Catholic education and the challenges and opportunities of diversity and multicultural education

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Chapter Three Research methodology and design


This chapter presents the research method used in the study of the challenges and opportunities of implementing the diversity and multicultural education strategy of the Catholic Equity and Inclusive Education (CEIE) at the Community of the Beloved High School. The chapter discusses the research design, study population, respondents, semi-structured focus discussion groups and method of data collection. The chapter also presents the structure for the analysis of the data collected and how they will be presented

Research Methodology

Newby (2010) makes a distinction between research methodology and research method which is important in clarifying the methodological standpoint of this research and the critical social theory which grounds its philosophical foundations. According to Newby, (2010:51):
Research methodology is concerned with the assembly of research tools and the application of appropriate results. Research methods are the research tools themselves, for example questionnaires, observation, statistical analysis. At its simplest, for the practical researcher, methodology is how the tool kit of research methods is brought together to crack an individual and specific research problem.
Research method, on the other hand, in Newby’s perspective is concerned with how we go about harvesting the data and how we analyze them.
Sowell’s (2001:21-24) identification of four methods in educational research seems to me a valid distinction useful in categorising the pathway which I have followed in carrying out this research in sociology of education. Firstly, is the descriptive method which she argues requires ‘careful collection, analysis, and interpretation of mainly quantitative data which are measurable’ in order to show the status of knowledge about specific variables or to describe the degrees of relationship between them (2001:21-24).
These kinds of studies or research serve the goals of explanation, prediction and control. Secondly are the experimental methods which require “careful collection, analysis, and interpretation of quantitative data in order to discover causal relationships between phenomena by intervening in the natural setting and controlling all the relevant variables” (2001:24). Experimental methods are used in research projects in which control is the goal. Unlike qualitative methods which are inductive, experimental approaches are deductive and involve the testing of hypothesis and various sampling techniques. Researchers who use this approach argue that the strength of this method is that the results are replicable in multiple settings under similar conditions if the variables are the same. This has led to the claims that experimental methods lead to the development of general propositions or theories about educational activities. Thirdly, for Sowell, are the qualitative methods which constitute the approach of this research. Qualitative method refers to “an array of strategies used by researchers to gather mostly verbal data in natural settings, usually over a relatively long time period. Researchers gather data during recurring cycles of collection, analysis and interpretation which provide them with holistic perspectives about the phenomenon under investigation” (2001:24). Creswell (2013: 16) defines qualitative educational research as:
Best suited to address a research problem in which you do not know the variables and need to explore. The literature might yield little information about the phenomenon of study, and you need to learn more from participants through exploration.
The fourth approach, according to Sowell, is the historical or narrative methods which are typically used to investigate a phenomenon that occurred in the past. Researchers gather data from whichever sources can be located, including archives, libraries, personal testimonies, minutes of meetings, and others. Once the sources have been authenticated and credibility established for the sources and content, researchers prepare a narrative detailing their analysis (Sowell, 2001:20-23). There is also the mixed method which brings together quantitative and qualitative research approaches. It includes the use of survey methods, experimental approaches, ethnography and case studies. Mixed methods particularly use triangulation not simply to validate results and measurements with precision, but also to enhance the correctness of insight and the legitimacy of interpretations (Newby, 2010:28).
It is important to highlight the different approaches because each method offers a framework for research which is aligned to the theoretical framework of a particular research undertaking. It also orders the nature of the data to be sought, the instruments to be used for data collection and the approach to analyzing the findings. I wish to show the diversity of methodological approaches for doing social scientific research in sociology of education and why I have chosen the qualitative method as the approach which fits into the theoretical framework of this research and which uses the dual interrogative approach of critical and conflictual theories of school culture.
Firstly, is that the central phenomenon of the research—equity and diversity education—which is often identified within the larger typology of multicultural education requires the observation and participation in a community where it can be fully understood. However, understanding how equity and diversity play out in the school culture presupposes (as I have indicated in Chapter Two) an assumption that school culture is not normative because in the diversity and cultural pluralism of today’s Canada, schools are ‘fields of tensions’ of multiple cultures and values. Secondly, the data collected from the community requires the application of different qualitative tools for harvesting the stories as well as for analyzing the data. As Sowell (2001:22) recommends, this method is best suited for identifying challenges and conditions for academic success especially for under-achieving students. Sowell (2001:22) argues further:
The nature of this problem requires that researchers seek information through interactions with students, teachers, and other school and community personnel. Study and analysis of these data are expected to show linkages among the people and their circumstances that distinguish more favorable classroom conditions from less favorable conditions.
Scott (2003:52) observes that it is important in choosing one’s research method to understand the philosophies, conceptual and theoretical framework, strengths and weaknesses of each approach. One can identify two main philosophical frameworks to educational research, the positivistic approach which proposes that theory building in educational research is nomological in character and value-free. As a result, time and context-free generalizations are possible based as it is on the hypothetico-deductive method. The other approach, for Scott, is the naturalistic approach, where data are obtained in a natural setting while minimizing, as Newby observes, the influence of an unrealistic research environment (Newby, 2010:117). It is a hermeneutic/interpretative approach which asserts that educational settings cannot be understood without examining the social context and interactions of people and how participants give meanings to them in their activities. Scott (2003:52) argues as follows:
Whereas those educational researchers who would place themselves within the positivist camp pay little attention to political, ethical and reflexive concerns, those who would locate themselves within the hermeneutic/interpretative camp argue that the research enterprise is empty without explicit reference being made to these issues.
In the following table I will show the differences between the Naturalistic and positivistic approach to educational research according to Scott. I will also present the different proposed tools for conducting educational research using any of these two approaches.
In the light of the following, there are three elements of research methodology which are being employed in this research. The first is a qualitative design which is the research framework for this study. The second one is the naturalistic approach as against positivist empiricism which concentrates on the natural environment or the school culture of the participants in this research. The third one is a narrative approach in harvesting the stories of the participants from the field. Indeed, the use of a narrative method rather than a narrative design as a tool for harvesting data in qualitative research has become common in educational research. Creswell (2013: 21-22, 503-507) and Gomm (2009:209-210) see a narrative method rather than a narrative design as a needed tool in ethnographic research where the social and personal experiences of individuals are being researched. It is also employed in critical ethnography which has an emancipatory goal of shedding light on the context and experiences of those on the margins. Since issues of equity and diversity in multicultural faith-education are the central phenomenon of this research, and since there is considerable unease among teachers in faith-based settings about how to implement a strategy in the school for realizing the goal of the board, listening to their stories demanded that I develop a narrative structural approach especially for the personal interviews

