Prof Barry Cooper
In October 1998 Barry Cooper moved from the University of Sussex, where he was a Reader in Education, to Durham where he was appointed to a Chair and as 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. He taught post-graduate research methods courses for many years at Durham where he is now an Emeritus Professor (though living in Germany). Most recently at Durham he was employed as co-investigator on an ESRC funded project (described below).
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 an MA in Sociological Studies and a D.Phil. in the sociology of education. His thesis was published in 1985 as Renegotiating Secondary School Mathematics. This was one of the first attempts to apply sociological perspectives systematically in the study of the maths curriculum.
His research interests have reflected this crossing of disciplinary boundaries. After the 1985 book, he undertook further work in applying sociological perspectives to areas of maths education. For example, he directed two ESRC project in this area focusing on assessment: 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 state-wide 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. More 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 a related book on the quantitative/qualitative "divide", with Judith Glaesser, Martyn Hammersley and Roger Gomm. This book,
Challenging the Qualitative-Quantitative Divide: Explorations in Case-focused Causal Analysis, was selected by the Society for Educational Studies as one of the three best books ("highly commended") of the year 2012. 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 2013, he worked as Co-Investigator on a three-year ESRC project, Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Addressing Methodological Challenges, with particular reference to survey data, led by Judith Glaesser as Principal Investigator. Steph Thomson, Cooper’s ex-PhD student, also worked as an assistant on the first year of this project. An illustrative paper from this work is 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).
Prof. Cooper is continuing to explore some aspects of QCA and more general questions concerning the use of maths in social science.
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
- Cooper, B., Glaesser, J., Hammersley, M. & Gomm, R. (2012). Challenging the Qualitative-Quantitative Divide Explorations in Case-focused Causal Analysis. Continuum.
Chapter in book
- 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 education. Bishop, A.J. New York: Routledge. 1 (Mathematics, mathematics education, and the curriculum).
- 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. & Glaesser, J. (2008), Exploring configurational causation in large datasets with QCA: possibilities and problems, ESRC Research Methods Festival. Oxford, Oxford.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2016). Analysing necessity and sufficiency with Qualitative Comparative Analysis: how do results vary as case weights change?. Quality & Quantity 50(1): 327-346.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2016). Exploring the robustness of set theoretic findings from a large n fsQCA: An illustration from the sociology of education. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 19(4): 445-459.
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2016). Qualitative Comparative Analysis, necessary conditions and limited diversity: some problematic consequences of Schneider and Wagemann’s Enhanced Standard Analysis. Field Methods 28(3): 300-315.
- Glaesser, J. & Cooper, B. (2014). Exploring the consequences of a recalibration of causal conditions when assessing sufficiency with fuzzy set QCA. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 17(4): 387-401.
- Glaesser, J. & Cooper, B. (2014). Using Rational Action Theory and Bourdieu's Habitus theory together to account for Educational Decision-making in England and Germany. Sociology 48(3): 463-481.
- 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.
Other (Digital/Visual Media)
- Cooper, B. & Glaesser, J. (2016). The set theoretic analysis of probabilistic regularities with fsQCA, QCApro and CNA: Exploring possible implications for current best practice. COMPASSS Working Paper 2016-85.
- Cooper, B., Glaesser, J. & Thomson, S. (2014). Schneider and Wagemann's proposed Enhanced Standard Analysis for Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Some unresolved problems and some suggestions for addressing them. COMPASSS Working Paper 2014-77. COMPASSS (COMPArative Methods for Systematic cross-caSe analySis) 22.