CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
The previous chapter presented an overview of studies that have already been carried out on the role of adult education in mitigating gender disparities. The research problem that this study focuses on is that adult education is tasked to promote equity and redress, yet in its present form does not seem to help people to mitigate gender disparities in their daily lives in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape. In addressing this problem, the following research questions were posed:
1 What are the common factors that perpetuate experiences of gender disparities in the Community Learning Centres in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape?
2 How are gender disparities experienced as impacting on the socio-economic development of women in the Community Learning Centres in Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape?
3 What possible strategies can be initiated in the Community Learning Centres to assist people to mitigate gender disparities in their daily lives in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape?
In order to respond to the research questions the present study set out to Investigate what Community learning Centres are doing (if anything) in assisting people to mitigate gender disparities in their daily lives in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape.
In doing so, the present study directed its attention on the following objectives:
1. To explore common factors that perpetuate experienced gender disparities in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape with special reference to their perceptions;
2 To explain how gender disparities are experienced as impacting on the Socio-economic development of women in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape;
3 To recommend possible ways in which the Community Learning Centres could assist people in mitigating gender disparities in their daily lives in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape.
In the light of the above, this chapter discusses the research design, research paradigm and research methods used to address the research questions posed by the present study.
There is no single blueprint for planning research. A research design is controlled by the strength of purpose. In other words, a research design acts as a bridge between the theoretical discussion of the opening chapter and the subsequent chapters that cover specific styles of research, specific in planning a research design such as, for example, sampling, reliability and ethics. Further, the research design helps with planning methods of collecting data and data analysis. “The intention is to provide a set of issues that need to be addressed in practice so that an area of research interest can become feasible and capable of being undertaken” (Cohen et al., 2000:73). McMillan and Schumacher (2001:166) define the research design as a plan for selecting the methodology and research methods to respond to the research questions. They note that the goal of a well-grounded research design is to form the opinion that is judged to be credible. According to Durrheim (2004:29), research design is a strategic framework for action that serves to bridge the gap between research questions and the implementation of the research. In the present study, the research design did serve to bridge this gap, but the design was an emergent one in the sense that the exact way of implementing the research emerged during the study. The initial (draft) plan did not include two sets of interviews (on different occasions with each of the three adult educators) and two sets of (four) focus group discussions with the participants from the mixed and homogenous groups. The need for this arose as the study proceeded and I realised after initial analysis that issues required further exploration; hence, another set of individual interviews with the educators and with the focus group participants who had attended the original session was arranged.
The topic of exploration in this study is best suited to a qualitative research approach. In addressing this question, I concur with Patton (2002:39) who claims that qualitative research is directed at seeking data which enables participants to express themselves and to guide the research, which is not directed fully by a pre-given hypothesis to be tested. According to Patton (2002:136) the research method of a qualitative study differs from that of a quantitative study “where the hypothesis often literally dictates the form, quality, and scope of the required data”. Quantitative researchers develop techniques that can produce quantitative data usually in the form of numbers; data for qualitative researchers are sometimes in the form of numbers but mostly in the form of words and include written or spoken words, actions, sounds, symbols or visual images (Neuman, 2007:110). This is what the study focused upon, namely spoken words (spoken in the context of one-to-one interviews and focus group sessions).
Neuman (2007:110) highlights that “qualitative researchers are concerned with the subjective world and try to offers insight into social, emotional and experiential phenomena. The aim is to draw an understanding and perceptions to explore social contexts and cultural norms and to understand the linkages between process and outcomes. Quantitative researchers consider and reflect on concepts before they gather any data. Qualitative researchers explore the attributes of settings and culture to understand the connection between process and impacts.
Relevance of qualitative research to the present study
Research studies that are qualitative are designed to discover what can be learned about some phenomenon of interest, particularly social phenomenon where people are the participants (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994). In other words, qualitative researchers are able to develop a general ‘focus of inquiry’ that helps to guide the discovery of what is to be known about some social phenomenon (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). For example, as Yauch and Steudel (2003: 472) claim, one strength of qualitative research regarding issues of gender inequality, is the ability to probe the experiences, values, beliefs and assumptions to gain insight into problems affecting women.
The other important benefit of the qualitative approach is that the inquiry is broad and open-ended, as such participants are able to raise issues that matter the most to them; the qualitative researcher typically does not have a biased, restricted set of issues to examine. Dudwick, Kuennast, Jones and Woolwick (2006:03) further attest that qualitative research allows researchers to explore the views of homogenous as well as diverse groups of people so as to unpack these differing perspectives within a community. Thus, qualitative researchers have the ability to understand and represent points of view which are often ignored. (Yauch & Steudel, 2003: 473).
In qualitative research, data collection methods involve the collecting of qualitative data such as interviews, documents and interviews in order to understand and explain a social phenomenon. Yauch & Steudel (2003) also note that the purpose of qualitative methods is to generate comprehensive description processes or settings. In other words, qualitative methods are used to answer questions about experience, meaning and perspectives. For example, to understand more about the common factors that perpetuate gender disparities in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape, I visited the Public Adult Learning Centres but I am also familiar from personal experience with the setting of the Eastern Cape and issues brought up by the participants.
Dudwick, Kuennast, Jones & Woolwick (2006) further note that qualitative researchers have the responsibility to seek relevant data whose relevance changes as the study proceeds. That is, the relevance of what has been said by the participants takes on additional meaning as the study proceeds. In this research my recognition of what needed to be highlighted, based on member checking with participants, came about as an ongoing process of working with data.
Maykut and Morehouse (1994) point out those researchers who employ a qualitative approach are able to make connections between different aspects of people’s lives and allow for the discovery and do justice to the perceptions and the complexity of participants’ interpretations. This study sought to do justice to these interpretations.
