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Teachers are crucial to educational change. While physical resources, e.g. books and buildings are also important to education, it is the teacher who has the task of making education meaningful to the learner. This is a huge task that can be overwhelming to an individual.
It is therefore my view that teachers need support in order to carry out their duties well, and that this support should be provided in a purposeful and planned manner. As stated in Chapter I, I therefore
attempt to answer the following research question: « What are the understandings and experiences of serving teachers with regard to the purpose, scope practices and professional support in Limpopo Province within the changing educational setting of South Mrica? » The purpose of the research is therefore to examine and / or explore the understandings expectations and experiences of serving teachers with regard to the purpose, scope and practices of professional support in Limpopo Province within the changing educational setting of South Mrica.
This Chapter provides the design of the study. It therefore presents and explains the research method that has been used and why this research method has been used. The Chapter also presents the theoretical underpinnings for the study. It also explains the sampling method that has been used as well as the data collection methods that have been used in this study. The researcher bias and assumptions are also indicated in this chapter. Finally, the chapter indicates the limitations of the study.

Design of the study


According to Seaman (1987:165) « research design refers to the way in which the researcher plans and structures the research process. The design provides flexible guideposts that keep the research headed in the right direction. There is no such thing as one correct design – designs vary from one study to another. Each researcher chooses the design that is most useful for her or his research purposes – whether to observe in order to know, to know in order to predict, or to predict
in order to control or prescribe. » The study being conducted here is a qualitative research, and further details of the design will be explained as the Chapter progresses.

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QuaUtative research contrasted with quantitative research.

As stated above, the study is a qualitative research. It uses a nonpositivist interpretative approach. Unlike positivists who, according to Lawrence Newman (1997:63-68), « prefer precise quantitative data and often use experiments, surveys and statistics, the interpretative approach is the systematic analysis of socially meaningful action through the direct detailed observation of the people in natural settings in order to arrive at understandings and interpretations of how people create and maintain these social worlds. » This means that the data in quantitative research will normally be in the form of numbers, while in qualitative research the data will be in the form of words, sentences, and paragraphs rather than numbers. Qualitative data are empirical data that involve documenting real events, recording what people say, observing specific behaviors, studying written documents, or examining visual images. These are all concrete aspects of the real world. As Seaman (1987:169) says « a qualitative research design is one in which the researcher plans to observe, discover, describe, compare and analyse the characteristic attributes, themes, and underlying dimensions of a particular. The researcher may study a process, a subject, a graph, a community or a culture. A quantitative design, on the other hand, is one concemed with measurement – measuring the magnitude, SIZe or extent of a phenomenon. The quantitative design counts, measures and analyses statistically.  »
A qualitative researcher, unlike a quantitative researcher, does not intend to test hypotheses that the researcher begins with. Instead a qualitative researcher captures and discovers meaning when she/he has become immersed in the data. Therefore, while, according to Lawrence Newman (1997:330) « quantitative research uses reconstructed logic, which is highly organized and restated in an idealised formal and systematic form, qualitative research uses more of a logic in practice. It relies on the informal wisdom that has developed from the experiences of researchers. Logic in practice is relatively messy, with more ambiguity and is tied to specific cases and oriented toward the completion of a task. » Measures in quantitative research are created systematically before the data is collected and are standardised, while qualitative research measures are created in a more informal manner and are often specific to the particular setting or the researcher may require his/her own measures. Hence while quantitative research assumes replication of procedures, replication is not assumed in qualitative research.
While quantitative researchers follow a linear path with a flXed sequence of steps, according to Lawrence – Newman (1997:331) « qualitative research is more non-linear and cyclical. Rather than moving in a straight line, cyclical research makes successive passes through steps, sometimes moving backward and sideways before moving on. It is more of a spiral, moving slowly upward but not directly. With each cycle or repetition, a researcher collects new data and gains new insights. » The non-linear cyclical approach of qualitative research is effective for the creation of a feeling for the whole, and for pulling together divergent information as well as for switching perspectives.

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1.1. Background to the problem
1.2. Research question
1.3. Aims of the study
1.4. Scope of the study
1.5. Methodology / procedure
1.6. Area delimitation
1.7. Structure of the research
2.1. Introduction
2.2. The importance of teachers in the change process
2.3. Educational transformation in South Mrica since 1994
2.4. Professional support for teachers
2.5. Some issues relating to professional support from abroad
Teacher’s CollegeLecturers’ Professional Development
2.6. Summary and further programme
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Design of the study
3.3. Theoretical underpinnings: justification (rationale) for the research methodology chosen
3.4. Sample selection
3.5. Data collection
3.6. Data analysis
3.7. Pilot study
3.8. Establishing trustworthiness
3.9. Researcher bias and assumptions
3.10. Study limitations
3.11. Summary and further programme
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Teacher understandings and experiences of educational change
4.3. Teacher understandings and experiences of professional support
4.4. Summary and further programme
5.1. Introduction
5.2. The significanceof this study for South Mrican education
5.3. The implications of this study for South Mrican education
5.4. Final comments

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