ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

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CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN

INTRODUCTION

The research design is a mixed methods research approach, which includes aspects of the quantitative and qualitative approach. The purpose of mixed methods research is to build on the synergy and strength that exists between quantitative and qualitative research methods in order to understand a phenomenon more fully than is possible using either qualitative or quantitative methods alone (Gay, Mills & Airiasian 2006:49). The qualitative approach will answer to the “how” question whereas quantitative answers the “why”. By using the combin ation of two methods, the aim of a research is to describe and understand a social reality. Qualitative data can be used to supplement, validate, explain, illuminate or re-interpret quantitative data gathered from the same subject (Bodgan & Biklen 2007:41; Palmer 2003:104). However, the line between quantitative and qualitative methods is somehow blurred. This study involved the administration of a questionnaire (quantitative), which is followed by a number of detailed interviews and focus group discussions (qualitative) to obtain deeper explanation of numerical data.
The chapter will define the study population and give brief description of both quantitative and qualitative approach as used in the context of the study. Data gathering instruments such as a self-assessment form/survey questionnaire, interview schedule and focus group discussion will be explained. The approach to data analysis and interpretation, ethical consideration, validity and reliability and constraints will be explained. The population involved in this research will be described in 3.2 below

POPULATION SAMPLE

The research population consists of all the units that we would like to actually observe in the research process (Johnson & Christensen 2004:196). The research population in this study were educators for Geography Grades 8-10, learners and a local EE official. In support, Neuman (2006:219) and Ruane (2005:43) affirm that the primary purpose of sampling is to collect specific cases that can clarify and deepen understanding so that the researcher learns about the processes of social life. The data was gathered by means of a self-evaluation instrument/ survey questionnaire for educators, interview schedule for geography educators/teachers, a focus group discussion for learners and interview with a local environmental education officer (from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism).
The study was conducted in the Caprivi region, Namibia. Five (5) schools participated in the interviews and focus group discussions. Schools were chosen according to the following criteria: urban, peri-urban and rural schools. Random numbers were assigned to schools in each category and used to select participating schools. This ensured that every school had the equal chance to participate. In addition, the self-evaluation instrument/survey questionnaire for educators was sent to all 47 schools in the region with Grade 8-10. The regional director of education was consulted in advance about the research and its purpose and permission was sought from school principals. The description of the two methods of research used in this study will be discussed in 3.3 and 3.4 below

QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH APPROACH

The quantitative research is based on the idea that social phenomena can be quantified, measured (using various scales), summarized and expressed numerically (Bless, Hison-Smith & Kagee 2006:43 and Ruane 2005:14). The information about the phenomena can be analysed by statistical methods. A descriptive study establishes only associations between variables and can be well suited for comparison between groups or areas. Systematic changes in ‘scores’ are interpreted or given meaning in terms of the actual world they represent. In this study, predictors (independent variables) on the survey questionnaire were rural, peri-urban and urban schools, gender and years of teaching experience. This study was descriptive and correlational in that educators for all schools with Grade 10 rated themselves on 24 environmental learning practice indicators (dependent variable) which focus on knowledge, skills and attitudes, teaching/learning, resources, assessment and extra-curricular activities. Educators made further responses by ticking 32 other indicators on a nominal scale and these focused on environmental learning features in schools, school environmental policy issues, information sources and educators’ training needs.
Ruane (2005:53) affirms that the numbers attached to the value of variables on a questionnaire indicate a ranking order of the value. In this study, a self evaluation questionnaire was mailed to schools and asked respondents to return it by means of the post-office (postal questionnaire). Data will be structured in the form of numbers. For an accurate estimate of the relationship between variables, a descriptive study usually needs a sample of many subjects. Data matrix is the starting point for analysis. It is thought that in gaining, analyzing and interpreting quantitative data, the researcher can remain detached and objective. One of the weaknesses of the approach is however that it simplifies and compresses the complex reality. It is however difficult to study processes or dynamic phenomena if the participants’ intentions, ‘meaning’ are not considered

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH APPROACH

The qualitative researchers do not narrowly focus on a specific question, but ponder the theoretical-philosophical paradigm in an inquisitive, open-ended settling process as they adopt a perspective (Neuman 2006:15). This suggests that the research is an interactive process in which steps blend into each other and a later step may stimulate reconsideration of a previous one. Qualitative research conforms to the constructivist view which holds that there are multiple versions of reality. The meaning is socially constructed during the process and it is conceived that there are multiple versions of truth and reality. According to Neuman (2006:329) and Bogdan & Biklen (2007:5) the qualitative research methods look for patterns in the lives, actions and words of the people in the context of the study. Each participant in the study has brought a set of ideas, circumstances and perspectives to the study providing a variety of versions of the experiences from the schools.
The constructivist paradigm incorporates the view of the researcher into the research as another voice in the project with an affirmative view of the situation. Syder, Angula and Makuwa (1999:93) and Bless et al (2006:44) profess that the qualitative work and linguistic symbols are relied upon to provide meaning to the data. This is supported by Neuman (2006:72) and Bogdan & Biklen (2007:5). The researcher in this study wants to understand the meaning people attach to their everyday lives. The researcher will find meaning as s/he analyses the data. The researcher must provide evidence of rich, detailed and textured descriptions to allow readers of the research to make connections between the ideas and their own experiences. This research, which is based on phenomenological study, draws from the experiences of educators, learners and an EE officer for schools under study.
The methodology of phenomenology is dialogic and hermeneutical which necessitates using in-depth interviews to elicit rich detail of the experience from the participants’ points of view (Neuman 2006:90 and Bogdan & Biklen 2007:7). From examining the world of the study through dialogue, the researcher and participants give credence to each person’s point of view. Each person’s wisdom contributes to the experiences within the reality of the phenomenon. In this research project, the interviews were conventional and the relationship between researcher and participants developed during interviews. The established rapport necessitated the capture of information from interviews, and finally the seeking of affirmation from interviewees through checks that the words and ideas captured reflected the intent they wished to convey during the interview. Having discussed the significance of qualitative research in the study, the importance of how the data could be gathered in both quantitative and qualitative research will be discussed in 3.5

