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Article

Ellen Skinner and Emily Saxton

Academic coping describes the profile of responses children and adolescents utilize when they encounter challenges, obstacles, setbacks, and failures in their scholastic work. Coping is one of multiple strands of research from a variety of subareas within educational and developmental science that share a common interest in this topic, including work on academic resilience, buoyancy, mastery versus helplessness, tenacity, perseverance, and productive persistence, as well as adaptive help seeking, self-regulated learning, and emotion regulation. These approaches focus on the responses (including emotions and goal-directed behaviors) students actually undertake on the ground when they encounter academic difficulties in their daily lives; patterns of action can be contrasted with the belief systems, motivations, or skill sets that underlie these responses. Since the mid 1980s, several dozen studies have examined academic coping in children and youth from 2nd to 12th grade (ages 7–18), including samples from 29 countries (Skinner & Saxton, 2019). These studies have identified multiple adaptive ways of dealing with academic stress, including problem solving, help seeking, and comfort seeking. These responses are considered productive because they allow students to gather resources and strategies, and so re-engage in demanding tasks with renewed purpose, vigor, and effectiveness. Multiple maladaptive ways of coping have also been identified, such as escape, rumination, or blaming others. These are considered unproductive because when enacted in response to academic demands, they are more likely to trigger disaffection, amplify distress, or provoke negative reactions from social partners. In general, research indicates that students normatively show a profile of coping that is high in adaptive strategies (especially problem solving, help seeking, and support seeking) and low in maladaptive responses. Studies find that students’ adaptive coping is linked to their academic functioning and success, including their educational performance, engagement, persistence, and adjustment to school transitions. In contrast, maladaptive coping is linked to a pattern of poor academic performance, disengagement, and school-related burnout. Students cope more adaptively when they possess motivational assets (such as self-efficacy, relative autonomy, or sense of belonging) and experience interpersonal supports from their parents, teachers, and peers. Studies documenting developmental trends suggest normative improvements in the coping repertoire during elementary school. However, over the transition to middle school in early adolescence, many adaptive ways of coping decline while reliance on maladaptive responses generally increases. Starting in middle adolescence, these problematic trends stabilize, and some studies indicate renewed improvement in coping, especially problem solving. Current research on academic coping faces theoretical, methodological, and applied challenges: (a) theoretically, more comprehensive conceptualizations are needed that integrate coping perspectives with social contextual, motivational, and developmental approaches; (b) methodologically, standard measures are needed that focus on core categories of academic coping, and that utilize allocation scoring; and (c) to further applied work, additional studies are needed that describe and explain normative and differential age-graded changes in adaptive and maladaptive coping across childhood and adolescence. Researchers who study academic coping believe that this work has much to offer educational theories, research, and interventions aimed at understanding how to help children and adolescents develop the capacity to deal constructively with the obstacles and problems they will inevitably encounter during their educational careers.

Article

Arsaythamby Veloo, Ruzlan Md-Ali, and Rozalina Khalid

Changes in the education system will invariably alter the modes of assessment and practices moving forward. This will demand high expectations among stakeholders who are directly involved with the accountability of assessment administration. Presently, professional education organizations have codes of conduct, principles and standards for administration assessment that outline certain responsibilities to ensure that the inherent accountability of the assessment administration system is maintained and continually improved. Accordingly, it is important that assessment administration practices are aligned with the institution’s assessment policies. Similarly, assessment administrators should collaborate with institutions to develop and unify assessment standards and practices and to pay particular attention to the accountability of assessment administration, which includes maintaining assessment security and integrity. Assessment practices are expected to be fair, equitable, and unbiased when measuring students’ performance, which is heavily reliant on the accountability of assessment administration. Assessment practices previously have been focused more on the cognitive aspects involved in paper and pencil tests based on a standardized test. Thus, not many issues concerning assessment administration have been discussed. However, there is a need to accommodate and modify assessment administration according to the needs of current assessment modes and practices, where most countries have now adopted school-based assessment. The accountability of teachers towards the student’s assessment becomes even more important within the school-based assessment system. Hence, the teachers are accountable for students’ performance in the classroom environment rests with teachers. Therefore, to overcome and address many of the challenges associated with administration assessment as we move towards the future; close attention must be paid to the accountability of how the process around the administration of assessments is administered. Assessment administrators are accountable and expected to display honesty, integrity, due care, validity, and reliability, and to ensure that fairness is observed and maintained during assessment. The assessment process can impact the teacher’s orchestration and design of assessment administration practices and in addressing the issues of fairness in the eyes of stakeholders when determining student performance. Assessment administration involves processes that need to be well planned, implemented, and continuously monitored. Likewise, there are standardized, documented rules and procedures that assessment administrators need to follow to ensure that accountability is maintained.

