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This chapter describes in detail the research methodology adopted to answer the research questions: how do socio-economic and family background affect the educational achievements of C.P.E students and how to prevent dropout at grass-root level. The research approach, data sources and research instrument to be employed to carry out the research study are justified. Furthermore, the research sample and the data collection procedures are depicted in more details. The quantitative research has been adopted given its appropriateness to the present study as further elaborated alongside with the justification of the other research components.
3.2 Research Approach
In carrying out the present study the quantitative method was selected to investigate on the factors which cause the drop out of students at C.P.E Level. According to Proctor and Capaldi (2006) as cited by Hoy (2010), quantitative research refers to the systematic examination involving both experiments and organised methods. The quantitative approach was used in the research because the investigations are focused on control and quantified appraisal of accomplishment. As rightly highlighted by Creswell (2005) as cited by Cottrell and McKenzie (2011), under the quantitative approach there is no interference of the researcher to influence the respondents during the research. Thus, using this approach, reliable and objective data was obtained without any bias from the researcher. Similarly, as measurement and statistics are entrenched in this approach, it was possible to analyse the linkages between observed facts and mathematical expressions of associations (Hoy, 2010). This was further represented graphically for analysis and deriving the conclusions of the present study. Consequently, the quantitative research was more suitable for the present study because it has aided to formulate and to test the hypotheses through the results. Furthermore, this approach has helped to easily compare the result of the research with other studies. All the above characteristics and appropriateness of the quantitative research would not have been possible under the qualitative research. This is because the qualitative approach focuses on comprehending, envisaging novel opinions and find out strands of behavior (Hoy, 2010). Consequently, it was not an appropriate approach for the present research where the investigation was mainly based on the relationship between socio-economic factors, family background and academic performance which eventually lead to dropout.
3.3 Data Sources
A combination of primary and secondary data sources was used to accomplish the present study. Primary data refers to first-hand data collected by the researcher while secondary data as defined by Burt, Barber and Rigby (2009) is data already available for use with regards to other applications. The primary data was collected to analyse the major factors which eventually lead to school dropout through questionnaires and survey of students who have not been academically successful at the C.P.E Level. Using primary data the research has covered the latest development and responded to its purpose. Moreover, such data allowed the formulation and testing of hypothesis.
The availability of secondary data was also very economical and it assisted in the timely completion of the study. As stated by Kumar (2008), the use of secondary data helped to increase familiarity and understanding of the research topic in order to highlight the gaps and deficiencies. For example, by relying on statistics available from the Ministry of Education, the researcher discovered that school dropout is a serious problem at C.P.E level. Additionally, comparison was also undertaken between the available secondary and primary data collected by the researcher (Beri, 2010). With regards to the secondary data, they were obtained through an analysis of statistical data of previous C.P.E results from the Mauritius Examination Syndicate and the Central Statistical Office. Such data were a valuable source of information on the performance of students at C.P.E Level. This is because they provided information on dropout rate, rate of pass, number of attempts, type of schools and also the regions where the schools are situated.
However, had the secondary source of data been used alone, it would have brought certain limitations to the study. This is because such data are likely to become obsolete with time and might not be in the required unit of measurement (Kumar, 2008). For example, the data might be in percentage while instead it was needed in monetary terms or in count. Furthermore, the secondary sources did not provide all the information required because they were not gathered for the research topic at hand (Smith et al, 2009). Consequently, as these two types of data are complementary to each other, the limitations of secondary data as seen inter alia was compensated by collecting primary data (Thyer, 2010).
3.4 Research Instrument
A likert-scale questionnaire was selected to gather information from the participants on their personal profile, socio-economic condition and family background. Bell (1999) cited by Beiske (2002) defined a questionnaire as a sequence of written questions to be answered by the respondents. Under this instrument, the answers are recorded by the respondents themselves (Kervin, 1999). Given that the questions are set in a methodical manner, it was easy to administer and analyse the data in a standardized format. Furthermore, a questionnaire enabled more respondents to be surveyed because copies was easily distributed to a large number of people while using the former only one person could have been interviewed at a time. Another advantage of this instrument is that it was more appropriate and easy for the participants to answer. Additionally, the questions which they would have been hesitant to answer if asked in person were easily asked using the questionnaire. Consequently, the questionnaire was the best research tool for the research at hand while an interview would have led to biased findings and delayed the completion of the research.
