CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The aim of this study was to establish the educators’ perceptions of the implementation of Inclusive Education in mainstream secondary schools of Polokwane area, Limpopo Province. The research methodology aspects discussed in this chapter are the research paradigm, the research design, samples, instrumentation, procedures, data analysis, and ethical issues such as permission, informed consent, confidentiality and anonymity.
“What are the educators’ perceptions of the implementation of Inclusive Education in the Polokwane mainstream secondary schools?” is the research problem that served as the basis for the researcher’s engagement into an inquiry, and the choice of the research paradigm, which ultimately has a greater impact on the choice of the research design for this study. The following section discusses the paradigm adopted in this study
A research paradigm is an idea or concept that guides the way we do things, especially when undertaking a research. It is a set of beliefs that guides actions (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000:25). Weaver and Olson (2006:460) noted that “paradigms are patterns of beliefs and practices that regulate inquiry within a discipline by providing lenses, frames and processes through which investigation is accomplished”.
The research paradigm in this study was interpretive, to clarify the researcher’s pattern of inquiry and the methodologies that were used to reveal the educators’ perceptions of the implementation of Inclusive Education in their mainstream secondary schools. Since the present study focused on the perceptions of educators, their feelings and opinions concerning the implementation of Inclusive Education in their respective mainstream secondary schools, it drew its design from an interpretive, naturalistic paradigm or approach to the world, in order to interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people brought to them in line with Denzin and Lincoln (2005:3), who say that an interpretive paradigm is guided by a set of beliefs and feelings people have about the world. The interpretive paradigm in the present study was underpinned by in-depth interviews, field observations and interpretation. The present study employed field observations in order to observe and collect information about Inclusive Education events that took place in mainstream secondary schools and to corroborate the data that was collected through the in-depth interviews. The interpretive research paradigm formed the basis for interpretation of the data collected, and to give meaning to the gathered information by drawing inferences or by judging the match between the information and some abstract pattern, in an attempt to understand phenomena through the meanings that people assigned to them (Kwadwo & Hamza, 2015:218).
According to Salovey (2004:45), the interpretivist research paradigm acknowledges that people’s subjective experiences and activities are valid, multiple and socially constructed in accordance with their individual interpretations of social phenomena and therefore analysis of them falls within the constructivist paradigm. The interpretive paradigm in this study contributed towards understanding the world as it is from subjective experiences of educators in mainstream secondary schools concerning the implementation of Inclusive Education, as they emanated from meaning (versus measurement) oriented methodologies, such as interviews and field observations (Thomas, 2010:296). Goldkuhl (2012:5) adds that,
[t]he aim of all interpretive research is to understand how members of a social group, through their participation in social processes, enact their particular realities and endow them with meaning, and to show how these meanings, beliefs and intentions of the members help to constitute their actions.
The interpretivist paradigm in this study served as an underlying philosophical basis upon which the qualitative research design is established, and the said design for the present study is discussed in the following sub-sectio
Qualitative research approach is a form of systematic empirical inquiry into meaning, whereby the researcher tries to understand how others make sense of their experiences (Shank 2002:5). The research approach is the overall plan for linking the conceptual research problem to the relevant and practicable empirical research (Van Wyk, 2011:3), with the purpose of providing the most valid and accurate answers possible to the existing research questions within an appropriate mode of inquiry (McMillan & Schumacher, 2001:31). The researcher found the qualitative approach to be more suitable for the study to delve the educators’ perceptions, experiences and attitudes and emotions regarding the need, effectiveness and the challenges they have experienced in their endeavour to implement Inclusive Education. The qualitative interpretivist approach in this study served as a basis for the researcher to discover and understand the perceptions of educators in mainstream secondary schools of the Polokwane area in Limpopo Province about the implementation of Inclusive Education.
Since this study draws its theoretical framework from Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model (1994), which is used as a tool to understand and guide the various aspects of this research project, the researcher found it worthwhile to adopt the qualitative research approach to establish the educators’ perceptions about the implementation of Inclusive Education in their situations, where proximal processes are continuously played out between themselves and the learners at school (microsystem), which might be influenced by the broader category of systems called the macrosystem. According to Landsberg et al. (2005:12), the macrosytem has a role to play in the area of educators’ attitudes, beliefs, values and ideologies inherent in their particular societal system, for example, the education system, and culture which has an indirect influence on how they have been trained. With this notion, the researcher in this study embarked on a qualitative approach to reveal the perceptions of educators on the implementation of Inclusive Education. The present study attempted to investigate how educators make sense of their experiences on the implementation of Inclusive Education in mainstream secondary schools of the Polokwane area, Limpopo Province.
The qualitative research approach was used, with limited quantitative analysis of observation data, in this study. Manwa (2014:52) attests that the qualitative approach is a method which attempts to understand and interpret what exists at present in the form of conditions, practices, processes, trends, effects, attitudes and beliefs as they are perceived by the actors. The qualitative approach was relevant since the present study endeavoured to disclose the educators’ perceptions, feelings and opinions about the implementation of Inclusive Education in mainstream secondary schools. The relevancy of this research approach was derived from the fact that the researcher in the present study sought to investigate the educators’ perceptions, analyse and interpret their individual and collective social actions in mainstream school setups, in an attempt to uncover the relevant answers to the main and/or sub-research questions. The present study attempted to investigate the naturalistic views and feelings of educators about the implementation of the phenomenon ‘Inclusive Education’ in mainstream secondary schools of the Polokwane area, Limpopo Province.
