20-T7 An introduction to comparative and (inter)national education using international large-scale assessment (ILSA) data.

course coordinators 
Maria Magdalena Isac, m.m.isac@rug.nl 
Marinda Spithoff, m.spithoff@rug.nl 
Andres Sandoval-Hernandez, a.sandoval@bath.ac.uk 

Course description: 
Education does not take place in a vacuum, but is largely connected to all sorts of surrounding structures. The national education system is an obvious structure that education and educational research must consider. It is therefore useful to properly understand the features and organization of different education systems. 

One way to better understand a system is by comparing it to other systems. Comparative education is a discipline that focuses on system differences and commonalities. In the first part of the course, we get acquainted with the most common educational structures (lecture). We will also reflect on the characteristics of the educational systems that are most relevant for the participants’ research interests (discussion). In the corresponding assignment, the participants will discuss how the characteristics of different education systems are relevant for their own research projects. 

A second way to understand an education system is to use international large-scale assessments (ILSAs). Since many years international large-scale assessments such as PISA, TIMMS, PIRLS, ICCS, TALIS etc. have become prime resources for education policy monitoring in a large number of educational systems around the world. The focus is often on monitoring student achievement but also identifying correlates of learning. Nevertheless, comparative research informing such policies is not an easy endeavor. The secondary analysis of such publicly available databases provides the researcher with both opportunities and challenges. Deep knowledge of the different characteristics of educational systems and proper consideration of the complex structure of ILSA databases, that requires specialized statistical analysis, methods are essential in this respect. 

Course objectives: 
Goal: 
The goal of this course is to provide a theoretical introduction to comparative and international education as well as to the relevance of ILSAs for monitoring and providing information about education systems and their characteristics. The participants will gain theoretical knowledge of the characteristics of education systems and basic secondary data analysis skills using ILSA data. 

Specific objectives: 
The participants will: 
Become aware of the specificity of educational systems;Become familiar with the discipline of comparative education;Gain understanding of the characteristics of ILSAs and their role in the educational research and policy landscape internationally;Gain basic research skills for secondary analysis of ILSA data (with IDB Analyzer);Apply the background knowledge and research skills to an area of interest connected to their research project;Reflect on and formulate implications of their findings for education research and policy;Effectively communicate their research to course coordinators and peers;Engage in constructive debate and provide feedback to peers.
Requirements/entry level: 
This course is recommended for second- or third-year PhD-students. First year PhD students may participate only if they have followed the ICO Introductory course. 
Prior knowledge: Basic knowledge of descriptive and inferential statistics and SPSS. 

Materials: Laptop with SPSS and Microsoft Office installed. 

Course Programme 
Meetings: 
The course consists of four days in total with a moth in between. 

During the first two days, presentations by (guest) teachers are alternated with demonstrations, hands on training and discussions. Foreseen presentations: 
Day 1 – morning – Marinda Spithoff & invited colleague – Comparative education/the specificity of educational systems. 
Day 1 – afternoon – Students will receive an assignment (short paper) in which they reflect on their own theme in relation to other educational systems. 
Day 2 – morning – Magda Isac & Andres Sandoval-Hernandez – Lecture: Introduction to ILSAs and to research outputs that can be produced with this data. Required reading: Policy briefs. Day 2 – afternoon – Magda Isac & Andres Sandoval-Hernandez – Demonstration data analysis of ILSA with SPSS & IDB analyzer (free software) 

At the end of the second day, the students will receive an assignment in which they will identify a research topic relevant to their general interests or projects. They will apply the skills learned to draft a research brief on the topic of choice (4 pages). They will submit the draft 1 week prior to the second part of the course and will receive written feedback. 

During the last two days, the students will work on improving their assignments with the support of teachers (Day 1) and present their work to peers (Day 2). 

Specification of the workload: 
(84 hours in total) 
28 for the meetings; 56 assignments 

Dates: 
To be decided. 

Location: 
Utrecht. Specific location to be determined. 

Maximum number of participants: 24 

Assessment: 
– Being present through all face-to-face meetings. 
– Complete the pre-reading materials. 
– Submitting the assignments. 

Feedback 
Written feedback from teachers on the assignments. 
Support from teachers to improve the assignments. 
Feedback from peers on the presentation of assignments. 

Literature 

Required reading (before the course): 
Examples of policy briefs based on ILSA data. 
Reading materials comparative educational science. 

Required reading (during the course): 
We will provide data, background documentation and handouts with examples of data analysis at the beginning of the course. 

Further literature (optional): 
Rutkowski, L., von Davier, M., & Rutkowski, D. (Eds.). (2013). Handbook of international large-scale assessment: Background, technical issues, and methods of data analysis. CRC Press.. 

IBE Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych (2014). Using Large Scale Assessment Data for Secondary Analysis (Andres Sandoval-Hernandez, IEA DPC). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VnrU_yFlrI