CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
According to Fraenkel and Wallen (2009), research methodology is the means by which researchers undertake their study by describing, explaining and predicting phenomena. Creswell (2009) also defines it as the methods of the study by which the researcher gains knowledge and plan for the activities to be done in the study.
This chapter presented the methodology employed for the study for the investigation of the effect of CFLR on the reading skill of Grade 3 learners in 10 selected primary schools found two towns in the region of SNNPR, Ethiopia. The chapter also discussed the study area, the population, samples and sampling methods employed and tools of data collection. Furthermore, the chapter addressed the issues of reliability, validity, the plan of data collection and ethical issues.
According to Morgan (2007) and Creswell (2009), a paradigm is an integral part of scientific research. This is because research is affected and guided by the particular perspective the researcher holds. The perspectives of the researcher are termed a paradigm (set of basic beliefs). Therefore, the researcher’s set of basic beliefs are central to research design because they have an impact on the purpose of the research, the nature of the research questions and the way the researcher addresses the research questions (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2006). A paradigm is also defined as a pattern of beliefs and practices that regulate inquiry within a discipline by providing lenses, frames and processes through which an investigation is accomplished (Maxwell, 2011; Morgan, 2007). Therefore, a researcher needs to conduct a study within a specific paradigm that provides a broad view or perspective of the issue under investigation.
Research design and the researcher’s paradigmatic perspective on research are interrelated. According to Creswell (2009), a researchers’ basic belief guides him to employ a certain research method in his research under one of the following paradigms: positivism, constructivism or pragmatism. To locate the study in appropriate research paradigm, each of these paradigms has been discussed in the following sections.
The Positivist Research Paradigm
According to Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2011), the French philosopher August Comte is regarded as the father of the positivist paradigm. He emphasised observation and reason as a means of understanding human behaviour. This means of understanding and exploring social reality was believed to be the foundation of the positivist paradigm. True knowledge is based on the experience of the senses and can be obtained by observation and experiment. Positivistic thinkers adopt their scientific method as a means of knowledge generation (Scotland, 2012).
The foundation of the positivist paradigm is the knowledge attained through articulated observations and controlled experiment. The assumption of this perspective is that real events can be observed empirically and explained with logic (Paul, 2004). Therefore, truth is established by looking at the facts. This entails that all attained findings would be confirmed with evidence. With these assumptions of science, the ultimate goal of science is to integrate and systematise findings into a meaningful pattern or theory which is regarded as tentative and not the ultimate truth; and the theory is subject to revision or modification as new evidence is found (ibid.).
The positivistic paradigm, thus, systematises the knowledge generation process with the help of quantification, which is essentially to enhance precision in the description of parameters and the discernment of the relationship among them. Although the positivistic paradigm influenced educational research for a long time in the latter half of the 20thcentury, it was criticised due to its lack of regard for the subjective states of individuals. It regards human behavior as passive, controlled and determined by the external environment. Hence, human beings are dehumanised without their intention, individualism and freedom being taken into account in viewing and interpreting social reality. According to the critics of this paradigm, objectivity needs to be replaced by subjectivity in the process of scientific inquiry. This gave rise to anti-positivism or naturalistic inquiry.
Constructivist Research Paradigm
Constructivism paradigm is one of the most prominent perspectives of learning theories used during the last two decades of the 20thcentury. Many modern pedagogical theories and practices around the world favor Vygotsky’s social constructivist and Piaget’s radical constructivist approaches to instructional approach due to the significant contribution of the paradigm to the classroom activities (Johri, 2005).
Constructivism is an epistemological view of knowledge acquisition that accentuates knowledge construction rather than knowledge transmission and the recording of information conveyed by others (Glasersfeld, 2007). Constructivism encompasses learners’ interpretation of knowledge and understanding from the experiences developed from active learning (Riegler, 2007). Therefore, for anything that we are familiar with, we recognise only the knowledge we construct in our conceptual world.
Pragmatism Research Paradigm
Pragmatism is certainly not new to the social sciences, and there are several good reviews of pragmatism, both as a general belief system for the social sciences and as a specific justification for combining qualitative and quantitative methods (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2006; Maxcy, 2003).
