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Comparative Research in Higher Education Studies: Considering the Different Levels of Comparison and Emerging Methodological Challenges

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research

ISBN: 978-1-78190-682-8, eISBN: 978-1-78190-683-5

ISSN: 1479-3628

Publication date: 13 August 2014

Abstract

This chapter discusses the main challenges in higher education comparative research, focusing on cross-national forms of comparison and presenting examples from European research. The first part stresses the importance of constructing concepts which can travel across countries. This part identifies the different vertical levels of comparison involved in higher education cross-national research, discussing how the need for exploring general patterns in higher education (e.g. globalisation and Europeanisation) is confronted with the importance of taking into account the diversity within the particular cases (e.g. institutional and individual experiences). The second part focuses on the equivalence of meaning in large-N (in particular, the Eurostudent and REFLEX datasets) and small-N studies, identifying the respective limits of the two forms of comparison. The chapter contends that comparative research in higher education could benefit from more collaboration between small-N qualitative comparativists and experts of large-N studies used in European policy-making.

Citation

Antonucci, L. (2014), "Comparative Research in Higher Education Studies: Considering the Different Levels of Comparison and Emerging Methodological Challenges", Theory and Method in Higher Education Research (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3628(2013)0000009004

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited