A Case Study on student dropout in a Master program

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Education is very significant for every country on earth. It is the unlocked code key to develop all fragments in countries' system. On the other hand, education is not widely reached and provided to all people. The causes why those things do not occur are that there are many concerns blocking. In order to solve those difficulties, global governments attempt to stimulate and produce many projects. Similarly, in Cambodia, education is one of the main aspects of the rectangular strategies which indicate that the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport plays an important role to improve economic, social and cultural domains of the country. In response to its role stated in the strategies, the MoEYS has made concerted efforts to improve quality and equity of education. However, many constraints have made it difficult for the MoEYS to implement the strategies. These constrains are gender inequality, low quality of education, dropout, financial constrain in maintaining educational processes, schooling problems, administration in education, policy making and curriculum design. I have noticed that student dropout is one of the many constrains that has an enormous impact on efficiency and effectiveness of the development of the country. To address this, many researches about dropouts have been conducted in primary and secondary school levels which EFA 2015 and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the core of them; however, there is little or almost no research into student dropouts in higher education, especially at master level because the population of students at this level are small compared to general education level.

Particularly, this current proposal mentions about the dropout from higher education at master level. During doing master degree of education at one university in Phnom Penh, I have observed that master candidates of education here have dropped out gradually from term to term. Moreover, by questioning previous cohorts and MED staff about this issue, the unchanged experiences have existed. I ask myself why that issues occur. This encourages me me to conduct this research ..

1.2 Research Problem

As mentioned earlier, dropout from master candidates is a new concern in Cambodian higher education. I have observed that dropouts cost a lot of money and time. Time and money investment at this level is much more expensive comparing to the basic education sector. Furthermore, money and time is wasted if the dropouts continue to occur.

1.3 Research objective

To find out the perspectives of the dropouts of the master candidates

To identify difficulties that students who dropped out face

To gather feedback from the dropout to inform policy on student retention

1.4 Research questions

All in all, this paper is going to be guided by the three following research questions:

What are the perspectives of the dropouts on the master training program?

How do they decide to dropout?

How do they feel after dropping out?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is significant for several reasons. First, it will reflect the perspectives of dropout candidates on the current training programs. Secondly, it will indicate challenges that make students drop out. Third, it will provide useful information to stakeholders who are involved in discussion on drop-out issues, especially at higher education level and to inform higher education policy makers in relation to student dropout in higher education in education. Fourth, it will help the students make an informed judgement on dropout. Last but not least, it will be one significant literature review for next generation researchers in dropout area at master level.

1.6 Definitions of the Terms

Dropout refers to the students who do not complete their course to any circumstances. MED is master of education.

1.7 Proposed chapter outline of your research paper

The research paper is organized as following basic parts:

Title and Authors: Even though the title is the shortest page of research paper, it is not often easy to write. Author section includes researcher's name along side the supervisor's name.

Abstract: It is the most important part of the research report because anyone will read it before reading the whole thing. It is the summary of research, results and conclusions.

Table of contents: It is only a breakdown of sections and subsections by page number

Introduction: That shows the background, research problem, research objective, research question and/or hypothesis, rationale/significance, definition of key term. It is important to make anyone interested in the study.

Method: It includes research design, tools/instruments for data gathering, site, population, sample size and sampling method, data collecting procedures, a plan to analyze data ethical consideration, and strengths and limitation of method.

