CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The previous chapter dealt with an extensive discussion of the instructional leadership paradigm. This chapter describes the research design, the research sample, data collection instruments, sampling, procedure for data collection and data analysis methods with specific reference to the relevance of the mixed methods research which include both qualitative and qualitative research methods and the case-study method. Triangulation was used as part of the mixed method research to test the reliability and validity. It also illuminated some ways to test or maximise the validity and reliability of a qualitative study. The chapter will also outline the one-to-one interviews as well as the discussion of ethical issues in the study. The research methodology was based on the objectives of the research outlined in Chapter 1. The study aims at providing answers to the following questions:
- What is Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)?
- What are the SMTs’ views and experiences in managing and implementing CAPS?
- What role can be played by SMTs in managing CAPS successfully and efficiently?
- Which monitoring and assessment tools are in place for the management and implementation of CAPS in schools?
- How can SMTs use a model in the management and implementation of CAPS in schools so as to improve teaching and learning?
According to Briggs and Coleman (2007: 19), “methodology provides a rationale for the ways in which the researcher carries out research activities”. Masuku and O’Donaghue as quoted by Babane (2007: 12) view research methodology as “the strategy, plan of action, the process or design behind the choice and the use of methods to reach the desired outcomes”. It refers to the ways of discovering knowledge, systems and rules for conducting research. In this study, the mixed method research has therefore been chosen for empirical research.The advantage of undertaking this research by engaging in mixed method research is that as part of the SMT in the capacity as Deputy Principal, I am already completely immersed in the process. The other motivation is the fact that I am one of the teachers involved in the implementation of CAPS this year (2013) in Grade 11 after having started implementing it in Grade 10 the previous year 2012. I am actually involved in implementation and management of this new curriculum, CAPS. A case study research design is chosen because it can offer me the opportunity to collect more data sources for example, conducting semi-structured, one –to-one interview, with the six principals from each of the six schools, doing analysis and interpretation of their existing documents.
Mixed research method
Mixed research method is defined as the collection or analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study in which the data are collected concurrently or sequentially, are given a priority, and involve the integration of data at one or more stages in the process of research (Creswell, 2003 in Gray, 2011:204) (Section 1.5). While the quantitative design seeks to verify theory, qualitative design seeks to establish it (Gray, 2011:202). Using mixed methods allows researchers to simultaneously generalise from a sample to a population and to gain a richer, understanding of the phenomenon being researched (Hanson, 2005 in Gray, 2011:204).
Generally, both qualitative and quantitative paradigms are designed towards understanding about a particular subject area of interest and both of them have strengths and weaknesses (Hussein, 2009) Thus, when combined together, there is a great possibility of neutralising the flaws of one method and strengthening the benefits of the other for the better research results. In the same vein, Hinds (1989 in Hussein 2009:4) acknowledges that combining both qualitative and quantitative methods “increases the ability to rule out rival explanations of observed change and reduces scepticism of change-related findings”.
As the two designs complement each other, in this study, the qualitative method is capable of obtaining a better insight into the phenomenon at hand. On the other hand, the quantitative design shed more light on the relationships between variables. In this study, through the qualitative design, the challenges that are experienced by SMTs in the implementation of CAPS can be surfaced and there will also be an in-depth analysis of the ways in which the instructional leadership model can be engaged in transforming the implementation of the new curriculum. Muijs (2011:2) indicates that quantitative designs are often simplified by making use of a questionnaire to rate the number of statements as ‘I strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘’strongly disagree’ and give the answers numbers such as 1 for ‘disagree strongly’. The quantitative design, as it deals mainly with numerical data, can assist in identifying the relationship between the implementation of a new curriculum and the engagement of the instructional leadership in schools. Since the quantitative design involves a large number of people, in this study, analysis of the questionnaires can make it easy for me understand the challenges faced by educators when attempting to implement the new curriculum. It is a known fact that the main difference between quantitative and qualitative methods is their flexibility. Generally, quantitative methods are fairly inflexible, meaning that questions cannot be changed during the process of collecting data. In quantitative methods such as surveys and questionnaires, for example, researchers ask all participants the same questions in the same order. The response categories from which participants may choose are “closed-ended” or fixed. The advantage of this inflexibility is that it allows for meaningful comparison of responses across participants and study sites. The distinctions between the two is sometimes made solely on the type of data being collected, such that quantitative researchers gather numerical data while qualitative researchers are concerned with textual data (see, for example, Polit & Hungler 1995, 15 in Rolfe, 2004:306).
