1.8 Comparative Education: Do you know the problem solving approach in comparative education, its steps and assumptions?


Chapter 1

1.8 Give a full depth discussion on the problem solving approach in comparative education its steps and assumptions

Problem Solving Approach

Brian Holmes envisioned the field of comparative education as eminently practical in nature, providing the basis for the solutions to educational problems. He spelt out a means of identifying a problem and its possible solutions and further suggested ways of predicting the greater like hood of a particular reform bringing about a desired result. For the success of approach Holmes upheld the following assumption.


  1. It is possible to use stages of reflective (philosophical) thinking as put forward by John Dewey
  2. That the functioning of reflective thinking is to clear up a confused situation i.e. to solve a problem.
  3.  That testing is possible that is making logical deduction from the hypotheses within the context of relevant factors and then comparing the predicted events with the actual events, which are observed to flow from a selected course of action.
  4. That agreement between the predicted and observed events provides verification of the hypothesis that  is  an  explanation  of  events  constitutes  a  successful  solution  of  the confused situation.
  5. That disagreement between the two types of events (predicted and observed) constitutes a refutation of hypothesis.


  1. Problem identification

Involves selection of vaguely perceived problem that catches our interest e.g. general dissatisfaction with an aspect of education for example poor examinations performance, students unrest, gender issues

  1. Problem analysis

Intellectualize the vaguely perceived problem in general terms. A description of the conditions under which the problem is found should be given. Describe the trends that are related to vaguely perceived problem.

  1. Proposed problem solutions

Describe the reform proposals and policies put forward as solutions to the problems. This will help by providing the suggested solutions to the problem.

  1. Specification of the context

The fourth step will involve the identification and description of factors, determinants and conditions likely to influence outcomes of the proposed policy solutions. These are factors, conditions, determinants, which, in our opinion, may have been over- looked by those who proposed solutions to the vaguely perceived problem.

  1. Comparison

Compare the predicted or anticipated functional activities (based on proposed policy solutions) with the actual observable practices. This is a verification stage. Have things worked out as anticipated by those proposed the solutions. Compare with what you find out in relation to step 3 and 4.

  1. Conclusion

On the basis of the findings from the study, conclusions and predictions made. Suggestions are then made for new lines of actions.


Today, comparative education is further away from a single methodology. Definitions and new disputes concerning the scope and analytic categories of scholarship have emerged since the 1970s giving rise to a wide diversity of approaches, perspectives and orientations. A number of factors have contributed to this:

  • Failure of traditional ideas to explain educational development world wide
  • Emergency of alternative ideologies, hence, the field still remains an ill- defined one. The research in the field has and will remain diverse, thus shifting the debate but perhaps not resolving issues and challenges concerning the theory and methodology in comparative education.

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