Bearing in mind that the respondents to the questionnaire were unsuccessful C.P.E students, closed-end questions were relied upon. Furthermore, it enabled the respondents to remain focused on the area under discussion. Consequently, by setting before-hand the potential answers, it was easier for the students to answer and it saved time. Moreover, the likert-scale was used to scale the answers. This scaling technique was very simple and easy to formulate. It also made it possible to obtain answers in a coded format which was easily manipulated and compared. Similarly, it provided more reliable data since the participants themselves answered the questionnaire. Thus, by providing degree of answers to the respondents, the likert scale permitted the verification of internal consistency. The likert scale generally may range from 2 to 7 answers but for the present study a compromise was taken at 2, 4, 5 and 6 responses for the questions.
The questionnaire as presented in the Appendix was divided into 3 main Sections namely:
Section A - Personal Profile of Students: Under the first section, the students were asked questions regarding: their gender, the results of their first attempt to C.P.E examination, rate of absenteeism; source of motivation, quality of relationship with their parents and teachers, quality of school and classroom environment, quality of educational facilities as well as problems which they face. This section has helped to define the characteristic and profile of the respondents.
Section B - Socio-Economic Background: With regards to this segment, information was obtained from the participants on the educational level, income level and occupation of their parents and the frequency of parent's involvement and discussion in their studies. Thus, this part has helped to assess the socio-economic background of the participants.
Section C - Family Background: This last segment gathered information on the participants' family size and structure which provided helpful information on the family background of the respondents.
3.5 Research Population & Sample
For the purpose of this study the population was all the students enrolled in Primary ZEP Schools in Zone 1. As per the official records of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, there were 14 ZEP schools in this Zone. Nonetheless, it was not possible to carry out the research on such large scale in all these schools because it would have been too time consuming. Furthermore, permission was not granted by the management of all the schools because the C.P.E examinations were due to start. Consequently, the current study was conducted only in selected schools from Zone 1 with 268 participants listed in Table 3.1 below.
Table 3.1 Distribution of Respondents by Schools
Number of Students
1. Emmanuel Anquetill Government School (Roche Bois)
2. H Ramnarain Government School (Terre Rouge)
3. La BriquetterieÂ Government School (Sainte Croix)
4. RésidenceÂ Vallijee Government School (Cité Vallijee)
5. Seeneevassen Government School (Cassis)
6. Surtee Soonee Government School (Vallee Pitot)
7. Nicolay Government School (Roche Bois)
Furthermore, purposive sampling was used to select only the students who have not been successful at the C.P.E level. In other words, the respondents were students sitting for their second attempt to the examination. This is because these students are more at risk of dropping out from school as they already have not been successful to their first attempt. Consequently, using such a sample of respondents provided the required data needed to find the causes of dropout. The purposive sampling technique is defined as a technique which helps to select the sample according to the purposes of the study and each component is chosen to represent the whole population (Paler Calmorin and Calmorin, 2007). Consequently, this method was appropriate because it saved time by helping to streamline the most suitable from the non suitable participants for research.
3.6 Data Collection Procedure
Before conducting the survey, the written permission to gather information from the students, was obtained from the Head of the school and Teachers. Following the necessary authorisation, a pilot test survey of the questionnaire was first carried out to test the questions whether the respondents are able to answer them without any difficulty. For this purpose, 10 students were asked to answer the questionnaire. The pretesting helped to discover the potential problems which would have been encountered in conducting the final survey. These are further discussed in the research limitations part. Consequently, the questionnaire was revised accordingly and the survey was carried out with the help of the students to distribute the questionnaire among the students.
3.7 Research Limitations
Given that the C.P.E Examinations were due to start, the research could not be undertaken at all the ZEP primary schools in Zone 1. Consequently, it was only possible to carry the research at the seven schools referred to inter alia. Furthermore, as revealed by the pilot survey, the participants had difficulties to understand the questions of the questionnaire since they could not comprehend English properly. Consequently, the questionnaire had to be redrafted in Creole so that they could be answered. Additionally, the confusion of students with regards to the frequency of their attendance with absenteeism was cleared by replacing the former with the latter.
3.8 Hypothesis Testing
H0 = There is no relationship between Results and Father's Education Level.
H1 = There is a positive relationship between Results and Father's Education Level.
H0 = There is no relationship between Results and Frequency of Discussion on school matters with Parents.
H1 = There is a positive relationship between Results and Frequency of Discussion on school matters with parents.
H0 = There is no relationship between Results and Frequency of Parents' Involvement in studies.
H1 = There is a positive relationship between Results and Frequency of Parents' Involvement in studies.
H0 = There is no relationship between Results and Family Structure.
H1 = There is a positive relationship between Results and Family Structure.
4.4 Discussion of Tests Results
4.4.1 Father Education Level
The tests on the interplay between father's education level and results support the findings of Poston & Falbo (1990), Balli et al (1998) and Nannyonjo (2007). They stated that highly learned parents were in a better position to discuss with their children which was reflected in higher educational performance. The present study also supports the findings of Kaplan et al (2001) for finding that regardless of expressed higher expectations, parents with higher qualifications still achieve better at school.
4.4.2 Mother Occupational status
Moreover, the moderate relationship discovered between mother's occupation and students' results reflects the conclusion of Vandell and Ramanan (1992) that working status a positive effect on the educational aptitude of students. Thus, a greater proportion of students with higher grades (79%=[9.9+49.3+19.7+21.1] in Table 4.4) had mothers who were self-employed or had jobs in the private and public sector. However, this finding contradicts with the conclusion of Muller (1995) who found a negative relationship because working women cannot assist their children in completing their homework. Furthermore, the results also showed that when mothers are in employment, girls tend to do better at school as stated by Hoffman (1980) and Montemayor & Clayton (2001), given that they benefit from being from the same-sex model of ability and attainment.
4.4.3 Parents Income Level
The moderately strong relationship discovered between parents' income and results is in line with the results of Bradley et al (2001) that low income earners can neither invest nor assist their children in doing their homework. Additionally, the study of Duncan et al (1998) also reflects a positive link between the income and educational achievement through absence of educational facilities and understanding. Nevertheless, this finding does not support the conclusions of Chevalier & Lanot (2002) and Carneiro and Heckman (2003) who stated that the effects of parents' income is insignificant while parents' education is more significant. This is because the results show that the effects of parents' income (0.279) and father's education (0.256) are almost the same, that is, both are moderately related with students' grades. Besides, the finding also confirms the conclusion of Beyer (1995) who stated that the extra money brought by the mothers help to improve the academic performance of the students and unless such necessity exist the contrary may result. Given that the respondents reside in regions of extreme poverty, it may be inferred that such additional income is indeed a relief for the family which is reflect by a greater proportion of students with better grades in employment as seen inter alia.
4.4.4 Family Structure
Furthermore, the moderate relationship between results and family structure discovered in the present study from a first view does not reflect the findings of Gennetian (2005) and Biblarz & Raftery (1999) who found little effects of family structure which weakens when control variables are included. However, it must be highlighted that a greater proportion of students within the lower grade category come from nuclear family (50% in Table 4.10) as compared to those who stay in non-intact families (40%). Thus, although there a moderate relationship has been found, the effects cannot be said to be significant. Nevertheless, in contrast to Shim et al (2000) who argued that the perception of the students of their parents' expectations was a better gauge despite they found adverse effects of family structure on grades, the results revealed that father's education level and family structure are equally important (Table 4.13 Cramer's V for Father's Education Level [0.256] & Parents' Income Level [0.279]). Instead the results corroborates with the findings of Evenhouse & Reilly (2004) and Bogges (1998) as they established a connection between non intact families with academic achievement. Conversely, the nature of the relationship is more significant than found in the present study.