However, most researchers believe that both methods complement one another because they have different advantages which they find it necessary to combine the two in their studies.
The fact that qualitative methods are typically more flexible, that is, they allow greater spontaneity and adaptation of the interaction between the researcher and the participant. For example, qualitative methods ask mostly “open-ended” questions that are not necessarily worded in exactly the same way with each participant. With open-ended questions, participants are free to respond in their own words, and these responses tend to be more complex than simply “yes” or “no.” These are advantages attached to the qualitative method. Conversely, quantitative methods, have their strengths in identifying universalities and making statistical or probabilistic generalisations, or in determining the correlation between two measurable phenomena. Another interesting distinction is that qualitative research is concerned with the many deep layers of detail about a small group while quantitative surveys can easily be distributed to hundreds, possibly thousands of people.
In qualitative method, the relationship between the researcher and the participant is often less formal than in quantitative research. Participants have the opportunity to respond more elaborately and in greater detail than is typically the case with quantitative methods. To add to that, Hartley and Muhit (2003: 111) reckon that qualitative research methods can contribute to improving the validity and ethics of research in general and at the same time offer a method of investigating topics, which are difficult to research using a more quantitative approach.
Qualitative research design
Spencer, Ritchie, Lewis and Dillon (2003:3) state that “qualitative research aims to provide an in-depth understanding of people’s experiences, perspectives and histories in the context of their personal circumstances or settings”. Among many distinctive features, Spencer, et al., (2003:3) maintain that it is characterised by a concern with exploring phenomena from the perspective of those being studied; with the use of unstructured methods which are sensitive to the social context of the study; the capturing of data which are detailed, rich and complex; a mainly inductive rather than deductive analytic process; developing explanations at the level of meaning or micro-social processes rather than context-free laws; and answering ‘what is’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Spencer, et al., (2003:3) further contend that it employs a variety of methods, including: exploratory interviews; focus groups; observation; conversation, discourse and narrative analysis; and documentary and video analysis.
Qualitative research is commonly used because it seeks to illuminate and understand social phenomena (for example, issues, problems). It enables the researcher to explore the phenomena from an insider’s perspective. It is done through establishing relationships with people, places and performances (Ezzy, 2011: xii). Thus, Ezzy (2011:xii) maintains that the best qualitative researchers do not separate their lives from the research, as if people could understand distancing ourselves from them.
Adding to a range of advantages of qualitative methodologies, Mason (2009:1) maintains that qualitative methodology can contribute towards exploring a wide array of dimensions of the global world, including the weave and texture of everyday life; the understandings, experiences and imaginings of our research participants; the way that social processes, institutions, discourses and relationships work; and the significance and the meanings that they generate. Some more reasons for using qualitative research:
- To explore a phenomenon that has not been studied before (and that may be subsequently developed quantitatively);
- To add rich detail and nuance that illustrates or documents existing knowledge of a phenomenon, generated quantitatively;
- To better understand a topic by studying it simultaneously (triangulation) or concurrently with both methods (mixing quantitative and qualitative methods at the same time or in cycles, depending on the problem);
- To advance a novel perspective of a phenomenon well studied quantitatively, but not well understood because of the narrow perspectives used before;
- To try to “understand” any social phenomenon from the perspective of the actors involved, rather than explaining it (unsuccessfully) from the outside;
- To understand complex phenomena that are difficult or impossible to approach or to capture quantitatively; and
- To understand any phenomenon in its complexity, or one that has been dismissed by mainstream research because of the difficulties to study it, or that has been discarded as irrelevant, or that has been studied as if only one point of view about it was real (Ospina, 2004:9).
The above characteristics of qualitative data illuminates what this methodology entails, however, Marshall and Rossman (2011:3) also mirror some of the attributes of both the Qualitative Research and Qualitative Researchers as follows:
- takes place in the natural world.
- Uses multiple methods that are interactive and humanistic.
- focuses on context.
- is emergent rather than tightly prefigured.
- is fundamentally interpretive.
The qualitative research
- views social phenomena holistically.
- systematically reflects on who she is in the inquiry.
- is sensitive to his personal biography and how it shapes the study.
- uses complex reasoning that is multifaceted and iterative.
