Prof Barry Cooper
In October 1998 Barry Cooper moved from the University of Sussex to the University of Durham School of Education where he was appointed Director of Research (1998-2005). Prof. Cooper was co-editor of the British Educational Research Journal (2004-2007, lead editor in 2006). He has also been an adviser to the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission. His current teaching at Durham comprises sociology of education and curriculum analysis. Previously he also taught many research methods courses.
He is a social scientist who originally studied maths and science. After undergraduate study in Cambridge, he undertook a PGCE, taught secondary school maths, and then studied at Sussex, with Colin Lacey, for a MA in Sociology and a D.Phil. in the sociology of education (published in 1985 as Renegotiating Secondary School Mathematics).
His research interests reflect this boundary crossing. He has previously been especially interested in the application of sociological perspectives to maths education. Prof. Cooper directed two ESRC project in this area: Understanding Children’s Mathematical Behaviour: Class, Gender & Context (1998/99) and Mathematics Assessment at Key Stages 2 & 3: Pupils’ Interpretation & Performance (1995-97). In these projects, working with Máiréad Dunne, he explored ways in which the ideas of Basil Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu can be put to use in accounting for socio-cultural differences in children's responses to supposedly realistic maths problems. A prize-winning book on this work, Assessing Children's Mathematical Knowledge: Social Class, Sex and Problem-Solving, was published by the Open University Press in 2000. Between 1989 and 1995 Prof. Cooper was also heavily involved in the evaluation of the Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project in India, working with Colin Lacey and Harry Torrance in the UK, and many colleagues in India.
After coming to Durham, Prof. Cooper continued his research in maths education, working with his colleague Tony Harries. He also worked as an evaluation consultant in several developing countries. Most recently he has been exploring the use of Charles Ragin’s fs/QCA software (and its associated case-based analytic approach), working with data from the National Child Development Study and other studies. An initial paper using fs/QCA to analyse educational achievement by social class, gender and measured ability was published in Sociological Research Online in 2005. Subsequently he worked with Judith Glaesser (and also his Durham colleagues Richard Gott and Ros Roberts) to explore further the potential of this approach in social and educational research contexts, publishing several papers and, most recently a related book on the quantitative/qualitative “divide”, with Judith Glaesser, Martyn Hammersley and Roger Gomm. During this period, he collaborated with Judith Glaesser, as her research mentor, while she worked as an ESRC Research Fellow, using QCA in a study of educational transitions in Germany and England. From January 1st 2013, he will be working for three years as Co-Investigator on a new ESRC project, Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Addressing Methodological Challenges, with particular reference to survey data.Steph Thomson, his former PhD student, will also work on this project, led by Judith Glaesser as Principal Investigator. A flavour of the sort of thing they will be exploring can be found here: QCA-AMC Working Paper 1: Logical paradoxes in fsQCA: a Systematic Treatment. See also the 2011 paper with Judith Glaesser, Paradoxes and pitfalls in using fuzzy set QCA: illustrations from a critical review of a study of educational inequality (nominated in 2012 by the SRO editors for the Sage prize for Excellence and Innovation).
The selected publications below represent his range of work.
Completed Supervisions (since 2008)
- Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Addressing Methodological Challenges, with particular reference to survey data
- Evaluation of educational aid projects overseas
- Mathematics education
- National assessment in mathematics
- Set theoretic methods in the social sciences
- Sociology of education
Journal papers: academic
- Glaesser, J. & Cooper, B. (2013). Exploring the consequences of a recalibration of causal conditions when assessing sufficiency with fuzzy set QCA. International Journal of Social Research Methodology Online First.
- Glaesser, J. & Cooper, B. (2012). Educational achievement in selective and comprehensive local education authorities: a configurational analysis. British Journal of Sociology of Education 33(2): 223-244.
- Glaesser, J. & Cooper, B. (2012). Gender, parental education and ability: their interacting roles in predicting GCSE success. Cambridge Journal of Education 42(4): 463–480.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2012). Qualitative Work and The Testing and Development of Theory: Lessons from a Study combining Cross-Case and Within-Case Analysis via Ragin's QCA. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 13(2): 4.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2011). Introduction to the Special Issue: Case-Based Approaches to the Analysis of Quantitative Data. Methodological Innovations Online 6(2 (Special Issue): 1-5.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2011). Paradoxes and pitfalls in using fuzzy set QCA: illustrations from a critical review of a study of educational inequality. Sociological Research Online 16(3): 8.
