THE CONCEPT OF SCHOOL GOVERNING BODIES

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CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH APPROACH AND DESIGN

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of the chapter is to provide the methodological structure of how data was collected to examine the role of the school governing bodies in creating an educative climate in schools in South Africa. This includes the instruments used for collecting data for this study.
In accordance with the topic of this study, it was found that the qualitative method is the most suitable for data collection. According to Rudestam and Newton (1992:31), qualitative research implies that data are in the form of words, and are reduced to themes or categories and thus evaluated subjectively. Since the researcher intend studying the role of the SGB in creating an educative climate in schools, she decided to use individual interviews with all four candidates, but the researcher will reduce data which are collected to themes and categories will be evaluated objectively due to the sensitivity of the topic itself. The qualitative research method (objective evaluation) will be more likely to address the aim and purpose of the study.
According to Creswell (1994:164), qualitative research occurs in natural settings, where human behaviour and events normally occur. The focus of qualitative research is on the participant in the original setting of the school environment. In this research, the role of the school governors will be considered, as the researcher is interested in a broad understanding of the role of the principal, deputy chairperson, secretary and the treasurer. It is important for the researcher to mention that much as the focus is on the four above-mentioned governors, it also includes how often other governors and parents actively participate in school activities. It is again important to note that, how parents and governors participate in the education of their children might have positive or negative implications, depending on the outcomes of their contributions in the quest to create an educative climate in the school..
McMillan and Schumacher (1997:10) describe qualitative research as “a naturalistic phenomenological philosophy, which assumes that multiple realties are socially constructed through individual and collective definition of the situation. The principal, the deputy chairperson and the treasurer should at all times try to adhere to the policies provided by the GDE and so must the secretary who is also is also part of the executive. The researcher accepts that multiple realities of the role of the SGB in creating an educative climate in school may exist. It is vital to note that the understanding of the events, as well as people in their natural state without taking anything for granted, is important.
Qualitative research can be subjective as the researcher involves her/himself in the situation or immerses her/himself in the persons she/he is studying, but is nevertheless able to objectively transfer this information in the data with depth and detail (Silverman, 1997:10). In doing as above, the researcher is trying to represent the person’s view or situation fairly and portray it as consistent with their meaning. Richard (2003:89) argues that collaboration with other researchers may retard the process but is necessary in the area of research.
The above-mentioned arguments are relevant to this study in the sense that the role of the SGB in creating an educative climate in schools, with reference to School X is an interactive concept portraying the way in which people react or perceive situations. It was therefore, important for the researcher to be aware of these at all times. The qualitative research design, together with other methods of data collection, was helpful in obtaining different perspectives. Qualitative studies are those where the description of data is not easily quantified or expressed in quantities. The qualitative paradigm is appropriate in this study, as the researcher produces findings without reducing them to statistics (Richard, 2003:80).
The research was explorative in essence and very little information was known before research processes took place. Perceptions and attitudes in relation to the role of the
SGB in creating an educative climate especially at School X cannot be adequately measured using quantitative methods. Although instruments may be available, it is still not an ideal method of measurement when conducting research of this kind in which the views and opinions of participants are elicited. It was relevant for the researcher to use a variety of methods such as interviews and observations that might determine attitudes and perceptions.