Result and Discussion


Reference and Citations


Chapter II: Literature Review

Theoretical Framework

According to Rumberger and Lim (2008), theoretical perception that is still worthwhile in clarifying dropout conduct which is a broadly acknowledged theory of institutional departure at the higher education level developed by Tinto (1987). First, personal attributes-- family background, skills and abilities, and prior school experiences, including goals (intentions) and motivation (commitments) to continue their schooling in Tinto's model as the process of departure which is influenced. Second, two separate dimensions, a social dimension dealing with social integration and an academic dimension dealing with academic integration, influence students by both informal and formal structure of the university. For instance, the formal systems of classrooms and the informal system of communications with university in other situations may be existed in academic integration. Moreover, the needs and attributes of graduate students as well as external factors make them dropout which the dimensions can have distinct and free impacts on how the students do. Third, student mobility is another aspect of persistence. It differentiates between the commitment to the goal of finishing university and the commitment to the university, and how these commitments can be influenced by students' experiences in university over time (p. 115). Furthermore, the theory suggests that universities can have various people or subgroups (p. 119) to provide unneeded accommodations and provision to students. Besides the theory grants the significance of external factors that have influenced student leaving (Rumberger & Lim, 2008).

Previous Research

It is hard to find Research on dropouts at master level. If they exist, the results are not reliable and generalizable because of small population (Amber, 2010). However, many researches about dropout in higher education in undergraduate level are related or at least providing some idea.

A noteworthy number of studies has discovered the impact of financial support on university admission, achievement and dropouts (McPherson and Schapiro, 1991; Willet and Singer, 1991; DesJardins, Ahlburg and McCall, 1999; Dynarski, 2002; Stinebrickner and Stinebrickner, 2008). A positive effect on enrolment and a negative effect on dropout have been found as result of financial aid in most of these studies. Even though the impact is varied since low-income and minority students are more thoughtful and sympathetic to financial support modifications than high or middle income students. Furthermore, poverty in higher education is another point to be considered (Letseka & Breier, 2008)-another study in South Africa.

Regarding the nature of financial status limits, the literature has been disagreeing over the relevance of two chief terms: short-term limits (Kane and Ellwood, 2000) as assessed by noticed family income at the time of admission decision and long- term limits, assessed by long-term standard of family income and wealth (Carneiro and Heckman, 2002). Moreover, several particular studies (For example, Smith and Naylor, 2000, for the United Kingdom, Cingano and Cipollone, 2007, for Italy, and Stinebrickner and Stinebrickner, 2009) have emphasized the significance of undergraduates' social and economic characteristics to describe dropouts, even in circumstances were credit limits were disappeared (Acuna et el2010). A significant procedural challenge confronted by these studies is the difficulty of variables between support suitability and university admission, achievement and dropout, since support suitability can be linked with numerous unobserved as well as observed undergraduates' characteristics that effect university-continuing and dropout chosen choices (Dynarski, 2002).

Besides "With their whole lives ahead of them: Myth and realities about why so many students fail to finish college" is a remarkable and noteworthy study in 2009 in United Sates. It is based on a telephone survey operating both landline and cellular phones. The sample was 614 young adults aged 22 to 30 years who have experience with some post-secondary education. Furthermore, the interviews via phone took averagely 26 minutes in both English and Spanish and were conducted from May 7 to June 24, 2009-27 percent response rate for landline and 29 percent for cell phone. The sample were Americans, African-American and Hispanic respondents. The phone sample was created by Survey Sampling International, LLC (SSI). Standard list-assisted random digit dialling (RDD) methodology was used.

Public Agenda designed and interpreted reflected data in this report and Princeton Survey Research International in cooperation with Princeton Data Source, LLC conducted the interview. Moreover, qualitative exploration was done in five focus groups. They are adults who are between 22 and 30.

A mix of young adults, who neither complete a post-secondary education program nor post-secondary education experience in Erie, Pennsylvania;

Young adults presently in a two year or technical program in New York, New York ;

Young adults presently in a four year program in Phoenix, Arizona;

Young adults presently in a four year program in St. Louis, Missouri;

Young adults who did not finish a post-secondary education program in Seattle, Washington. (Amber et all, 2010)

The findings of this resurvey show that

Most undergraduates dropout university because they are working to support their livings and studying at the same time. To much extent, the pressure of work and study increase too hard to continue.

Young people who do not finish university are who often pay university fee by themselves.

