The Social Capital Theory and community participation in curriculum Implementation

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The preceding chapter focused on literature review on how members of the community can be involved in curriculum implementation. The review of literature was done according to themes that helped to explain how communities and primary schools can meaningfully come together in curriculum implementation.
In this chapter I present the research design and methodology that underpin the study. The chapter provides an overview of the interpretive philosophy to this research. The chapter also discusses the qualitative methodology, data-collection instruments used, the data analysis techniques and ethical considerations.
The following table presents an overview of the research design and methodology employed in this study.


In planning and organising this study, the interpretivist approach was used. The study used an interpretivist approach as postulated by Dworkin (Hunter 2005:78), a critic of the deductive, abstract explanation of the positivist school of reasoning. He claims that interpretivists are sensitive to human values (Hunter 2005:78) and that reality is subjective, multiple and a human construct (Tuli 2010:99-100). The interpretivist approach is also credited to the works of the German sociologist Weber and another German philosopher Dilthey. It is a sympathetic and empathetic interpretive understanding of the everyday lived experiences of the people in specific historical settings (Neuman 2003:75). This view assisted me to understand different views, opinions, experiences and perceptions from primary school heads, teachers and community members regarding community participation in curriculum implementation.
With the interpretive approach, as postulated by Babbie (2010) I managed to observe aspects of the participants’ social world and discovered patterns that could be used to explain the participation of community members in curriculum implementation. Lehman (2007) and Teddlie and Tashakkori (2009:36) agree that the beauty of the interpretive approach is that it allows the researcher to appreciate reality as multi – faceted. Reality is based on an individual’s perceptions and experiences. It offers a prospect to develop more convincing and robust explanations to people’s experiences. This I experienced through interacting with primary school heads, teachers, parents, business people, church and traditional leaders, obtaining their views and experiences regarding community involvement in curriculum implementation issues.
The ontological assumption here is that there are multiple realities that make measurement of reality difficult. One can only seek to understand real-world phenomena by studying them in detail within the context in which they occur (Lehman 2007). Reality is seen as a construction relative to its context (McKenna 2003:215). The focus with the interpretivist approach has shifted from the positivist’s prediction and generalization to interpretation, meaning-making and understanding of specific contexts (McKenna 2003:218). This study aimed at understanding the educational context of curriculum implementation and how members of the communities can effectively be involved.
In the study, I chose to work with primary school heads, teachers and community members like parents, traditional leaders, churches and business people as participants. The choice was in line with Gray’s (2011:167); De Vos et al.’s (2012:308) as well as Corbin and Strauss’ (2008:12) observations that interpretivist research appreciates reality as complex. It is concerned with understanding and interpretations from multiple views of those being studied rather than an explanation of reality from the participants’ experiences. In line with Creswell (2010:212) and Silverman’s (2010:14) views, the idea here was to enable the participants to be heard and not to be silenced regarding their views and attitudes towards community participation in curriculum implementation.
The interpretivist approach maintains that all human beings are engaged in the process of making sense of their worlds and continuously interpret, create, give meaning to, define, justify and rationalize their daily actions (De Vos et al. 2012:8). Thus, social research cannot be shaped and defined according to the same principles as the natural sciences. The framework of natural sciences is that reliable knowledge is deductive logic based on direct observation or manipulation of the natural phenomena through empirical, often experimental means to discover and confirm a set of probabilistic causal laws (Tuli 2010:99 & 100). Bryman and Bell (2007:17) state that interpretivists support the following view:
The subject matter of the social sciences – people and their institutions – is fundamentally different from that of the natural sciences. The study of the social world therefore requires a different logic of research procedure.
Therefore, in line with Tuli’s (2010:100) view, the interpretivist framework as a theory construction allowed me to be non-manipulative, unobtrusive and non-controlling. It allowed me to analyse various interpretations by primary school heads, teachers, traditional and church leaders, business people and the parents of their experiences of community participation in curriculum implementation. Post-positivist philosophers thus believe that no research is objective and value-free. It stresses the importance of discovering the meanings which research participants give to their activities (McKenna 2003:218).
The interpretivist approach adopted in this study enabled me as a researcher to come up with a holistic understanding of community participation in curriculum implementation.