Article

Eileen S. Johnson

Action research has become a common practice among educational administrators. The term “action research” was first coined by Kurt Lewin in the 1930s, although teachers and school administrators have long engaged in the process described by and formally named by Lewin. Alternatively known as practitioner research, self-study, action science, site-based inquiry, emancipatory praxis, etc., action research is essentially a collaborative, democratic, and participatory approach to systematic inquiry into a problem of practice within a local context. Action research has become prevalent in many fields and disciplines, including education, health sciences, nursing, social work, and anthropology. This prevalence can be understood in the way action research lends itself to action-based inquiry, participation, collaboration, and the development of solutions to problems of everyday practice in local contexts. In particular, action research has become commonplace in educational administration preparation programs due to its alignment and natural fit with the nature of education and the decision making and action planning necessary within local school contexts. Although there is not one prescribed way to engage in action research, and there are multiple approaches to action research, it generally follows a systematic and cyclical pattern of reflection, planning, action, observation, and data collection, evaluation that then repeats in an iterative and ongoing manner. The goal of action research is not to add to a general body of knowledge but, rather, to inform local practice, engage in professional learning, build a community practice, solve a problem or understand a process or phenomenon within a particular context, or empower participants to generate self-knowledge.

Article

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article. Herein the term Action Research is addressed by reflecting upon two words, action and research, united within this century to create something quite useful and commonplace. The word research, which has a long and traceable evolution, has been linked to seeking and to action, which is certainly the opposite of inaction. Upon closer examination, it is the action that can be either covert or overt, since thinking can be an action. When used together Action Research presents an opportunity to seek, pursue, and track one’s actions to arrive at a target. Yet how a person decides to seek provides context. Regardless of the path taken, Action Research involves certain steps, such as reflection, that are focused, strategic, and seeking within a social context to move forward. Action Research is malleable, flexible, and therefore can be many things depending upon how the terms are demarcated. However, herein Action Research is both a strategy and orderly process that supports those who may seek to examine, to change, and/or to improve. Action Research is a commitment and an approach from within that provides a structure that can simplify and guide an inquiry. Action Research (AR) can meet the needs of the individual or a group as it supports self-inquiry and group-inquiry equally, while unfolding in a series of steps and phases. The action step may include either cognitive and/or psycho-motor acts; the reflection step includes efforts to look back and within, whereas the third step, revision, demands that an action researcher plan for their next step. This AR process may include additional steps; however, AR remains cyclical and recursive and at times piecemeal as steps may overlap, accelerate, and challenge the action researcher over time, since theory and practice can be quite disparate.

