CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
The focus of this chapter is on the description and discussion of the research design and methodology used in collecting data on experiences of Learning Support Teachers in the implementation of Inclusive Education in a Gauteng district. It describes the research process that informed this study and gives details of the choice of the research paradigms, approach, design and sampling of participants. The chapter also provides a detailed description of data collection processes, explaining how to issues of trustworthiness in qualitative research were attended. The research begins by describing the research paradigm, ontological and epistemological standpoint and methodological paradigm. Ethical considerations and limitations of the study are also discussed. The chapter concludes by explaining the importance of the study to the broader context.
THE RESEARCH PARADIGM
A research paradigm is a model or pattern, according to which the social scientists views the objects of research (Kuhn, in Mouton & Marais 1996:150). The purpose of research and how it will be conducted are all influenced by the researcher’s paradigmatic beliefs. Paradigms as basic belief system are based on ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions (Guba & Lincoln 1994:107). Denzin and Lincoln (1998:200) define a paradigm as a set of basic beliefs (or metaphysics) that deal with the ultimate first principles, and represent the world view that defines for its holder the nature of the “world”, the individual’s place in it and the range of possible relationships to that world and its parts. Therefore, a research design or plan cannot be isolated from the researcher’s paradigmatic perspective on the world of research. When defining a paradigmatic perspective as a researcher the interplay between the ontological, epistemological, the research question, meta-theoretical underpinnings and methodology becomes prominent (Mason 2002:59). How we think the social world is constituted is our ontology and shapes how we think we can know about it. Conversely, the way we look, which is the epistemology and methods we use to search for that knowledge, is the methodological paradigm.
According to Kuhn in Hatch (2002:498), four research paradigms may be identified, based on the argument that schools of scientific thought reach paradigm status when they have generated answers to the following questions
•What are the fundamental entities of which the universe is composed?
•How do these interact with each other and the senses?
•What questions can legitimately be asked about such entities and what techniques are employed in seeking solutions (Hatch, 2002:498).
A paradigm encompasses three elements, the first of which is ontology, and raises the basic questions about the nature of reality. The second is epistemology, or poses the questions, how do we know the world? What is the relationship between the inquirer and the known? The third is the methodology, which focuses on how we gain knowledge (Denzin & Lincoln 1994:185). The constructivist paradigm was appropriate and relevant to the study since assumptions identified in this work hold that individuals seek understanding of the world in which they live and work. They develop subjective meaning of their experiences and that meaning is directed towards certain objects or things (Creswell 2003:8).
The terms constructivist, constructivism, interpretivist, and interpretivism are used interchangeably inliterature, but their meanings are shaped by the intent of the users. Proponents of these persuasions share the goal of understanding the complex world of lived experiences from the point of view of those who live it (Denzin & Lincoln 1994:200). Constructivists believe that the mind is active in the construction of knowledge and knowing is not passive. Knowledge and truth are created, not discovered by the mind, and the authors emphasise the pluralistic and plastic character of reality. Reality is expressible in a variety of symbolic and language systems, making it pluralistic, to be shaped to fit purposeful acts of intentional human agents (Denzin & Lincoln 2000: 236).
In this study, it is argued there are multiple realities as each individual’s perceptions are important and valid, with one person’s interpretation about an issue different from that of another. Furthermore, reality is mutually and socially constructed, and a diversity of interpretations can be made. In this research, each Learning Support Teacher (LST) is a knower, the knowledge of whom can therefore only be shared by exploring his or her views, meanings, experiences and actions.
Henning et al. (2004:20) argue that knowledge is not only constructed by observable phenomena but also by descriptions of people’s intentions, beliefs,values and reasons, meaning making and self-understanding. The researcher therefore has to look at different places and at different things to understand the phenomenon.
Researchers using this kind of epistemology ask what kind of things people do, how they do them, what purposes activities serve and what they mean to them. Researchers thus become interested in meanings, symbols, beliefs, ideas and feelings given or attached to objects or events, activities and others by participants in the setting (Bailey 2007:53). Qualitative researchers are also interpretative researchers because they analyse the text to look for the ways in which people make meaning in their lives and what kind of meaning they make.
