THE PRINCIPAL AS AN INTRUCTIONAL LEADER IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REVISED NATIONAL CURRICULUM STATEMENT

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CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Introduction

The literature review in Chapter two provided a theoretical foundation of the role of the school principal in the implementation of the RNCS. This chapter provides an account of how the qualitative investigation was designed and conducted. It also covers the method of investigation that includes data gathering techniques and the design of the research.
The chapter addresses how the information was gathered to actualise the objectives of the research and to determine the perception of participants on the implementation of the RNCS. It is necessary to establish the meaning attached by the participants to the RNCS and its implementation. It includes individual interviews with principals and officials from the Department of Education as well as the focus group interviews with educators and the reasons for conducting interviews.
The chapter also provides the research design in which the procedure for conducting the study is explained. The research design includes the statement of subjectivity, selection of informants, transcription of data, analysis of data and reliability and validity of the study as well as triangulation.
It was therefore decided that the use of a qualitative approach to the research would provide the necessary information to achieve the objectives of the research, namely, to investigate the requirements for the successful implementation of the RNCS, to determine the perceptions of principals on the RNCS, to identify and describe the role which the school principals play in the implementation of the RNCS and to determine the training that will enable the school principals to fulfill their role. The chapter further provides the context in which the research took place to give background to the strengths and weaknesses found in different schools.
It was briefly stated in Chapter one (cf. 1.6.1) that qualitative research is suitable for this kind of research. The researcher explores the use of the qualitative approach in detail in the following section.

A qualitative investigation
Qualitative research

The researcher selected a qualitative approach as a suitable approach because the purpose of the study was to determine the perceptions of participants of the implementation of the RNCS at the school level. Mothata (2000:136) describes qualitative research as a research technique used to collect and present data in the form of words rather than numbers. According to Bazeley (2007:2), qualitative methods are chosen in situations where a detailed understanding of a process or experience is wanted, where more information is needed to determine the exact nature of the issue being investigated, or where the only information available is in non-numeric form.
Hoberg (1999:76) is of the opinion that qualitative research is based on naturalistic inquiry where researchers use multi-method strategies to gather data. Qualitative researchers focus on individuals’ social actions, beliefs, thoughts and perceptions. In terms of this approach data are collected by interacting with research participants in their natural settings such as schools and there is no manipulation of variables, simulation or externally imposed structures in the situation.
McMillan and Schumacher (1997:40) suggest that qualitative research is characterised by three features of ethnographic interviews which are as follows:

  • They are conducted with individuals and small groups of people to capture participants’ perspectives of the RNCS.
  • They are semi-structured and open-ended to provide participants with opportunities to describe and explain the most salient issues of the implementation of the RNCS.
  • Verbatim words and phrases from the interview are analysed and used as data to illustrate the findings.

Denscombe (2003:267) describe qualitative research as an umbrella term that covers a variety of styles of social research. It is any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of quantification. It may refer to research about person’s lives, stories, behaviour and organisational functioning, social movements or interaction relationships.

The role of the researcher

It is important to explain the role of the researcher so that the researcher understands his/her role clearly. Firstly, the researcher should ask for permission to conduct research from the identified sites. According to Denscombe (2003:273), the researcher in a qualitative study is the data gathering instrument. The researcher talks to principals and educators in schools, observes their activities, reads their documents and written records and records this information in field notes or journals. According to Walliman (2001:96), the researcher is interested in how the subjects of the research talk about their own experiences (theories) rather than imposing a theory from outside. The researcher, therefore, is expected to have the research skills that enable the research process to produce reliable and valid information. Patton in Du Plessis (2005:154) supports the above statement by maintaining that validity in qualitative methods hinges to a great extent on the skills, competence and the rigor of the person doing field work.
It is the duty of the qualitative researcher to establish good relationships with the participants so that they feel free to communicate their experiences. In addition, Goddard and Melville (2001:49) state that the researcher must remember that the subjects are individual human beings, and treat them with appropriate respect. The qualitative researcher must strive to build a relationship of reciprocal trust and rapport with his/her subjects. The quality of the data depends on this rapport in so far as it increases the likelihood of participants sharing authentic knowledge of their life world. According to Walliman (2001:241), the researcher should avoid leading questions, excessive guidance and other factors which may cause distortion. The researcher collaborates with the participants in a professional manner in order to acquire the required information.
According to Hoberg (1999:83), the researcher is a curious learner who comes to learn from and with research participants. Thus, the researcher did not go to the field as an expert or a figure of authority. However, the researcher was confident and actively interacted with research participants in different ways to solicit information about the role of the school principal in the implementation of the RNCS. The researcher developed an interview guide topics that facilitated discussion with the participants. McMillan and Schumacher (1997:447) agree that the interview guide topics are selected ahead of time but the researcher decides on the sequence and wording of the questions during the interview.

