Essays in Education Research

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Education


Evidence from various developing countries across the globe has demonstrated that schooling of children at various levels has not effectively translated into learning. In order to address the prevailing learning crisis, there is an impending need to examine how different education systems embedded in diverse socio-political contexts function. Thus producing knowledge on what matters and what doesn't work amidst the changing circumstances and current challenges. This knowledge is crucial to formulate any kind of policy to improve education systems to produce higher and equitable learning outcomes.

In this light, my study aims to investigate how accountability processes, in different contexts, effect student achievement rates and how these affects are distributed across various socio-economic categories.
This study employs a systems approach which views school system as a set of or a network of relationships and cumulative practices occurring in a particular format. Previous studies have conceptualised accountability using Principal-agent approach treating schools as homogenous systems and ignoring the complex relationships between different actors within schools. It employed a simplistic view of relationships between groups. This study extends the idea of accountability employing a multi-level, multi-stakeholder understanding connecting various processes and different actors involved (such as teachers, parents, students, head teacher etc.), institutions (such as school, state, family etc.) situated in varying socio-economic and political contexts.

The doctoral thesis is planned to be a collection of research essays studying accountability and its effects in few chosen contexts by employing different large-scale cross-national datasets namely - PISA, TIMSS, TERCE, PASEC, SACMEQ and ESRC (OPAL). The research predominantly uses suitable advanced quantitative methods (such as multi-level modelling, Structural Equation Modelling, mediation & moderation analysis, measurement invariance etc.) to arrive at robust inferences.

Additionally, in-depth qualitative case studies will be undertaken on a subset of schools, which will provide insights into the engagement between different actors and the accountability relationships. The qualitative aspect will provide a foundation for the generation of theories to explain the patterns in quantitative findings, also triangulating the findings and contributing to the theoretical understandings of accountability and organizational relationships in education.

In terms of potential applications and benefits, lately, a great deal of attention from international development donors, national governments and other private bodies have been focusing on new and innovative models of school management (e.g. community-managed or privatization), however there is lack of evidence on the extent to which different organisational models are linked to variations in accountability and/or student achievement levels. Furthermore, the emphasis on cognitive outcomes reduces the nature of learning merely to numeracy and literacy skills and does not account for non-cognitive processes which are proved to have significant effect on life outcomes. This research can potentially throw more light and add to the understanding of the role of different school management models and other systemic factors in shaping holistic learning of children mediated by accountability.

The additional funding for Overseas Fieldwork would be necessary to collect primary data on accountability processes from different sample schools from three Indian states.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
1936303 Studentship ES/P000630/1 30/09/2017 29/06/2022 Kalyan Kumar Kameshwara
Description As the project has not reached its conclusion and is in progress, the outcomes or key findings are yet to be fully realised. However, the completed phase of the research examined the role of decentralisation in school management and its effect on students learning achievement. This phenomenon was examined across 65 countries and it was found that decentralisation in school management has a very weak link to student learning. This findings open up new research questions on the role of various other system-level attributes such as accountability processes and pedagogical autonomy in shaping learning. These questions would be tackled in the ongoing research.
Exploitation Route The outcomes are not just relevant to researchers in a particular domain but also to practitioners and policymakers in formulating decisions that affect outcomes.
Sectors Education

Description GW4 Alliance (GW4)
Amount £1,100 (GBP)
Organisation GW4 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2019 
End 06/2019
Description New Scholars Committee Merit Travel Grant
Amount $1,000 (USD)
Organisation Comparative and International Education Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 03/2020 
End 03/2020
Description University of Bath, Doctoral College Research Activities Fund
Amount £750 (GBP)
Organisation University of Bath 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2021 
End 08/2021