Ripples & Reflections

"Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong." Elkjaer.

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How International Is Our School? MA Dissertation

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This post is to store and share my MA Dissertation.

A pilot-test of a visualization and set of evaluation rubrics for factors affecting the promotion of international-mindedness and global engagement (IMaGE) of a school.

After starting this investigation with my Education in an International Context paper, and building on it through Research Methods in Education, I refined the idea, developed the rubrics and dug deeper into the research literature in the process. Through the process I learned a lot about the current state of research in international education, and I think the continued development of the web chart and rubrics could be a a never-ending task.

The end goal of the dissertation was to pilot-test a draft of the rubrics using a cross-section of volunteers from my own school. This allowed me to see the issue from different perspectives within the school, to test the rubrics (and statistics), and to spot issues and errors in the tools. I thank them all for their time and interesting perspectives.

The further I got into this research, the more concerned I became with the issue of homogenization (Fertig, 2007, 2015) or isomorphism (Shields, 2015), in international education. I see these issues as potentially a significant limitation to the applicability of a tool such as this, or any other which applies a universal set of descriptors to a global industry. Where the design of the project intended to try to capture the diverse and often hidden elements that contribute towards as schools IMaGE development, I worry that working towards a set of prescribed descriptors may pull a school away from the context-specific ‘unpredictables’ that make it international (and interesting) in its own right.

How do we strike the balance between observing and enhancing the ‘IMaGE’ of the school with the tendency towards a sterile centre-ground?

I’m not sure at this point what life this research will have beyond the MA, but I remain interested in its development, testing and critique.

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Quick References:

Full references for the dissertation are included in the uploaded document, with live links where possible. These few are of particular interest. 

Fertig, M., 2007. International school accreditation: Between a rock and a hard place? Journal of Research in International Education, 6(3), pp.333–348.

Fertig, M., 2015. Quality Assurance in National and International Schools: Accreditation, Authorization and Inspection. In Hayden, M., Levy, J. & Thompson, J. (7th Edition). The SAGE Handbook of Research in International Education. pp. 447-457.

Shields, R., 2015. Measurement and Isomorphism in International Education. In Hayden, M., Levy, J. & Thompson, J., 2015. The SAGE Handbook of Research in International Education. (7th Edition). London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd. pp.477-487.

The whole of The SAGE Handbook of Research in International Education (7th Ed) is an important read for anyone looking for the current state of play for international education research. I wrote a brief recommendation here.

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The full dissertation (edited lightly for upload) is posted below.

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Author: Stephen

Director of Learning & MYP Coordinator at Canadian Academy, Kobe, Japan. Formerly MYP HS Science & IBDP Bio teacher and missing it terribly. Twitterist (@sjtylr), dad and bloggerer.

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