Evaluation of a Quantitative Study
The current paper performs a critical appraisal of quantitative study done by Oliha Josephine and Audu Vivian titled, “Counselling against dropout among secondary school students in Edo State” published in the International Journal of Education and Practice. The evaluation focuses on the research problem tackled in the article, the literature review, data collection plan, data analysis and interpretation plan, and ethically and culturally relevant strategies proposed in the article. The discussion is concluded by statement how the findings of the study can be applied in future or current work of a counselor.
Evaluation of the Research Problem
The issue of school dropout is significant socio-economic concern for stakeholders in the education sector, including students, counselors, parents, educators, and policymakers. Amidst the socio-economic burden posed by school dropouts, there is the need to devise strategies aimed at curbing the trend.
Evaluating the Significance of the Problem
The problem statement addressed a counseling issue. In particular, the researchers sought to investigate the effectiveness of counseling in preventing secondary school students from dropping out. Moreover, the authors sought to explore the counseling strategies that secondary schools can adopt to help reduce cases of students dropping out. Moreover,Address the following questions.
The authors also presented evidence to affirm the importance of the issue. In such respect, the researchers acknowledge the increasing rates of students dropping out secondary school. The researchers also document the socio-economic problems posed by students who drop out of school, such as lower human capital and skilled labor, increased crime rates, and reduced earning opportunities for the student among others. Thus, the researchers acknowledge the need to reverse the trend and propose the use of counseling strategies.
Evaluation of the Literature Review
In the literature review, Oliha and Audu (2014) present two main themes. The first theme focuses on the problem of students dropping out of school, including the associated problems. The second theme focuses on counseling, whereby the researchers acknowledge that majority of secondary school students to have access counselors to help them cope with the challenges they face within, as well as outside the school environment.
Earn 15% from every order!
Earn money today! Refer our service to your friends!
Strength of the literature review is that it is logically organized. In this regard, the themes presented in the literature review develop an understanding of the study problem. In other words, the information conveyed in the literature review is that amidst the increasing in cases of school dropouts and the related consequences, there is the need to develop a solution to address the issue. The authors suggest counseling as a potential solution to the problem. Despite such strength, a weakness of the literature review is that it is biased and uncomprehensive. With respect to this, the researchers only provided a brief overview of counseling. They did not review any literature covering the effectiveness of counseling as a strategy for preventing students from dropping out of schools.
Evaluation of Research Design, Purpose Statement, Questions and Hypotheses
The research design used in the study is the descriptive survey design. Descriptive research designs are characterized by observing a phenomenon without manipulation of the variables, and are used in depicting or describing the phenomenon of interest. Although such research design is suited in addressing some aspects of the research problem, such as exploring the causes of school students dropping out of school, an experimental approach could have been more suited to investigating the effectiveness of counseling in preventing students from dropping out of school. The experimental research design seeks to ascertain the cause-effect relationship between variables of interest, which in this case is counseling as the independent variable to be manipulated and the school dropout rates as the dependent variable.
Research Purpose Statement
The researchers did not explicitly state their purpose statement. However, the purpose of the study can be implicitly derived, whereby the authors state that “the focus of this study is use counseling strategies to lower/reduce dropout rate in secondary schools” (Oliha & Audu, 2014, p. 37).
The researchers clearly identified their research questions, which are well-developed and based on the research problem. The following are the questions that guided the research (Oliha & Audu, 2014, p. 37):
- What are the causes of school dropout in secondary schools?
- What are the consequences of school dropouts?
- What counseling strategies could be adopted to lower dropout cases in secondary schools?
The researchers did not present any hypothesis, which may be attributed to descriptive nature of the research. Hypotheses are often developed for experimental studies exploring relationships between variables rather than descriptive studies.
