Multilevel Analyses in Comparative Education

Your first paper is to be a 6-8 page (1500-2000 word) critical analysis paper in which you examine the mapping of educational comparisons presented in Mark Bray and R. Murray Thomas’ 1995 “Levels of Comparison in Educational Studies: Different Insights from Different Literatures and the Value of Multilevel Analyses” article (PDF posted on Sakai). Please note that this is a different Bray piece than that was originally identified in the syllabus. You are to analyze Bray and Thomas’ article in light of the various theories and methods discussed in the class sessions and required readings through, and inclusive of week 2.

You will note that the Bray and Thomas piece calls for comparative education studies to expand beyond a narrow focus on cross-national comparisons and instead to introduce multiple levels of analysis. In addition to grappling with the overall significance of this gesture, you are asked to engage with the more fine-grained specifics of what is proposed by Bray and Thomas. In this, the Figure 1 cube on page 475 and the discussion thereof will be useful to take up.

I can envision multiple ways to write a high-quality paper in response to the above charge. One way to proceed analytically would be to compare and contrast what Bray and Thomas recommend with the recommendations presented by others who call for and discuss comparative education studies. In connection with this it would likely be worthwhile to think about what the Bray and Thomas piece ignores, as well as what it includes that others don’t. It is fine if your paper ends up taking an evaluative stance (e.g. discussing strengths and weaknesses of the Bray and Thomas) however please note that that is not your principal charge – your charge is more to fit the Bray and Thomas piece into this ongoing conversation that we call the field of Comparative Education.

Some writing tips: (1) The organization of your writing is a very important aspect of an analytic paper like this. Do not hesitate to use sub-headings as this is an effective way both to discipline your writing and to telegraph to your reader what you are now going to be discussing. (2) Use direct quotes and block quotes sparingly. In many – if not most cases – it is better to provide a parenthetical citation and paraphrase or rework it in your own words. When you directly quote someone else’s writing you always need to comment on it and analyze it. Do not leave the quoted text to speak for itself. (3) Proofread carefully. I find that the best way to do this is to read it aloud to someone else – in all likelihood you’ll catch any writing mistakes yourself as you do this. Your paper should use a parenthetical in-text reference style and include a list of references at the end. There are several versions of this but we will be using the APA style. Please note that I am only requiring that the in-text cites and reference list be in APA style – you are not required to use a “running heading” or an APA-immaculate cover page. Additional information on this reference style is available at https://owl.english. [Please note that since it is clear that this paper is an analysis of Bray and Thomas it will not be necessary to put in a parenthetical in-text citation at absolutely every mention of their piece. I think it will be adequate to simply put in info when you are directly quoting, for example: “When discussing world religions Bray and Thomas (1995) note that these are often ‘open to challenge’ (p. 476).”]

Please note that this paper does not require you to conduct any additional research outside of the Bray & Thomas piece and assigned course readings to-date. It will be graded on the basis of (a) how well it demonstrates a careful reading of the texts under consideration, (b) the quality of your analysis of the Bray and Thomas chapter in relation to the topics and required readings covered to date, and (c) the clarity and organization of your writing.

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