EVALUATION IN EDUCATION AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION

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CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND RESEARCH DESIGN

INTRODUCTION

The preceding chapters form an important background to the investigation contained in this study. Chapter two provides a theoretical background to evaluation in education in general and whole-school evaluation in particular. It illustrates that evaluation, particularly whole-school evaluation, needs to be investigated. The chapter indicates that different individuals should perform certain roles in the whole-school evaluation. Therefore, the perceptions of the important role-players in the whole-school evaluation need to be investigated.
Chapter three looks at some of the roles that the principal should play in order for the school to achieve its objectives. This chapter also looks at how these roles are relevant to whole-school evaluation. The context of the disadvantaged schools/communities is also illustrated in this chapter. The chapter reveals that the complex problems experienced in disadvantaged schools need to be investigated. This chapter also looks at whole-school evaluation in the disadvantaged schools as well as the manner in which whole-school evaluation is conducted in disadvantaged schools.
Basically, the literature study covered in chapters two and three served to identify some of the crucial issues pertaining to the topic as well as to indicate gaps in the existing knowledge of the role of the principal in the implementation of the departmental policies. The research, therefore, addresses some of these questions through in-depth interviews with selected principals, Department of Education officials and educators who are teaching in disadvantaged schools and schools serving disadvantaged communities in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal.
This chapter begins with a discussion of qualitative research and is followed by a description of the design of the research. Thus, the main steps in the gathering of data for this research are described in this chapter as well as providing justification for the methods of data gathering and the analysis thereof.

THE USE OF A QUALITATIVE APPROACH TO RESEARCH

Qualitative research

Bodgan and Biklen (2003:2) regard qualitative research as an umbrella term that is used to refer to several research strategies that share certain characteristics. The data collected have been termed soft that is rich in description of people, places and conversations and not easily handled by statistical procedures. According to Mertens (2005:229), qualitative research is a situated activity that locates the observer in the world. It consists of a set of interpretative, material practices that make the world visible. Qualitative research is often exploratory, that is, it is often used when little is known about a certain topic or when an inductive approach is deemed more appropriate to learn more about a topic (Johnson & Christensen, 2004:30). Creswell (2003:30) concurs and adds that since not much has been written about the topic or the population being studied, the researcher seeks to listen to participants and builds an understanding based on their ideas.
The purpose of research is to discover answers to questions through the application of systematic procedures. Thus, qualitative research properly seeks answers to questions by examining various social settings and the individuals who inhabit these settings. Therefore, qualitative researchers are most interested in how humans arrange themselves and their settings and how inhabitants of these settings make sense of their surroundings through symbols, rituals, social structures, social roles and so forth (Berg, 2004:7). Likewise, Hoberg (1999:22) contends that research questions that are formulated are aimed at an investigation of topics in all their complexity and especially in context. However, Hoberg (1999:22) warns that qualitative researchers should not approach their research with specific questions to ask or hypotheses to test; they should develop a research focus as they collect their data. Neuman (2000:149) concurs and maintains that because qualitative researchers rarely know the most important issues or questions until after they become fully immersed in the data, they use early data collection to serve as a guide on how to adjust and sharpen the research questions. In accordance with the opinion of Best and Kahn (1993:82), qualitative studies leave open the possibility of change, to ask different questions and to go in the direction that the observation may lead the researcher. Qualitative research is, therefore, more open and responsive to its subject (Neuman, 2000:149).
According to Burns and Grove (2003:19), qualitative research is conducted to promote understanding of human experiences and situations and to develop theories that describe these experiences and situations. Thus, as Marshall and Rossman (1999:2) put it, qualitative research is pragmatic, interpretive and grounded in the lived experiences of people. However, Bodgan and Biklen (2003:2) maintain that qualitative research for education takes many forms and is conducted in many settings. Johnson and Christensen (2004:33) concur and contend that qualitative research uses a wide-angle lens, examining behaviour as it occurs naturalistically in all of its detail. Likewise, Leedy and Ormrod (2005:133) argue that although qualitative research encompasses several approaches to research that are, in some respects, quite different from one another, they all have two things in common. First, they focus on phenomena that occur in natural settings, that is, in the real world. Second, they involve studying those phenomena in all their complexity. As a result Berg (2004:3) is of the opinion that qualitative research, thus, refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols and descriptions of things.
According to Strauss and Corbin (1990:17-18), the term qualitative research is confusing because it can mean different things to different people. For example, some researchers gather data by means of interview and observation – techniques normally associated with qualitative methods. However, they then code that data in a manner that allows them to be statistically analysed. They are in effect, quantifying qualitative data. This means that no single definition of qualitative research can be acceptable to everyone. As Denzin and Lincoln (2000:2) put it, a complex, interconnected family of terms, concepts and assumptions surround the term qualitative research. Qualitative research fits in this study as Marshall and Rossman (1999:2) regards it as a broad approach to the study of social phenomena; its various genres are naturalistic and interpretive and they draw on multiple method of inquiry.