Crotty (2003:9) identified several assumptions about constructivism:
•Meanings are constructed by human beings as they are engaged with the world they are interpreting. Qualitative researchers tend to use open-ended questions so that participants can express their views.
•Humans engage with their world and make sense of it based on their historical and social perspectives. All are born into a world of meaning bestowed by one’s culture, and the interpretation made by qualitative researchers is shaped by their own experiences and backgrounds.
•The process of qualitative research is inductive, with the enquirer generating meaning from the data collected in the field. The researcher’s intent is to make sense of (or interpret) the meanings others have about the world.
Using constructivism helped the researcher to investigate the constructions or broad meanings about experiences of LSTs in the Foundation Phase, with reference to the implementation of IE. Furthermore, the researcher wished to become immersed in the social-context (school) and observe the experiences and actions of LSTs in the implementation of IE, so therefore explored their experiences and behaviour. Using ‘social constructivism’, the researcher acknowledged that the experiences of LSTs are socially constructed, not given.
When philosophers refer to epistemology, they take a particularly structured view, framing the study of knowledge around ontology (the study of what is there to be known), and methodology (the study of the methods by which we discover knowledge (Thomas 2007:247). The researcher thus focussed on what can be known about the implementation of IE, and how things really work in it.
Constructivists believe that individuals seek understanding of the world in which they live and work, developing subjective meaning of their experiences directed towards certain objects or things. They rely on the participants’ views of the situation studied, and participants are then able to construct meaning of a situation, typically forged in discussions or interactions with others (Creswell 2003:8). In the view of Henning et al. (2004:20), knowledge is constructed not only from observable phenomena but also from description of people’s intentions, values, beliefs and reasons, with meaning making a self-understanding entity. If this is the case, it is the responsibility of the researcher to look at different places and at different things in order to understand a phenomenon.
For Denzin and Lincoln (2000:197), constructivists believe the mind is active in the construction of knowledge, so the mind of a human being is not passive but actively constructs knowledge and ideas. The abovementioned authors argue that human beings do not construct their interpretations in isolation, but against the environment in which they are actively engaged. LSTs as human agents do not exist in isolation from their school environment, nor do teachers exist in isolation from learners. There is, rather, a relationship between teachers, principals, LSTs and the school environment.
Additionally, constructivists argue that people make the social world that is meaningful in their minds (Karacasulu & Uzgören 2007:32), which implies that social environment defines who one is and one’s identity as a social being. According to social constructivism, norms and shared beliefs comprise actors’ identities and interests, e.g., the way people conceive themselves in relation to others. In a school context, it means that the mutual beliefs between LSTs, classroom teachers and principals define who they are.
On the other hand, Guba and Lincoln (1994:110) see a limitation in the social constructivist research approach, and a researcher is unable to study individuals exclusively because they are members of a greater society. An individual cannot be isolated from the environment in which he or she lives, but the researcher can interpret an individual in conjunction within his or her environment. This means that LSTs cannot be isolated from the environment in which they work, that is the school in which they are implementing IE.
In the next section, the research approach used in this study and the reason for the choice of approach are described.
This study necessitates a qualitative research approach because many qualitative researchers operate under different ontological assumptions about the world. They do not assume that there is a single unitary reality apart from one’s perceptions (Krauss 2005:758-770). Each person experiences the world differently. Qualitative research is based on a relativistic, constructivist ontology that believes there is no objective reality, but rather multiple realities constructed by human beings who experience a phenomenon of interest (Krauss 2005:760). This is because participants are not objects, but human beings who can speak and think for themselves and who can define things from their own points of view.
A qualitative approach will also allow the researcher to gain in-depth understanding of social realities and derive a comprehensive portrait of a range of human endeavours, interactions, situations and perceptions (Zollers, RamanathanYu 1999:158). Furthermore, as Creswell (2008:38) argues, a qualitative study is an investigative process whereby the researcher gradually makes sense of social phenomena through contrasting, comparing, replicating, cataloguing and classifying the object under study. In this case the researcher will be able to examine various factors that contribute to LSTs experiences of and in the implementation of IE in the Gauteng province.