RESEARCH APPROACH AND DESIGN

The term research design is widely used in the social sciences, particularly in disciplines that champion experimental methods. Research design can be viewed as a kind of cost benefit balancing. It is a plan for a piece of research that is constructed to maximise validity of its findings, subject to the costs and practical difficulties of doing so (Terre Blanche, Durrheim & Painter, 2006:161-162).
Research designs are plans and the procedures that span the decisions from broad assumptions to detailed methods of data collection and analysis (Creswell, 2009:03). Research design is a set of guidelines and instructions to be followed in order to reach a certain goal. The guidelines include the aim of the research, the selection and design of a particular method, and the consideration of validity (Mouton, 1996:107). The research is designed in such a way that it studies one senior secondary school that is situated in Naledi – Soweto (Refer to Annexure E – Soweto Map from Chris-Hani Baragwanath Hospital to the school). The study is also designed to collect data by way of individual interviews. Conducting an interview is a more natural form of interacting with people than making them fill out a questionnaire, do a test or perform some experimental task. Therefore, it fits well with the interpretive approach to research. It gives us an opportunity to get to know people quite intimately so that we can really understand how they think and feel (Terre Blanche, et al. 2006:297).
In the entire qualitative research process, the researcher keeps a focus on learning the meaning that the participants hold about the problem or issue, not the meaning that the
researchers bring to the research or writers express in the literature (Creswell, 2009:175). Alrtricher (1993:101) emphasises the fact that an interview is a conversation between two people which is not casual or non-directive, as its purpose is for the interviewer to seek responses from the interviewee. He continues to say, interviews give access to other people’s perceptions, including the thoughts and attitudes that lie behind behaviour. It is for this reason that interviews were used in this study, because of the role of the SGBs in creating an educative climate in schools is often a difficult topic to raise, and doing it conversationally while at the same time directing the participant to achieve the necessary responses. However, the interviews only reveal what she or he thinks and her or his interpretations at the time of the interview.

POPULATION AND SAMPLE

Population

A population is a collection of objects, events or individuals having some common characteristics that the researcher is interested in studying (White, 2003:12). A thorough in-depth study on the roles and responsibilities of the SGBs in South African schools is the focus of this study. As discussed in Chapter Two at points 2.1 and 2.2, the composition of the SGB is clearly detailed. From the membership of the SGB only a few will be selected for the interviewing which is the principal, deputy chairperson, secretary and the treasurer. This counts to the total of four interviews.

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Sample (purposive sampling)

The study used a purposive sampling due to the fact that the executive members of the school studied are selected with a purpose of collecting accurate data as affected members. Below is the demographic composition of the governors who were involved in the process of the interviews at School X. The under-mentioned governors are selected for the study because of the need to know each one’s functions as they were all new in office and the principal was also newly appointed. The researcher, who is the
chairperson at the mentioned school, found it appropriate to conduct a study which would bring clarity to them as executive and the other members of the SGB so that when they are elected in such portfolios in future they must know what is expected of them. The topic of this study speaks about creating an educative climate in schools. If there is no clarity in as far as how the SGB functions, there is no way in which effective and efficient management can prevail and no one can thus talk about the existence of an educative climate. It is for such reasons that the researcher selected the under-mentioned four as it has been explained earlier on (see 1.2):
the principal;
the deputy chairperson;
the secretary; and
the treasurer.
The reader must understand that the researcher purposefully chose the above four SGB members. However that does not mean that the other members are not important, but taking into consideration that the principal, who is an ex-officio (ex-officio defined in the study) of all committees and also representing the DBE must have knowledge on how to manage the school effectively and efficiently. Hence Clarke (2009:45) states: “…the principal, working under the authority of the head of the provincial education department, is responsible for the professional management of the school.” (In terms of the act, the head of the provincial education department is called the “Head of Department”).
It must also be taken into cognisance that if the deputy chairperson does not know correct procedures to follow when conducting meetings in the absence of the chairperson, he/she can easily fail other members of the SGB by officiating according to his/her own will. The same applies to the secretary; if he/she does not understand his/her functions well, he/she will omit some of the important facts and ideas which were discussed in the meeting, which would even help taken the school to higher level, and by so doing he/she shall have failed the entire SGB of the school. Lastly, the treasurer must acquire knowledge on how and when to utilise school funds. Without proper
management of school funds, he/she will end up signing cheques to buy something that is not helpful to the school or of a need.
This study has addressed and tabulated the functions of the four selected office bearers. Without the correct implementation of SASA and compliance in their obligations, one cannot talk about SGB creating an educative climate at schools.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Terre Blanche et al. (2006:161-162) state that “research design can be viewed as a kind of cost benefit balancing; it is a plan for a piece of research that is constructed to maximise validity of its findings, subject to the costs and practical difficulties of doing so.”
It is along the understanding of the above authors with their contribution to the study that prompted the researcher to consider their ideas which brought clarity that the design of the research included the overall approach to be taken and how the research will be conducted.
According to Brotherson (1994:103), qualitative research design is characterised by three key assumptions. The first assumption is the belief that multiple constructions of reality exist. So, qualitative research will seek to find an understanding of human relationships in the web of interaction and interconnected factors, events and process as they are constructed in the minds of people. This is an important aspect to consider for this study, as the issues of the role of the SGBs in creating an educative climate in schools are interconnected with human relationships and, as such, have multiple realities.
Secondly, in qualitative research the inquirer and the participant interact and influence each other on a certain extent. The qualitative research methods that are used in this study, such as observations and individual interviews, allow for interaction and could
lead to understanding attitudes, behaviour and context from different points of view (Richard, 2003:11). Thirdly, in qualitative research truth is believed to be primarily a matter of perspective. Considering the varied experiences the participants have had in the role of the SGBs in creating an educative climate in schools, the above assumption is considered to be relevant.
Below is the demographic composition of the governors who were involved in the process of the interviews at School X.

