• No results found

Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Towe (1991) defined research design as “... the overall configuration of a piece of research: what kind of evidence is gathered from where, and how such evidence is interpreted in order to provide good answers to the basic research question[s]” (p.21). To answer the research questions as stated earlier, elements of ethnographic and grounded theory methodology were drawn upon. The methods employed included workshops, classroom observations, interviews, video tapes and student questionnaires which were used to collect data from three schools over a period of three months. The various methods of data collection used gave a richness of data and allowed meaningful triangulation that strengthened the validity of findings. Findings are considered to be more credible when they are based on analysis of data from various sources (Patton, 1980). This section attempts to provide a summary sequence of the data collection before briefly outlining the methods used to collect data.

Qualitative researchers use rich-thick description when they present their research findings (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005) and depend on small samples that are purposively or purposefully selected (Patton, 1990). Subjects are selected because of who they are and what they know, rather than by chance. Purposive sampling is popular in qualitative research and Patton (1990) observed that:

the logic and power of purposeful sampling lies in selecting information-rich cases for study in depth. Information-rich cases are those from which one can learn a great deal about issues of central importance to the purpose of research; thus the term purposeful sampling (p. 169).

The research was conducted at three lower secondary schools in Male’, the Capital of the Maldives. The initial plan was to select two schools from Male’ and a school from an outer island, but due to the time and financial constraints as mentioned earlier, the plan was changed to select three schools from Male’. The Maldives is a small homogenous society with one religion and one language, so the cultural context of the research would have been more or less the same even if more schools from different atolls of the Maldives were involved. Data were collected during the second term of the schools that spanned from the last week of April to mid-July 2004.

The three selected schools (two boys’ and one girls’ school) were typical Maldivian schools and the selections of these schools were carried out after consultation between the schools and the Ministry of Education. A total of nine teachers and 232 students took part in this study. Three teachers were selected from each school based on one from each Grade (i.e., Grade 8, 9, and 10), and one class of their designated Grade was chosen for each of them. The Head of Economics in each school briefed the teachers about the study before I met the teachers, and informed them that their participation in the study was voluntary. I also reiterated this during the meetings that I had with them. After separate meetings with teachers in each school, the Heads of Economics selected teachers and the teachers themselves selected the classes. The written consent from schools and teachers was sought before the beginning of the research.

Seven out of the nine teachers were expatriates from neighbouring India, and the other two were locals. They were all university/college graduates, some with teaching qualifications ranging from diplomas to masters degrees. Their teaching experiences ranged from two to 15 years at secondary school level. All teachers in Grades 8 and 9 were females and the Grade 10 teachers were all males. Table 4.1 gives an overview of the sample structure of participants.

Table 4.1: Participants involved in the Study

Grades Teachers Students Total

Male Female Male Female

8 0 3 40 29 69

9 0 3 43 30 73

10 3 0 60 30 90

Total 9 143 89 232

The research was conducted in three stages over a period of three months.

Summaries of the data collection events are given in the Table 4. 2.

Table 4.2: Summary of Events

Session Session Type Summary of Events 1

14.04.04 (WED)

Meeting ƒ Met the Executive Director of the Department of Higher Education and Training and got the final consent for conducting the research in schools.

2 15.04.04 (THUR)

Meeting ƒ Met the Director General of the school systems at the MoE.

ƒ Debriefed regarding the proposed research and advice was sought about which schools the research is to be conducted in.

3 18.04.04

(SUN)

Meeting ƒ Met the Principal and her deputy of the girls’ school and the consent was sought to conduct the research.

ƒ The principal and her team confirmed support and assistance for the research

ƒ Met the teachers and head of Economics at girls’ school and information regarding the research was given.

ƒ Three teachers were selected and the consent was sought from them.

4 19.04.04

(MON)

Meeting ƒ Met the Principal of the first boys’ school and the information was given about the research.

ƒ The principal was delighted, assured me of support for the research.

ƒ Met the teachers and head of Economics at first boys’

school and information regarding the research was given.

ƒ Three teachers were selected and the consent was sought from them.