Qualitative research studies phenomena in their natural settings, attempting to understand people in terms of their own definitions of their worlds (Creswell 2000:42). The researcher entered the setting with an open mind, prepared to immerse in the complexity of the situation and interact with the LSTs. The researcher obtained a holistic picture of the phenomenon being studied, appropriate to understanding the experiences of LSTs on the implementation of IE. A qualitative approach enabled the researcher to understand how LSTs make sense of their own lives, experiences and structures of the world, by physically going to the schools to interview them, analyse documents and record behaviour in its natural setting by way of observations.
Qualitative researchers prefer to study the world as it naturally occurs, without manipulating it. They view human behaviour as dynamic and changing and advocate in-depth research, over an extended timespan. Qualitative researchers collect data in the field or at the sites where participants experience the issues or problem under study (Creswell 2009:175). The research takes place in a natural setting and the researchers have face-to-face interaction with the participants over time. Qualitative research is more concerned with understanding social phenomenon from the perspectives of the participants, and this happens through the researcher’s participation in the daily activities of those involved in the research, or through historical empathy with participants in past social events (White 2005:81).
CHAPTER ONE NTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.2 MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 AIMS OF THE STUDY
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.7 ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE STUDY
1.8 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.9 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.10 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
1.11 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.12 DEFINTION OF KEY TERMS IN THE STUDY
1.13 OUTLINE OF THE STUDY
1.14 CONCLUDING STATEMENT
CHAPTER TWOTHEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
2.2 BRONFENBRENNER’S ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS THEORY AS THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.3 THE ECOLOGICAL THEORY
2.4 THEORY OF MATURATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
2.5 DEFINING INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
2.6 MODELS OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
2.7 EXPECTATIONS ON FOUNDATION PHASE TEACHERS
2.8 TEACHERS’ ATTITUDES TOWARDS INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
2.9 TEACHER ATTITUDES IN SOUTH AFRICA
CHAPTER THREE SUPPORT IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
3.2 DEFINING SUPPORT
3.3 LEARNING SUPPORT IN INCLUSIVE SETTINGS
3.4 LEVELS OF SUPPORT IN THE SYSTEM
3.5 LEARNING NEEDS IN AN INCLUSIVE SETTING
CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
4.2 THE RESEARCH PARADIGM
4.3 QUALITATIVE APPROACH
4.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.5 POPULATION AND SAMPLING
4.6 DATA COLLECTION
4.9 REFLEXIVITY IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
4.10 ETHICS IN RESEARCH
CHAPTER FIVE PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS
5.2 DATA ANALYSIS METHOD
5.3 PROFILES OF LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHERS
5.4. INFORMATION OF PRINCIPALS
5.5 INFORMATION OF CLASSROOM TEACHERS
5.6 PRESENTATION OF THE FINDINGS
5.7 MATTERS PERTAINING TO INCLUSIVE EDUCATION POLICY
5.8 DOMESTIC FACTORS OF LEARNERS
5.9 CLASSROOM FACTORS
5.10 MANAGEMENT FACTORS
5.13 SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS AND PRESENTATION OF THE DIAGRAM
5.14 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER SIX FINDINGS, CONCLUSION OF THE STUDY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
6.2 SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS
6.3 EXPERIENCES OF LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHERS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
6.4 FINDINGS ON THE FACTORS AFFECTING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
6.5 FINDINGS ON THE STRATEGIES THAT CAN BE USED FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
6.6. FUNCTIONALITY OF SCHOOL BASED SUPPORT TEAM (SBST)
6.7 GUIDELINES FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION BY LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHERS
6.8 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
6.9 STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.10. CONCLUDING REMARKS
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
EXPERIENCES OF LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHERS IN THE FOUNDATION PHASE, WITH REFERENCE TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN GAUTENG