ISJ Internation Schools Journal Envisioning the K-Graduate Education Paradigm
ACS Athens

Valuing diversity? Is it valid to assign a numerical value to diversity in the context of international education research? A methodological problem revisited by James Cambridge



It is frequently argued that international schools are sites of national and cultural diversity among their student bodies and teaching faculties. Comparative research design models that use quantitative methods in a nomothetic or positivist paradigm may seek to assign a numerical value to indicate a measure of such diversity. How might this be done? Is such a procedure valid and reliable?

The quantification of national diversity in international schools is a topic that I have discussed before (Cambridge & Cowlishaw, 1996; Cambridge & Thompson, 2000) and it is a debate that I intend to revisit here. As a practising Biology educator, I was influenced by the ontological and epistemological approaches inscribed in the natural sciences, and I was confident in the belief that realist, nomothetic and positivist methodologies could be applied with validity, reliability and trustworthiness to social research and the human sciences. A jejune belief, as it turned out.