Comparative Education Methods by Noah and Eckstein


Education internationally experienced a positive development in education systems and methodologies in 1960s. The emergence of pragmatic education methodologies schemas such as Noah and Eckstein contributed immensely to this success. Methodologists of international education put various schemas forward to aid in conducting educational research, which was aimed at promoting international education. They emphasized comparative education approach to promote educational strategies internationally.

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Comparative Education

A Comparative system of education is a system that focuses on comparative methods and compares education of different cultures. It uses systematized approaches to deduce a validated education method as applied in different cultures, in order to bring out an evident comparison in the education system in these regions (Holmes, 1984 P 586). According to Bereday (1968) comparative education is political geography as can be noted in different cultures, in societies. Therefore, it was fundamental for comparative educators to familiarize themselves with different cultures, in order to come up with a practical system of education that can be applied internationally when comparing school systems (Demarrais, 2004 P. 8).

Comparative education aims at understanding different methodologies of education in different regions internationally. The variations found in these regions are based on divergence of cultures, and are vital in understanding education system in these regions. Therefore, comparison of the education system help in shaping and developing better education systems in different regions, through learning from other cultures education systems weakness and strengths (Musgrave, 1972 P.59).

Noah and Eckstein Scientific Method in Comparative Education

Noah and Eckstein (1969) perceived that comparative education intertwine pedagogy and social science. There are two key common aspects that merge in the two fields, in that they both apply empirical and quantitative methods in conducting comparative education research.

According to Noah and Eckstein, comparative education methods are not mandatory to all cultures in every region of the world because of cultural variations. This means that comparison of different cultures is not necessary in bringing out variations in the education system. However, comparing different education system is particularly useful in validating intricate concepts found in variations in the education system across different cultures.

Noah and Eckstein (1969) recommended the use of empirical and quantitative methods of social science in conducting out comparative education research. They were more concerned with validity of data obtained from different education systems and, therefore, proposed use of scientific methods of analyzing data based on comparative education.

Stages in Noah and Eckstein’s Scientific Method

Noah and Eckstein developed a process to aid research in comparative education. The process involved seven critical stages: identification of the problem, development of a hypothesis, definitions of concepts and indicators, selection for cases of study, collection of data, manipulation of data, and interpretation of the result.

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Identification of the Problem

According to Noah and Eckstein, the first process in comparative education is to identify a hypothesis of the study. The study entails a critical examination of the problem to be studied in the required cultural setting, and associating it with education and social development. They noted that in order for the comparative education to be useful it must reveal its relevance to the society and in education contexts. The hypothesis to be tested must be directly associated with education and social development of the society involved.

Development of a Hypothesis

Comparative education must have a hypothesis. The hypothesis should involve a critical review of literature of the culture under examination. The most fundamental concern of the hypothesis, it that, it must concentrate on collection of data. Noah and Eckstein believed that cross-national research validates through comparison of accurate data.

Definition of Concepts and Indicators

Definition of concepts is the most fundamental stage, according to Noah and Eckstein. It involves a process of illustrating all the propositions that are to be used in the research: models, variables and measures. For instance, a designated model of study such as a country’s economic stability would demand initiation of various scientifically proven measures (Bereday 2004, 8). Therefore, economic models such as GDP are fundamental measures of a country economic stability. Comparative education should engage validated models and measures in order to come up with a meaningful comparison of the education system in different cultural settings.

Selection of Case Study

According to Noah and Eckstein, comparative educations entails cross studying of education systems in different regions or countries, with a principal goal of promoting development of education systems. Educational methodologists should consciously select regions or countries that can be compared after developing a hypothesis based on education and social development (Musgrave 1972, P 12). The regions should be accessible to researchers and the case study should be small for convenience purposes. This will ensures that the education methodologists acquire accurate data that can deduce a fair comparison of education systems of the regions in question, in accordance with the stated hypothesis.

Collection of Data

Collection of data from various regions should engage methods that ensure validity of the data. The researchers should consider relevance, depth and reliability of the data collected. According to Noah and Eckstein all the procedures of collection of data is crucial. All the challenges accrued in the process of obtaining the data should be noted in the research. This information is particularly useful in testing the accuracy and reliability of the data brought forward.

Manipulation of the Data

Education methodologists use data obtained from research in drawing the comparison in variations of educations systems in different regions. Therefore, it must conform to the stated hypothesis and be consistent with the regions it’s collected from. These assertions ensure validity of information and conclusion obtained from the data. Comparison of education methodologies can, therefore, be drawn based on concrete evidence.

Interpretation of Result

Interpreting result is the most basic stage in concluding the research. It entails a critical examination and accounting for all the data obtained from the research. Consequently, deducing the relevant information that requires coming up with a valid conclusion based on tested facts. This step engages the use of scientific methods to test and give meaning of the data collected (Altbach, 1986 P. 16). Depending on the type of data tested, statistical methods of data analysis might be used. Interpretation of the result is the most significant stage, since it gives the raw data meaning that can be understood by neutral persons who have not engaged in any research (Bohm, 2000 P. 18).

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It can be concluded that, 1960s was a period in history that saw many development in education internationally. Education methodologists emerged, and established strategies to promote the development of education systems. Education methodologies schemas established comparative educations strategies, which was crucial in promoting better education system. This is because no education system in any region is self-sufficient, since different cultures interact internationally. Therefore, comparative education promotes union and understanding of different cultures, and enhances development of the education system and strives to produce quality in all aspects.


Altbach, P & Kelly, G 1986, New approaches to comparative education, University of Chicago Press, Ellis Avenue, Chicago.

Bereday, E 1968, Other schools and ours: a comparative study for today, Rinehart & Winston, New York.

Bohm, A & Chaudri, D 2000, Securing Australia’s future: an analysis of the international education markets in India, IDP Education Australia, Sydney.

Demarrais, K &Lapan, S 2004, Foundations for research methods of inquiry in education and the social sciences, Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah.

Holmes, B 1984 Paradigm shifts in comparative education, Comparative Education Review, London.

Musgrave, E 1972, Criticism and the growth of Knowledge, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Noah, H&Eckstein, M 1969, Toward a science of comparative education, Collier Macmillan, London.

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