Among undergraduates who are not qualified to hold degree, the university choosing method is narrower and frequently seems coincidence and unchanging.

Students who drop out university understand that a certificate is an advantage, but they might not completely understand the impact on their future as result of dropping out. (Amber et all, 2010)

Chapter III: Methodology

3.1 Research design

This research will use a qualitative method. This will enable the researcher to identify the case of dropout from higher education at master level of education in one public university in Phnom Penh.

3.2 Tools/instruments for data gathering

The gate keepers are the university's director and MEd's director and other key informants such as the MEd's staff (MEd's director assistant). Students, ranging from cohort 1 to cohort 4, will also be invited to participate in this study. They will be contacted through emails and or telephones. However, any unknown change of this information is also something to be considered. Participant observations and in-depth interviewing are the two ways to collect the data. The researcher comes into the people's environment where he or she plans to conduct study and a written record of what is observed and heard is systematically kept. Artifacts, photographs, university memos and records supplement this material (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992).

3.3 Site, population, sample size and sampling method

The study will be conducted in one public university in Phnom Penh. The populations are about the master candidates of education who dropped out. Total population of dropout from cohort 1 to cohort 4 is 35. So one third of this is the sample around 10 to 12 people involved in the study and purposive sampling is selected to be used. Purposive sampling is one of the most common sampling approaches. Sample sizes can or can not be fixed prior to data collection. They depend on the times and resources available as well as the study's objectives (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). However, the samples are divided into two groups. One group is interviewed face to face or by phone. Besides participant observation in cohort 4 is another.

3.4 Data Collecting Procedures

Using two procedures to collect data-in-depth interview and participant observation (how do you observe?). For in-depth-interviewing, contacting the samples via phone or email to interview is first point. Make sure that they understand the objectives of the study and have willingness to take part in the study. Setting and time is set up as affordable as available. While in-depth interviewing, , following up on what the participant says not interrupting, asking questions when they don't understand, avoiding leading questions, sharing experiences on occasion, tolerating silence, expressing polite ways to the participants is done. The rest is about the participate observation. The settings are the classroom, MEd room, canteen, restaurants, clubs, etc.-where the cohort 4 students are with the researcher. The participants are the researcher's classmates. Dropout stuff is normally talked among them while break time, meal time, entertainment time, etc. That is informal and unplanned activities. Rich-thick description for the readers is written in the research report and the trustworthiness is concerned.

3.5 Data analysis

The collected data will be analysed qualitatively. The transcripts of interviews must be many pages. And each interview transcript will be initially coded into thematic categories of personal perspective, difficulties and feedback. Any response that connected more than one category will be coded into all related categories (Gay et al, 2009, p. 452). Addition to it, meaningful and appropriate format of summary of the answer from qualitative questionnaire will be done as well along with the summary of note taking. At the end, matrixes, concept maps and graphs will be illustrated (Gay et al, 2009, p. 454). It will display perspective, difficulties and feedback of the dropout candidates.

3.6 Ethical Considerations

The participation in in-depth-interviewing is completely voluntary. Research participant information and consent forms are designed and used. The interviewees have specific rights. They are free to reject to answer any questions and to withdraw from the interview any circumstances. Furthermore, the interviewees can check the transcription of the interview to make sure it is not harmful to them. The data is strictly confidential and anonymous.

3.7 Strength and Limitation of method

Flexibility and emphasis on the context is the strength of the methodology-case study. Moreover, this study has several limitations which affect the generalizability of the results. They consist of time constraint and financial issues. Because of these things, only one university is thoroughly selected to be conducted so to some extent its result can reflect issues of only one university. Moreover, all relevant information depends on data and documents from interviewees and the MEd staff, so self bias may exist. Moreover, the sample is only from cohort 1 to cohort 4 excluding cohort 5 the new cohort 2010-2012.The researcher works as a full-time staff for a private international school in Phnom Penh so only weekend time that the study can be done. The last thing is that the researcher has limited budget.