Sociology of Education – Good Resources

Useful sources of quantitative and qualitative data for teaching and learning about the sociology of education… with a focus on the United Kingdom. The point of this post is to provide a range of links to resources and ‘hub sites’ which are updated on a regular basis.

This page will be gradually populated with more links as I get the time to update it! Last update April 2018! 

Best Hub Sites (IMO)

The Institute for Education (IOE) – 25% of research into the UK education system takes place through the IOE. The link just above takes you to their research page where you can access details of a range of research on pretty much every aspect of education within in the UK.

institute for education

The Sutton Trust – established in 1997 the Sutton Trust’s main aim is to improve social mobility through evidence based research, programmes and advocacy. Most of its thorough, mixed-methods research is focused on the causes, consequences and experience of inequality of education opportunity.

Quantitative Sources of Data on Education

Official Statistics

Education and Training Statistics for the UK, Department for Education (link to 2016 Publication) – this document provides ‘the basic’ information on the UK education system – the number of schools, teachers, qualifications, basic info about levels of attainment and education expenditure. Published annually in November.

School Workforce in England – covers teacher numbers and pupil-teacher ratios in primary and secondary schools in England and Wales. Published annually in June.

Special Education Needs in England – details of children with special education needs, by type of need, and broken down by school type and gender (statistics derived from the ‘schools census’).

Participation in Education, Training and Employment by 16-18 year olds in England – produced by the DFS focusing on 16-18 education and training.

Other statistical sources of information about education

Education Datalabs – In their own words they are  ‘a group of expert analysts who produce independent research on education policy and practice’. The main pages (and thus the main topics under investigation) are devoted to school accountability, exams and assessment, pupil demographics, admissions, post-16 education and teacher careers.

Education Datalabs provides a number of excellent infographics on many of the above topics, and seems to be committed to open source research – they make their data and code available so that others can develop their research. BIG THUMBS UP for this site!

Education Infographics – A hub site for lots of useful infographics summarising stats on numerous aspects of education, especially the future of elearning.

The Association of Colleges produces a useful document of infographics focusing on colleges –‘Key Further Education Statistics’

Qualitative Sources of Data on Education

Some of the sources below also draw on and generate quantitative data, but to mind they mainly focus on using and generating qualitative data. 

TED Talks on Education – There seems to be something of a consensus within the TED community that education systems around the world are broken, and that the concepts of education and school need re-imagining somehow. The link just above takes you to ten talks from different speakers which all re-imagine school in some way… there’s lots to think about here, and plenty to criticise too.

Youth Employment UK – An organisation set up to help tackle youth unemployment in the UK. They work mainly with 14-24 year olds and aim to give every young person a voice. They produce their own research on what young people think about how well education is preparing them for work, and link to the latest research on youth employment produced by other, similar agencies.

 

 

 

 

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Are Chinese Teaching Methods Best? (Experiments in Education)

According to recent studies, China is home to one of the best education systems in the world, while Britain is trailing a long way behind. In some studies Chinese students are three years ahead of British students in reading and writing ability.

China is well known for its ‘tough education’ methods, but can these methods be used to improve the performance of British students? In a recent BBC documentary: ‘Are our kids tough enough? Chinese school’ a field experiment was conducted to find out.

five Chinese teachers took over the education of a class of fifty Year 9 pupils at Bohunt School in Liphook and taught them (in one class of 50!) using Chinese teaching methods for a month, and then tested in English, Maths, Science and Mandarin, and the results compared to other students who remained receiving a more typical British Education.

 

The main features of the Chinese School consisted of:

  • The school day being 12 hours long with a 7 a.m. start consisting of a flag raising ceremony and outdoor exercises.
  • In the classroom, most lessons were essentially lectures. Teachers stood at the front writing the theory on the board, while the students (were supposed to) take notes and learn.
  • PE was a compulsory – and students were timed, tested and ranked against each other.

Results

The ultimate test of the experiment was to see if Chinese teaching methods improved educational performance – which they did (or at least appeared to have – see below). Students who attended the Chinese School for four weeks scored about 10% points (on average) higher in Mandarin, Maths and Science and they also did better in English, but with a smaller margin.

The experiment also revealed that there was something of a culture clash – those students were not particularly self-disciplined or well-behaved did not respond well to a Chinese style of teaching which is less student-centered and not as inclined to encourage individualism.

Limitations of the field experiment

I say that the Chinese-School kids achieved better test scores – what we’re not told is how much they improved, or what their ability was compared to the control group. I’m assuming all this was controlled for.

The Hawthorne Effect might apply – the improved results might be a result of the students knowing their involved in an experiment (and knowing they’re on TV) or the better results might simply exposing the kids to something different, rather than it being about those exact Chinese methods (a change is as good as a rest!)

It’s also not clear how representative this school is – Bohunt seems to be a brilliant school, enlightened (which is reflected in getting involved in this whole experiment in the first place). Would you get the same findings somewhere else?

Ethics: Some (wrong) individuals might try and argue that some of the children experienced harm to their self-esteem by being ranked in PE (other (right) individuals might argue this is just life, tough, get over it kiddo).

Related Posts:

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Field Experiments in Sociology

Unstructured Interviews in the Context of Education