This study followed a phenomenological strategy. Phenomenological research attempts to understand people’s perceptions, perspectives and understanding of a particular phenomenon (Creswell, 2013).
The purpose is to examine uniqueness of individual’s lived situations because each person has his or her own reality, but also to understand experiences of reality that are intersubjective as people share ideas with one another (Ngulube & Ngulube, 2017). Reality is thus subjective. Phenomenology has its roots in an existentialist philosophy. Existentialism is a philosophical and cultural movement which holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the individual and that moral thinking and scientific thinking together are not sufficient for understanding all of human experience and therefore, a further set of categories governed by the norm of authenticity is necessary to understand human existence (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2004).
Types of phenomenology
McLaughlin (2003) identifies three types of phenomenology. Descriptive or hermeneutical phenomenology refers to the study of personal experience and requires a description or interpretations of the meanings of phenomena experienced by participants in an investigation. Eidetic or transcendental phenomenology aims at analysing the essence perceived by consciousness with regard to individual experiences. Genetic or constitutional phenomenology refers to the analysis of self as a conscious entity. While analysing the self, this type of phenomenology also refers to the universal consciousness or intersubjective consciousness. In the following section more detail is given on the type of phenomenology that guided this study.
Husserl and the descriptive inquiry
Husserl’s philosophical ideas about how science should be conducted gave rise to the descriptive phenomenological approach to inquiry. Cohen (in Lopez & Willis, 2004) indicated that in this approach, experience as perceived by human consciousness is regarded as an object of scientific qualitative study. An important component of Husserlian phenomenology is that it is important for the researcher to apply prior personal knowledge to understand the essential lived experiences of those being studied (Lopez & Willis, 2004). That is, experience can be studied, as this study indeed attempts to do.
Lopez and Willis (2004) note furthermore that the term lifeworld expresses the idea that individuals’ realities are usually influenced by the world in which they live. Another point that was emphasised by Heidegger was that human beings cannot detach
themselves from the world as they experience it. What is studied by phenomenologists then is what individuals’ narratives (which they also jointly construct with others in their social world) suggest about human experiences. Guided by these views, this study followed a hermeneutical phenomenology.
The relationship between feminism and phenomenology
As stated in the previous chapter this study is underpinned by feminist theory and more specifically post-colonial feminist theory. Fisher (2000) states that various possibilities for a relationship between feminism and phenomenology. Prior to this view, feminism and phenomenology were rarely associated. Studlar (in Baird & Mitchel, 2014) offers an explanation that historically, phenomenology was a representative of male philosophical observation, whereas feminism has concentrated on reconstructing an assumed system rather than being content in explaining it (Reinharz in Baird & Mitchel, 2014). Young and Sandra (in Baird & Mitchel, 2014) have combined phenomenology with feminism to relate interpretive phenomenology to the issue of gender. According to these authors, phenomenology and feminism when incorporated in a study can enhance the general philosophical basis to gain a deeper realisation of the experiences of living in a gendered community or society.
Relevance of hermeneutic or interpretive phenomenology to the present study
Hermeneutic or interpretive phenomenology helps researchers to identify both common and unique experiences as well as the fundamental nature of participants’ experiences and interpretations of key features in their lives (Sarantakos, 2005; Bryman, 2008). Further, interpretive phenomenology facilitates an understanding of the lived experiences of women who have been victims of gender disparities. The main objective of this study stemmed from a desire to understand the common factors that perpetuate gender disparities in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape. As such, women will make sense of their world and reveal the cause of gender disparities as they see it from within their own existence and not while detached from it. In sum, the combination of feminism theory and interpretive phenomenology can offer a sensible and political gender-specific map through which experiences of gender disparities are understood (Sarantakos, 2005; Bryman, 2008).
• Purpose of inquiry
The purpose of research is to discover answers to questions through the application of research procedures. Research may be classified as exploratory, descriptive or explanatory (Sanders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2007). Exploratory research aims at revealing aspects of human experience without applying a pre-given hypothesis to the study. Descriptive research aims at providing a description of representation of the factors that pertain or are relevant to the research questions. Explanatory research centres on identifying any causal links between the factors or variables that pertain to the research question and is guided by a definite hypothesis covering the links between variables (Khothari, 2008; Sauders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2007). This study is exploratory in nature. It attempted to explore the common factors that are experienced as perpetuating gender disparities in Community learning centres in the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape and consider with participants how those instances impact on the socio-economic development of women in this particular district. Exploratory study is suitable as a term to categorise this study because it was characterised by a high degree of flexibility. There is little existing research on the subject matter, as such exploratory research needed to be conducted.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 CONCEPTUALISING THE PUBLIC ADULT LEARNING CENTRES IN SOUTH AFRICA
1.4 RATIONALE AND RELEVANCE OF THIS STUDY
1.5 CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS USED IN THE STUDY
1.6 RESEARCH DESIGN
1.7 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.8 RESEARCH PARADIGM
1.9 RESEARCH METHODS
1.11 DATA ANALYSIS
1.13 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.14 SUMMARY OF CHAPTERS
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF EDUCATION IN AFRICA
2.3 ADULT EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
2.4 ADULT EDUCATION FOR LIFELONG LEARNING
2.5 STUDIES RELATED TO THE ROLE OF ADULT EDUCATION IN DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
2.6 THE WOMEN EMPOWERMENT BILL
2.7 WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT (WID, WAD and GAD approaches)
2.8 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
3.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
3.3 RESEARCH PARADIGM
3.4 RESEARCH METHODS
CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
4.3 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE STUDY .
4.4 RESPONSES OF THE SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS
4.5 RESPONSES OF THE FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS
4.6 DISCUSSION OF THE RESEARCH FINDINGS
CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.2 MAJOR FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
5.3 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
5.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY
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