Evaluation of Data Collection Plan
Selection of Participants
Participants in the study were selected using stratified random sampling, whereby six secondary schools were randomly selected from the 43 public secondary schools in Benin, after which 150 counsellors and teachers were selected to participate in the research. The sampling strategy adopted by the researchers guarantees a representative sample, which, in turn, contributes to useful findings. The sampling approach used by the researchers could be further enhanced by further dividing the strata for the population beyond public schools. Stronger results would have been achieved if more than one strata had been used. Other possible strata that the researchers could have taken into consideration include private schools and regional distribution of secondary schools in the country.
The researchers neither implicitly nor explicitly state how they sought the permission of participants before commencing the study. Based on the ethical research guidelines, an informed consent form should be issued to participants detailing the purpose of the study, the rights of participants, and guaranteeing their confidentiality and anonymity.
Determining the Data to Collect
The researchers collected data relating to participants’ rating of the factors contributing to school dropouts, their ratings of the impacts of school dropouts, and their ratings regarding the counseling strategies. The data collected was appropriate in meeting the objectives of the study. It is caused by the fact that the data collected is aligned to the research questions and objectives. In this regard, the researchers focused on collecting data relating to causes and impacts of students dropping out, as well as the counseling strategies.
Data Collection Instruments
Data for the study was collected using questionnaires. The researchers developed their own data collection tool and named it Counseling Against School Dropout (CASD). The researchers affirmed the validity of the instrument using experts’ reviews. Its reliability was affirmed using the Cronbach’s alpha, whereby the instrument reported a Cronbach’s reliability (?) of .74 (Oliha & Audu, 2014). The data collection tool facilitated the collection of appropriate information with respect to the purpose of the research.
Administering Data Collection
Although the researchers do not explicitly address the issue of standardization, it can be inferred that they used a standardized questionnaire for all participants. It is difficult to evaluate the extent to which they addressed the issues of standardization and ethics because they did not describe the processes used in administering of data collecting.
Evaluation of Data Analysis and Interpretation Plan
Preparing Data for Analysis
The researchers do not provide any discussion relating to the preparations undertaken for analyzing the data such as the responses rates and participant attrition. Moreover, data relating to participants’ characteristics is not provided.
Analysis of the Data
Data analysis for the study was performed using percentages and frequency count, and presented using tables. Given that the study is descriptive, descriptive statistics are needed to present the findings of the study.
Reporting the Results
The findings of the study are presented with respect to the research questions. In this respect, the responses of participants on each research question are summarized and presented. The reporting strategy is effective, which can be attributed to the tabular presentation of the results. They help in facilitating the comprehension of the study findings. Moreover, the organization of the findings in terms of the research questions further contributes to the comprehension of the research results.
Interpreting the Results
The findings of the study reveal a number of factors contributing to high cases of school dropouts, which included emotional and behavioral problems, failure and indiscipline, poverty, lacking basic needs, and lack of parental involvement. Participants in the study also agreed that counseling strategies are helpful in addressing the problem of increased cases of students dropping out of school. The limitations of the research are not provided. However, the study is limited in the sense that it relies on the views of teachers and not students. Therefore, the views presented by the counsellors who participated in the study may not be indicative in regard to the effectiveness of counseling in reducing cases of students dropping out.
Evaluation of Ethical and Culturally Relevant Strategies
The researchers did not apply any ethical and culturally relevant strategies to their study. No ethical research considerations are outlined in the research. Moreover, the data collection instruments were not tailored in accordance with the cultures of participants. For ethical research, it is recommended for the authors to use informed consent forms while recruiting participants.
Overall, the quality of the research is fair. There are some aspects that require improvement, such as research ethics. Some research aspects are missing like data analysis preparation. Nevertheless, for a descriptive research, the authors explored the counseling strategies, although the study could be improved by using an experimental approach to determine the effectiveness of counseling. The recommendations made by the researchers can be applied in counseling profession, particularly with respect to the counseling strategies, including the creation of a counseling unit in secondary schools, emphasizing communication between parents and the school, addressing the needs of students, and organizing financial aid to students who are at risk of dropping out due to lack of finances.