Article

Since the early 2000s, qualitative research (QR) emerged as an interpretive approach and has gained increasing interest in education in China, while it is deeply rooted in Chinese intellectual history. Indigenously, the concept of QR methodology sought to explore the richness, depth, and complexity of phenomena, which was a way to gain insights through discovering meanings by improving the comprehension of the whole overall. In the 1920s, pioneering intellectuals promoted Western education or new education in the New Culture Movement (around the time of the May 4 Movement in 1919), led by Hu Shih, Chen Tuhsiu, Li Tachao, and others. They actively advocated democracy and science. The May 4th Campaign dealt a heavy blow to the traditional rituals that ruled China for more than 2,000 years. It has inspired people’s democratic consciousness and promoted the development of modern science in China. Quantitative research, like statistical methods, was introduced in the field of education. With the development of theories and methods of probabilistic statistics for studying randomness, small sample theory, statistical estimation, and statistical tests were widely introduced in the 1940s. In the upcoming decades, for many, quantitative research evoked a strong allegiance in academia, particularly in education, since it was considered to be based on a belief in science, perhaps more so than what many considered qualitative research in China. Actually, the relationship between qualitative and quantitative research in education has been fraught with misunderstanding, confusion, and tension in China. After the 1990s, QR, which has been primarily advocated by Western researchers, has also grown in importance in educational and cultural studies in China as a methodological approach to research that aligns in important ways with quantitative research. Thus, internal tensions within the field of education have also emerged. Yet, though both approaches vary and have distinct genealogies and commitments, QR may be seen as a broad methodological genre in which open-ended interviews, participatory and non-participation observation, literature analysis, case studies, and other methods of social phenomena engage in long-term, in-depth, and meticulous studies. Such critically oriented QR has important implications for educational research.

Article

Abraham P. DeLeon

What is anarchist theory and practice? What does it mean when anarchists engage with qualitative research? Anarchism has a long-standing history within radical political action that has been enacted at particular historical times and spaces. The Spanish Civil War, Paris 1968, and the so-called Battle of Seattle in 1999 saw the potential of anarchism as both a mode of critique and way(s) in which to think about direct political action. However, little has been done within the critical qualitative research project to engage with the ideas and critiques that anarchism offers researchers to think about and inform their own work. Resisting hierarchies and their arrangements, challenging domination and relationships of power, rethinking praxis and direct action in qualitative research, and envisioning a utopian social and political imagination have been just a few of the political and epistemological projects that anarchists have undertaken that have direct implications for qualitative researchers. In thinking about future potentials, it has become imperative that critical qualitative researchers engage with anarchist theory and its critiques to better inform its own assumptions when thinking about the roles that qualitative research plays in resisting and altering oppressive social, political, and economic conditions.

Article

Survey has been a widely used data collection method for a variety of purposes in educational research. Although response styles have the potential to contaminate survey results, educational researchers often do little to control for such negative effects. Under discussion are five common response issues, their impact on survey data, and the methods that may be used to minimize the negative impact of these response issues on survey data. The five response issues in question are acquiescence (including disacquiescence), careless responding, extreme response, social desirability, and item-keying effect. Acquiescence (disacquiescence) refers to a respondent’s general tendency to agree (or disagree) with an item regardless of its content. This response style can distort item and construct correlations, compromising the results of factor analytic and correlational findings. Careless responding refers to a respondent’s tendency to pay insufficient attention to item content before responding, which can also lead to a biased estimation of relationships. Extreme response refers to the tendency of selecting extreme response options (e.g., strongly agree or strongly disagree) over middle options (e.g., neutral). Social desirability refers to a respondent’s tendency to rate him- or herself in an overly positive light. Finally, item-keying effect refers to a respondent’s differential responses to regular-keyed and reverse-keyed items. This effect often creates the illusion that items with opposite keying directions measure distinct constructs even when they may not. A growing amount of research has been done on how to control for the negative impact of these response styles, although the research may be limited and uneven for different response issues. A variety of approaches and methods exist for handling these response issues in research practice. Different response issues may require considerations at different stages of research. For example, effective handling of acquiescence response may require steps in both survey construction (e.g., including a hidden measure of acquiescence) and survey data analytic treatment (partial correlation technique), while controlling for item-keying effect may require more sophisticated modeling techniques (e.g., multitrait-multimethod confirmatory factor analysis).

