CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH DESIGN
The aim of this chapter is to describe the research design and methods that were selected to be used in the study and provide reasons why the chosen methods were appropriate to gather the information needed to answer the questions posed by the research problem. The chapter also pays particular attention to the qualitative research approach, the population, the sample size, the sampling procedure, the instruments for data collection, data collection techniques, data analysis and interpretation as well as the aspects validity, reliability and trustworthiness of research.
The research design involves deciding on what the research purpose and questions will be; what information most appropriately will answer specific research questions, and which strategies are most effective for obtaining it (LeCompte & Preissle 1993:30). According to Gay (1996:218), the design of a study “is basically the overall approach used to investigate the problem of interest, i.e., to shed light on, or answer, the question of interest. It includes the method of data collection and related specific strategies”. This has also been echoed by Bless and Achola (1988:50) who state that a research design is a plan of any scientific research from the first to the last step. In this wide sense it is a programme to guide the researcher in collecting, analyzing and interpreting the participants‟ views about the topic under investigation. According to Babbie and Mouton (2004:74), a research design is “a plan or blueprint of how the researcher intends conducting the study”. Muzumara (1998:46), defines research design as…the organisation, plan, or procedure by which an investigator intends to answer research questions. The design is also intended to control errors of procedures and interpretation: the structure of the design specifically delimits the kind of observations which can be made, the persons from whom data can be collected, and the kind of analysis it is possible to make within the framework and the form of the data.
There are a number of qualitative research designs and methodologies such as the case study, ethnography, phenomenological study and grounded theory study. In order to collect data that were suitable for this study, the researcher decided to employ a qualitative research design in which five cases (educational institutions) namely: UNZA, ZAOU, NISTCOL, NCE and COSETCO, which constitute a collective case study, were studied in detail in relation to how they managed distance teacher education programmes.
The researcher was, however, aware that qualitative research designs differed from quantitative research designs in that they usually do not provide the researcher with a step-by-step plan or fixed recipe to follow. In this regard, Borg and Gall (1989:386) argue that in a qualitative inquiry, the investigator starts with a very tentative design (or in some cases none at all) and develops the design as the inquiry progresses. This permits adapting the design to include variables that were not anticipated prior to the start of the empirical research. The rationale for an emergent design was that it was impossible for enough to be known ahead of time to develop an adequate research design.
The research design did not provide the researcher with a very rigid step-by-step plan; instead the researcher‟s choices and actions during research refined the design. An initial pliability of the research design is also confirmed by Leedy (2005:134), who says that initially a qualitative researcher may select only a general approach suitable for the study, perhaps selecting a case study or ethnography. As a researcher learns more about what is being studied, he or she specifies the methods to be used.
A qualitative design is “directed towards discovering or uncovering new insights, meanings and understandings. It is an in-depth analysis of the problem in order to understand the „what‟ and „why‟ of human behaviour” (Brink & Wood 1998:337). In this research, the researcher‟s interest was in the explanations that the participants gave concerning the management of distance teacher education. He wanted to discover new insights, meanings and understandings of the topic under investigation. Creswell (1994:145) regards a qualitative researcher as someone who is interested in means that explain how people attribute meaning to their experiences. To achieve this, the researcher collected extensive data on the management of distance teacher education in Zambia. The data gathering techniques that were used in this qualitative study were interviews, observations, and document and content analysis (for example, analysis of modules, newspaper articles and seculars), analysis of past records (for instance, previous examination results), and the interpretation of audiovisual materials such as photographs, videotapes and audiotapes. According to Koshy (2008:86), qualitative data can illuminate human feelings and provide rich insights into the phenomenon being investigated. It must therefore be stressed that qualitative data are not inferior in status. What is important, however, is to carefully select data that serves the purpose of the study. In this study, a qualitative approach which focused on a collective case study was used.
A qualitative approach was employed in order to satisfactorily answer the research questions posed in this study (see section 1.7). According to Leedy and Ormrod (2005:133), to answer research questions, we cannot skim across the surface. We must dig deep to get a complete understanding of the phenomenon we are studying. In qualitative research, we do indeed dig deep: we collect numerous forms of data and examine them from various angles to construct a rich and meaningful picture of a complex, multifaceted situation.
The qualitative approach was chosen because it would enable the researcher to recognize many aspects related to the management of distance teacher education programmes at UNZA, ZAOU, NISTCOL, NCE and COSETCO. The approach would enable participants to describe their experiences about the management of distance teacher education in Zambia. McMillan and Schumacher (2001:395) define qualitative research as an inquiry in which researchers collect data in face-to-face situations by interacting with selected persons in their settings. Smith (1987:175) also notes that qualitative research is based on the notion of context sensitivity. It is different from other forms of research because the social environment in which people find themselves has a great bearing on what they think and how they act. Similarly, it was hoped that the participants in this study would share with the researcher their beliefs, feelings, and attitudes about how distance teacher education programmes were managed in the chosen educational institutions of Zambia.
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF APPENDICES
CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.2 Background to the distance teacher education institutions in Zambia
1.3 Statement of the problem
1.4 Rationale and motivation for study
1.5 Significance of the study
1.6 The purpose of the study
1.7 Research questions
1.8 Objectives of the study
1.9 Methodological issues
1.10 Limitations of the study
1.11 Operational definitions of terms
CHAPTER 2 – THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.2 Tentative model of students‟ retention or attrition
2.3 The theory of interaction
2.4 The theory of autonomy and independence
2.5 The theory of equivalency
2.6 Classification of management of distance education models based on their centredness
CHAPTER 3 – LITERATURE REVIEW
3.2 Management in distance education
3.3 The concept of distance education
3.4 The need for distance education
3.5 Improved access to higher education by means of distance education
3.6 Links between management of distance teacher education and quality education
3.7 The management of distance teacher education in selected Zambian institutions
3.8 Salient criteria of effective management at distance teacher education institutions
3.9 Challenges associated with distance teacher education
3.10 Preliminary suggestions in literature to improve distance teacher education
CHAPTER 4 – RESEARCH DESIGN
4.2 Research design
4.3 Population and sampling
4.4 Methods of data collection
4.5 Validity, reliability and trustworthiness of the study
4.6 Data analysis
4.7 Ethical considerations
CHAPTER 5 – RESEARCH FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
5.2 Research findings
5.3 Summary 180
CHAPTER 6 – DISCUSSION OF THEMES THAT EMERGED FROM
6.2 Themes concerning the strengths
6.3 Themes concerning weaknesses
CHAPTER 7 – SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND
7.3 Data analysis of findings
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
MANAGEMENT OF DISTANCE TEACHER EDUCATION IN ZAMBIA