Conceptual Framework form of Continuing Professional Development

Get Complete Project Material File(s) Now! »



The chapter seeks to highlight the research design selected for the thesis. A clear and concise description of how the study was carried is given. The research design inclusive of philosophical orientation and sampling, data collection methods, research instruments, data collection procedures and data analysis procedures are discussed. The question of trustworthiness as well as ethical considerations of the research enquiry was described in this chapter. The interpretivist paradigm was chosen for this research.


Every research procedure or tool is inextricably embedded ―in commitments to particular versions of the world and ways of knowing that the world is made by researchers‖ (Corbetta 2003:12). The discussion that follows extensively illuminated positions that were going to inform decisions about investigations into academic staff development in higher education institutions in Zimbabwe.
Various research paradigms or traditions exist. However, these are distinguished from one another by contrasting ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions. Terre Blanche and Derrheim (1993) describe paradigms as background knowledge that tells us what exists, how to understand it and most concretely how to study it. Expanding the same argument, Denzin and Lincoln (2005:376) point out that ―paradigms dictate, with varying degrees of freedom, the design of the research investigation‖.
The implication arising being that different paradigms call for different approaches to research.
Three dimensions make up a paradigm. Terre Blanche and Derrhein describe these succinctly as follows:
Ontology specifies the nature of reality that is to be studied and what is to be known; epistemology specifies the nature of the relation between the researcher (knower) and what can be known and methodology specifies how the researcher may go about practically studying whatever he or she believes can be known (1993:23).
Babbie (1995) expands the debate by arguing that the three dimensions of a paradigm explained above influence one another. In other words, the nature of reality that one wants to study influences the relationship between the researcher and the researched and, in turn, the methods of data collection to be employed. The two main philosophical paradigms in social research, ―positivism‖ and ―post-positivism‖ (Corbetta 2003:12), are complementary. The complementarity of these paradigms can be understood through the argument advanced by Ponterotto (2005). He has written about qualitative and quantitative research using four category system that distinguishes among positivist, post-positivist, constructivist, interpretivist and critical ideological paradigms. According to Ponterotto (2005), the positivist and post positivist paradigms most often underpin quantitative research interests while constructivist-interpretivist and critical ideological paradigms often form the foundation for qualitative research. However, these distinctions are not completely water tight. The post-positivist paradigm can typify the work of some qualitative as well as quantitative researches.
Similarly specific qualitative approaches such as non-positivist, naturalist or interpretivist paradigms (critical theory, constructivism and participatory action research) may incorporate different forms of quantitative data appropriate to the goals of a study. So positivist and post-positivist research paradigms are complementary rather than opposing paradigms (Heppner and Heppner, 2004). Paton describes positivist tradition as follows:
Positivist paradigm relies on pre-defined variables from tightly defined populations, attempting to fit individual experiences and perspectives into predetermined response categories, allowing no room for research objects or variables to help define the direction of the research (1990:14).
An analysis of the paradigm showed that it was amenable to criticism in attempts to construct social reality. First the paradigm is so rigid to the extent that it does not allow researchers to put into consideration any eventualities which may come out from the study which were not pre-planned. Another criticism associated with the positivist paradigm is that it has a technicist element that seeks to control and predict relationships within and between variables and the view that knowledge is absolute with a singular view of reality that is ―measurable‖ through ―objective‖ and ―value-free‖ scientific and qualitative methods (Henning, 2004:17). Accordingly, positivists view social reality as objective and existing independently from or outside of human behaviour and interpretation (Crossman, 2003). As noted earlier, this approach is too scientific and empiricist since it is of the view that reality is ‗measured‘ and that casual relationships can be conceived in terms of the interaction of variables (Creswell, 1994:116). This approach would be inappropriate to investigate the research questions and purposes set out in this study since attempts to understand academics‘ beliefs and feelings about academic professional development in universities are not within the scope of a positivist framework. According to Sayer (1992), critical realists strongly reject this approach. In contrast to the positivist paradigm, there is post-positivist paradigm which is described by Denzin and Lincoln thus:
In studies shaped by non-positivist paradigms such as critical theory, there will be less emphasis on formal grant proposals, well formulated hypothesis, tightly defined sampling frames, structured interview schedules and predetermined research strategies, methods and forms of analysis (2005:376).
The position emerging is that post-positivist cannot be determinist but is based on a world view which is holistic and that there is no single reality which exists. This arises from the argument that perception varies with the individual and as such many different meanings are possible. For this current research, where participants were expected to articulate their experiences and voice their perceptions in relation to academic professional development in higher education, the researcher chose to operate within one of the post-positivist paradigms namely critical theory. Therefore, the ontological, epistemological and methodological dimensions of critical theory influenced the processes undertaken in this research as described in subsequent sections of the study.
However, Lather (1999:11) cautions that paradigms ―must be treated not as clearly defined real entities but only as loose frameworks for guiding research‖. The section below discusses details of critical theory paradigm in which this research is underpinned.



Critical theory paradigm in the context of qualitative research tradition

This research is located within the critical theory paradigm as described earlier in chapter 2. The researcher found it appropriate to employ the critical theory paradigm since the purpose of the study is to gain insights into academics‘ perspectives on institutional conditions that cause unsuccessful implementation of academic professional development programmes in higher education institutions in Zimbabwe. Denzin and Lincoln (2005:194) states that ―the ontology of critical theory is shaped by social, political, cultural, economic, ethical and gender variations‖ as well as transformation through the research process itself (Van Ransburg, 2001). In addition, Carr and Kemmis (1996:197) argue that a ―critical approach strives to replace one distorted set of practices with another hopefully less distorted set of practices.‖
Habermas in Hill-Collins (1990:7) calls this ―a critical or emancipatory knowledge interest with reference to an intention to help others emancipate themselves from oppressive ideologies.‖ The need to pursue individual academics‘ perceptions and experiences about academic staff development in higher education and its unsuccessful implementation influenced the researcher‘s choice of the qualitative critical theory methodology. Contribution to change in the world may come in the form of awareness raising or recommendations arrived at from the voices of the research which is associated with critical theory. Denzin and Lincoln (2005:206) eloquently put the point so well that the general inquiry aim of critical theory is to ―critique and transform, restitute and emancipate and training focuses on re-socialisation, empowerment and liberation‖.

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background of the Problem
1.3 Statement of the Problem
1.4 The Aim of The Study
1.5 Assumptions
1.6 Significance of the Study
1.7 Scope of the Study
1.8 Method of Research
1.9 Limitations of the Study
1.10 Research Design
1.11 Data Collection Instruments
1.12 Ethical Considerations
1.13 Trustworthiness
1.14 Data Analysis
1.15 Abbreviations and Definitions of Terms2
1.16 Organisation of the Study
1.17 Chapter Summary
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Conceptual Framework form of Continuing Professional Development
2.3 Theoretical Framework
2.4 The Purpose of a University0
2.5 Trends in Higher Education
2.6 Characteristics of an Effective Academic Staff Development Programme
2.7 Approaches (Models) for Academic Professional Development
2.8 Enabling or Constraining Conditions which affect Academic Professional Development
2.9 International and Regional Academic Professional Development Initiatives and Trends
2.10 Chapter Summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Philosophical Orientation of the Research
3.3 Critical Theory Paradigm
3.4 Qualitative Research Methodology
3.5 Case Study Research Design
3.6 Data Collection Methods
3.7 The Pilot Study
3.8 Sampling Strategy
3.9 Participants
3.10 Ethical Considerations and Access.
3.11 Research Process
3.12 Data Analysis Procedure
3.13 Trustworthiness
3.14 Credibility
3.15 Limitations of the Research Methodology
3.16 Chapter Summary
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Biographical Data of Participants
4.3 Research Results
4.4 Chapter Summary
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Conclusions
5.3 Recommendations.
5.4 Chapter Summary

Related Posts