The role of the researcher

Qualitative researchers pay overt attention to the role of the researcher. This is because the researcher is seen to have direct effects on the research design, findings and interpretations of a study (Lankshear & Knobel, 2004:74). This implies that the role the researcher plays in qualitative research is very crucial to the study. Therefore, the researcher should not only understand his/her role but should also acquire skills to perform this role. According to Leedy and Ormrod (2005:133), qualitative researchers believe that the researcher’s ability to interpret and make sense of what he/she sees is critical for an understanding of any social phenomena. As a result the researcher is regarded as an instrument by many researchers using qualitative approaches to data collection (Patton, 2002:14; Lankshear & Knobel, 2004:74).
Johnson and Christensen (2004:188) maintain the researcher is said to be the data collection instrument because it is the researcher who must decide what is important and what data are to be recorded. Likewise, Leedy and Ormrod (2005:96) concur and maintain that the researcher is regarded as an instrument because the bulk of their data collection is dependent on his/her personal involvement (interviews, observations) in the setting. According to Neuman (2000:355-356), that the researcher is the instrument has two implications. First, it puts pressure on the researcher to be alert and sensitive to what happens in the field and to be disciplined about recording data. Second, it has personal consequences. Fieldwork involves social relationships and personal feelings. As Woods (1992:370-373) puts it, the researcher does not stand above and outside the research. The researcher is a finely tuned instrument with considerable skills but he/she is a person no less with values, beliefs and a self. Neuman (2000:356) concurs and maintains that the researcher tries to forge a friendly relationship, shares the same language, laughs and cries with the participants.
The researcher performs a variety of roles. These depend on research problems and procedures, their own characteristics and the personal attributes of the others (Glesne & Peshkin, 1992:112). Marshall and Ross (1999:80) concur and maintain that the researcher’s role may vary as to its revealedness or the extent to which the fact that there is a study going on is known to the participants. Glesne and Peshkin (1992:112) are of the opinion that some of the roles may worry the researcher, while other roles may be attractive but perplexing in relationship to their data-gathering goal. Therefore, the researcher should begin with his/her research knowing the role that he/she needs to play quite well. This is likely to earn the respect of the participants but also to acquire more information from them. According to Marshall and Ross (1999:80), the researcher’s role may vary in intensiveness and extensiveness, that is, the amount of time spent in the setting on a daily basis and the duration of the study over time.
In qualitative research, the researcher enters the world of the people he/she plans to study, gets to know, be known and trusted by them and systematically keeps a detailed written record of what is heard and observed (Bodgan & Biklen, 2003:2). Johnson and Christensen (2004:34) agree and add that the researcher does not only write down what he/she sees as well as relevant insights but he/she also write down his/her thoughts about both the environment and the participants. The researcher does this in order to identify the chief concerns of the various participants and audiences and to assess the merit, worth or meaning of the phenomena to the participants. To accomplish with this the researcher must determine what effects the setting, the participants and the observed phenomena have on each other (Tuckman, 1994:366). Therefore, the researcher’s own background, interests and values are influential in selecting a topic for research (Woods, 1992:373). This clearly indicates that the researcher is an active participant in the study. But Best and Kahn (1993:199) warn that it is crucial that the researcher does not hold any preconceived notions regarding the outcome of the study.
In qualitative research the nature of the researcher-participants has an impact on the collection and interpretation of data. As a result participants in qualitative research are not research subjects in the usual sense of the world but they are colleagues. Therefore, the researcher must have the support and confidence of those individuals to complete the research (Burns & Grove, 2003:375). The researcher, therefore, must strive to build a relationship of reciprocal trust and rapport with the participants. Such relationships must not only be built but must also be maintained during the study. Johnson and Christensen (2004:183) maintain that if the researcher has managed to establish trust and rapport it becomes easier for the participant to provide information about his/her inner world. Likewise, Neuman (2000:356) maintains that the researcher builds a rapport by getting along with the participants. The researcher forges a friendly relationship, shares the same language and laughs and cries with the participants. However, Mouton (1996:158) warns that rapport is time consuming and it might not always be practical. Neuman (2000:356) concurs that it is not always easy to build rapport, as the social world is not all in harmony with warm and friendly people. Nonetheless, the researcher should strive to have a strong interpersonal relationship with the participants as it neutralises initial distrust (Mouton, 1996:158).

READ  THE SUPERVISION CYCLE

CHAPTER 1 BACKGROUND, PROBLEM FORMULATION AND AIMS
1.1 INTRODUCTION : WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION
1.2 THE NATURE OF SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS
1.3 DISADVANTAGED SCHOOLS/COMMUNITIES IN KWAZULU-NATAL
1.4 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.5 AIMS OF THE RESEARCH
1.6 CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS
1.7 DEMARCATION OF THE PROBLEM
1.8 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.9 PROGRAMME OF STUDY
1.10 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2 EVALUATION IN EDUCATION AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 EVALUATION IN EDUCATION : AN ESSENTIAL MANAGEMENT TASK
2.3 WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION : THE GENERAL FRAMEWORK
2.4 APPROACHES TO EVALUATION IN SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS
2.5 THE LINK BETWEEN WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION AND DEVELOPMENTAL APPRAISAL SYSTEM
2.6 THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE MAJOR ROLE-PLAYERS IN WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION
2.7 WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION IN DIFFERENT SCHOOL CONTEXTS
2.8 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3 THE MANAGERIAL ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL AND SCHOOLING IN DISADVANTAGED SCHOOLS/COMMUNITIES
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THE MANAGERIAL ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL
3.3 THE ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL AND WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION
3.4 SCHOOLING IN DISADVANTAGED SCHOOLS/COMMUNITIES
3.5 CONTEXTUAL FACTORS IMPACTING ON LEARNER SUCCESS
3.6 IMPLEMENTING EDUCATIONAL REFORMS IN DISADVANTAGED SCHOOLS
3.7 WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION IN DISADVANTAGED SCHOOLS
3.8 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND RESEARCH DESIGN
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 THE USE OF A QUALITATIVE APPROACH TO RESEARCH
4.3 THE DESIGN OF THE RESEARCH
4.4 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF KEY THEMES
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 SCHOOLS INCLUDED IN THE RESEARCH
5.3 CHARACTERISTICS OF PARTICIPANTS
5.4 CHANGES TAKING PLACE IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM
5.5 THE MANAGERIAL ROLE OF PRINCIPALS rincipal
5.6 BACKGROUND TO WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION IN KWAZULU-NATAL SCHOOLS
5.7 THE LINK BETWEEN WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION AND DEVELOPMENTAL APPRAISAL SYSTEM
5.8 THE IMPLEMENTATION OF WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION IN KWAMASHU SCHOOLS
5.9 PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED BY SCHOOLS DURING THE WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION
5.10 THE RESULTS OF WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION IN KWAMASHU SCHOOLS
5.11. COMPARISONS BETWEEN SCHOOL SELF-EVALUATION AND EVALUATION CONDUCTED BY SUPERVISORS
5.12 REPORTS ON WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION
5.13 PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED IN ADDRESSING THE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE REPORTS
5.14 LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE IMPLEMENTATION OF WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION
5.15 WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION AND DISADVANTAGED SCHOOLS
5.16 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6  OVERVIEW OF INVESTIGATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 OVERVIEW OF THE INVESTIGATION
6.3 SYNTHESIS OF FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
6.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.6 SUMMARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY 
APPENDICES
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE MANAGERIAL ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL IN WHOLE-SCHOOL EVALUATION IN THE CONTEXT OF DISADVANTAGED SCHOOLS IN KWAZULU-NATAL

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