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH APPROACH

Creswell (2009:176) informs the readers that qualitative research is a form of interpretive inquiry in which researchers make an interpretation of what they see, hear and understand. Their interpretations cannot be separated from their own backgrounds, history, context and prior understanding.

METHODS USED FOR DATA COLLECTION

Introduction

This is a case study of a school in Soweto Gauteng Province. Individual interviews will be conducted with the under-mentioned governors.

Interviews

The data were collected at School X where the researcher is a chairperson. The principal was interviewed first at school at about 15:30. That is the time when she is free from participating in school activities. The process lasted for three weeks as each interview (for example, principal, deputy chairperson, secretary and the treasurer) was conducted according to his/her availability. The deputy chairperson was interviewed as the researcher is the chairperson of the school. In addition, the deputy chairperson has
been the chairperson of the same school for the past three years. The secretary and the treasurer were also interviewed but on different time frames. Each interview lasted for thirty five (35) minutes. The secretary, because he is an educator, was interviewed at 15:30 where most learners are no more at school, and the treasurer who is a parent, was interviewed on Saturday at 16:00. Qualitative researchers want to make sense of feelings, experiences, social situations, and phenomena as they occur in the real world and therefore want study them in their natural setting (Terre Blanche, et al. 2006:287).
Data collection methods are the ways in which the research data are obtained (De Vos, Strydom, Fouche, Poggenpoel, Schurink & Schurink, 1998:82). Data may be gathered by a variety of data collection methods (Mouton, 2001:104). (Refer to Annexures A, B, C, & D).

Interview with the principal

The principal was interviewed first for data collection as mentioned earlier on and hereunder are the questions and responses of all the respondents. The principal was then asked the following questions. Do all SGB members at your school have policies on school governance as provided by the GDE? In response she said, “All SGB members have among others SASA.” A follow-up question was asked. Why only SASA was given to SGB members and not given policies such as HIV/AIDS; Pregnancy and etcetera? She responded by saying, “SASA speaks to all the governors on how schools should be governed, especially when it comes to roles and functions of each executive member and the entire SGB.” The second question was: Have they all read and understood the SASA? The response was, “Only few members understand especially those who are literate.” What do you do to make sure that everyone understands? The response was: “We normally discuss and clarify terms in our meetings.”
Do SGB conduct their interviews appropriately? The principal responded: Yes, they conduct their interviews according to the guidelines outlined in SASA. Can you mention
other policies you have at school? The principal responded that: “Policies we have at school are Admission policy, Language policy, Academic policy, HIV/AIDS policy, Disciplinary Measures policy (Learners and Educators), Cultural Day policy, Operational policy, Safety and Security policy and etcetera.” Do the SGB discuss and adhere to the regulations and instructions of those policies? The response to the questions was: “We do not constantly refer to such policies in our meetings except in the case where there is a need to act according to that policy, like for example, the Disciplinary Measures policy where a learner or educator has to be disciplined.” The last question was: What strategies can be put in place in an attempt to ensure that the SGB of your school perform effectively and produce good results? The response was that “the SGB is willing to supervise afternoons especially those who are unemployed, and supervise extra classes every Saturday.”