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DATA COLLECTION

Trochim and Donnelly (2008:142) note that qualitative data are those pieces of information which are non-statistical in nature (standards and values oriented research). Relevant curriculum and policy documents focusing on the environmental education curriculum and implementation at school level were scrutinised. The methods employed to collect data were the use of semi-structured interview questions designed to encourage participants to describe their experiences in implementing environmental education in the curriculum and the daily school life. This suggest that the central feature in research is to engage people in examining their knowledge (understanding, skills and values) and how they interpret themselves and their actions in social and material world.
In this study, interviews will give access to other people’s perceptions and meanings in order to gain greater understanding of a situation. In order to gather data, multiple data collection instruments for educators, learners and EE officer will be used. LeBeau (1997:51) claims that qualitative data collection is more spontaneous, and data collection is in its natural environment or context. The instruments for this study were both qualitative and quantitative. The findings and analysis of the data are a result of triangulating the data from all instruments. According to Neuman (2006:149), triangulating data from the various instruments will be used to ‘confirm’ the findings and thus enhance their validity. In this study triangulation consists of a combination of a self-assessment instrument, interview and focus group discussion whereby data on the implementation of EL in Geography comes from three perspectives: educators, learners and an environmental education officer. Neuman (2006:312) and Gay, Mills & Airisian (2006:419) indicate that a pilot study makes it possible to do preliminary checks on the validity and reliability of questions. Instruments in this study were trial tested at a local school to determine if participants understood questions and amendments were made. The following data collection instruments were used:
(a) Self-assessment or administered survey questionnaire for educators
Questionnaires were completed by respondents themselves, without assistance of the interviewer. The purpose of the self assessment questionnaire is two-fold: first was to give educators the opportunity to rate their own performance, knowledge and comfort level regarding environmental education; secondly, for educators to develop professionally by internalizing and recognizing the importance of indicators of sound environmental learning practice in the self-assessment in the hope that this will become normative behaviour in their teaching. According to Bless et al (2006:126), since respondents were asked to mail back the completed questionnaire without indicating their names, anonymity was assured and this helped them to be honest in their answer.
Furthermore, the findings from the self assessment instrument helped to validate the findings from interviews with educators in that the researcher could cross-reference the educators’ ratings of themselves with what was said in the educators’ interview. Ruane (2005:123) claimed that a good questionnaire can ‘stand on its own’ and enabl e the researcher to collect data without requiring personal contact with respondents. Each participating educator completed an assessment instrument by giving him/herself a rating of one (1) to four (4) for each of the twenty four (24) environmental learning practice indicators. The indicators were broken down into the following categories:
Knowledge about environmental learning
Materials and resources
Skills and attitudes
Teaching / learning and assessment
Extra-curricular programmes
Educators rate their practice according to the following criteria:
4 = you are very confident about this indicator
3= you are confident about the indicator
2 = most of times you feel unsure about this indicator
1 = the indicator is seldom or never found in your classroom.
You feel very unsure.
Educators made further responses to 32 other environmental indicators on a nominal scale and these focused on environmental learning features in schools, EE school policy issues, information sources and educators’ training needs.
b) Interview schedule for educators
Interviews were held with educators from a sample of five (5) schools. Information was obtained in a structured conversation in which the interviewer asks prearranged questions and records answers. Neuman (2006:305) and Bless et al (2006:116) support the significance of interviews. Bodgan and Biklen (2007:103) recommend that early in the interview, the subjects should be briefly informed of the purpose of interview and assure them that the interviews will be treated confidentially. In this interview, the areas explored are the same as those in the self-assessment, although more open-ended and the interview protocol were semi-structured. The focus was on teaching and learning, skills and attitudes, resources and extra mural activities.
Participants were contacted at least twice in order to establish the nature of the study, the role of the researcher and to collect information. Interviews were digitally audio recorded/taped, transcribed and a copy provided to each participant of his/her words and my interpretations so that each participant had the opportunity to review his/her interview responses after transcription and an analysis. This thus ensured that information was not lost and there is credibility of the study.
c) Focus group discussion for learners
According to Bless et al (2006:122), the focus group discussion refers to an interview technique where the researcher gathers together 5 or 6 people who are similar in some way and who have a specialized knowledge about the research topic. Once a group of people gathers together, the researcher leads (moderates) the group with directed questions that focus on the topic. The members of the group take turns answering and discussing the questions among themselves. The focus group fully recognizes the value of social interaction as an important source of data and understanding. LeBeau (1997:53) cautions that since there is a possibility for many people to talk at the same time, note taking for this type of interview is problematic and it is suggested that the researcher take notes and also digitally audio/tape records the session. The focus group was conducted in a semi-structured way.
The questions were based on learners’ understanding of the environment, what they like and not like at school and the kind of environmental issues prevalent at school and the locality. They were also asked what teaching methods they enjoy best, including how classroom practice is linked to outdoor activities. The questions explored a variety of areas including learners’ knowledge of environmental education, attitude towards the environment and how they felt about environmental learning in curriculum. The focus group discussion was digitally voice recorded/taped and transcribed. Transcripts were later reviewed with the interviewees to ensure credibility.
d) Interview schedule with local Environmental Education official.
This was based on opportunities and constraints which are related to environmental learning implementation in schools, networking, support and programmes. The interview was digitally voice recorded, transcribed and reviewed with the interviewee to ensure credibility. Data was clustered according to themes and coded for easy reference.
e) A collection of documents
Reviewing the accumulated knowledge about questions is an essential early step in the research process. Documents are past written and printed materials. They may provide the background information (Macmillan &Schumacher 2001). Document analysis is beneficial because it serves as a valuable supplement to interviews and observations. Data can be more credible than data collected in interviews or through observation because of the absence of a researcher effect on the data source- documents are non-reactive. The school EE policies and learners’ exercise books were checked for evidence of teaching/learning and assessment tasks related to the Geography syllabus and EE

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DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION

Analysis of data involves working with the data, “o rganizing it, breaking it down, synthesizing it, searching for patterns, discovering what is important and what is to be learned, and deciding what you will tell others” (Bogdan & Biklen 2007:159 and Neu man 2006:15). In quantitative research, charts and graphs illustrate the result of the research. Qualitative researchers analyze data inductively by categorizing and organizing the data into patterns that produce a descriptive and narrative synthesis. In this study, transcripts of interviews were typed out and individual thoughts and ideas of each participant separately numbered.
The statements of each participant were categorized. Statements were under headings specifying the ideas expressed and coded with respect to the research themes and emerging items. Al1 data statements, once coded for each participant, were placed in a tentative category depending on key words and phrases reflecting the content of the statement.
Checks for triangulation of content among participants were performed along with an in-depth review of researcher’s decision, points and observations in light of the researcher’s position and biases. Neuman (2006:149) defines triangulation as a strategy of looking at something from multiple points of view to improve accuracy. Finally, the data was analyzed comprehensively by attempting to view the conclusions reached in a critical manner that openly confronted alternative interpretations. The educator’s self-assessment rating questionnaire focusing on 24 indicators (outcomes) related to environmental practice and 32 indicators related to EE features in schools and policy issues was analysed and interpreted by using simple statistical procedures, for example descriptive statistics such as distribution frequencies. The SPSS statistical package was used to see if there are associations or connections (correlation) between any of the variables measured by the survey questions. The location of schools, educator’s gender and years of teaching experience were predictors of the outcome. According to Gay, Mills & Airisian (2006:467) the interpretation involves finding meaning in that data