4.4.5 Empirical Evidence
Besides, the research confirms the disparity in academic achievement between rural and urban region which were highlighted by empirical evidences from Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. None of these students surveyed were able to achieve the average grade instead they only secure either between 0-5 and 6-11. As compared to the other regions of the country, the students tend to achieve higher grades, the former reside in rural region where there are pockets of poverty. Similarly, the findings reflect the findings of the OECD (2009) whereby in countries like Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan and Panama, there was a great disparity between the performance of students from rural and urban regions.
Recommendations & Conclusion
The aim of this study was to identify the causes of dropout at CPE level in ZEP School in Zone 1. To accomplish this aim, this dissertation was guided by the objective to determine whether socio-economic factors have an impact on the overall academic performance of students at CPE Level. Based on a sample of 268 respondents from 7 ZEP schools, it was found that the education level of father and parents' income are moderately strong indicator of students' failure and dropout at CPE level. Conversely, the occupation status of mother as well as the family structure was each discovered to be moderately related with results. As such there is no significant difference between the relationship of these factors with the scores achieved by students which suggest that they are equally important indicators of academic failure and eventually of dropout at CPE Level.
The respondent only scored grades within two categories: 'Between 0 & 5' and 'Between 6-11', reflecting the fact that they are CPE repeaters. Besides, there is no problem of absenteeism as the students attend school quite regularly. The fact that there is a greater proportion of males as compared to females students reveal that the latter tend to perform better than males. Consequently, they are more likely to progress to secondary studies after their first attempt to the examination. Furthermore, it was also found that a significant proportion of the respondents originated from nuclear families while a lesser proportion came from the other forms of family structure. This is confirm and further reflected by the figures on the size of family whereby mainstream stayed in families with 3 to 6 members. Additionally, although an overall assessment showed that parents generally understand the importance of discussing and helping their children, only a slightly greater proportion tend to do so on a very frequent as compared to an occasional basis. The rest either never engage in such activity or do so on a seldom basis. Although there is a significant proportion of parents who are employed, the unemployment rate is higher for mothers than for fathers which indicate that the later is the main breadwinner for these respondents. Consequently, the unemployment status of mother may be the cause for low grade among the students. Moreover, since the majority of the fathers and mothers have achieved only primary education, they tend to receive low salary. Consequently, these parents cannot adequately invest in the studies of the former and this is a major cause for the poor performance of the students.
However, the majority of the respondents have answered that they not only study in a conducive environment but also benefit from excellent quality facilities. This is reflected by the efforts of the government with the implementation of the ZEP program. Likewise, the preponderance of the students also share very cordial relationship with their parents and teachers. Nonetheless, one major problem faced by these students is language difficulty although 27% answered to experience multiple problems. These students do not have a good grasp of languages which reduces their learning capacity considerably preventing them from understanding and answering questions properly in all the subjects. A significant proportion of the students stated that they were motivated by their parents, siblings, teachers and friends. Nevertheless, the second best place was occupied by teachers followed by parents. This reflects the fact that these students spend most of the time at school as compared to home.
In light of the above conclusion and based on the analysis of the findings, among the many other possibilities for further studies, it is proposed that the problem of language difficulty faced by and the intellectual capacity of these students are investigated in more dept. Since this study has mainly focused on identifying the causes, studies which analyse the source, effects and the interplay between these factors are required. Given the time limitations it was not possible for the study to cover all the ZEP schools. Consequently, it is also proposed that the future studies to be conducted in the field to consider taking the whole sample population identified in this dissertation. In other words, such researches could be conducted at all the ZEP schools to determine whether the same factors can be attributed to the problem of failure and dropout from primary education at CPE level.