CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The study aimed at establishing the quality of ECD programmes in Harare primary schools in Zimbabwe. This chapter describes and justifies the methods used to conduct the study. The chapter covers the design used in the study, the sample and the sampling procedure. The different data collection instruments used and the rationale for using them are also discussed. Data collection procedures, analysis and research ethics are also presented in this chapter.
A research design is an overall strategy that one chooses in a proper and systematic manner to carry out a research study (Creswell, 2009:3). Terell (2012:258) describes a research design as a road map that determines the most appropriate route to take when carrying out the study. According to Denzin and Lincoln (2005:10), a design is a summary of procedures that researchers use to collect, analyse, interpret and present their research data. Research designs guide the methods and decisions that researchers make during their studies and set the logic which they use to interpret their findings (Flick, 2002:220). A research design also stipulates from whom, when, and how data is collected (Patton, 2002:225). Creswell (2006:9) also notes that a research design plans the procurement of resources at the right time. In this study, a qualitative design with some quantification was used. The qualitative design will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
The qualitative design
In qualitative research, a phenomenon is viewed in its entirety or holistically. According to Denzin and Lincoln (2005:9), investigators should not impose their assumptions, limitations or delimitations and accept that reality exists as the respondent sees it. The present study intended to capture the participants’ views and understanding of quality ECD programmes and not the researcher’s assumptions. Terell (2012:277) notes that, in qualitative research, the researcher records fully, accurately and in an unbiased way what s/he sees and hears from the respondents. Denzin and Lincoln (2005:10) note that qualitative studies emphasise the natural settings, entities and processes that are not experimentally examined or measured in terms of quantity, amount or intensity. Since this study sought to observe the entities of teaching and learning processes in the natural settings of the ECD learning environment and describe the quality or lack thereof in ECD programmes in Harare primary schools, qualitative research was thus deemed suitable for this study.
Patton (2002:225) states that in qualitative research, direct quotations and excerpts from interviews can be cited as they present the participants’ perceptions. In the present study, verbal quotes from ECD teachers and administrators were relevant as they captured the participants’ perceptions of quality ECD programmes. As qualitative research is the interpretive study of a specified phenomenon or problem, the researcher becomes central to the analysis of data (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005:7). The qualitative approach is naturalistic in nature and takes the geographical, physical, historical and cultural contexts into consideration (McMillan & Schumacher, 2010:20). Creswell (2009:175) agrees that qualitative researchers tend to collect data in the field at the site where participants experience the issue or problem under study. The present study focused on the quality of ECD programmes from the geographical, historical and cultural context of the primary schools and therefore the qualitative methodology was suitable.
Qualitative researchers are key instruments as they collect data themselves through interviews and observing behaviour (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005:10; Wiersma & Jurs, 2009:232). This view is supported by Creswell (2006:9) who notes that qualitative researchers use multiple sources of data and thus do not rely on a single data source. In this study, the researcher observed the ECD teachers, teaching and playing with their ECD learners and also interviewed the administrators, parents and teachers involved in ECD programmes to establish the quality of ECD programmes.
Creswell (2009:176) says that, in qualitative data collection, the researcher builds patterns, categories and themes from the bottom up, by organising data into increasingly abstract units of information. The author adds that participants may be collaborated to shape the themes or abstractions that emerge from the process. The study moved from asking general questions by engaging a few participants whose verbal and visual data was arranged coherently to portray the situation they experienced regarding the administration and running of ECD programmes.
However, qualitative research has its own weaknesses which include the bias created by the personal interpretations of the researcher (Patton, 2002:226). The disadvantage of subjectivity is that results are dependent upon the researcher’s interpretations and descriptions. To counter the weakness of biases, the researcher tried to be as objective as possible in interpreting the data collected.
When qualitative methods of collecting data are used, the data collected can be inaccurate because respondents are often untruthful or biased (Creswell, 2009:177). The researcher tried to create a warm environment during observations and interviews so as to build trust with respondents. Where necessary, probing was done to counter the weakness of perceived untruthfulness.
McMillan and Schumacher (2010:20) also suggest that results may be influenced by many other factors that researchers did not consider or even know about. Creswell (2006:9) also notes that, due to this, the replication of results may be difficult. The next section discusses the sample and sampling procedures.
SAMPLE AND SAMPLING PROCEDURE
A sample is a representative selected for a study whose characteristics exemplify the larger group from which it was selected (Patton, 2002:408; Denzin & Lincoln, 2005:370). A purposive sample of 30 participants was chosen from 10 Harare primary schools used in this study. It included 10 school heads or teachers in charge, 10 school development committee members and 10 ECD teachers. McMillan and Schumacher (2010:138) define purposive sampling as an approach whereby participants are selected because of the rich information they hold that is required to answer the research questions. In support, Cohen, Manion & Morrison (2007:115) suggest that, in purposive sampling, researchers handpick the cases to be included in the study on the basis of their typicality or possession of particular characteristics being sought. In the current study the participants were the school heads, SDC members who represented the ECD children’s parents and the ECD teachers of four to five year olds of the purposively sampled primary schools with ECD programmes.
Sampling is the process of selecting a number of individuals, groups or settings for a study in such a way that the individuals represent the larger group from which they were selected such that it maximises the researcher’s ability to answer his or her questions (Patton, 2002:45; Creswell, Ebersohn, Eloff, Ferreira, Ivankova, Janson, Neuwenhuis, Pieterson, Plano-Clark & Van der Westhuizen, 2010:79). Sampling is done to gather data about the population in order to make an inference that can be generalised to the population. In purposive sampling, the researcher chooses respondents that represent the topic of interest, on the basis of his or her knowledge of the population and a judgment is made as to which participants should be selected (Patton, 2002:222). The participants were selected purposively by virtue of them being in schools that offer ECD programmes. McMillan and Schumacher (2010:378) suggest that purposeful samples can be stratified or nested by selecting particular units or cases that vary according to a key dimension. The researcher used purposive sampling to identify primary schools, administrators, ECD teachers of four to five year olds and parents with ECD learners in Harare primary schools. The ECD parents were purposively sampled by virtue of them being SDC members representing the ECD parents. Through purposive sampling, the researcher sought to identify the phenomena in the ECD learning environment where quality or lack thereof was likely to occur. This idea is supported by Denzin and Lincoln (2000:370) who contend that purposive sampling is a qualitative sampling procedure that seeks out groups and settings being studied and where activity is likely to occur.
CHAPTER 1: THE PROBLEM AND ITS CONTEXT
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 ANALYSIS OF THE PROBLEM
1.4 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.2 ORGANISATION AND MANAGEMENT OF ECD PROGRAMMES
2.3 COMPONENTS OF A QUALTY ECD PRGRAMME
2.4 TEACHING METHODS IN ECD
2.5 PERSONNEL QUALIFICATION IN ECD PROGRAMMES
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
3.3 SAMPLE AND SAMPLING PROCEDURE
3.5 DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE
3.6 DATA ANALYSIS
3.7 ETHICAL ISSUES
CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
4.2 BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
4.3 THEMANAGEMENT AND ORGANISATION OF ECD PROGRAMMES
4.4 COMPONENTS OF QUALITY ECD PROGRAMMES
4.5 ECD parents’ response to in-depth interviews on personnel qualification in ECD
4.7 RESOURCE AVAILABILITY IN ECD
4.8 STRATEGIES THAT CAN BE USED TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF ECD PROGRAMMES
4.9 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS58
5.7 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY
5.8 FINAL COMMENTS
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE QUALITY OF EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES IN HARARE PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN ZIMBABWE