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According to Maree (2012:70), a research design is a plan or strategy used by the researcher for collecting, analysing and interpreting the data in order to answer the research questions. De Vos et al. (2012:307) add that a design refers to all those decisions a researcher makes in planning the study. This means that good research cannot be done haphazardly. It has to be done systematically. Therefore, there is need for proper and careful planning. Creswell (2010:3) points out that research designs are plans and procedures that span the decisions in research, from broad assumptions to detailed methods of data-collection and analysis.
This study takes into account three interrelated designs namely; qualitative, descriptive and context.

The qualitative design

In line with the interpretivist ontological and epistemological theoretical position explained above, the qualitative design, as stated by Gray (2011:166), Corbin and Strauss (2008:16), Hancock and Algozzine (2006:8), was seen as one that best provided insight to gain perspectives of participants regarding community participation in curriculum implementation in the Zimbabwean primary schools. By using the qualitative paradigm, I was interested in understanding how participants interpret their experiences, how they construct their worlds and what meaning they attribute to their experiences regarding participation in curriculum implementation. Thus, in line with Merrian’s (2009:5-6) understanding, the participants’ views and experiences assisted me in giving voice to the points of view of community members who were marginalised in curriculum implementation issues. Based on Creswell’s (2010:41) opinion, the adopted qualitative approach presented a different view to quantitative research with the recognition that as researchers there is need to listen to the views of participants, as the data were collected in places where people lived and worked (i.e. the community homesteads and the schools). By doing that, I was able to access the school heads, teachers as well as community members’ life worlds which are their worlds of experience (Creswell 2010). According to Patton and Cochran (2002:7), this type of research meets the following three qualitative design criteria, namely:

  • understanding the perspectives of the participants;
  • exploring the meaning they give to phenomena; and
  • observing a process in depth
  • Based on De Vos et al.’s (2012:320) as well as Corbin and Strauss’ (2008) views, the qualitative design was also used in this study because it did not detach me from my participants. Rather the qualiatative research brought me closer to the participants and gave me the opportunity to connect with them at a human level. I was able to obtain an intimate familiarity with the research participants. In addition, I went into the natural settings of the communities around the four selected primary schools. I literally went to the community members’ homesteads to discuss their knowledge and views about their involvement in curriculum implementation. From my supervision and observations during teaching practice, I noted that curriculum implementation is an issue which has been regarded seriously by many schools. From the community members’ views and contributions, I was able to gather rich data on how these community members can be effectively involved and contribute to curriculum implementation. In addition to the above, Merrian (2009:14) adds that qualitative researchers are interested in how people interpret their experiences, how they construct their worlds and what meaning they attribute to their experiences.

1.1 Introduction and background to the study
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Research questions
1.4 The aim of the study
1.5 Motivation for the study
1.6 Delimitation of the study
1.7 Limitations of the study
1.8 Definitions and explanation of the concepts
1.9 Ethical considerations
1.10 Organisation of the study
1.11 Chapter summary
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Definition of community participation
2.3 Definition of curriculum implementation
2.4 The Social Capital Theory and community participation in curriculum Implementation
2.5 Community participation in retrospect
2.6 The role of communities in curriculum implementation
2.7 The attitudes and perceptions of the stakeholders towards community participation in curriculum implementation
2.8 Barriers to effective community participation in curriculum implementation
2.9 Mitigation to challenges of community participation in curriculum implementation
2.10 Chapter summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The Interpretivist approach
3.3 The research design
3.4 Population and sampling
3.5 Data Collection
3.6 Data Management and analysis
3.7 Issues of Trustworthiness
3.8 Ethical considerations
3.9 Chapter summary
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Description of findings
4.3 Chapter summary
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Discussion of the findings
5.3 The contribution of the study to knowledge, practice and policy
5.4 Synthesis of the findings and conclusions
5.5 Recommendations
5.6 Suggestions for further research
5.7 Conclusion of the chapter

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