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Assessment 1 Critical analyses – Descriptive Statistics manuscript 1

“Rates of cyber victimization and bullying among male Australian primary and high school

students”, by Tass Sakellariou , Annemaree Carroll and Stephen Houghton (2012) highlights the

rates of bullying through cyberspace by surveying three control groups , two high schools and

one primary school, selected through volunteer sampling. A close-ended questionnaire compiled

with questions from various validated sources were used, in which the students were given the

definition of bullying prior to taking the questionnaire. Approximately 1,530 students from three

different independent boys primary and secondary schools participated in the survey, in which

two of the sample groups were located in Brisbane and the third group located in Sydney.

An issue in the paper is the procedure they used to produce samples. The authors make it evident

that they are conducting a research that is representative of the average Australian male student,

as cited, their goal is to “provide a fair representation of the socio-economic milieu of Australian

cities” (Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 537). However, their sampling process is limited as they only

provide samples that are from Brisbane and Sydney. The sampling procedure conducted by the

researchers is called volunteer sampling, as they made contact with “the principals of three

randomly selected primary and six randomly selected high schools” in which only “three

expressed an interest in participating in the research” (Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 539). This form

of random sampling process does not provide sound representation of an entire demographic as it

lacks “population validity”, which “refers to the degree to which the sample of individuals in the

study is representative of the population from which it was selected” (Gall et al, 2015, p. 89).

While the author claims that these schools “cater to a wide diversity of cultural and socio

economic backgrounds” (Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 537), the authors fail to account for students

from low socioeconomic states, such as the northern territory, which has some of the lowest
socioeconomic residences in the country (Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic

Indexes for Areas, 2008).

The authors utilised a questionnaire style tool to survey 1530 students across three schools. The

questions that encompassed the survey were close-ended items. The 33 questions from the

survey were mostly taken from research revolving around concepts of bullying. This is a major

strength of this paper as the “content of the test’s items matches the content that it is designed to

measure” (Gall et al, 2012, p.94), thus resulting in strong content validity. This is seen in the

research as the sources used in the formation of the instrument are relevant to the subject matter

of the research, as they all revolve around concepts of “bullying” and “victimisation”

(Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 538). Furthermore, the remaining 12 questions that were developed

by the author were tested and “calculated using the Cronbach’s Alpha”, which scored an .86,

indicating “very good reliability” (Sakellariou et all, 2012, p. 538) as “measure is considered

reliable for most research and practical purposes if reliability coefficient is .80 or higher” (Gall et

al, 2015, p. 97). Thus the 12 questions provided were consistent and “pertaining to

cyberbullying”. Reliability of measurement is crucial as it provides reliable and consistent

results, as Cronbach (1951) states “reliability coefficient demonstrates whether the test designer

was correct in expecting a certain collection of items to yield interpretable statements about

individual differences” (p. 297).

While the authors imply that there is a statistical significance in regards to bullying via text

messages between junior secondary students, primary and secondary senior students (Sakellariou

et al, 2012 p. 540), the authors, when mentioning table 4, does not mention the statistical

significance between junior secondary school students at (11.3 percent), then primary (5.2

percent) and senior secondary school students (8.6) in regards to bullying via internet
(Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 541). Highlighting results that show statistical significance is

important as it indicates that there might be an underlying issue that caused that significance in

statistical date. As Dowling and Brown (2009) state “A statistically significant difference

between two samples is unlikely to have arisen purely by chance” (p.124)

Throughout the discussion. the authors highlighted strategies that educators could implement to

prevent various forms of cyberbullying. However, the author did not provide sufficient evidence

to support their claims. They state that “Encouraging a collaborative process might ensure that

the reporting of cyberbullying by children and adolescents is more open and that any approaches

to dealing with it are more consistently applied.“ (Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 545) The author

does not provide any evidence that an open “collaborative process” necessarily ensures that the

“reporting of cyberbullying” would be more open, and while the author does mention that

cyberbullying does go unreported, they fail to provide an explanation as to why students are not

reporting cyberbullying. The author could have mentioned that because students “fail to report

cyberbullying because they believe they can handle it on their own” (Juvonen and Gross, as cited

in Li et al, 2012, p. 129) and that they “do not report cyberbullying at school because they feel

school district personnel are not effective in dealing with the problem” (Agatston, Kowalski &

Limber, As cited in Li et al, 2012, p.129) that a collaborative process encouraging

communication between teacher and student might be able to help alleviate these issues.

However, while the author failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their claim when

introducing strategies to counter cyberbullying, the authors did clarify the outcomes of the

research. For example, the author highlights the disparity between the high usage of “electronic

means” by students and the relatively low rates of cyberbullying as opposed to “traditional forms
of bullying” and that this is “due largely to the variety of definitions and measures used”

(Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 542 – 543). The authors also acknowledge, due to limited research

regarding the “prevalence of cyber victimization and the cyberbullying of others by electronic

means” (Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 542) and that the research conducted “has its limitations,

primarily the inclusion only of male students” (Sakellariou et al, 2012, p.545) that further

research is required in order to effectively address issues of cyberbullying. As the authors state

“If effective strategies are to be developed to prevent increases in cyberbullying then more

research is necessary, particularly that which examines different aspects of cyberbullying”

(Sakellariou et al, 2012, p. 544).

In conclusion, the papers prevalent weaknesses is its oversimplification, and insufficient

evidence to support the claims being made. The author claims that the results produced from this

research is supposed to be indicative of the entire male student population in Australia, however

uses improper random sampling techniques that have poor population validity for the research to

be reliable. Also the author claims that improvements that can be made without providing both

more context about the situation and evidence to support his claims. However, despite these

weaknesses, there are strengths that are evident in this paper. The authors use of multiple

research to form the survey, and the high Cronbach’s alpha score of the test questions, provides a

survey that is both reliable and valid. The author also acknowledges the limitations of his

research and suggests that further research is required in the field of cyberbullying.
Australian Bureau of statistics (2008) census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic

Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, Retreived from


Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of

tests. psychometrika, 16(3), 297-334.

Dowling, P., & Brown, A. (2009). Doing research/reading research : re-interrogating

education. Retrieved from

Li, Q., Cross, D., & Smith, P. K. (Eds.). (2011). Cyberbullying in the global playground:

Research from international perspectives. John Wiley & Sons.

Sakellariou, T., Carroll, A., & Houghton, S. (2012). Rates of cyber victimization and bullying

among male Australian primary and high school students. School Psychology

International, 33(5), 533-549.

Ullman, J., Gall, Joyce P, Gall, Meredith D., Borg, Walter R, & University of Western Sydney.
(2015). Applying educational research : How to read, do, and use research to solve
problems of practice (Custom ed.).