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The purpose of this survey study was to determine if there was a relationship between role of school leaders and teachers' motivation in a selected private secondary school. This section describes the methods used in the study, including:
population and sample,
research design and approach,
description of the research
instrumentation and materials,
data analysis, and
3.2 Research Context and aims of the research
The aim of the research was to investigate the link between teacher's motivation and school leadership in private secondary schools. Thorough observation has shown that teachers from private educational institutions experience a significant level of de-motivation despite the fact that these schools are considered to be on more or less the same footing as state secondary schools. What could be the reason behind this difference? The possibility that this is due to the different type of leadership in these schools has been considered. In fact, it could be leadership that has been impacting upon teachers' motivation. In this line of thought, research has been made to confirm this hypothesis or to reject it.
Population comprises all the elements about which the researcher wishes to make inferences (Cooper & Schindler, 1998). The population for this study implied all the administrators (managers, rectors, deputy rectors) and teachers in private secondary schools in Mauritius.
Sampling is a process that utilizes a portion of the whole population to make conclusions regarding the whole population. A sample is a portion of a population. The purpose of sampling is to enable the researcher to estimate some unknown characteristics of the population. Through sampling, the researcher is able to gather information quickly, cut costs, and reduce the labor needed to conduct research (Zikmund, 2003).
Samples are selected from the population to reflect the characteristics of the target population they represent. For this research, convenience sampling was chosen as the appropriate sampling method for the researcher, though it may not reflect the entire target population. Therefore, the researcher opted for school X. The researcher used participants who were accessible to her, as far as her working place and residence were concerned. Another reason why this particular school was chosen because the researcher learnt that the teachers often complain about being de-motivated. Further inquiry showed that school X has recently witnessed a change in Management. The new administration has replaced an 85 year old management. This provided an insight that school leadership could be a motivating factor for these teachers.
Since the sample consisted of only one private secondary school, it could be assumed that all teachers could be selected as participants.
The study focusing on the role of school leaders, the manager, the rector and deputy rector were chosen, to represent the as school leaders.
3.5: School Profile
The study took place in a private secondary school located in the suburb of Port Louis. The school will not be identified by name. Instead, it will be identified as school X. This system serves approximately 700 students for the year 2012 and employs 50 teachers. Approximately 60% are identified as economically disadvantaged, and about 40% have been reported to live in single-parent families. It is to be mentioned that about 10% of the students live with neither parents and rather live with grandparents or close relatives. Another point to be noted is that approximately 15% of the students have got parents who are or who have been in prison.
3.6: Research Design and Approach
Various methodologies are implemented in research, each serving a different purpose and providing a different outcome. Researchers need to understand what information they wish to obtain prior to the collection of data. Babbie (1990) indicated that research methods include analysis of existing data, case study, controlled experiment, and participant observation.
Qualitative research provides information in the form of documentation of real events, records of what people say, observation of behaviors, or study of written documents (Neuman, 2000). On the other hand, quantitative researchers communicate meaning and interpret information by means of numerical analysis. This is accomplished by statistical methods that help to generalize findings. Quantitative researchers take an objective stance regarding participants and their settings, and use sample research to apply their findings to a larger population.
3.6.1: MIXED METHODS
In an effort to gather sufficient data to most accurately answer the research questions, a mixed-methods approach supports this study, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative modes of research. Ivankova, Creswell and Stick (2006, p.3) stated, "When used in combination, quantitative and qualitative methods complement each other and allow for a more robust analysis, taking advantage of the strengths of each."
Using a mixed methods approach provides the researcher with the opportunity to capture both
the trends and the details of a situation (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007), and to add depth and context
to quantitative results.
A mixed-methods study generated data from different dimensions providing opportunity for more accurate and viable answers to the research questions posed in this new paradigm. In this study the quantitative data provided a broad view of this particular urban school teachers' attitudes and beliefs concerning teacher motivation and the case studies provided a finer more precise representation of teacher motivation attributions.
3.6.2: DATA collection
This study was constructed on the embedded mixed-methods design. An embedded mixed-methods design featured the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data with one data set playing a supplemental role to the other (Creswell & Plano-Clark, 2007). In this study the quantitative data collected in phase one informed the data collected in the major portion of the study, phases two and 3.
