful school program are depend on some level of autonomy; described as the combination of independence from the involved parties as well as regulation from the head office (Levine, 1991, pp. 389-393). Studies also indicate that a high level of independence has a higher potential of generating a unique culture and a renewed dedication towards ensuring that the program is successful (Duke & Trautvetter, 2001). Apart from effective leadership, competent teachers are also needed for a school to be effective.
The qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) indicates that management strategies applicable in successful schools located in the urban environments are targeted towards effective procedures as opposed to the way the procedures are accomplished (Ofsted, 2000). This means that many of the research studies on the concept of success in schools located in the urban environments tend to be descriptive as opposed to being inferential.
Research indicates that communal efficiency is a vital school organizational factor which relates to how efficient a teacher is in a systematic manner (Goddard & Goddard, 2001, pp. 807-818). The prevailing regime of increased responsibility necessitates the need for the kind of administration which portrays the fact that it is possible for schools in the urban environment to succeed and that the schools have the capability of achieving their objectives of improving the achievement of their students.
A review of literature from the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) reveals that a positive culture in the school is related to improved student motivation and achievement and increased cooperation by the teachers. In the same way, a positive culture in the schools can go along way in improving the perceptions which the teachers have concerning their duties (Stolp & Smith, 1995).
Research indicates that schools vary from one another in terms of the way they operate and the impacts they have on their students (Ahuja, 2007, p. 3). Similarly, studies have shown that teaching and the way students learn take place in various kinds, if informed by two various objectives, task and performance orientation. Finally, literature from the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) reveals that the policies and activities undertaken in class environment and in schools have an impact on the objective orientations of the students (Maehr & Midgley, 1991, pp. 399-427).
In comparison, the literature reviewed by the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) indicates that statistics is an integral subject of study in schools. This has implication that the knowledge of statistics can enable a student to develop the culture of informed decision making (Enyedy et al, 2006, p.2). What needs to be noted is that learning statistics can be a challenge to many students owing to the intuitive manner in which people have been working with and reasoning with data.
Research indicates that there are about three challenges faced by students in high school when it comes to learning statistics (Enyedy et al, 2006, p.2). Studies on statistical deduction indicate that students face the challenge of reasoning from the perspective of average or general data. On the contrary, the students would rather reason from individual perspectives (Konold & Higgins, 2002). This challenge is one of the tensions which the Community Mapping Project (CMP) had been intended to address.
Studies also indicate that the second challenge faced by students is the fact that the student understand by intuition when it comes to central tendencies of a parameter in terms of a representative pint of data (Enyedy et al, 2006, p.2). Resulting from that, the students face difficulties in understanding the parameter as a collection in the event that the central tendency does not correspond in a significant manner with a point of data (Hancock et al, 1992, pp. 337-364).
Finally, studies indicate that in the course of making inferences concerning the variations which exist between variables, students in high school have the tendency of exclusively concentrating on only one perspective of the data (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 2). For instance, studies indicate that about 70% of students in high school do not have the capacity of drawing statistical inference from data in a contingent table (Batanero et al, 1996, pp. 151-169). Students only tended to concentrate on one aspect of the contingency table while other had difficulties in the way to interpret scatter graphs.
Comparing and Contrasting the Theoretical Frameworks of the Two Research Studies The qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) was based on the following theoretical frameworks. One, the study was based on the theory that strong managerial capacity acts as the guiding principle in a learning environment (Ahuja 2007, p. 2). Secondly, the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) was also based on the theory that the perceptions of the teaching staff and those of the principal have an impact on the effectiveness of teaching in a school environment.
A teacher may be convinced that only the students who are naturally talented and sharp have the potential of performing well in a mathematical class (Ahuja 2007, p. 2). On the other hand, another teacher may be convinced that teaching effectively coupled with the dedication of both a student and the teacher can make students who are otherwise not talented to perform well in mathematics. Therefore, teachers with such varying opinions are likely to teach in different ways (Ahuja 2007, p. 2).
In comparison, the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) did not have any documented theoretical framework. However, a critical analysis of the study suggests that one possible assumption upon which the study must have been based is the assumption of social inequities (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 1). This study suggests that if a critique of the inequalities in the society were to be provided, then intellectual practices and opinions questioning school practices and policies will have to be developed.
In the same way, one way of developing and nurturing cultural capability is by aiming at fostering a sense of belonging and pride to the community. Thus, this study was informed by the assumption that by examining the way the students were knowledgeable about the communities where they belonged, this would promote the discourse of the students (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 1). Finally, the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) was based on the assumption that the opportunities in the modern day society depend on academic excellence, which in this study was represented by learning the basic principles and reasoning in the filed of statistics (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 1).
Comparing and Contrasting the Research Designs of the Two Research Studies The research design used in the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) was the case study approach (Ahuja 2007, p. 1; Yin, 1994). In this case, the case study gave a description of the processes in high schools located in the urban environments which led to excellent classroom practices in urban schools. Similarly, the qualitative case study by Ahuja (2007) examined the perceptions of the teachers and the school administrators concerning the factors which affected how committed they were to the success of their schools.
The case study research design which was used by the qualitative study by Ahuja (2007) involved collecting data through semi-structured interviewing technique, through observations as well as literature reviews (Ahuja 2007, p. 1; Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). The data was collected using triangulation method from teachers, administrators and students and was analyzed using interpretational methods (Gall et al, 2003; Merriam, 2001). Because pedagogy was a complicated issue, this case study research design was descriptive in nature. The descriptive case study was justified because it sought to identify and give explanations to and evaluate a particular issue (Merriam, 2001).
In comparison, the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) also used case study research method. In this research design, data obtained from case studies of videos was analyzed using qualitative methods (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 3). The research design used in this study involved describing the data obtained from Community Mapping Project (CMP) a seminar which had been organized for students in high school by the Institute for Democracy Education and Access (IDEA) affiliated to the UCLA.
The study design used by the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) involved qualitative reviews of video case studies. This study design was justified because it was meant to ascertain the tensions which came up between the instances of a culturally relevant classroom practices and the statistical mission of the project (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 4). The study design in this case involved written evaluations based on clinical interviews (Konold & Higgins, 2002), verbal presentations and video reviews. The data was then analyzed using detailed qualitative analysis.
Conclusion The qualitative case study by Ahuja (2007) indicated that excellence in classroom practices at the New Horizon School depends on well-developed mission, joint efficiency, strong school managerial capacity, common vision, student-oriented learning coupled with the willingness of the professional society to do the additional mile (Ahuja, 2007, p. 16). Achieving a lasting change in schools located in the urban environment requires the educational stakeholders to work beyond the ordinary (Ahuja, 2007, p. 16). Thus, excellent achievement of the student would require joint responsibility and strong managerial capacity.
In comparison, the quantitative study by Enyedy et al, (2006) concluded that the culture of the classroom how that culture influences conversation during the course of teaching is more significant that the curriculum itself (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 5). Equipping the students with reasoning skills when it comes to statistical data will not resolve the tensions which had earlier been mentioned in the study as this is only likely to undermine the learning of statistics. Rather it is important to examine the requisite structures which will promote the learning of statistics while also providing leverage to a curriculum which is relevant in a cultural context (Enyedy et al, 2006, p. 5).
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