5 20.04.04

(TUE)

Meeting ƒ Met the Assistant Principal of the second boys’ school and the information was given about the research

ƒ The Assistant Principal assured me of support for the

research

ƒ Met the teachers and head of Economics at second boys’

school and information regarding the research was given

ƒ Three teachers were selected and the consent was sought from the them

PRE-OBSERVATIONS

6 25.04.04

(SUN)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Two teachers of Grade 8 and 9 at girls’ school were observed.

7 26.04.04

(MON)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Grade 10 teacher at girls’ school was observed.

ƒ Two teachers of Grade 8 and 9 at first boys’ school were observed.

8 27.04.04

(TUE)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Two teachers of Grade 8 and 9 at second boys’ school were observed.

ƒ 9

28.04.04 (WED)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Two Grade 10 teachers at first and second boys’ school were observed.

PRE-STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE

10 28.04.04

(WED)

Student

Questionnaire ƒ Pre-student questionnaire was distributed to the students of Grades 8, 9 and 10.

PRE-INTERVIEWS

11 29.04.04 (THUR)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ Two interviews were made with Grade 8 and 9 teachers at girls’ school.

12 03.05.04

(MON)

Interviews with

Students ƒ Three interviews were made with three students from Grade 8, 9 and 10 at girls’ school.

13 04.05.04

(TUE)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ Two interviews were made with Grade 8 and 9 teachers at first boy’s school.

14 05.05.04

(WED)

Interviews with

Students ƒ Three interviews were made with three students from Grade 8, 9 and 10 at first boys’ school.

15 06.05.04

(THU)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ Two interviews were made with Grade 8 and 9 teachers at first second boy’s school.

16 09.05.04

(SUN)

Interviews with Students

ƒ Three interviews were made with three students from Grade 8, 9 and 10 at second boys’ school.

17 10.05.04

(MON)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ Three interviews were made with Grade 10 teachers from three schools.

PRE-STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE

18 10.05.04

(MON)

Student

Questionnaire ƒ Pre-student questionnaire was collected from the students of Grades 8, 9 and 10.

WORKSHOPS ON COOPERATIVE LEARNING

19 11.05.04

(TUE)

Workshop 1 ƒ Time: 5-8pm.

ƒ An outline of the research was presented.

ƒ Research on teaching and learning of economics was presented and discussed.

ƒ Existing method of teaching and learning of economics in the Maldives was highlighted and discussed.

ƒ Cooperative learning method was introduced.

20 12.05.04

(WED)

Workshop 2 ƒ Time: 5-8pm.

ƒ Material on cooperative learning was presented and discussed.

ƒ Cooperative learning as an alternative method to teach economics was discussed.

21 13.05.04

(THU)

Workshop 3 ƒ Time: 5-8pm.

ƒ Based on the Grade they teach, teachers were divided into three different groups.

ƒ In groups of three each Grade teachers discussed the cooperative lesson plans.

22 15.05.04

(SAT)

Workshop 4 ƒ Time: 5-8pm.

ƒ Developed some lesson plans on cooperative learning in groups.

ƒ Developed some materials in groups.

POST-OBSERVATIONS

23 16.05.04

(SUN)

Classroom Observation

ƒ Observed two teachers from Grades 9 and 10 at first boys’ school.

ƒ Observed Grade 8 teacher at second boys’ school.

24 17.05.04

(MON)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Observed two teachers from Grades 9 and 10 at second boys’ school.

25 Classroom ƒ Observed two teachers from Grades 8 and 9 at girls’

18.05.04 (TUE)

Observation school.

26 19.05.04

(WED)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Observed Grade 8 teacher at first boys’ school.

27 20.05.04

(THU)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Observed Grade 10 teacher at girls’ school.

28 30.05.04

(SUN)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Observed two teachers from Grades 9 and 10 at second boys’ school.

ƒ Observed Grade 8 teacher at first boys’ school.

29 31.05.04

(MON)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Observed two teachers from Grades 9 and 10 at first boys’ school.

30 01.06.04

(TUE)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Observed two teachers from Grades 8 and 9 at girls’

school.

31 02.06.04

(WED)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Observed Grade 10 teacher at girls’ school.

32 03.06.04

(THU)

Classroom

Observation ƒ Observed Grade 8 teacher at second boys’ school.

POST-STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE

33 03.06.04

(THU)

Post-student

questionnaire ƒ Post-student questionnaire was distributed to the students of Grades 8, 9 and 10.

POST-INTERVIEWS

34 13.06.04

(SUN)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ Two interviews were made with two teachers from Grades 8 and 9 at first boys’ school.

35 15.06.04

(TUE)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ An interview was made with Grade 10 teacher at first boys’ school.

36 16.06.04

(WED)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ Two interviews were made with two teachers from Grades 9 and 10 at second boys’ school.

37 Interviews with ƒ An interview was made with Grade 8 teacher at second

20.06.04 (SUN)

Teachers boys’ school.

38 22.06.04

(TUE)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ Two interviews were made with two teachers from Grades 8 and 9 at girls’ school.

39 24.06.04

(THU)

Interviews with

Teachers ƒ An interview was made with Grade 10 teacher at girls’

school.

40 27.06.04

(SUN)

Interviews with

Students ƒ Three interviews were made with three students from Grade 8, 9 and 10 at girls’ school.

41 29.06.04

(TUE)

Interviews with

Students ƒ Three interviews were made with three students from Grade 8, 9 and 10 at first boys’ school.

42 01.07.04

(TUR)

Interviews with

Students ƒ Three interviews were made with three students from Grade 8, 9 and 10 at second boys’ school.

POST-STUDENT QUESTIONNAIRE

43 01.07.04

(THU)

Post-student

questionnaire ƒ Post-student questionnaire was collected from the students of Grades 8, 9 and 10.

4.4.1 Workshops

Extended workshop-type sessions can be used to expand the capacity of basic group techniques. These workshops can be useful with professional target groups (Hedges & Duncan, 2000) such as teachers and students.

Five workshops were conducted for teachers. These workshops were held at the Faculty of Education (FE) of the Maldives College of Higher Education in Male’.

Teachers suggested the venue and permission from the FE was sought and school authorities were informed about these workshops. Due to the nature of school sessions − morning and afternoon, initially it was quite difficult to agree on a suitable time for everyone during the day. However, after negotiations with teachers and school authorities they agreed on sessions being held in the evening after school or during the weekends.

The purpose of these workshops was to induct teachers in the research; to explain the purpose of doing this research; to provide information on cooperative learning and discuss the issues relating the learning and teaching of economics at lower secondary level in the Maldives, and finally to develop lesson plans and materials on cooperative learning to be implemented in selected classes of Grades 8, 9 and 10 in three lower secondary schools in Male’.

As indicated in Chapter Three, Johnson and Johnson’s (1989, 1991) learning together model was used in these workshops as a guide for providing information for teachers, and developing sample lesson plans of cooperative learning.

In the workshops teachers were given the opportunities to familiarise themselves with the model and to discuss the issues related to cooperative learning as an alternative method to teaching economics in lower secondary schools in the Maldives. As a facilitator I provided necessary materials and guidelines that are needed for cooperative learning lessons. I also helped teachers to develop five lesson plans on each selected topic such as economic systems, saving and consumption, and economic growth from each of Grades 8, 9 and 10. These topics were taken from the schemes of work of the second term. The topics were discussed with their heads of economics in schools and the lesson plans were made according to the criteria outlined in cooperative learning. Respective Grade teachers in their select classes implemented these lesson plans.

The five lesson plans were drawn from the themes of economic systems, saving and consumption and economic growth for each of three Grades that include:

Grade 8: Economic Systems

The lesson plans on economic systems provide opportunities for students to participate in simulation games/activities of the three basic economic systems, (market, command, and tradition). By working in each of the systems, students focus on the fundamental values present in each system. The aim is that they also gain insights into the basic advantages and disadvantages of each system.

Grade 9: Saving and Consumption

The aim of these lesson plans was to provide activities for students to work together to find out the decisions that people make such as what they want and what they actually need, in relation to consumption and saving. Through these activities, students should understand that individual income (financial resources) is limited and therefore a person must choose a bundle of goods that first fulfil his or her needs and only after those are met can they fulfil as many of their wants as possible.

Grade 10: Economic Growth

The classes on economic growth examine the Maldivian patterns of growth using data available from government sources. They then compare these patterns with those seen in a developed country (U.S., Japan, U.K., etc) and a lesser-developed country. This data can be obtained from the OECD, the World Bank and the IMF.

4.4.2 Classroom Observations

Observation in general can be described as a research method that is

“characterized by a prolonged period of intense social interaction between the researcher and the subjects, in the milieu of the latter, during which time data, in the form of field notes, are unobtrusively and systematically collected” (Bogdan, 1972, p. 3). Observation is a powerful tool for researchers (Williamson, 2006) which can enable them to see and understand the participants’ surroundings that play a part in the way in which they behave, they act and interact with others, and in the ways their actions are perceived by others (Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003). It is, therefore, a distinct method which allows collecting rich detailed and different data (Hornsby-Smith, 1993).

Observations may vary from being a complete observer to being an active participant (Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003). A complete observer is unknown to those being observed. On the other hand, participant observer might be someone who is a member of the group who is participating while observing. For example, in this study my role was a participant observer.

Although it has been used as a powerful research method (Hornsby-Smith, 1993;

Williamson, 2006), Lofland (1972) described observation as the most intimate and morally hazardous form of social research. Wilkinson and Birmingham (2003) also indicated the process of observation can be more demanding and taxing than any other research methods.

As has been indicated my role was a participant observer. Nine pre-observations and 18 post-observations of nine teachers were made in three schools. Pre-observations were made before conducting the workshops on cooperative learning. Post-observations were made during the implementation of the lessons that were prepared on cooperative learning during the workshops. The purpose of pre-observation was to understand the existing teaching practices employed by the teachers to teach economics. The post-observations were made after the workshops to find out the effectiveness of alternative teaching methods, and to see which lessons students were more engaged in—competitive, individualistic or cooperative learning.

After discussion with the teachers and Heads of Economics, an external observer was invited to all classes to help with my observations. The external observer was a secondary school economics teacher who has previous experiences in classroom observations in different schools throughout the Maldives. The aim of having another observer in the classroom was to record all possible events during the lesson and to bolster validity. The role of observation was divided between the external observer and myself. The external observer’s role was to record the descriptive events of the lessons. He was debriefed about the nature of observations, including the structure of the observations to record during the lesson. My role mainly was focussing on the teacher-student interactions in regard to the style of teaching and learning.

Some of the parameters (Appendix A) used for observation were: content organisation; use of resources and learning environment; teacher-student interactions; and use of teaching methods/skills. The external observer and I took the notes based on these parameters.

At the end of each week of the classroom observation, the external observer and I met in the AV-room at the FE to cross-check the observation notes against the video tapes in order to maximise the accuracy of written notes. Since, we had different roles in the classroom observations we didn’t cross-check each other’s notes. Rather, individual notes were compared against the video tapes. Some differences between the written notes and video tapes were seen but it was left for each individual observer to change these differences. Hence, there was no disagreement between us regarding the classroom observations.

4.4.3 Video Tapes

Although video-camera is not intrinsically a research instrument, it is rapidly catching up in the research community (Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003). Video-camera helps researchers to record interviews and observations in their natural settings.

The pre and post-observations of all 27 sessions were filmed. A video camera was placed at the back of each class to record the lessons, and the consent from the teachers was sought in advance. Consent of students is not required in the Maldives for such research.

When the classroom observations were completed for each particular week my colleague-observer and I watched the videos and checked our observation notes to evaluate the accuracy of those notes. This process continued each week at the FE’s AV-room throughout the data collection.

The aim of filming was to check and verify the observation records made by the observers, and perhaps to get an external point of view regarding the nature of the learning and teaching process being observed.

4.4.4 Questionnaires

A survey questionnaire is research method usually composed of one or more questions that are put to a ‘large’ number of people (Grinnell & Williams, 1990).

For example, a questionnaire can help to collect potential information from a large portion of a group. Some questionnaires can be very detailed, covering many

subjects or issues, while others can be very simple and focus on one important area (Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003). In addition, some of the data collected from survey questionnaires can be qualitative in nature (e.g., people’s views or perceptions of an issue) and these may contribute to the development of theory as much as interview or observational data (Wellington, 2000).

Some of the disadvantages of survey questionnaires are that they are difficult to design and analyse, and the questions posed can be misleading or ambiguous.

However, it is believed well-planned and well-executed questionnaires can produce rich data in a format ready for analysis and simple interpretation (Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003).

Semi-structured questionnaires were used in this study to ascertain students’

perceptions about the existing methods of teaching and cooperative learning strategies in learning economics. Data gathered from these questionnaires were aimed to check the students’ overall perceptions of teaching and learning, therefore, the utilization of data from these questionnaires in the findings chapter were minor when compared them with interviews and observations data.

The pre-and post-questionnaires (Appendix B and C) were given to all 232 students who took part in this study. There were four sections (A, B, C, and D) in each questionnaire. Sections A, B and C are composed of 30 closed questions.

Section D of the pre-questionnaire is composed of one open-ended question while section D of the post-questionnaire is composed of three open-ended questions.

Two identical versions of the same questionnaire were made except for section D of both questionnaires. Section D of the pre-questionnaire was focused on student thinking of what cooperative learning might mean, while section D of the post-questionnaire was focused on their thoughts about the proposed cooperative learning model.

The aim of giving the same questionnaire pre and post was for validity and reliability reasons, and to see whether students’ thinking about teaching and learning of economics had changed as a result of the cooperative learning lesson

implementation. Both questionnaires were trialed among the Maldivian students in New Zealand to ensure face validity and make sure the language and the terminologies being used were understood by students of the same age group of lower secondary school (Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996) before conducting them in the Maldives. There were no problems with language or terminology used on the questionnaires. No student had any trouble understanding the questionnaires or their implications.

The parameters outlined in each section of these questionnaires include: (a) conceptions about economics; (b) conceptions about the learning of economics;

(c) conceptions about the teaching of economics; (d) student thinking of what cooperative learning might mean (pre); and thoughts on the proposed cooperative learning model (post).

Semi-structured questionnaires were used to ascertain students’ perceptions about the existing methods of teaching and cooperative learning strategies in learning economics. I administered both questionnaires with the help of teachers.

4.4.5 Interviews

Interviewing is designed to get a rich understanding of the subjects’ ways of thinking (Bogdan & Biklen, 2003). It also allows researcher to understand the meanings that everyday activities hold for people (Marshall & Rossman, 2006). It may involve one-to-one interactions, large group interviews or focus groups, and may take face-to-face, or over the phone or the internet (Mason, 2002).

Interviewing people can be one of the interesting activities in a research study which allows a researcher to investigate and prompt things that can not be sought though other methods (Wellington, 2000). It is one of the most commonly recognized forms of qualitative research methods (Mason, 2002). Rogers and Bouey (1996) also point out that "Without a doubt, the most utilized data collection method in qualitative research studies is the interview” (p. 52). Patton (1990) puts interviews into three categories: structured interviews, unstructured interviews, and semi-structured interviews.

Structured interviews are sometimes referred to as patterned or standardized interviews (Marshall & Rossman, 2006). These type of interviews are very straightforward and force organised communication between the interviewees and interviewers. The interviewer has a standard set of questions which makes it easier for the interviewer to evaluate and compare interviewees' answers to the same questions. Unstructured interviews also called conversational interviews which provide a general overview of the problem area whereas the structured interviews provide a more detailed view. These types of interviews normally do not have any predetermined set of questions but rather, the interviewers and interviewees talk freely (Burgess, 1991). These interviews are simple and generally lack organization, and this saves time when preparing for the interview. Although they may look simple and easy to conduct, untrained interviewers may find them difficult because they have to generate and develop questions according to what the interviewees say.

Semi-structured interviews are sometimes called guided conversations where broad questions are asked. This is relatively informal discussion based around a predetermined topic. Questions are generally straight forward and open-ended which allow interviewers to generate their own questions to develop interesting areas of inquiry during the interviews. It is believed that this type of interview is widely used as the qualitative interview (Flick, 1998).

There are certain advantages and disadvantages of interviews to gather research data. The main advantage of conducting interviews is their adaptability. For example a well-trained interviewer can alter the interview situation at any time in order to obtain the fullest possible response from the interviewees (Gall et al., 2005). Meanwhile interviewees’ unwillingness to share all that the interviewers’

hope to explore can be a disadvantage of interviews (Marshall & Rossman, 2006).

The direct interaction between interviwers and interviewees make it easy for subjectivity and bias to occur (Gall et al., 2005) which is another disadvantage of interviews.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted for all nine teachers and nine students and involved three teachers and three students from each school. As has been said