Gender equity Essay
TITLE: In Investigation into Socio-Economic Factors and Gender Disparity in Youths Attending Flexible Learning Services in Sunshine Coast, Queensland State, Australia
The study is aimed to investigate whether socio-economic factors identified in a survey result published in the Queensland Government website, has a relation with the high number of male youths engaging in Flexible Learning Services (FLS). Similarly, the study also aims to determine whether the same relation also occurs for female youths engaged in FLS. This study hypothesizes that there is both a relationship between said socio-economic factors and high engagement of males and females in FLS. The study will be using survey research design. Respondents will be obtained through random probability sampling and flexible learning systems will be selected purposively.
Review of Related Literature
A Flexible Learning Service is seen now as a new approach aimed to address the needs of students not only in terms of academics but more so, in their social and economic needs. Hence, it is a system that adapts and is therefore seen as an effective solution to youths who may not adapt well or may have problems with the traditional setting—traditional or conventional form of schooling (2004) 2. There are many instances where youths have difficulties in schooling, examples of such are reported in a study by the European Commission on disadvantaged youths—report says that in most of countries like Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Poland, Slovakia, etc. there are existing problems of early school leavers and the highest qualification achieved by most youths is only completed basic education (Donnelly, 2005) 20. Primary reason for being so seems to be from not being able to cope with increasing individualized demands such as limited resources (2005) 4. There are other studies also which report that students particularly those in middle school experience much difficulties in learning hence new approaches and changes have been introduced into the curriculum of some Australian states to cope up with the needs or to address some problems experienced by youths (S. Dole, 2006) 3. In support to this, according to a benchmark study on Australian primary school curricula, Australian students have not significantly improved their performance since the 1994/95 tests and are now being outperformed by countries that were once below Australia in ranking (S. Dole, 2006) 1. Bourdieu (2004) emphasizes the importance of education from a journal article—it’s said that in developed capitalist countries having advanced education systems, transmission of power depends on educational credentials (J. Liddle, 2004) 129. According to an online report, Foresight Youth Report (4) says—research and technology have the potential to become vehicles wherein youths can realize their aspirations. Also, a case study on trials for e-learning systems cites that elearning systems when applied to mainstream teaching and learning creates quality learning and makes for greater ease (R. Oliver, 2006) 5. A Flexible Learning System maybe seen to provide learners with flexibility in terms of time of study, place of study, choice of level of content, choice of quantum of content, pace of study, choice of media and choice of environment (D. Ray) 2. Flexible Learning services have already been applied to a variety of contexts: computer-based learning systems such as computer networks and information technology, communication technology as well as technical and vocational education systems. One such example adapting this form of learning is the University of Berkeley or UC Berkeley—they have developed online tools such as WebCT and BlackBoard in order to effectively adapt to needs of both students and faculty across the campus (Hancock, 2003) 3. According to a survey result in the Queensland Government website (2004) 7, this form of learning proves useful in settings where there are students who experience some social and economic problems while schooling. The survey result also notes that there have been many circumstances where youths have disengaged in the traditional form of schooling. Reasons for such are said to be the following: very poor academic skills, problems on behavior in school, extended and/or unexplained absences, early school leaving, drug abuse, family conflict or lack of family support, unemployment, disability, early pregnancy, and negative experience at school. Furthermore there are other underlying factors which these youths faced: homelessness, high mobility, mental health issues, contact with the juvenile justice system, and difficulties with school expenses. Interestingly, statistics show from similar survey result that there is a higher percentage of males compared to females who attend Flexible Learning Systems. Inasmuch as the said socio-economic factors identified may be related to the high number of males who disengage in the traditional form of schooling and opt FLS instead, a need still exists however to test whether a significant relation exists between the variables. If confirmed, results of this study may be able to support or validate what has been said from a print source, “There is also an awareness of the unevenness of power [gender issue], that not all experiences are necessarily negatively oppressive and related to relations of power and that it is important to analyze how women are variously positioned in specific contexts (Maynard, 1998) 126. Furthermore, it helps shed light into what a print source calls ‘lay theories’, those cited for example is the relationship between poverty and crime or assumptions such as whether one society is more modern than the other (Cooper, 2001) 8. In this case, the study presupposes that there is a relationship between the socio-economic variables identified and the high engaging of males in Flexible Learning Systems.
The research objectives therefore set in this study mainly aims to investigate whether a high number of males attending FLS than females is caused or associated with the said identified socio-economic factors. Specifically the study aims to answer the following:
Are the socio-economic factors or reasons statistically related or associated to the males’ engaging in FLS?
Does a similar relation apply to women engaged in FLS as well?
Null Hypothesis (Ho): There is no relation existing between socio-economic factors identified and males’ engaging in FLS.
Alternative Hypothesis (H1): There is a relation between the socio-economic factors identified and the males’ engaging in FLS.
Null Hypothesis (Ho): There is no relation between socio-economic factors identified and females’ engaging in FLS.
Alternative Hypothesis (H2): There is a relation between the socio-economic factors identified and the females’ engaging in FLS.
Research Design or Methodology
This study will be employing a survey research design supplemented by focused group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews. Respondents will be obtained through random probability sampling of youths in Sunshine Coast engaged in Flexible Learning Services. Meanwhile, choice of flexible learning systems included in the study will be selected through purposive sampling. Criteria for selection of flexible learning systems included in the study will depend on researchers’ resources such as finances and time.
Methods of Data Collection
Instruments which will be primarily used in the study are questionnaires and list of interview questions. The questionnaire will consist of questions that will include socio-economic factors identified such as very poor academic skills, problems on behavior in school, extended and/or unexplained absences, early school leaving, drug abuse, family conflict or lack of family support, unemployment, disability, early pregnancy, and negative experience at school as well as other factors identified: homelessness, high mobility, mental health issues, contact with the juvenile justice system, and difficulties with school expenses. Respondents will answer the questionnaire regarding these factors using a Likert scale. Similarly, respondents opting for FLS will answer a set of statements with bipolar adjectives regarding flexible learning systems through a Likert scale.
Proposed Method of Data Analysis or Interpretation
Data which will be gathered in the study will be at the ordinal level; hence Spearman Rho may be used as a measure of association between variables. Correlation will be used as the measure of association between variables to determine whether a significant relation exists between variables. All analysis will be using the 0.05 level of significance.
Ethical Implications or Considerations of the proposal
Results of the study may prove that gender disparity does exist among youths who are schooling—therefore a ‘mild’ form of gender inequity exists. This may be seen from a high number of males’ attending FLS instead of the traditional form of schooling and socio-economic reasons or factors tied to it. Furthermore, results of this study may suggest that existing structures of the traditional or conventional forms of schooling do not meet the problems and needs of youths today. Therefore it is suggested that they improve some aspects or services by which they can meet or address needs and problems of youths.
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