Thursday, May 21, 2009

It all depends on how you ask the questions

Just reading a report of a research study done by the EKOS group for the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. The whole thing seems to be framed from industrial education perspective and doesn't even consider some very viable alternatives for PSE.

EKOS. (2009). An examination of barriers to pursuing PSE and potential solutions. Final Report, Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from

Long involved study, interviewing high school students and their parents about their future plans for education. The study was framed in the context or identifying barriers to participation in PSE and purported to look for solutions that would reduce barriers.

Looks like a wonderful study but it is loaded with preconceptions. These are apparent in the use of language through-out the research and report.
Two phrases stand out for me. "pursuing" and "go to...."
This study explores who is not pursuing PSE and the reasons why. Key issues explored in the
discussions include: the obstacles that are faced by students and how these obstacles interact with
one another; what roles are played by key players in helping students make these decisions; the
factors influencing post high school plans; barriers to PSE; the perceived importance of these
barriers and the interaction among barriers; and the impact of finances, academics, information
and motivation on plans for after high school. The importance of: the level of information about
PSE (e.g., its costs and benefits); availability of financial aid; information on financing PSE; selfidentifying
as being or not being a potential PSE student; career plans; specific post high school
plans (both in short versus long-term plans.

All this implies that you can only participate in PSE by leaving your present location and going to another spot for education. No mention of the possibility of having PSE come to you.

The researchers asked, in their written questionnaire and their focus group questions.

Did you think in grade 8 that you would be going to PSE? In grade 9 or 10? Did you ever think
about it at all? What were you thinking that you’d be going to? What kind of school (university,
college, trade school, etc)? (p.40)

Did you think that your son or daughter would go to PSE? (p. 48)

The discussion of alternatives to PSE seemed to be limited to "not going". No discussion of PSE coming to your choice of learning location.

Oh, and the other thing that came out fairly strongly is the general disgust that high school students have for the current process of education.