Morgan (2007) states that the pragmatic approach relies on a version of abductive reasoning that moves back and forth between induction and deduction; first converting observations into theories and then assessing those theories through action. Abduction refers to the use of theories to account for observations, and thus, as an aspect of inductive inferences. From a pragmatic point of view, however, the only way to assess those inferences is through action. Hence, one of the most common uses of abduction in pragmatic reasoning is to further a process of inquiry that evaluates the results of prior inductions through their ability to predict the workability of future lines of behaviour (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2006; Morgan, 2007).
This particular version of the abductive process is quite familiar to researchers who combine qualitative and quantitative methods in a sequential fashion, where the inductive results from a qualitative approach can serve as inputs to the deductive goals of a quantitative approach, and vice versa (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2009; Hanson, Creswell, Plano Clark, Petska & Creswell, 2005). This movement back and forth between different approaches to theory and data does not have to be limited to combinations of methods within a single project. A far more interesting option is to explore the potential for working back and forth between the kinds of knowledge produced under the separate banners of qualitative and quantitative research (Franke & Jager, 2013).
Since the study followed a mixed-methods research design, it was guided by the pragmatic research paradigm. This perspective guided the researcher to investigate the effect of the independent variables of the current study, the CFLR reading instruction method and conventional teaching methods on the dependent variable (reading skill of Grade 3 learners). The effects of the independent variables on the dependent variable were observed and measured from a positivist perspective because the objective view of this paradigm could be used to manipulate what and how things are and how things should be.
Based on this research paradigm, the researcher recognised that the actual observation and measurement of the magnitude of learners’ reading skills should be compared with that of a pre-test result of a control group and an experimental group. The magnitude of the effectiveness of CFLR was also determined. This guided the researcher to employ numerical data analysis for the quantitative data and to generalise the findings to the population from which the samples were selected (Descombes, 2003).
The data generated from a qualitative approach i.e., observation and semi-structured interview were used to supplement the quantitative data with the insight of the research participants.
DESIGN OF THE STUDY
Quantitative and qualitative approaches are not polar opposites as the traditional labels of positivistic and interpretivist imply. It should be kept in mind that it is not the case that certain methods (e.g., questionnaires, interviews and tests) are inherently either qualitative or quantitative. Questionnaire results, for example, can be analysed quantitatively by determining what percentage of respondents answered in a particular manner, or qualitatively, by examining in detail the exact responses individuals provided and using them to triangulate other data from those same participants. The study was conducted using a mixed methodology in which quantitative and qualitative supplement each other. The quantitative part consisted of a quasi-experimental research design and the qualitative part used a case study design.
More specifically, the study was conducted under concurrent triangulation design by which quantitative and qualitative data were collected simultaneously. For instance, both questionnaires and semi-structured interview were conducted at the same time with the same participants, and then the researcher compares the quantitative and qualitative results.
According to Ary, Jacobs and Sorensen (2010) and Bordens and Abbott (2011), quantitative research methodology stresses the importance of a large group of randomly selected participants, manipulating variables within the participants’ immediate environment, and determining whether there is a relationship between the manipulated (independent) variable and some characteristic or behaviour of the participants (the dependent variable). Bordens and Abbott (2011) also indicate that statistical procedures are used to determine whether the relationship is significant; and when it is significant, the results are typically generalised to a larger population beyond the immediate group of participants. At best, quantitative research is systematic, rigorous, focused, and tightly controlled, involving precise measurement and producing reliable and replicable data that is generalizable to other contexts (ibid.). Quantitative research is primarily aimed attesting hypotheses (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2009).
Gay, Mills and Airasian (2006) state that quantitative research can be classified into one of the two broad research categories: experimental research (causal-comparative research, experimental research and single-subject experimental research); and non-experimental research (descriptive and correlational research).
Experimental design is a study design used to test cause-and-effect relationships between variables (Gall, Gall & Borg, 2007). It is also a method of research in the social sciences (such as sociology or psychology) in which a controlled experimental factor is subjected to special treatment for purposes of comparison with a factor kept constant (ibid).This kind of research is guided by hypotheses that state the anticipated relationship between two or more variables (Pashler, 2002).