These quantitative data included an initial subject selection survey (N= 50), a primarily quantitative instrument, that guided the selection of subjects and stimulated further interview questions. For the second phase of the study, based on a limited number of subject interviews (n=6); only six candidates were identified using the set criteria.
Phase 3 was also a qualitative one, involving interviewing the school leader, namely the rector, deputy rector and the manager.
22.214.171.124: Phase 1: Quantitative Phase: Teachers' Survey
This project began with a solicitation letter to the manager of the school. The solicitation letter requested permission to administer the "Teacher Survey" (Appendix B & C) to the teaching staff at the beginning of the second term during the academic year 2012. A meeting was held with the teaching staff to explain the purpose of the research. Then a request letter was submitted to the teachers.
Questionnaires were carefully designed for this purpose. Questionnaires are a quantitative method of obtaining information from participants. Information gathered through this method would be difficult to gather through observation (Thyer, 2001). Information can be obtained by interviews, whether in person (within a group setting or individually), over the telephone, or self- administered. Surveys gather data on attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, and values. The researcher selected quantitative inquiry for this study as it provided a numeric description of some portion of the population, sampled through the data collection method of asking people questions. This was the best choice of design for the following reasons:
Questionnaires are preferred for a quantitative study of organizational outcomes because they are unbiased (Wysong, 2000).
Questionnaires allow for generalization of findings to a larger population than the one from which the sample was drawn (Hartford, 2000).
Questionnaires are able to identify attributes of a larger population from a smaller group of individuals (Fowler, 2001).
Questionnaires provide numeric data that allow for correlation of two databases.
Questionnaires provide a rapid turnover in completion so that the researcher is able to gather the data in a timely manner.
Scientific research attempts to be logical (Babbie, 1990). As such, it attempts to guide the understanding of human behavior by seeking a general understanding.
The questionnaire initially developed consisted of three sections, A: personal information, B: questions related to factors affecting motivation and school leadership; this section involved a Likert Scale with 4 variables (Strongly Agree, SA; Agree, A; Disagree, D and Strongly Disagree, SD), while the last part consisted of open-ended questions. However, a pilot testing with 5 participants showed that the latter did not respond well to the open-ended questions. Therefore, the final questionnaire consisted of a Likert Scaling (Appendix A).
In the quantitative phase of the study, the staff sample size (n=50) consisted of 28 males (56%) and 22 females (44%), all of whom were full time teachers. A smaller number (n=19) came from promotion positions (Heads of Departments or section leaders) held within the school (38%). The majority of respondents (n=31, 62%) had more than 5 years teaching experience, and had been in their current school for more than 6 years . 36 staff (72%) reported teaching within their current manager for more than 2 years.
% (N= 50)
Male (n= 28)
Female (n= 22)
22-30 (n= 19)
31-45 (n= 17)
46 -55 (n=6)
56 and above (n=9)
Number of years of teaching experience
1-5 years (n=19)
6-15 years (n=17)
16-25 years (n=4)
26 years or more (n=10)
Rank in school
Only educators (n= 31) 62%
Head of departments (n= 12) 24%
Section leaders (n= 7) 14%
Table 3.0: Summary of General Information about teachers
SHOULD I INCLUDE A PIE CHART OR ANY OTHER METHOD TO REPRESENT THE ABOVE INFORMATION?
Surveys were completed by the subject pool and collected by the researcher at the agreed time. Confidentiality was maintained by providing unmarked envelopes for each copy of the survey. Upon receipt of the completed survey, subjects became part of a body known as "the initial subject pool."
126.96.36.199: Phase II & III- Qualitative phase
McMillan and Schumacher (2001, p. 443) claim that interviews may be the primary data collection strategy to provide information on how individuals conceive their world. The researcher, therefore, considered interviewing to best fit the purpose of collecting in-depth information, for a better understanding of Teachers' motivation and the role of school leaders.
Interviews consist of two-persons' conversation, initiated by the interviewer for the specific purpose of obtaining relevant information. The latter therefore focuses on the content specified by the research objectives (Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2001). Interviews help to explore the state of mind of the respondent (Chen et al., 2001).
