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Comparative and international education research made easy using free online data platforms and tools

Sun, April 14, 1:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific I

Group Submission Type: Pre-conference Workshop


There are a number of data platforms and tools that are free and publicly available on the web for doing comparative and international education research. However, many people are either not aware of these or not aware of which to use to answer specific research questions. These online data platforms and tools vary considerably in terms of content, functionality, data visualization capabilities, and availability of country data. The primary objective of this workshop is to teach participants how to use these effectively. The workshop will focus on three platforms/tools, which have been developed with funding from the International Activities Branch at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), U.S. Department of Education:

The ILSA Gateway, is a new platform that, for the first time, provides researchers a single entry point to major international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) in education conducted by the following organizations: CONFEMEN (PASEC), the IDB (PRIDI), the IEA (ICCS, ICILS, PIRLS, TEDS-M, and TIMSS), the OECD (PIAAC, PISA, and TALIS), SACMEQ (SACMEQ III Study), UNESCO (TERCE), and the World Bank (STEP). For each study, users can navigate to a fact sheet that provides a quick overview; read more detailed information on the study’s framework, design, results, data, etc.; and easily access the related resources on the external study websites. The platform features a glossary, search tool, and paper database, of which the latter allows researchers to identify relevant articles published to date in peer-reviewed journals, including secondary analyses of the above-mentioned study data.

The International Data Explorer (IDE) allows users to explore student and adult performance on ILSAs and explore thousands of variables derived from survey questionnaires administered to the students or adults and to the students’ teachers and principals. Data are available for more than 100 countries. With the IDE, users can select their own countries and variables for analysis, run a variety of statistical tests, and generate customizable tables, charts, and maps. The IDE includes data for all years from PIAAC, PIRLS, PISA, TALIS, and TIMSS.

The Country Profiles and Comparisons tool provides contextual data for about 80 countries. Users can examine and compare countries along a number of key indicators (a total of about 75) grouped into several categories: International Assessment, Population, Economy, Education Expenditure, Education System, and Government. The user can examine many indicators for a small number of countries, examine a few indicators for a large number of countries, and toggle back and forth between these two view options. The data come from multiple sources, such as the ILSAs coordinated by IEA and OECD, OECD’s Education at a Glance, the World Bank Databank, and the CIA World Factbook.

Throughout the workshop, the leaders will provide hands-on examples of how research questions in comparative and international education can be addressed using the various online data platforms and tools. It is recommended that participants bring their own laptops to follow along with the hands-on demonstrations and explore their own research questions. Some knowledge about quantitative research methods is helpful but not necessary.

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