Article

Dora Marín-Diaz, Flávia Schilling, and Julio Groppa Aquino

This article focuses on the proposal of archival research in qualitative educational research. Based on the assumption that, in this context, different paths are available to the researcher, the question of how to select relevant sources in order to provide singular approaches to the issues at stake arises. More specifically, when conducting qualitative research in education how can the archives be navigated? To that end, the article begins with the notion of sociological imagination drawn from the work of Charles Wright Mills, in conjunction with Pierre Bourdieu’s reflexive sociology; for the latter, the construction of the object of investigation was based on a system of objective relations. Next, the archaegenealogical perspective of Michel Foucault is examined; for him the archive is the instance that governs the emergence of discourses. In both cases, the goal is for the researcher to glean certain insights from the surface of what is said, critically describing the functioning of discourse around the problem investigated according to its dispersion among different practices, which in turn are responsible for giving form to the objects to which the researcher dedicates himself. Rather than a methodology per se, the notion of the archive defended here, without any prescriptive intention, describes a specific way of conducting qualitative investigation marked by originality and critical accuracy.

Article

Natalie LeBlanc and Rita L. Irwin

Since its conception, a/r/tography has been described as an interdisciplinary, dynamic, and emergent practice, blending visual, narrative, performative, poetic, and other modes of inquiry with qualitative methodologies such as ethnography, auto-ethnography, autobiography, and participatory or educational action research. Although some a/r/tographers utilize traditional modes of data-gathering methods, such as interviews, transcripts, and field notes, not all practices of a/r/tography refer to the recording or collection of ideas as “data,” and if they do, they are used in combination with, or in relation to, art-making, creative writing, or performance. As an arts-based methodology grounded in the physicality of making and creating, a/r/tography is situated outside traditional research structures. It is framed by a continual process of questioning where understandings are not predetermined and where artistic contexts, materials, and processes create transformative events, interactive spaces in which the reader/viewer/audience can co-create in meaning-making. In short, a/r/tography is an arts-based form of inquiry that disrupts standardized criteria of research while evoking and provoking alternate possibilities for understanding.

Article

Janinka Greenwood

Arts-based research encompasses a range of research approaches and strategies that utilize one or more of the arts in investigation. Such approaches have evolved from understandings that life and experiences of the world are multifaceted, and that art offers ways of knowing the world that involve sensory perceptions and emotion as well as intellectual responses. Researchers have used arts for various stages of research. It may be to collect or create data, to interpret or analyze it, to present their findings, or some combination of these. Sometimes arts-based research is used to investigate art making or teaching in or through the arts. Sometimes it is used to explore issues in the wider social sciences. The field is a constantly evolving one, and researchers have evolved diverse ways of using the communicative and interpretative tools that processes with the arts allow. These include ways to initially bypass the need for verbal expression, to explore problems in physically embodied as well as discursive ways, to capture and express ambiguities, liminalities, and complexities, to collaborate in the refining of ideas, to transform audience perceptions, and to create surprise and engage audiences emotionally as well as critically. A common feature within the wide range of approaches is that they involve aesthetic responses. The richness of the opportunities created by the use of arts in conducting and/or reporting research brings accompanying challenges. Among these are the political as well as the epistemological expectations placed on research, the need for audiences of research, and perhaps participants in research, to evolve ways of critically assessing the affect of as well as the information in presentations, the need to develop relevant and useful strategies for peer review of the research as well as the art, and the need to evolve ethical awareness that is consistent with the intentions and power of the arts.

Article

John R. Kirby and Stefan Merchant

Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to how learners adapt their learning processes to achieve academic goals. SRL is a complex construct that includes cognitive, metacognitive, and affective components. Research has consistently demonstrated a positive association between SRL and academic achievement. Current models of SRL show the cognitive and motivational processes required for effective SRL: how SRL develops, how SRL has been measured, and how assessment for learning can improve students’ SRL. This research has implications for teaching and assessment, in K–12 school and higher education contexts, including potential barriers for teachers and learners. Further research is required to develop and validate measures of SRL, establish that the effects of SRL are independent of other factors, examine longitudinal relationships, and test the long-term effects and generalizability of instruction in SRL. Just as learners need to change their thinking about learning to become effective SRL students, educators need to change their thinking and practices to become more effective teachers and assessors of SRL.

Article

Assessment needs to be a positive experience that can incite learners to progress their learning, understand themselves as learners, become excited about what they learn, and acknowledge that learning is more than the specified and often prescribed curriculum. Educational assessment typically requires students to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, or application of their skills as a way to demonstrate their learning or, more specifically, their learning outcomes. Often this is to attract an external grade or mark related to an externally identified “standard,” or to show their level of “need” and thereby access additional resources. Students generally have little say in when or what is assessed, and their experiences have largely not been taken into account. There is a distinct difference between what a student learns and how the assessment results reflect their learning. To incite learning, assessment practices and processes need to celebrate learning and provide learners with positive, encouraging messages that their efforts contribute to their own growth. When the assessment process enables learners to see their own culture and identity valued, and allows opportunities to showcase diversity of learning, it becomes a meaningful and authentic process. In educational contexts, the process of assessment is typically an approach to support, measure, initiate, monitor, and explain the learning of self or others. Assessment of student learning has complex social, emotional, and academic influences on learners and on their lives more generally. A key unintended consequence of these practices has been well documented with regards to negative social and emotional consequences for the student, and these must be weighed against the “good” any assessment will do in terms of knowing the student and their learning aspirations. However, while there are distracting elements associated with the assessment of students, there is also value in using appropriate methods and processes to enhance and incite learning. Ultimately the rights of the learner to be included in their own assessment practices is key, and therefore it is argued the young person must be an agentic and capable assessor of their own learning for any assessment to be educational, culturally relevant, and authentic.

Article

There has been a proliferation of studies examining attitudes toward the inclusion of students with special educational needs (SEN) in regular education settings. Most studies to date have focused on examining the attitudes regular teachers hold toward inclusion on the assumption that their acceptance of the policy of inclusion is likely to affect their commitment to implementing it. Other researchers have directed their attention to the attitudes held by typically developing children toward their peers with SEN and, to a lesser extent, to the attitudes of parents toward the inclusion of students with SEN in their children’s classroom. Teachers have been found to generally hold positive attitudes toward the notion of inclusion, which are largely affected by the severity of the child’s disability, the level of in-service training received, the degree of prior teaching experience with students with SEN, and other environment-related factors. Typically developing students have been found to hold neutral attitudes toward their peers with SEN. Age, prior experience of studying in inclusive settings, and parental influence seem to influence their attitudes. Studies on parents’ attitudes have revealed neutral-to-positive attitudes toward the general notion of inclusion. Several factors were found to influence parental attitudes, such as their socio-economic status and education level along with their child’s type of disability. Most attitudinal research to date has described static situations through the employment of single methodological research designs. Consequently, there is a need for mixed-method studies that employ coherent and, wherever possible, longitudinal research designs.