Related studies, for example, Peterson (2011:67-69), who explored and analysed how general education teachers describe and interpret the instructional strategies they use in their inclusive classrooms when teaching students with disabilities, employed a qualitative research approach which also assumed an interpretivist or constructivist paradigm to discover and understand how people make sense of what happens in their lives. A detailed description of the factors that furthered or obstructed the inclusion of children with special educational needs was discovered by making use of a qualitative research approach which was based on in-depth semi-structured interviews, corroborated by observational data. The data from each sampled school was first processed via a “within-site” analysis, and then a “cross-site” analysis to find similarities and differences between the different cases. More credible Inclusive Education studies across the globe (Meijer, 2004:119; Bui, Quirk, Almazan & Valenti, 2010; Peterson, 2011:66; Ghesquie`re, Maes & Vandenberghe, 2004:178), found a qualitative approach obtained credible data, hence the use of the approach in the present study.
The researcher in the present study was interested in understanding the meanings educators have constructed, that is, how they make sense of their world and the experiences they have in the world (Merriam, 2009:13), specifically with regard to the implementation of Inclusive Education
The present study employed a phenomenological research design to achieve the objectives. The purpose of phenomenological enquiry is to explicate the structure or essence of the lived experiences in the search for meaning that identifies the essence of the phenomena, and its accurate description through every day’s lived experience (Mamabolo, 2009:50). A phenomenological research design is defined by Kothari (2004:31) as constituting the blueprint for the collection, the measurement and analysis of data, the advance planning of the methods to be adopted for collecting the relevant data, the techniques to be used in data analysis, which include keeping in view the objectives of the research, as well as the conceptual structure within which research is conducted. Padilla-Díaz (2015:107) explains the origin of phenomenology as of a philosophical character and that its greater contribution has been to provide a new vision of philosophy that allows the researcher to view things in themselves.
A phenomenological design can be used during data collection to allow the participants to describe their lived phenomenal experiences; when analysing data to get at the essential meaning of the experience and to come up with essential themes; and when discussing the study’s findings to relate them to theories presented in the introduction (Waters, 2017:1). A phenomenological design in this study allowed participants, through in-depth interviews, to elicit their own meaning of their experience of being involved in teaching and learning situations where they are mandated to implement Inclusive Education.
Phenomenology occupies a transcendental area to systematically inquire into the mind and human experiences to reflect the essences of phenomena as well as the intentionality of conscience. The phenomenological design allowed the researcher in the present study to scrutinise objects in their natural settings or real-world settings, in an attempt to understand and interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings that people attached to them (Williams, 2007:82; Patton, 2001:39). Inclusive Education phenomenon and its implementation in mainstream secondary schools of Polokwane in Limpopo Province was investigated in the present study.
The following sub-section discusses the sample and sample procedures adopted in the study
A sample is a representative subset of the population from which generalisations are made about the population (Michael, 2004:1). Twenty educators from ten mainstream secondary schools around Polokwane in Limpopo Province participated in this study. There were 10 males and 10 females. Purposive non-probability sampling was used to select the sample. The sample of this study was drawn through purposive sampling because it is a form of non-probability sampling in which decisions concerning the individuals included in the sample were taken by the researcher. This was based upon a variety of criteria, which included specialist knowledge of the research issue, or capacity and willingness to participate in the research (Oliver, 2006:1). Purposive sampling is widely used in qualitative research for the identification and selection of information-rich cases related to the phenomenon of interest, and for in-depth study (McMillan & Schumacher, 2006:319; Palinkas, Horwitz, Green, Wisdom, Duan & Hoagwood, 2013:1). Information-rich cases are those from which one can learn a great deal about issues of central importance to the purpose of the inquiry, thus the term, “purposeful sampling” (Harsh, 2011:65). In purposive sampling, the researcher in this study intentionally selected individuals and sites to learn and understand the central phenomenon (main research question) (Creswell, 2014:228). The qualitative researcher was concerned with understanding rather than explaining the phenomenon, and with subjective exploration of reality from the perspective of insiders (De Vos, Strydom, Fouché & Delport, 2011:308). As already highlighted, the two educators per school who were purposively selected or sampled for in-depth interviews and observation sessions by the researcher, specifically entailed learner support educators (LSE) or special needs educators (SNE), who also formed part of the school-based support team (SBST) of the school, and who were conversant with Inclusive Education matters. The most preferred purposive sampling strategy employed in this study was as follows
Homogeneous sampling is the process of selecting a small homogeneous group of subjects or units for examination and analysis, and it is used when the goal of the research is to understand and describe a particular group in depth (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006:1). A homogeneous sample is often chosen when the research question that is being addressed is specific to the characteristics of the particular group of interest, which is subsequently examined in detail (Lund Research, 2012:2). In this study, secondary schools as sites and secondary school educators as participants were purposefully selected for the sample of this study because they possessed similar traits or characteristics and were regarded as members of a common subgroup (Department of Education) that had defining characteristics (Creswell, 2014:230).
The following section provides the biographical data of the research participants. The biographical data provides the context in which the data was collected.
Biographic data of participants
The table below displays the biographic data of the Polokwane mainstream secondary school educators who participated in the current study
CHAPTER 1 ORIENTATION TO THE STUDY
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.4 MAIN RESEARCH QUESTION
1.5 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.7 RATIONALE OF THE STUDY
1.8 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.9 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.10 DELIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY.
1.11 DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS.
1.12 CHAPTER OUTLINES
CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.2 THE NEED FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
2.3 PERCEPTIONS OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
2.4 CHALLENGES IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN MAINSTREAM SECONDARY SCHOOLS
2.5 GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PERCEPTIONS OF EDUCATORS REGARDING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.2 RESEARCH PARADIGM
3.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
3.7 DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE
3.8 DATA ANALYSIS
3.9 ETHICAL ISSUES
CHAPTER 4 DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
4.2 PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA
4.3 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.3 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
5.4 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
5.5 CONTRIBUTION TO THE STUDY
5.8 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY
5.9 FINAL COMMENTS
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