This critique is based on research and evaluation of scholastic papers.
Writer: Claude H. A. Simpson
Topic: Critique of Research Articles (#'s 18, 8, & 2)
Hillman, S.J., & Siracusa, A.J. (1999). The effectiveness of training teachers to identify and intervene with children of alcoholics, abuse, and neglect. In L.S. Lyne (Ed.),A cross section of educational research: Journal articles for discussion and evaluation
(pp. 125 – 130). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrezak Publishing.
(1) Research problem – The problem is the effectiveness of specialized training for teachers to identify and intervene with children of alcoholics (COA) and children who suffer abuse and neglect (CAN)
(2) Research design-The research is a Pre-experimental quantitative type.
(3) Subjects: - Study 1. Fifty one (51) student teachers from a private, urban college and a public, rural state college.
Study 2. Seventeen graduate (17) students pursuing . teacher certificate.
Study 3. Seventy (70) experienced teachers from a low socioeconomic, rural district in western Massachusetts.
(4) Instruments / Measurement tools
Study 1.All subjects were administered the “Pre–service Teacher Survey” (PTS) .
Study 2.The PTS was administered
Study 3.An In-service Teacher Survey (ITS) was administered.
(5) Method of Analysis -
Study 1 Frequencies
Study 2 Frequencies, Chi square
Study 3 Chi square
(6) Major Conclusion (s) – Teachers who received the training to identify and intervene with children with COAs and CANs were better able to cite physical, behavioral, and psychological indicators for physically abused children.
- When working with COAs and CANs teachers’ most frequent response both pre and post survey was to bring these situations to the attention of the school principal, nurse, and for school counselor.
(a) The purpose of the study is to give teachers more opportunity to learn more about children who come from families who abuse alcohol, and children from families who abuse and / or neglect them.
(b) The literature review is generally focused on the problem but at least three references are a little outdated. The review seems to be fitting to the research plan. The theoretical framework seems to be ok as it is grounded in research based on previous studies. The article purports to add knowledge about the effectiveness of training teachers to identify and intervene with COAs and CANs. The independent variables are COA and CAN and the dependent variables are the indicators. The hypotheses were all directional.
The researcher used descriptive quantitative methodology, which seems appropriate to the problem. The design was appropriate for the research question. This study could be looked at as an evaluation of the impact of training on the behavior of teachers to identify COAs and CANs and also teachers’ intent to intervene with COAs and CANs.
There were a few constraints viz. attrition and modification. There are threats to internal validity of the research design in terms of History, Testing, and Instrumentation.
The subjects are described in term of demographic characteristics but the sampling procedure could be better described. The sample is an incidental (convenience) sample. For all three studies the sample type used was the Incidental (convenience) sample. The researcher didn’t say whether the sample was taken from schools with high, low or non-existing COAs and CANs. The sample size for each study was not sufficient to generalize the results of the study.
The subjects were administered a teacher survey to measure the predicted incidence of COAs and CANs children within the subjects’ student teaching classroom. The instrument was used in the studies and measured what it purports to measure with much consistency. Three studies were carried out, the first two used Pre-service teacher survey (PTS) but survey # three used an In-service Teacher Survey (ITS), an instrument similar to PTS with some demographic questions being different.
Frequency distribution was used to analyze the data. With the sample size less than 100 in each case it is advisable to report the data in 'x' out of 'y' instead of percentage. The Chi square was used to show significant differences of frequencies. The units of analysis were appropriate and the conclusions rather valid. The presentation of data was clear. There were really no controls in place.
The findings were not clearly reported. The researcher could have done a better job of putting the findings to perspective and providing better implications for the research. The researcher recognizes that there are weaknesses in terms of attrition and the timing in administering the pre and posttests. Limitations to generalizability were not properly addressed. The findings however seemed to be reflective of the subjects and bias seemed to be at a minimal.
Ethics and Human Subjects Review:
The study was consistent with ethical standard (as stated in APA).It did not pose any threats to the research participants. The reader still does not know the type of demographic questions that were asked. It appears there was informed consent. Apart from the inadequate reporting of findings, the article can be considered fairly good one which is worthy of publication.
Article # 8
Price, J. H; & Everett, S. A. (1999). A national assessment of secondary school principals' perceptions of violence in schools. In L. S. Lyne (Ed.) , A cross section of educational research: Journal articles for discussion and evaluation (pp. 56-63). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczakv Publishing.
(1) Research Problem - Secondary school principals' perceptions of violence and weapons in public and private schools.
(2) Research Design– Survey (descriptive)
(3) Subjects-1 000 principals from the membership list of the National Association of Secondary Principals (NASP).
(4) Instruments - A survey instrument with likert-type scales.
(5) Method of Analysis - Descriptive statistics, one- way ANOVA, multiple regression, Chi-square.
(6) Major Conclusions -School administrators are in a unique position to influence school curricula and/ or programs that may affect violence an weapon-related activities among adolescents. Schools with a high number of students from the low-SES families and school situated in violent neighborhoods are most at risk for violence.
The purpose of the study is to examine the perceptions of secondary school principals regarding violence and weapons in public and private schools in the United States. The literature is generally focused on the problem and the research focus is clearly defined. There is also support for the need of the study. In terms of being substantive, more could be had from principals. The article seems a bit lacking of theoretical framework, as only studies were referred to; there was no reference to theoretical underpinnings. Seven research questions were posed that focused on weapon, violence, and violence prevention programs. The study intends to contribute to knowledge about the field by the data given such as ‘of every thirteen youths being victimized by violence in 1992’ and the position of administrators to influence school curricula and/or programs that may affect violence and weapon-related activities. The dependent variable is weapon carrying and the independent variable is principal's perceptions.
A descriptive cross-sectional methodology (survey research) was used which seems appropriate to the problem. The design was appropriate to the problem. The design was appropriate for the research questions. Effort was made to secure content validity. There was no treat to internal validity. This is not an evaluation study.
The subjects are described in terms of demographic characteristics and the sampling procedure was well described. The simple random sample method was used. The sample size was not sufficient. The sample size of 1 000 principals is rather small considering that for a quantitative study the size of the study is important and the intent is to generalize results to a population.
The survey instrument was developed and then validated by experts. The instrument was not pilot tested. The instrument was set out to measure principal’s perceptions. The instrument was not standardized.
Data Analysis Procedure:
The researcher used descriptive statistics, one-way ANOVA, multiple regression, and correlation. The units of analysis were appropriate. In table 1 a frequency distribution chart was presented to illustrate the prevalence of violence risk factors in principals' schools. 44% of in-school fighting was rated as moderate problem; and 55% of stealing was rated as moderate problem. The data presentation was clear and the information was properly discussed. Multiple sources of evidence were used to support the conclusions and the findings were reasonably well discussed. The tables of values are clear but a bit wordy. The conclusions seem to be valid.
The findings are reported clearly. Further research was recommended. There are limitations that affect generalizability. There is also an over representation of urban school principals. The study did not appear to be affected by bias.
Ethics and Human Subjects Review:
The study seemed consistent with current ethical standards (as stated in APA). The surveys were not coded so as to maintain confidentiality and anonymity. There was not any evidence of threats to the participants. The article may be considered a good one worthy for publication.
Article # 2
Groth, C. (1999). Dumping ground or effective alternative. Dropout prevention programs in urban schools. In L. S. Lyne (Ed.), A cross section of educational research: Journal articles for discussion and evaluation (pp. 9-18). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.
(1) Research problem -The effectiveness of urban dropout prevention program.
(2) Research design -This is a quantitative research design.
(3) Subjects - 25 students (4 Hispanic females, 6 Hispanic males, 1 Native American female, 9 white females, and 5 white males) were enrolled in Advanced Achievement Academy (AAA).
(4) Instruments/measurement tools - The instrument used is participant-observation type (the researcher) which is appropriate but there was no rational for selection.
(5) Method of analysis - Interpretive, descriptive, explanatory, audio tapes, interviews, and observational notes.
(6) Major conclusions - The designers of AAA seem to have created an effective alternative for helping at-risk students remain in school and acquire credits toward a high school diploma; nevertheless research on high school dropouts and the programs designed to help the population need more attention.
The purpose of this study is to examine whether an urban dropout prevention program offers students effective alternatives to regular classes or if, instead, the program is simply a dumping ground for unwanted students.
The literature review is generally focused on the problem. Quite a number of old references were used. Although there is a need for more research in field, like, students' experiences and interactions and dynamics between students and teachers, the review seems to be fairly complete and does lead into the research plan. The theoretical framework of the article is limited. While there is a little theory presented about students' perceptions there is none on administrators' or parents' perceptions. The study will contribute to knowledge about the field from the longitudinal effects of participating in programs such as AAA both academic and personal. The study demonstrates the need to examine not only the characteristics of student at-risk of dropping out but also the perceptions and experiences of students and faculty. The dependent variable is dropout prevention and the independent variable is AAA. The hypothesis is evolving.
Descriptive qualitative design was used. The design was appropriate for the research. There are a number of constraints due to the self-report nature of the research. The evaluation is a specific form of alternative programs, AAA. There are no major threats to the internal validity of the research design.
The sample used was high school dropouts, young males and females; the subjects are from different school experience and from mixed ethnic groups. The sample procedure is not known. The sample size is ok for qualitative study. Attrition is unknown.
The researcher is the key measurement tool. A participant-observational approach to data collection is used. The researcher observed students at work, engaged conversations and carryout in-class interviews that were tape recorded and transcribed.
There was no data or statistical analysis conducted. There are statements to suggest inductive reasoning, viz. "longitudinal effects of participating in programs such as AAA. Longitudinal data would enable a better understanding of the degree to which students succeed in a program practical both academic and personal".
The findings are reported clearly. The findings are: -Program acts as a safety net for students who otherwise would dropout of school altogether.- The program administrators' attempt to temper the problem of dropouts.- The responsibility for enrollment is left to the students.- Students as well as faculty treat students' participation in the program differently than they treat participation in regular classes.- In dropout prevention program, students do all their work on computers.- All students with the exception of one said that they definitely want to get a high school diploma.
There is need for more research in the field of studying dropout prevention and alternative education programs.
Ethics and Human Subjects Review :
The study seemed consistent with most of the current ethical standards (as stated in APA). On the other hand there was no permission sought for minors. Although it was the students decision to enroll in the program there was nothing to suggest that a student who is under 18 would have to get parental consent. The research poses a threat to research participants in that information about students' personal lives and tape recorded interviews could be used against them.
If I were on a Human Subjects Review Committee I would need to know how students were selected, more about the sampling procedure, how the data will be used, the form of reporting, confidentiality, and privacy.
I think the study needs a little revision to address some of the limitations, more current references are also needed.