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Research design

According to DeForge (2010:1253-1254):
Research design is the plan that provides the logical structure that guides the investigator to address research problems and answer research questions. It is one of the most important components of research methodology. Research methodology not only details the type of research design to be implemented but includes the approach to measuring variables and collecting data from participants, devising a strategy to sample participants (units) to be studied, and planning how the data will be analyzed.
A research design also provides a framework within which the research is to be conducted from the beginning or initiating of the project to conclusion of the work.
In many cases, depending on the nature of the project, research design also includes the process from developing the initial hypothesis which guides the research from the process of data collection to analysis (Kothari 1990: 39). This research used a qualitative research design which is described in Table 3.2 below

Chapter One: Orientation to the Study
1.1 Background to the study
1.2 The Catholic District School Board
1.3 Statement of the problem
1.4 Research question
1.5 Research aim
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 Definition of key terms
1.8 Organisation of the thesis –
Chapter Two: The Challenges and Opportunities of Diversity and Multicultural Education
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Theoretical Framework of the Study
2.3 Catholic education and the challenges and opportunities of diversity and multicultural education
2.4 Diverse interpretations of Catholic education and the question of diversity and multicultural education in Ontario Separate School system
2.5 Review of research on the future of diversity and multicultural education in Ontario’s Separate School system: The secular-sacred divide
2.6 Reviewing the Equity and Diversity Strategy of the Separate School system (CEIE) in Ontario in conversation with the Strategic Framework (EIE) of Ontario’s Ministry of Education
2.7 Conclusion
Chapter Three: Research Methodology and Design
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research method
3.3 Research design
3.4 Target Population, sample and technique
3.5 Data collection and data sources
3.6 Data collection methods and instruments
3.7 Trustworthiness of research instruments
3.8 Ethical protocol
3.9 Data analysis
3.10 Conclusion
Chapter Four: Presentation, interpretation and discussion of results: Strategies and implementation of diversity and multicultural education
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Implementing of diversity and multicultural education at Community of the Beloved
4.3. Interview responses on the meaning of diversity and multicultural education in faith-based schooling
4.4 School strategies and programmes for faith-based diversity and multicultural education
4.5 What are the aspects of the approaches that may be strengthened and why?
4.6 Are you satisfied with your school’s inclusive education? Give reasons for your answer
4.7 Conclusion
Chapter Five: Presentation, interpretation and discussion of results: challenges and opportunities of diversity and multicultural education in Catholic education in Ontario high schools
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The opportunities presented by diversity of student population and a multicultural Canada
5.3 Inadequate formation on diversity and equity education
5.4 The challenges of creating an inclusive culture for minorities
5.5 The limitations of programmes and activities for creating an inclusive culture for minoritie
5.6 The tension between church teaching and board and ministry strategies
5.7 Personal bias and prejudice against minorities
5.8 Conclusion
Chapter Six: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations for Improvement of diversity and multicultural education in Catholic schools
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Summary of key findings of the study
6.3 Recommendation
6.5 Contribution of this study
6.6 Conclusion
6.7 Personal Reflection on the Study

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