ETHICAL CONSIDERATION

Trochim and Donnelly (2008:24) argues that the ethical standards require that researchers do not put participants in a situation where they might be at risk of harm as a result of participation. The nature of qualitative study, in general, and phenomenology in particular, is such that the process relies heavily on the input of participants to provide a constructed view of reality from participants’ viewpoints. Research participants should be protected by all means. As full contributors to the research process, participants must be aware of the pivotal role they play in the direction of the study. It is imperative that the researcher, who holds a position of power as defined by the nature of being the instrument of the research, internalize such ethical considerations. The disclosure of what a study is about may change the nature of the responses of the subjects.
The researcher protects the privacy by not disclosing a participant’s identity after information is gathered (Neuman 2006:139 and Bogdan & Beklin 2007:49). To that end the researcher took the following specific steps to ensure that participants’ privacy and rights were protected.
Informed consent was assured by allowing respondents sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the purposes and intentions of the study. Protection of respondents was guaranteed through anonymity of participants in the study. No one was forced into participating in a research endeavour. Participants were informed that they had the right to opt out of the study at any time. Personal use of names was avoided totally in order to ensure that data was not attached to any individual study participant in a way that might disadvantage the individual/school. LeBeau (1997:7) and Bless et al (2006:142) explain that “when we tell informants that all info rmation is confidential, this means that we will not tell anyone else what they personally said”. Pseudo nyms have been used to refer to all participants in the study. This is because the publication of the research findings might adversely affect the feelings or lives of those studied.
Participants were given the opportunity to review transcripts of interview and some of the interpretations. According to Ruane (2005:23), once data has been entered into computers for analysis, the original survey containing self-identifiers might be shredded. The authenticity of the data is suggested by presenting textual descriptions cited from the actual transcripts of the interviews. In this study, adherence to the actual tape recordings by either paraphrasing or using actual excerpts from these recordings will support credibility. The credibility of themes rests on the integrity of my interpretation and loyalty to the actual words of the interviewees. In several cases the words of the participants were included in their entirety to convey the depth of their expressions and these interpretations underwent review by those participants

Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM AND INVESTIGATION
1.3 RESEARCH PROBLEM
1.4 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE INVESTIGATION
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.7 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE AREA UTILISED FOR THE STUDY
1.8 DEFINITION OF KEY CONCEPTS
1.9 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2  LITERATURE STUDY
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 UNDERSTANDING CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT PROCESSES IN NAMIBIAN CONTEXT
2.3 WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION?
2.4 INTERNATIONAL TREATIES SUPPORTING ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
2.5 DIMENSIONS OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
2.6 AREAS OF ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING
2.7 BRIEF BACKGROUND ON DEVELOPMENTAL (COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE) STAGES OF 14-17 YEARS OLD LEARNERS AND HOW IT RELATES TO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
2.8 TOWARD EDUCATION FOR ALL: A POLICY GOAL FOR NAMIBIA
2.9 UNDERLYING PHILOSOPHIES BEHIND LEARNER CENTRED EDUCATION (LCE) IN NAMIBIA
2.10 ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION METHODS AND PROCESSES
2.11 GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING
2.12 POSITION AND AIMS OF JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL GEOGRAPHY IN THE NAMIBIAN CURRICULUM
2.13 SUMMARY OF THE LEARNING CONTENT AS ADAPTED FROM GEOGRAPHY GRADES 8-10 PHASE SYLLABUS
2.14 VALUE CLARIFICATION METHODS AS LEARNING ACTIVITIES
2.15 ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AS A CROSS-CURRICULAR OPTION
2.16 THE ECO-SCHOOL AND WHOLE SCHOOL APPROACH TO ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING
2.17 INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
2.18 THE ROLE OF LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTRES
2.19 THE ROUTE TO ASSESSMENT IN GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
2.20 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3  RESEARCH DESIGN
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 POPULATION SAMPLE
3.3 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH APPROACH
3.4 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH APPROACH
3.5 DATA COLLECTION
3.5 DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
3.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATION
3.7 VALIDITY
3.8 RELIABILITY
3.9 CONSTRAINTS
3.10 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4  DATA ANALYSES AND INTERPRETATION
4.1 QUANTITATIVE DATA ANALYSES AND INTERPRETATION
4.2 QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSES AND INTERPRETATION
4.3 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5  CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND LIMITATIONS
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 CONCLUSIONS
5.3. RECOMMENDATIONS
5.4 LIMITATIONS
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT

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