Sunday, April 28, 2013

Variables come to life

In my previous post I told you about the variables that I'm going to use. The picture beneath actually looks like what I'm intending to find out with my research!

Although it is in Dutch, it is easy to follow: In the Netherlands, students are put in one of three levels at the age of 12. These differences in education give smart and less intelligent students the chance to work on their own level.  That's the VMBO (4 years), the Havo (5 years) and the VWO (6 years). After that, tertiary education can be followed. First, there can be (if the school chose to do so) 'doubled' classes, in which VMBO/Havo and Havo/VWO are mixed. In that way, students who were labelled VMBO have the chance to prove themselves and work up to Havo when they're able to.

What this picture want us to show, is that between the several streams like Havo and VMBO is in the higher years also a stream from left to right. That means that some pupils (6% of the VMBO students in this case) are good enough to follow education on the Havo (after their VMBO diploma).
The red arrow is a problematic one, all those percentages are students who drop out.
The dark blue shows the percentage of graduates.

The picture comes from a research of the education, culture and science ministry (find HERE in Dutch) that did research to the arrows shown above. My research will look into the 'why' beneath it: why are students held back? Or drop out? I'm hoping to find out in the interviews!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Final research proposal

It's kind of easy actually. I was way thinking too much and wanting too much. The elements I've chosen for my research are that big that only a group of researchers which spend years on it can accomplish it. Well, I'm not trying to do that, so I've cut in my research variables. It really clears the air, for I can see the path again :)

First, I've had to let go of some very interesting variables namely giftedness and under achieving. These elements will pass by, but only as a really small piece and not as a main variable.

And, finally my (I'm afraid to call it definitive, but it is actually definitive) main research question:

''In what way does the placement policy of secondary schools, in the field of determination and student counseling, affect the throughput of students?''
(In Dutch: ''Op welke wijze heeft het schoolbeleid op het gebied van determinatie en leerlingbegeleiding invloed op de doorstroom van leerlingen?'')

In which throughput stands for the numbers of: grade retention, demotion (and up-promotion to another higher school level) and drop out.

So, the dependable variables are: grade retention, demotion and drop out.
The independable variables are: placement policy and student counseling.

I expect to finish the final research proposal in a couple of days!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The use of theory

Last Friday the meeting with my mentor took place. The conversation was instructive, and my motivation is put back on!

We talked among other things about the use of literature in research, which, so it seems I didn't completely understand in the last couple of years. My use of literature was mostly practical. I used it to read about a certain subject or to clarify a definitions for an assignment. Oh, and when a teacher asked for a piece of theory about a certain subject, you just write something about it with the subject in it. Using literature hadn't meant more to me than that.

It seems I missed something. Literature (and mainly theory 'made' in literature articles) can be used to precisely define the structure of your own research. It may seem very logical, but for me it is not. There's more literature can give you. Reading is not only to get to know the subject, but also to get informed about the pros and cons that arose from research. These different conclusions about different elements that will play a role in my own research can be used to make a frame of theory in where the rules are laid out. The frame can tell me if it is, for example, important to take into account the size of a school, or the fact that all teachers are woman, or that schools have only one school level (like the Gymnasia) of have different school levels. This will help me to choose the elements that matters.

When someone is reading your research, one does not only know exactly what literature you used, but also how it's put together. And, how you combined and shaped different elements of those various researches. This together makes a new variation of building blocks, from were a new building element (my research) can be added. The conclusions from my research can be used for other research, in where my new building block can be added to the wall of theory they will build.

Monday, April 1, 2013


I've been busy with not graduating activities the last week, and with Easter there hasn't been much study related tasks either. Though, I run into a classmate in the train a couple of days ago. He advised me to use the program 'atlas' for decoding interviews. With this, you're able to get insight in the amount of words spoken - how much words correspond etc. You can download a free (not time limited) trial here

So, back to normal! I want to work on several things this week - optimizing my research proposal, and discuss this with my mentor on Friday.