Therefore, the quantitative part of the study was located in the quasi-experimental design. The quasi-experimental study (non-equivalent control group design) is a type of evaluation that seeks to determine whether effective instructional approach would have the intended causal effect on solving the reading difficulty of Grade 3 learners at selected primary schools. According to Gall, Gall and Borg (2007) quasi-experiment is a quantitative research design that does not randomly assign samples to the study. Hossein (2012:511) also defines quasi-experimental research (a naturally occurring group design) as an experimental research design in which the researcher cannot assign participants randomly to conditions and manipulate the independent variable; instead, comparisons are made between groups that already exist or within a single group before and after a quasi-experimental treatment has occurred. Quasi-experimental designs are practical compromise designs that are recommended where better designs (e.g., true experimental designs) are not feasible (ibid.).
Hence, the study selected sample schools using a convenience sampling technique which is also termed a non-random sampling method. Therefore, the study used a non-equivalent control group design to work with intact classrooms in both the experimental and the control groups. This is due to its practical application in educational research, and has been used by various educational researchers. For instance, several researchers favour the non-equivalent control group design as a suitable approach to employ in various studies in which true experiments are not possible (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007; Blessing & Florister, 2012; Delamont, 2012; Hancock & Mueller, 2010; Jackson, 2012; Johnson & Christenson, 2012).
It was not possible to randomly assign study participants to the experimental and control groups in the study as this would have interfered with the existing teaching schedules of participating schools. Cook (2002:42) also states that “random assignment is rare in research on the effectiveness of strategies to improve student’s performance”. The reason for non-randomised assigning of learners into experimental and control groups is to prohibit dissemination and contamination of information, and manage rivalry between learners (Gaigher, Rogan & Brown, 2006).
Several studies such as Baker and White (2003); Fox and Bolton (2003); Liu (2005); Turner and Lapan (2005); Gaigher et al. (2006); Ozmen(2008); and Chih-Ming and Yi-Lun (2009) used non-equivalent control group design to determine the effect of a certain educational approach on the performance of primary and high school learners. These studies indicated that the non-equivalent control group design is convenient because practical constraints affect the possibility of random allocation of respondents to either the experimental group or the control group. The studies also indicated that the random assignment of samples is not practicable because intact classes are already formed before the research is begun. Based on the above grounds, it is possible to infer that educational researchers in recent years have commonly used non-equivalent control group design (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2009).
Hence, the study employed the non-equivalent control group design because to randomly selection of learners and assign them in to the control and experimental groups was not realistic. The study used intact classrooms as experimental and control groups. Random assignment and reorganisation of learners in to experimental and control groups obliterates the systematic arrangement and normal running of the teaching-learning process in the participating schools. Thus, the study did not employ random selection and assigning of participants into the experimental and control schools. In the experimental schools, five intact groups, consisting of Grade 3 English learners participated. A similar arrangement was employed in the control schools.
As indicated above, in the experimental study there were experimental (treatment) groups and control groups. As the name suggests, the treatment group received the intervention. The control group, however, got the business-as-usual conditions, meaning they only received conventional instructional approach. This was based on the assumption established by the pre-test result of both groups that both the treatment group and the control group were statistically similar. While no two groups will ever be exactly alike, the best way to be sure that they are as close as possible is having intact groups into the treatment and control group (Hossein, 2012).
Qualitative research methodology is defined as an approach that emphasises the study of purposively-selected small samples of individuals, not attempting to control contextual factors, but rather seeking, through a variety of methods, to understand things from the informants’ points of view, and creating a rich, in-depth picture of the phenomena under investigation (Berg, 2009; Hossein, 2012:503). Qualitative research is also synthetic or holistic (i.e., it views the separate parts as a coherent whole), heuristic (i.e., discovers or describes the patterns or relationships), with little or no control and manipulation of the research context, and uses data collection procedures with low explicitness (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011). The ultimate goal of qualitative research is to patterns of behaviour not previously described and to understand them from the perspective of participants in the activity. It is characterised by rich description, natural and holistic representation (or participant or insider point of view), cyclical and open-ended processes, various ideological orientations and interpretive analysis (Hossein, 2012:506).
Creswell (2009) states that qualitative researchers are especially interested in how things occur. Hence, they are likely to observe how people interact with each other; how certain kinds of questions are answered; the meanings that people give to certain words and actions; how people’s attitudes are translated into actions; how students seem to be affected by a teacher’s manner, gestures, or comments; and the like (ibid.). A special interest of qualitative researchers lies in the perspectives of the subjects of a study (Creswell, 2009). Qualitative researchers want to know what the participants in a study are thinking and why they think what they do. Assumptions, motives, reasons, goals, and values are all of interest and likely to be the focus of the researcher’s questions (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007; Liamputtong & Ezzy, 2005).
Therefore, in the study, in addition to the quantitative method, the qualitative research method, specifically a case study design, was also used to observe and interview research participants (learners, teachers and parents) regarding the success of the CFLR instructional approach by comparing it with the conventional reading instruction. The data found from the quantitative method was supplemented by the data collected via qualitative method under concurrent triangulation design.
The study was conducted in 10 selected primary schools found in Hawassa and Dilla towns. Hawassa is the capital city of South Nation Nationalities and People Region (SNNPR). It is 275kilometres to the south of the capital city, Addis Ababa. The five primary schools selected from this area were SH1, SH2, SH3, SH4 and SH5, where SH stands for Schools found in Hawassa city. Similarly, Dilla town administration is the capital town of Gedeo Zone, which is one of the nine major zones of SNNPR. The zone is found inthe southern part of Ethiopia and 360kilometres south of Addis Ababa, and 90kilometres the south of Hawassa town. The schools randomly selected from this area were SD1, SD2, SD3, SD4 and SD5, where SD stands for Schools found in Dilla town. The codes are used for confidentiality of the sampled schools.
SAMPLES AND SAMPLING TECHNIQUE
Sampling technique refers to the procedure employed to select research participants. Sampling techniques provide for manageable and accessible representation of the population and minimise wastage of time, energy and finance in collecting data (Welman, Kruger & Mitchell, 2005). This section presents the population, samples and sampling techniques employed in the current study.
The Population of the Study
The population of the study includes parents, Grade 3 English language teachers and Grade 3 English language learners from 10 selected primary schools found in Hawassa city and Dilla city.
All participating schools were government-funded public schools where education is free for all learners. All schools are governed by the same educational policies, rules and regulations. They follow the same curriculum, syllabus and lesson plans. According to Dilla City Administration Education Office, at the time of conducting the study, there were 1,273 Grade 3 learners and 5 English language teachers at five publicly-funded primary schools in Dilla. According to the entries and records of learners and teachers available at the Hawassa City Administration Education Office, for 2016/2017 academic year, there were 4,292 Grade 3 learners and 20 English language teachers at 20 publicly-funded primary schools in Hawassa. Table 3.2 present a profile of schools in the experimental and control schools.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
1.5 RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTION
1.7 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
1.8 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.10 RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY
1.11 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
1.12 OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF TERMS
1.13 ORGANISATION OF THE DISSERTATION
1.14 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.3 THE IMPORTANCE OF READING
2.4 MODELS OF READING PROCESS IN SECOND LANGUAGE
2.5 READING DIFFICULTY
2.6 CAUSES OF READING DIFFICULTIES
2.7 CHARACTERISTICS OF STUDENTS WITH READING DIFFICULTIES
2.8 LEARNING TO READ
2.9 RESEARCH CONDUCTED ON READING
2.10 COGNITIVE FOUNDATIONS OF LEARNING TO READ (CFLR)
2.11 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.2 RESEARCH PARADIGM
3.3 DESIGN OF THE STUDY
3.4 STUDY AREA
3.5 SAMPLES AND SAMPLING TECHNIQUE
3.6 METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION
3.7 METHOD OF DATA ANALYSIS
3.8 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
3.9 PILOT STUDY
3.10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DATA ANALYSIS
4.1 QUANTITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
4.2 QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
4.3 LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION
4.4 RESULTS FROM SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS
4.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
5.2 DISCUSSION OF THE STUDY IN TERMS OF STUDY’S OBJECTIVES
5.3 IMPLICATIONS OF THE STUDY RESULTS
5.4 MODEL OF READING INSTRUCTION DEVELOPED BY THE RESEARCHER
5.5 IMPLICATIONS FOR EARLY PREDICTORS OF GOOD READING SKILL
5.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.2 LIMITATIONSOF THE STUDY
6.6RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
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