Review 2: Reference PTCEDH_12_01 (This paper was not accepted for publication)

Brief overall evaluation

The paper has a potential in terms of trying to explain why there is an increasing failure rate of students in Tanzania. This is a serious issue and would deserve a much more analytic investigation than the present one. In general, it can be affirmed that the paper is far from complete, the lack of precise information on measures and procedure, the incomplete data interpretation, almost missing in-text references etc. (see below for more detailed) are basic shortcomings.
Concerning these, a detailed revision is recommended.

Adequacy to the requirements of the journal Papeles de Trabajo sobre Cultura, Educación y Desarrollo Humano / Working Papers on Culture, Education and Human Development

The abstract:

It is too long: 325 words instead of 200.

There are certain inconsistencies in the content (see remarks in paper)

The paper:
It’s too short: 1712 words – “There is not a size limit to manuscripts, although it is recommended that they are not shorter than 2000 words.”

By completing with more details according to the current suggestions, the paper will meet this requirement.

2. Significance of the Issue, Contribution of New Knowledge and Interest to Readership

Contribution of New Knowledge: there is no information about if there are former empirical studies, relevant to the presented research or the research is filling a gap – it’s not clear how it contributes to the research field

Interest to Readership: The questions concerned in the paper seem to be relevant and crucial in improving the practice and the performance in the Tanzanian education system in the future, in solving current problems in fulfilling planned goals – thus the paper might be highly relevant for experts in policy making, school principals, teachers etc. and for the wider public as well.

3. Coverage of Topic

The introduction provides concise but informative description about changes in Tanzanian education system and its state related to performance – this part is relevant to the presented research questions. But there is no information about if there are former empirical studies, relevant to the presented research. If there are, involving them to the introduction / conclusion and relating them to the presented research would be needed. If not, emphasizing that the current study is filling a gap in the field would be needed.

Some definitions related to Tanzanian education are missing – revising and completing these would be needed e. g.:  Basic information about the form 4 final examination is missing. Government secondary school’s definition / differentiation from community secondary school is missing

4. Relevance/Adequacy of Literature Reviewed

The reference list seems to contain relevant and mostly contemporary literature.
But there are almost no references in the paper – filling this gap would be needed – the clear indication of information sources is missing.
Beyond this, the conclusion is not complete – relating the results to referred facts and scientific literature is far from sufficient. Filling this gap – by relating the results to literature in the reference list and further new literature if needed – would be needed.

Revising reference style using the latest APA format would be needed in References section

5. Quality of Research (Design and Analysis)

The description of measures and procedure is fairly incomplete, the presented details are not sufficient for complete evaluation concerning design. Completing this part with more details would be needed.

p. 3
„Then the numbers were placed in a container and picked randomly until the sample size of 50 teachers from secondary schools and 50 teachers from primary schools were obtained”
From which type: community secondary schools or government secondary schools?
Basic information about the 2 samples is missing: e. g. average age, gender proportion

Questionnaires section – Basic information about the measure(s) used is missing – rethinking and completing this part would be needed
What were the main topics / themes concerned by the questionnaire(s)?
How many items / questions were used? If possible, illustration of them with some samples is suggested.
Were the questions of the measure(s) open-ended or closed-ended questions? If the latter one, what was the type of the scale?
It seems that the questionnaire was a very basic one: few statements, basically repeating what the researcher already knew about potential causes of failure and asking teachers to give yes or no answers. This method lacks any real scientific relevance and fails to reveal new ideas in addition to what was already known.

Pilot study
Basic information about the experiences and results of the pilot study is missing.

Basic statistical analysis could have been done to see whether there are significant differences between teacher groups / in students’ performance according to school types (like chi-squared test for independence or equivalent exact test e. g. Fisher’s exact test adequate to your sample and data type)

6. Adequacy of the Data

Because of the lack of information, mentioned at the previous point the evaluation from this aspect is a bit hard as well.

7. Data Interpretation

The Conclusion section is far from being complete.
This part only repeats the findings of secondary and primary data – relating them to other facts, to scientific literature is fairly incomplete – interpretation from several view-points is missing. Everything is descriptive narrowed down to percentages and there is no real analysis of what this all means.

The significance of the results is not discussed.  E. g: the possibilities of the future application and the possible utility of the results could appear e. g. in the education policy etc.
The limitations of the study are not discussed

8. Quality of Writing (clarity, style)

Revising and rethinking style, grammar and structure would be needed.

Revising the grammar in the whole paper, especially in the Results and Conclusion section would be needed.  Subject and / or verb are missing in several sentences. The order of words, verb conjugation, used preposition seem to be incorrect at some points

Paper structure
Using clearer text structure would be needed: e. g. Introduction, Methods and Procedure, Results, Discussion and conclusion (the current section titles of course may be kept as subsection titles)

Analysis section: Using Results as a section title instead of Analysis (p. 3) is recommended


Review 2 – Reference WPCEHD_11_05 (Published as nº 2, volume 8, 2012)

The authors seek to provide a comprehensive review of how human, cultural, social, socioeconomic, educational and psychological determinants shape children’s life trajectories.   They discuss the interrelationships among these different approaches and point to methodological and empirical weaknesses of some of these approaches. The authors provide a significant contribution by reviewing studies across many different nations. This is the most exciting aspect of this article and the article would be significantly improved if it were reframed to emphasize this contribution and provide some analytical purchase on the differences across countries.  However, while the review as it is currently structured might be useful for people who wish to review analytical trends in research about life trajectories, it is also very broad and the complexities that are involved in each of the approaches are not adequate represented. Consideration of more comprehensive efforts to generate more complex, integrative frameworks, for example the life course perspective (Glen
Elder’s work), are missing.

The human capital review provides the most comprehensive presentation of evidence, but a clear description as to how these different studies on human capital together illustrate how educational experiences serve as a kind of capital that shapes life trajectories is lacking. Are all the studies measuring the same thing? For human capital, this might seem straight forward, since they are supposedly measuring years of schooling, BUT even years of schooling can mean different things in different countries for different populations. Here is where the authors stand to make a significant contribution.

The review of social and cultural capital studies (all quantitative – where are the more theoretically driven qualitative studies that Lareau and other have done and how have certain dimensions of their work been tested using more quantitative approaches?) provides an opportunity to review critical problems of measurement. One possible
benefit of reviewing many different studies is to examine how these concepts have been measured differently. There is a brief mention of this in the concluding section, but this would be an excellent analytical strand to develop throughout the article. What does it mean that many different approaches have been taken to measure supposedly the same concept? Theoretical discussion, that might help illuminate these differences, is lacking in the article.  The review of thesocial capital literature does not include key contributors, such as Burt, Linn, Portes and Small. The authors suggest that social network studies would solve many measurement problems, but they do not include social network analysts who have done this work already.

Socioeconomic background is implicated in all studies and these studies would be more useful as examples of other theoretical approaches. In fact, the categories are uneven- some represent theories, others characteristics of people. This is a little confusing to the reader.

The empirical review of educational research is fairly comprehensive, but the description of the approach needs to be more tightly linked to the evidence presented later. After such a diverse presentation of research, the final discussion
about typical trajectories seems simplistic. More discussion about how this final approach connects with all that has come before is necessary.