Data collection strategies

Data collection strategies are selected taking into account the focus of the research and the desired timeframe for the study. The researcher identified individual interviews and focus group interviews for the purpose of this research work. Goddard and Melville (2001:49) state that the advantages of interview are that the researcher can ask the respondent to clarify unclear answers and can follow up on interesting answers. According to Hoberg (1999:77), data collection and analysis are interactive research processes that occur in overlapping phases. The phases are as follows:

  • Phase 1: Planning

The researcher describes the kind of setting or sites, the kind of interviewees or documents that would seem logically to yield information about the problem. In this phase the researcher locates and gains permission to use the site, a network of persons or an archive of documents.

  • Phase 2: Beginning data collection

The researcher establishes rapport, trust and reciprocal relations with the individuals and groups to be observed. The researcher obtains data primarily to become oriented to the field and to gain a sense of totality of the setting for purposeful sampling. In this phase the qualitative researcher develops a way to organise, code and retrieve collected data for formal data analysis that takes place in phase five.

  • Phase 3: Basic data collection

The researcher begins to hear, see and read what is going on rather than just listen, look around or scan documents.

  • Phase 4: Closing data collection

The researcher gives more attention to possible interpretations and verification of the emergent findings with key informants, the remaining interviews, or documents. The researcher senses that further data collection will not yield any more data relevant to the research problem.

  • Phase 5: Completion

The researcher starts with formal data analysis and the construction of meaningful ways to present data. The researcher reconstructs initial diagrams, time charts, network diagrams, frequency lists, processes figures and others to synthesise a holistic sense of the totality, the relationship of parts to the whole.
The qualitative data, generated from interviewing principals, educators and officials from the Department of Education, is particularly powerful in illuminating and communicating key insights. Wagner, Kegan, Lahey, Lemons, Garnier, Helsing, Howell and Rasmussen (2006:134-135) state that seeing the phases and hearing the stories, hopes and opinions of those in education in our own community moves us (researchers) emotionally, reminds us of the imperative behind our work and enables us to see the information as living in three dimensions instead of just one. The stories, the faces and the voices of the participants remain with the researchers with an insistency that numbers can rarely inspire.

CHAPTER 1: BACKGROUND, PROBLEM STATEMENT, AIMS, METHODOLOGY AND PROGRAMME OF STUDY
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background: Revised National Curriculum Statement
1.3 Statement of the problem
1.4 Aim and objectives
1.5 Research methodology
1.6 Demarcation of the problem
1.7 Programme of study
1.8 Summary
CHAPTER 2 THE PRINCIPAL AS AN INTRUCTIONAL LEADER IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REVISED NATIONAL CURRICULUM STATEMENT
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Change
2.3 The role of the principal as an instructional leader in the implementation of the Revised National Curriculum Statement
2.4 Requirements for successful implementation of the Revised National curriculum Statement
2.5 Challenges of the Revised National Curriculum Statement
2.6 Conclusion
2.7 Summary
CHAPTER 3 THE RESEARCH METHOLOGY
3.1 Introduction
3.2 A qualitative investigation
3.3 The research design
3.4 Summary
CHAPTER 4 PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Schools included in the research
4.3 Biographical information of the participants
4.4 Themes discussed in the interviews
CHAPTER 5 AN OVERVIEW OF THE INVESTIGATION, GUIDELINES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 Introduction
5.2 An overview of the investigation
5.3 A synthesis of significant findings and recommendations
5.4 Recommendations for further research
5.5 Limitation of the study
5.6 Summary
Bibliography 
Appendices
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REVISED NATIONAL CURRICULUM STATEMENT: A CASE STUDY

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