CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH DESIGN
This chapter contains a discussion of the research design that was used in the empirical phase of this study. This phase comprised active attempts to enter the field of SQ and to answer the main research question, namely: What educational strategies can be designed to develop SQ in secondary schools?
Consequently, this chapter gives an account of the research design, the data collection methods and the data analysis process that were used. In addition, the chapter explains the ethical measures applied, as well as the measures taken in order to ensure trustworthiness (validity and reliability). As may be seen from the research question, the study aimed to develop educational strategies that could infuse SQ in South African secondary school educational contexts, with a view to creating teaching and learning environments that
- encourage students to engage in dialogue that involves a broader conversation about religion and spirituality
- are conducive for transformation
- engender unity within a diverse, multicultural and multi-religious school context.
RATIONALE FOR A QUALITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGN
Many researchers argue that, when studying human learning, qualitative research yields the best data (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003; Van Rensburg & Smit, 2004). The study specifically focuses on adolescents in learning to become spiritually intelligent.
Merriam (2009: 6) asserts that qualitative research is interested in the meaning people attribute to their experiences. This suggests the existence of multiple realities in any given context. According to this author, qualitative research also produces a result which is “an interpretation by the researcher of others’ views filtered through his or her own” (Merriam, 2009: 6). This implies that the researcher simultaneously engages in the situation and makes sense of the multiple interpretations through his/her own interpretation of the situation.
In this study, the focus was on adolescents’ multiple perceptions, meanings and experiences of the transformative nature of SQ, and in particular educational strategies that can foster the development of SQ. Accordingly, the qualitative research activities in this study were centred on an “insider perspective” while remaining sensitive both to the context in which the participants operated and to their frames of reference (Babbie & Mouton, 2001: 271). The essential processes in this study included observing, investigating and documenting in detail the unique educational experiences of a group of adolescents in a multicultural classroom context. Mason (1996: 5–6) adds in this regard that qualitative research should
- be systematically and precisely conducted
- be sensitive to the changing contexts and situations in which the research takes place
- involve active reflexivity by the researcher
- produce social explanations for intellectual challenges
- not be satisfied with producing explanations that are particular to the limited empirical constraints of the study
- carefully combine methods
- be conducted as an ethical practice, and with regard to its political context.
In addition, this research adopted a phenomenological case study research design. A phenomenological study describes the meaning for several individuals of their lived experiences of a concept or a phenomenon (Creswell, 2007: 58). In keeping with the tradition of phenomenology, there is no such thing as the “objective” truth for the phenomenologist; such a method rather attempts “to discover and account for the presence of meanings in the stream of consciousness” (Giorgi, 1985: 6). In this study, a phenomenological investigation offered a unique way of understanding how students interpreted and attributed meaning to specific educational strategies that had been designed to develop SQ.
Phenomenologists, in contrast to positivists, also believe that it is not possible for the researcher to stand apart from his/her own suppositions (Mouton & Marais, 1990: 12). In this regard, Mouton and Marais (1990:12) state that individual researchers “hold explicit beliefs”. For this reason, before embarking on the empirical investigation, I undertook an extensive literature review in order to support and provide an overview of the various schools of thought on SQ, as well as to reveal ways in which SQ can be developed. This literature review confirmed my belief that specific educational strategies can develop SQ in adolescents, thereby fostering certain essential qualities that ultimately have the power to transform and create unity in a diverse multicultural and multi-religious school context.
In addition to the above, this research aimed to uphold the four essential characteristics of a qualitative case study: particularistic, descriptive, heuristic and inductive (Merriam, 1988). This study was particularistic in that it focused on Grade 11 learners in a South African secondary school. This study was also descriptive as I engaged with the participants over a period of three months in order to obtain the rich, « thick description » (Geertz, 1973) of the phenomenon that was expected to emerge. In addition, the findings would be heuristic because, where insights into the phenomenon would be found, new meanings would emerge, and students’ experiences would be broadened. Lastly, Merriam (1998) states that qualitative case studies in education are often framed in terms of concepts, models and theories, and an inductive method is then used to support or challenge theoretical assumptions. Hence, the framework developed in this study supports the assessment of participant perspectives. Consequently, I discuss findings relating to existing knowledge with the aim of demonstrating how the present study has contributed to expanding the current knowledge base of SQ.
The site selected for this study was a secondary school in Gauteng. As mentioned in chapter one (see section 1.2), I selected ten Grade 11 students who reflected the demographics of our country‘s population and were in the adolescent stage of development. The research focus was the exploration of the complex processes involved in students’ experiences of and perspectives on educational strategies that can maximise the development of SQ.
This being a qualitative study, I had to interact with the participants on a very deep and personal level, thus entering the areas of values, weaknesses and individual learning disabilities in order to collect data (McMillan & Schumacher, 2014: 324). Hence, the following ethical measures were observed and these also served as guiding principles throughout the empirical investigation:
According to McMillan and Schumacher (2006:334), the issue of informed consent ensures that participants are provided with adequate information regarding
- the goals of the investigation
- the procedures to be followed during the research
- the possible advantages and disadvantages of participating in the investigation
- my credibility as a researcher.
For this study, I made use of informed consent. However, in any research study competency is a prerequisite. According to Du Plooy (2000: 112), competency is legally linked to age, where generally children under the age of 18 years are regarded as minors and require permission to participate from a parent or legal guardian. Accordingly, I developed a specific informed consent agreement form for the parent or legal guardian to sign (see Appendix 5) and an assent agreement form for the students who were chosen for the research (see Appendix 6).
Based on Bailey’s (1996: 11) recommended items, the following information was included in this form:
- the fact that the students were being requested to participate in research that was being undertaken for a doctoral degree in Education (without stating the central research question)
- the procedures of the research
- the benefits of the research
- the voluntary nature of the research participation
- the procedures used to protect confidentiality.