- Glaesser, J. & Cooper, B. (2011). Selecting cases for in-depth study from a survey dataset: an application of Ragin's configurational methods. Methodological Innovations Online 6(2): 52-70.
- Glaesser, J. & Cooper, B. (2011). Selectivity and Flexibility in the German Secondary School System: A Configurational Analysis of recent data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. European Sociological Review 27(5): 570-585.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2011). Using case-based approaches to analyse large datasets: a comparison of Ragin's fsQCA and fuzzy cluster analysis. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 14(1): 31-48.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2010). Contrasting variable-analytic and case-based approaches to the analysis of survey datasets: exploring how achievement varies by ability across configurations of social class and sex. Methodological Innovations Online 5(1): 4-23.
- Glaesser, J., Gott, R., Roberts, R. & Cooper, B. (2009). The roles of substantive and procedural understanding in open-ended science investigations: using fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis to compare two different tasks. Research in Science Education 39(4): 595-624.
- Glaesser, J., Gott, R., Roberts, R. & Cooper, B. (2009). Underlying success in open-ended investigations in science: using Qualitative Comparative Analysis to identify necessary and sufficient conditions. Research in Science & Technological Education 27(1): 5-30.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2008). How has Educational Expansion changed the Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Achieving Professional, Managerial and Technical Class Positions in Britain? A Configurational Analysis. Sociological Research Online 13(3): 1-22.
- Cooper, B. (2007). Dilemmas in designing problems in 'realistic' school mathematics: a sociological overview and some research findings. Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal 20(Special Issue on Social Justice: Part 1).
- Cooper, B. (2005). Applying Ragin's crisp and fuzzy set QCA to large datasets: social class and educational achievement in the National Child Development Study. Sociological Research Online 10(2).
- Cooper, B. & Harries, A.V. (2005). Making sense of realistic word problems: portraying working class 'failure' on a division with remainder problem. International Journal of Research & Methods in Education 28(2): 147-169.
- Cooper, B., Glaesser, J., Hammersley, M. & Gomm, R. (2012). Challenging the Qualitative-Quantitative Divide Explorations in Case-focused Causal Analysis. Continuum.
- B. Cooper & M. Dunne (2000). Assessing Children's Mathematical Knowledge: Social Class, Sex and Problem-Solving. Open University Press.
- B. Cooper (1985). Renegotiating Secondary School Mathematics: A Study of Curriculum Change and Stability. Falmer Press.
- Cooper, B. (2012). Set theoretic versus correlational methods: the case of ability and educational achievement. In Challenging the Qualitative-Quantitative Divide: Explorations in Case-focused Causal Analysis. Cooper, B., Glaesser, J., Gomm, R. & Hammersley, M. Continuum. 170-206.
- Cooper, B. (2009). Authentic testing in mathematics? The boundary between everyday and mathematical knowledge in National Curriculum testing in English schools. In Mathematics, mathematics education, and the curriculum. Bishop, A.J. Routledge. 1 (Mathematics Education).
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2009). Educational Expansion and Meritocracy in Britain: a Boolean Analysis. In Expected and unexpected consequences of educational expansion in Europe and the US. Theoretical approaches and empirical findings in comparative perspective. Becker, R. & Hadjar, A. Bern: Haupt. 167-177.
- Cooper, B. & Harries, A.V. (2009). Realistic contexts, mathematics assessment and social class: lessons for assessment policy from an English research programme. In Words and worlds: modelling verbal descriptions of situations. Verschaffel, L. et al (eds) Sense Publications. 93-110.
- Cooper, B. (2004). Dilemmas in designing problems in 'realistic' school mathematics: a sociological overview and some research findings. In Culture and Learning: Access and Opportunity in the Classroom. Olssen, M. Charlotte, NC.: Information Age Publishing. 183-202.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2008), Exploring configurational causation in large datasets with QCA: possibilities and problems, ESRC Research Methods Festival. Oxford.