Article

Kim H. Koh

Authentic tasks replicate real-world challenges and standards of performance that experts or professionals typically face in the field. The term “authentic assessment” was first coined by Grant Wiggins in K‒12 educational contexts. Authentic assessment is an effective measure of intellectual achievement or ability because it requires students to demonstrate their deep understanding, higher-order thinking, and complex problem solving through the performance of exemplary tasks. Hence authentic assessment can serve as a powerful tool for assessing students’ 21st-century competencies in the context of global educational reforms. The review begins with a detailed explanation of the concept of authentic assessment. There is a substantial body of literature focusing on the definitions of authentic assessment. However, only those that are original and relevant to educational contexts are included.. Some of the criteria for authentic assessment defined by the authors overlap with each other, but their definitions are consistent. A comparison of authentic assessment and conventional assessment reveals that different purposes are served, as evidenced by the nature of the assessment and item response format. Examples of both types of assessments are included. Three major themes are examined within authentic assessment research in educational contexts: authentic assessment in educational or school reforms, teacher professional learning and development in authentic assessment, and authentic assessment as tools or methods used in a variety of subjects or disciplines in K‒12 schooling and in higher education institutions. Among these three themes, most studies were focused on the role of authentic assessment in educational or school reforms. Future research should focus on building teachers’ capacity in authentic assessment and assessment for learning through a critical inquiry approach in school-based professional learning communities or in teacher education programs. To enable the power of authentic assessment to unfold in the classrooms of the 21st century, it is essential that teachers are not only assessment literate but also competent in designing and using authentic assessments to support student learning and mastery of the 21st-century competencies.

Article

Susanne Gannon

Autoethnography is an increasingly popular form of postpositivist narrative inquiry that has recently begun to appear in educational contexts. The multiple lineages of autoethnography include the insider accounts of early anthropologists, literary approaches to life history and autobiography, responses to the ontological/epistemological challenges of postmodern philosophies, feminist and postcolonial insistence on including narratives of the marginalized, performance and communication scholarship, and the interest in personal stories of contemporary therapeutic and trauma cultures. Approaches vary widely from fragmented, experimental, performative, and multimodal texts through to realist tales. Advocates claim that autoethnography enables us to live more reflective, more meaningful, and more just lives.

Article

Diana Milstein, Angeles Clemente, and Alba Lucy Guerrero

There are epistemological, methodological, and textual dimensions of collaborative educational ethnography (CEE) in Latin America that have spread and consolidated over the last twenty-five years. The beginnings of CEE were marked by sociopolitical struggles (social resistance movements and repressive dictatorships) but also were enlightened by thinkers like Fals Borda and Freire, who foresaw social transformation through a theory/action/participation tie. The result was several educational ethnographic studies carried out by groups of researchers working in networks. To a large extent, they aimed to problematize contradictions between official school education and the sociocultural realities of teachers and students. This type of research also aimed to understand and intervene in social change processes, which encouraged the incorporation of teachers as researchers in ethnographic studies. Teachers’ participation in research processes opened debates about fieldwork, but more particularly about relationships between researchers and interlocutors. In short, the history of CEE in Latin America reveals a marked development of collaboration, from being enacted but not made explicit in the written ethnographic report to open, explicit, and declared participation of nonacademic collaborators of all sorts: teachers, children, youngsters, indigenous communities, and so on. The work of these collaborative teams not only differs in ways and degrees of research involvement (co-interpreting, co-investigating, co-authoring, and co-theorizing) but also in what a dialogic and sometimes contested research process entails in terms of knowledge production for counteracting Eurocentric, androcentric, adult-centric prejudices. Teachers’ participation, children/youngsters as active collaborators, and language as a topic of research and as a research tool are three main themes. The stance of the researcher in CEE inevitably connects with his or her interlocutors as situated others—subjects with agency and rights and capable of involving the researcher in a joint process of reflexivity. Moreover, collaborative experiences in educational ethnography create new and feasible possibilities for the development of knowledge not only in education but also in research approaches to ethnography.

Article

Patrick Shannon

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are part of a third wave of school reform in the United States. With accompanying tests, these standards combine calls for increased academic rigor, beginning in the 1980s, with more recent efforts to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable for learning outcomes in publicly funded schools. Origins of CCSS can be traced to the 1996 National Education Summit where the National Governors Association (NGA), philanthropic foundations, and business leaders founded Achieve to broker rigorous high school graduation requirements. In 2009, Achieve became the project manager for the construction of CCSS. In 2010, implementation began with incentives from the Obama administration and funding from the Gates Foundation. Advocates choose among a variety of rationales: faltering American economic competitiveness, wide variability among state standards and educational outcomes, highly mobile student populations, and/or a growing income achievement gap. Critics cite federal intrusion in states’ rights, a lack of an evidentiary base, an autocratic process of CCSS production, and/or a mis-framing of problems facing public schools. With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, federal advocacy of CCSS ended officially.