The final informed consent and assent agreements contained accurate, comprehensive information about the study. All parties concerned were able to understand the purpose, procedures, methods and benefits of the research (Wassenaar, 2006:72). As a result, both the parents or legal guardians and the students were able to make voluntary, informed and carefully considered decisions concerning their participation.
As a Unisa student, I also had to obtain permission to conduct the research from the Unisa Ethical Clearance Committee (see Appendix 3). In addition, I had to obtain consent from the Gauteng Education Department for all the interviewees to participate in the research, as well as from the principal of the selected school (see Appendix 2).
Anonymity and confidentiality
The participants were assured of both anonymity and confidentiality. This implies that neither the setting (e.g. the school) nor the participants would be identifiable in print. Accordingly, the common practice employed by researchers, namely, the use of code names for people and places (McMillan & Schumacher, 2006: 334), was used in this study to ensure anonymity.
Avoidance of deception and privacy
Bailey (1996: 10, 12) cautions that deception may be counterproductive and may prevent insights, whereas honesty, coupled with confidentiality, reduces suspicion and promotes sincere responses. Thus, the informed consent and assent agreement forms were explained in detail to the participants, who had been identified by the school’s guidance and counselling teacher.
The majority of the potential participants signed the agreement but those who did not sign were not pressured to participate in the study. Leedy (1997: 116–117) asserts in this regard that it is important to make it clear that the participants can withdraw at any time. All the students who eventually participated in the research study, as well as their parents or guardians, agreed to the contents of the informed assent and consent agreements, and the relevant forms were subsequently signed by both parties.
In line with the desire to avoid deception, the interviews were never recorded without the full knowledge and consent of the participants. In addition, the participants were assured that they had the right to refuse to respond to certain questions and to decide what information they were or were not prepared to disclose. I also undertook to protect the privacy of the participants.
Competence of the researcher
In order to ensure that this research was conducted in a competent manner, I undertook to do the following, as proposed by Strydom (2005: 63–64):
- to accept the ethical responsibility for ensuring that I was competent and adequately skilled to undertake the empirical investigation
- to remain sensitive to the needs of the participants in the study
- to maintain objectivity and to refrain from making any judgements about the participants’ values and points of view, even if they differed from my own.
MEASURES TO ENSURE TRUSTWORTHINESS
Whereas the verifiability of quantitative research is assessed in terms of its reliability and validity, qualitative research is, perhaps more accurately, assessed according to its trustworthiness (De Vos, 2005: 345). According to Lincoln and Guba (1985), trustworthiness refers to the “truth value” of the study’s findings or how accurately the researcher interpreted the participants’ experiences. Generally, rigour in qualitative research is established through the study’s confirmability, credibility, transferability and dependability (Cutcliffe & McKenna, 1999; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). In this study, Lincoln and Guba’s model for ensuring the trustworthiness of qualitative data was employed (De Vos, 2005: 346).
LIST OF FIGURES
CHAPTER ONE: ORIENTATION AND BACKGROUND
1.1 INTRODUCTION AND MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY
1.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND AIMS OF THE RESEARCH
1.3 PARADIGMATIC PERSPECTIVE
1.4 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.5 CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS
1.7 RESEARCH PROGRAMME – DIVISION OF CHAPTERS
CHAPTER TWO:EXPLORING THE NATURE OF SPIRITUAL INTELLIGENCE (SQ)
2.2 A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE
2.3 GARDNER’S MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCE THEORY
2.4 A CASE FOR SQ
2.5 THE SCEPTICS
2.6 DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN RELIGIOSITY, SPIRITUALITY AND SQ
2.7 A DEFINITION AND VIABLE MODEL OF SQ
2.8 NEUROBIOLOGICAL EVIDENCE OF SQ
2.9 MEASURING SQ
2.10 FOSTERING ADAPTIVE FUNCTIONING IN ADOLESCENTS
2.11 DEVELOPING PRINCIPLES FOR TRANSFORMATION IN ADOLESCENTS
CHAPTER THREE A CASE FOR DEVELOPING SQ IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN SECONDARY SCHOOL CONTEXT
3.2 A PICTURE OF SOUTH AFRICAN “YOUTH IN CRISIS”
3.3 IDENTITY FORMATION IN ADOLESCENCE
3.4 KOHLBERG’S STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT
3.5 SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT IN ADOLESCENCE
3.6 RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT IN ADOLESCENCE
3.7 THE COMPLEXITIES OF THE RELIGION EDUCATION LANDSCAPE WITHIN THE SOUTH AFRICAN EDUCATIONAL CONTEXT
3.8 SPIRITUALITY IN RELIGION EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICAN SECONDARY EDUCATION
3.9 SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVISM: AN APPROPRIATE CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK .
3.10 EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES THAT MAY FACILITATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF SQ
3.11 ESSENTIAL SQ QUALITIES IN TEACHERS
CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH DESIGN
4.2 RATIONALE FOR A QUALITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGN
4.3 SITE SELECTION
4.4 ETHICAL MEASURES
4.5 MEASURES TO ENSURE TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.6 DATA COLLECTION
4.7 DATA-STORAGE METHODS
4.8 DATA ANALYSIS
CHAPTER FIVE RESEARCH FINDINGS
5.2 DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF PARTICIPANTS
5.3 SCHOOL CONTEXT
5.5 CATEGORIES AND SUB-CATEGORIES
CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND LIMITATIONS
6.2 CONCLUSIONS FROM THE LITERATURE
6.3 CONCLUSIONS FROM THE FINDINGS
6.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.6 CONTRIBUTION OF THE STUDY
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF SPIRITUAL INTELLIGENCE (SQ) IN SOUTH AFRICAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS