Multicultural education and research studies

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The previous chapter presented a review of literature related to the research. This chapter presents the research methodology that was used to address the research questions identified in Chapter 1. The major research question was: What are teacher perceptions on the implementation of multicultural education in Zimbabwean primary schools with reference to Chegutu district? Therefore, this chapter deals with the following issues: research design, qualitative research, phenomenological approach, sampling, data collection, and data analysis and presentation.


Qualitative research was chosen as the research method for this study. Qualitative research is mainly concerned with meanings that participants have for situations, events or phenomena. Uncovering these meanings is the goal of qualitative research.
In this research, the main focus lay on discovering the meanings that the research participants  (teachers)  held  on  the  implementation  of  multicultural  education  in Zimbabwean primary schools, with reference to Chegutu district hence the selectionof the qualitative research paradigm. According to Denzin & Ryan (2008:580),

  • qualitative research is multi method in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interpret these things in terms of the meanings people bring to them.
    Minichello & Kottler (2010:12) concur with Denzin & Ryan (2008:580) as they state that,
  • qualitative researchers observe people in their natural setting so that they can learn from them about what they are thinking, and more importantly, why they think and act the way they do.
    Therefore, qualitative research is naturalistic inquiry that studies people in their natural  settings  (Marshall  &  Rossman,  2006:2;  Patton,  2002;  Punch,  2004:148;
    Gibson & Brown, 2009:8). In this study, the researcher went out to study the research participants  (teachers)   in   their   natural   environment   which   was   their    respectiveschools. The main aim was to capture the perspectives of the research participants (emic view) (teachers) with regard to the implementation of multicultural education in Zimbabwean primary schools.
    Rossman & Kallis (2003), in Marshall & Rossman (2006:12), have identified the following characteristics of qualitative research. It is:
  • naturalistic;
  • draws on multiple methods that respect the humanity of participants in the study
  • focuses on context;
  • is emerging and evolving; and
  • is fundamentally interpretive These characteristics of qualitative research were observed in the process of this study.  Qualitative   researchers    have   certain   preferences.   Hammersly   (1992)    in Silverman, (2006:56) highlights the following:
  • a preference for qualitative data- understood simply as the analysis of words and images rather than numbers;
  • a preference for naturally occurring data- observation rather than experiment, unstructured versus structured interviews;
  • a preference for meanings rather than behaviour- attempting to document the world from the point of view of people studied;
  • a rejection of natural science as a model; and
  • a preference for inductive hypothesis generating research rather than hypothesis testing;
  • These preferences reinforce the view that qualitative research is a naturalistic enquiry that seeks to discover the meanings that people have for different phenomena.


The research design can be construed as a strategy or procedure that seeks to provide answers to the research questions. It can also be considered as a plan for the research (Punch, 2004:149; Kumar, 2005:84). According to Punch (2004:149), a research design is the overall plan for a piece of research, including four main ideas: the strategy, the conceptual framework, the question of who or what will be studied, and the tools to be used for collecting and analysing empirical materials. Kumar (2005:84) concurs with Punch (2004:149) and states that a research design is a plan, structure and strategy of investigation so conceived as to obtain answers to research questions and problems. Yin (2003) in Creswell (2007:5) argues that a research design is the logical sequence that connects the empirical data to a study’s initial research questions and ultimately, to its conclusion.
A well conceived research design is essential for the success of any research. Lewis (2008:47) observes that a good qualitative research design is one which has a clearly defined purpose, in which there is coherence between research questions and the methods or approaches proposed and which generates data that is valid and reliable. Therefore, a research design has two main functions: it relates to the identification and or development of procedures and logistical arrangements required to undertake a study and it emphasises the importance of quality in these procedures (Kumar, 2005:84). However, it is important to note that in qualitative research the research design is not a discrete stage which is concluded early in the life of a study: it is a continuing process which calls for constant review of decisions and approaches (Lewis, 2008:47). The research design chosen for this study was the phenomenological research design.

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This research study used phenomenology as a research design. Phenomenology is an approach that focuses on people’s lived experiences regarding a phenomenon under study. Therefore, phenomenology has an interest in lived experiences (Marshall & Rossman, 2006:104; Patton, 2002:104). Johnson & Christensen (2008:395) posit that phenomenology refers to the description of one or more individual’s consciousness and experience of a phenomenon. Creswell (2007:59) is of the view that phenomenology describes the meaning of several individuals of their lived experiences of a concept or phenomenon. Morgan & Embree (2004:2) argue that phenomenology may be initially characterised in a broad sense as seeking an unprejudiced, descriptive account of consciousness, precisely in the manner in which it appears. Schwandt in Patton, (2002:114) states that phenomenology in qualitative research aims to identify and describe the subjective experiences of respondents. He further argues that it is a matter of studying everyday experiences from the point of view of the subjects.
All these definitions emphasise the view that phenomenology focuses on the study of individual lived experiences of a phenomenon from the point of view of the participants involved. It is therefore subjective as it emphasises on an emic view. The purpose of phenomenological research is to obtain a view into research participants’ life worlds and to understand their personal meanings constructed from their lived experiences (Johnson & Christensen, 2008:396). This research study showed a heavy bias towards the phenomenological approach. This was so because the objective was to explore teacher perceptions on the implementation of multicultural education in Zimbabwean primary schools, from the point of view of those involved in the actual teaching and these were the teachers themselves.

Chapter 1: The problem and its setting 1
1.1 Background to the study
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Research objectives
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Motivation for the study
1.6 Importance of the study
1.7 Contributions of the study
1.8 Expected results
1.9 Limitations of the study
1.10 Demarcation of the study
1.11 Aim of the study
1.12 Research methods and design
1.13 Definition of terms
1.14 Chapter divisions
1.15 Chapter summary
Chapter 2: Literature review 19
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Theoretical framework
2.3 History of multicultural education
2.4 Definition of culture and multicultural education
2.5 Approaches to the implementation of multicultural education
2.6 Multicultural education and research studies
2.7 Challenges to multicultural education
2.8 Curriculum issues in multicultural education for Zimbabwe
2.9 Community involvement
2.10 Critique of multicultural education
2.11 Chapter summary
Chapter 3: Research methodology 128
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research method
3.3 Research design
3.4 Sampling
3.5 Data collection
3.6 Data analysis and interpretation
3.7. Describing, classifying and interpreting
3.8 Trustworthiness
3.9 Ethical considerations 152
3.10 Chapter summary 156
Chapter 4: Analysis of data and presentation of findings and discussion 157
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Demographic profile of participants
4.3 Findings, analysis of data and Discussion: Individual in-depth unstructured
Interviews and focus group discussions
Chapter 5: Summary, conclusions and recommendations 250
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Summary
5.3 Summary of findings from qualitative study
5.4 Conclusions
5.5 Recommendations

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