Global perspectives on primary education
Global perspectives on primary education

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2.2 Ranking purposes

Look again at the six purposes of comparative study of education.

Activity 3

How would you rank them yourself? Use the interactive table below to rank the purposes in terms of their importance, from 1 for ‘not very important’ to 6 for ‘very important’.

Active content not displayed. This content requires JavaScript to be enabled.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Reflect and record. How did you decide to make your rankings? Did you draw on certain experiences, knowledge or evidence to make your decisions?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Each of the purposes listed in this activity has its own complexities.

Take the example of one purpose: ‘parents commonly compare schools and systems of education in search of the institutions which will serve their children’s needs most effectively’. Such a comparison may not be straightforward. Firstly, what evidence does a parent have to make a judgement? There will be hearsay, then there’s a visit to a school and the perception (by both parent and child) of its functioning and ambiance. It may be possible to tap into the views and experiences of any known children who are currently attending the school. Finally, there are measures in the form of publicly available examination scores and performance tables, and also reports from school inspection services. Which of these sources of evidence are most likely to help in a parent’s decision-making?

Likewise, practitioners, policy makers, international agencies and academic researchers will have their distinctive sources of information and knowledge when they undertake comparisons of education. Each of these actors will use different methods to gather and compare evidence. For instance, practitioners and policy makers may look for very different kinds of evidence of children’s learning: the former may draw on observations of children’s enjoyment or participation, while the latter might favour the numerical evidence of examination scores.

There is no single correct answer to these rankings. Your own ranking relates to your interests, values and beliefs. Other individuals or institutions will prioritise the purposes differently.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371