Other advantages of qualitative research design (Rubistein, 2009: 2) are as follows:
- To gain a complex understanding of a problem or issue, especially the ‘what’, ‘how’ or ‘why’;
- To develop a more complete picture of the context or setting of a problem or issue;
- To develop theories;
- To empower people to share their experiences; and
- To assist quantitative inquiry.
Conger (1998; Bryman et al., 1988; Alvesson, 1996 in Ospira, 2004: 4) highlight the advantages of doing qualitative research on leadership including flexibility as follows:
- sensitivity to contextual factors;
- ability to study symbolic dimensions and social meaning;
- increased opportunities;
- to develop empirically supported new ideas and theories;
- for in-depth and longitudinal explorations of leadership phenomena; and
- for more relevance and interest for practitioners.
Most researchers value the significance of epistemology and ontology in qualitative research. Rubeinstein (200:4) indicates that doing research involves assumptions about human knowledge and reality (Epistemology –the study of knowledge). It is underpinned by philosophical assumptions about how to look at the world and make sense of it. Sharing Rubeinstein’s views, Mason (2009:64) is of the opinion that if a researcher has chosen to use qualitative interviewing, he or she should have an epistemological position which allows that a legitimate or meaningful way to generate data on the ontological properties is to talk interactively with people, to ask them questions, to listen to them, to gain access to their accounts and articulations, or to analyse their use of language and construction of discourse. Mason (2009) further maintains that the ontological position of the researcher suggests that people’s knowledge, views, understanding, interpretations, experiences, and interactions are meaningful properties of the social reality which his or her research questions are designed to explore.
Quantitative research design
Quantitative research design uses objective research methods to uncover the truth. This implies that as a researcher I was detached from the research, and normally used methods that maximise objectivity and minimise the involvement of the researcher in the research. It is for this reason that Charles (1995 in Golafshani 2003:598) adheres to the notions that the consistency with which questionnaire [test] items are answered or individual’s scores remain relatively the same can be determined through the test-retest method at two different times. This attribute of the instrument is actually referred to as stability. If we are dealing with a stable measure, then the results should be similar. A high degree of stability indicates a high degree of reliability, which means the results are repeatable (Golafshani, 2003:599).
Generally, quantitative research “… supported by the positivist or scientific paradigm, leads us to regard the world as made up of observable, measurable facts” (Glesne & Peshkin, 1992: 6 in Golafshani, 2003:598). According to positivism, the world works according to fixed laws of cause and effect (Muisj, 2011:4). Positivism is also referred to as realist meaning that research is capable of uncovering an existing reality. In essence, the researcher uses objective methods that maximise objectivity and minimise the involvement of the researcher in the research (Muisj, 2011:3). The analysis of data collected using this research method entails using mathematically based methods. Using mathematically based methods, implies that data have to be in numerical form. What is interesting about this method is that today, computers are used for counting frequencies and percentages; as a result, it becomes easier for researchers to analyse data. In this study, computer software was used to generate tables and percentages.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Background to the study
1.2 Main research question
1.3Aims and objectives of the study
1.6Significance of the study
1.8Definitions of key concepts
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW: CURRICULUM AND POLICY STATEMENT
2.2 What curriculum and assessment policy is all about?
2.3 The SMTs views and experiences in managing and implementing CAPS<
2.4 The role to be played by SMTs in managing and implementing CAPS
2.5 Which monitoring, evaluation and assessment tools are in place for the management and implementation of CAPS in schools?
2.6 How can SMTs use a model for management of CAPS in schools so as to improve teaching and learning?
CHAPTER 3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CAPS
3.2 Prominent features of instructional leadership perspective in curriculum implementation
3.3The significance of instructional leadership perspective in improving teaching and learning in school
3.4Instructional leadership perspective as a means of instilling SMTs’ enthusiasm and zeal in CAPS management and implementation
3.5The distinctions between leadership and management
3.7Models of leadership
3.8The school principals as the instructional leader
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.2 Mixed method design
4.3 Qualitative research design
4.4 Quantitative research design
4.5 Case study
4.6 Rigour in qualitative research
4.9 Ethical consideration
4.12 Geographical area of study
4.13 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER 5 DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND DESCRIPTIONS
5.2Findings from interviews
5.3Discussions of results from interviews
5.4Analysis from questionnaires
5.5Analysis of statistical data
5.6Section C/General questions
5.7 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER 6 THE CONCLUSION OF THE STUDY
6.2 Empirical findings
6.4Recommendations for further study
6.5Limitations of the study
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
An instructional leadership perspective on the management and implementation of Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) in South African schools