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Interview with the deputy chairperson

The question was asked: What is your role in the SGB as a deputy chairperson? The response was that he normally chairs the meetings when the chairperson is not in. The second question was: Do all SGB members of your school have policies on school governance as provided by the GDE? The response was: “We do not have all of them. Which ones do you have, the researcher asked. “It is SASA”, he responded. Another question was: Have you read and understood it well? The response was: Yes, but those who do not know English struggle to understand. A follow-up question was asked: What do you do to make sure everyone understands? In response the deputy chairperson said: “I read SASA in all our meetings to remind ourselves about the roles and functions of each executive member and the SGB as a whole.”
Another interview question was that, do you as a deputy chairperson see interviews being conducted appropriately with regards to appointments of new staff members? The response was, “They are, through the guidelines from SASA, we (panel) make sure that we act accordingly even though we are still learning.” Can you mention other policies you have at school? The response was: “I will only mention the ones that I
remember which are: Admission policy, Safety and Society policy, Language policy, Disciplinary policy, Academic policy, HIV/AIDS policy.” Another question was: Do you (as deputy chairperson) adhere to the regulations and instructions of mentioned policies? In response he said: “I am trying hard to read and seek clarity where I do not understand so that I make sure I adhere.” The last question was: What strategies can be put in place in an attempt to ensure that the SGB of your school performs effectively and produce good results? The response was that, “I will ensure that all SGB members, regardless of being in the executive or not, strive for a positive goal which would produce good results by working hand and glove with the principal, educators and learners by assisting whenever the need arises.”

The interview with the secretary

The researcher asked: What is your role in the SGB as secretary? The response was, “My role is to write minutes of the meeting whenever we meet.” Do you write all what was said in the meeting? “No”, the secretary responded. The researcher asked why? “I am new in the post and still learning how to write minutes properly.” Another question was: Do all SGB members of your school have policies on school governance as provided by the GDE? The secretary responded by saying, “We do have policies but not all of them.” Which ones do you have the researcher asked? In response he said: “It is SASA and ELRC.” Have your read and understood them well? The response was: “Yes, I do understand them moreover the ELRC is the policy specifically meant for educators.” Can you mention other policies you have at school? The few I remember are HIV/AIDS policy, Language policy, Safety and Security policy, Admission policy, Cultural policy, Disciplinary Measures policy, Academic policy and etcetera. The researcher asked: Do you as secretary adhere to the regulations and instructions of the mentioned policies? In response he said: “As an educator I do not have ample time to go through other policies, most of the time I prepare lessons to be taught the following day.” Do you conduct interviews appropriately with regards to appointment of new staff members? The last question was: Which strategies can be put in place in an attempt to ensure that the SGB of your school perform effectively and produce good results? He responded by saying: “We (stakeholders) will make sure that we all work hard towards achieving good results. We will visit the school frequently and maintain good relationships among all of us.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION
DEDICATION
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ABSTRACT
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.4 MAIN RESEARCH QUESTION
1.5 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.7 DELIMITATIONS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.8 MOTIVATION
1.9 DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
1.10 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
1.11 SUMMARY
1.10 OUTLINE OF CHAPTERS
CHAPTER TWO: THE CONCEPT OF SCHOOL GOVERNING BODIES AND THEIR EVOLVEMENT OVER TIME TO THE PRESENT ERA
2.1 AN ORIENTATION PERSPECTIVE
2.2 THE COMPOSITION OF THE SGB
2.3 THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL IN THE EDUCATION OF LEARNERS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE SGBs
2.4 THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SGB EXECUTIVE MEMBERS
2.5 THE SWOT ANALYSIS
2.6 INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE SCHOOL GOVERNING BODY AND THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
2.7 SUMMARY
2.8 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH APPROACH AND DESIGN
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 RESEARCH APPROACH AND DESIGN
3.3 POPULATION AND SAMPLE
3.4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.5 QUALITATIVE RESEARCHAPPROACH
3.6 METHODS USED FOR DATA COLLECTION
3.8 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 THE PRINCIPAL AND THE GOVERNORS’ UNDERSTANDING OF SASA
4.3 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSIONS AND THE INTEGRATED SGBPARTICIPATORY MODEL
5.1 THE CONCLUSIONS
5.2 THE PRINCIPAL AND GOVERNORS’ UNDERSTANDING OF SASA
5.3 THE INTEGRATED SGBPARTICIPATORY MODEL
5.4 SUMMARY OF THE INTEGRATED SGB PARTICIPATORY MODEL
5.5 CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
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