Article

Case study researchers have traditionally focused on micro-level analysis of a “bounded” case, yet this approach has come under methodological scrutiny in a world where phenomena are rarely isolated from globalization’s expansive reach. Social science and policy-oriented research in particular are nearly always subject to local and global histories as well as socio-cultural, political, and economic trends. Furthermore, the experience of individuals, organizations, and institutions are often tangled in interconnected webs of influence, such that a case study that does not trace these underlying relationships is likely to be analyzing only the tip of a phenomenological iceberg. Hence critical scholars call for the need to repurpose traditional case study research methods to embrace shifting contextual factors that surround a research project at multiple levels. Comparative case study methods answer this call by making socio-cultural and political analysis an explicit part of the research process. They expand the researcher’s methodological lens by advancing the analysis of processes across three axes: the horizontal (through distinct research sites), the vertical (through scales; e.g., local vs national) and the transversal (over time; e.g., historically). The methodology is particularly useful for social science research and policy studies, where complex interactions between actors and institutions are tied to socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts. Teacher education research is an area where comparative case studies can potentially contribute to policy formulation. Using the example of case study research on teacher education in India, the comparative case study methodology is shown to be an effective research tool. Through insights into the socio-cultural and political context surrounding pedagogical reform, case study research can generate corrective measures to improve policy effectiveness.

Article

Lesley Bartlett and Frances Vavrus

Case studies in the field of education often eschew comparison. However, when scholars forego comparison, they are missing an important opportunity to bolster case studies’ theoretical generalizability. Scholars must examine how disparate epistemologies lead to distinct kinds of qualitative research and different notions of comparison. Expanded notions of comparison include not only the usual logic of contrast or juxtaposition but also a logic of tracing, in order to embrace approaches to comparison that are coherent with critical, constructivist, and interpretive qualitative traditions. Finally, comparative case study researchers consider three axes of comparison: the vertical, which pays attention across levels or scales, from the local through the regional, state, federal, and global; the horizontal, which examines how similar phenomena or policies unfold in distinct locations that are socially produced; and the transversal, which compares over time.

Article

Lesley Bartlett and Frances Vavrus

Comparison is a valuable and widely touted analytical technique in social research, but different disciplines and fields have markedly different notions of comparison. There are at least two important logics for comparison. The first, the logic of juxtaposition, is guided by a neopositivist orientation. It uses a regularity theory of causation; it structures the study by defining cases, variables, and units of analysis a priori; and it decontextualizes knowledge. The second, the logic of tracing, engages a realist theory of causation and examines how processes unfold, influenced by actors and the meanings they make, over time, in different locations, and at different scales. These two logics of comparison lead to distinct methodological techniques. However, with either logic of comparison, three dangers merit attention: decontextualization, commensurability, and ethnocentrism. One promising research heuristic that attends to different logics of comparison while avoiding these dangers is the comparative case study (CCS) approach. CCS entails three axes of comparison. The horizontal axis encourages comparison of how similar policies and practices unfold across sites at roughly the same level or scale, for example across a set of schools or across home, school, religious institution, and community organization. The vertical axis urges comparison across micro-, meso-, and macro-levels or scales. For example, a study of bilingual education in the United States should attend not only to homes, communities, classroom, and school dynamics (the micro-level), but also to meso-level district, state, and federal policies, as well as to factors influencing international mobility at the macro-level. Finally, the transversal axis, which emphasizes change over time, urges scholars to situate historically the processes or relations under consideration.