In this study, the researcher used interviewing to collect data for the second and third phases, because the data required should be based on feelings, emotions and experiences for a deeper understanding. Interviews also allow further probing (Bell, 2004). So, interviewing enabled the researcher to obtain information other that verbal communication, such as, voice tones and facial expressions.
However, interviews could also involve some degree of subjectivity and bias, on part of the interviewer (Cohen et al., 2001). Bell (2004) further added that data collection could also be affected by the gender and age of the researcher. Too much eagerness from respondents to please the researcher, could also affect the collection of honest and reliable data (Bell, 2004).
So, to counter these possible effects, the researcher used purposive sampling for the last two stages. Two types of interviews have been used: Focus group interview with teachers, while individual interviews have been used with the school leaders.
Interviewing Teachers: Focus group interviews
A focus group interview involves the selection of a group that is convened for the purpose of exploring with a specific research problem (Barbour, 1999). The respondents interact with each other, rather with the interviewer. This results in data emerging from group interaction (Cohen et al., 2001). Such interview can arouse spontaneity from the participants, hence providing data that is not readily obtained by conventional interviewing techniques (Winslow, Honein and Ezubeir, 2002).
Staffs were purposefully selected based on pre-determined criteria, including the exclusion of staff, who had been in their school for less than 12 months.
Criteria used for selecting respondents
Interviews were conducted with six subjects drawn from the survey pool based on the four criteria. First was the length of service. This study examined school leadership and teacher motivation. As such, it was felt that participants in the second phase of this study had to have demonstrated that they were likely to continue in teaching. It was reasoned that if a teacher had remained in the profession for five years, he/she was more likely to have experienced a sufficient set of circumstances to develop meaningful attributions concerning teacher motivation. Subjects were considered for the second phase of the study if they were entering a minimum of the fifth year of teaching. There was no upper limit for time of service.
The second criterion was the level taught. It was a goal of this study that one informant from each sub-set of secondary education would be utilized.
Criterion three was the ability to contribute useful and reliable data to the research. The answers to the preliminary open-ended questions on the survey were used as an indication of how well a potential subject could communicate his/her thoughts, dispositions and feelings concerning retention. Data were considered useful if they were clearly understood, were pertinent to the questions and demonstrated an ability in the individual to grasp and articulate responses to survey prompts. It was believed that a particular individual may have never reflected on motivation issues but would be able to express concepts related to teachers' motivation when prompted during an interview. Similarly, a particular teacher may have thought about motivation issues but may not have possessed the ability to accurately express those ideas.
Open ended questions guided the selection of subjects based on the clarity of their responses.
Selection of candidates for phase II with respect to criterion 3
Responses were scored on a numerical scale of from 1 to 20 based on clarity, depth and focus.
Example: How far do you think school leaders affect teachers' motivation
One word response
2 or more words :as a list
Support, help, autonomy, participates
Rector walks around
I find rector's involvement encouraging.
Complete sentences-more focus
I find that collegiality helps teachers, they have the opportunity to show their abilities and are in turn valued.
Multiple responses, additional detail
According to me, rectors should be able to identify their teachers' needs and should bear in mind that each one needs specific motivators.
Focused, detailed, narrative, complete ideas
I feel that rectors have a major role in motivating teachers. They should be the ones to foster a positive and a healthy school culture. At the same time, they should work in close partnership with teachers
Table 3.1: Selection criteria for teachers' interview
Only six candidates have been selected based on the above three standards and contacted via mobile phone.
The researcher chose the focus group interview as it allowed her to interview all the selected respondents at the same time. Fontana and Frey (2000) posit that focus group interview is more flexible and leaves room for variation in responses. It is to be mentioned that such interview technique was convenient to both the researcher and the participants due to time constraints. It allowed the collection of large amount of data in a short period of time (Cohen et al., 2001).
The focus group interview in this study is semi-structured. The researcher developed an interview schedule (Appendix B), consisting of pertinent questions related to teachers' motivation and school leadership. These were determined from the themes dealt with in the literature review. These themes are addresses by asking probing questions and focusing in follow-up questions.
The researcher planned for the focus group interview with the participants through an informal invitation via mobile phones. The selected respondents were asked to set a time and date convenient to them. It was conducted at the school itself since all of them were from the same institution. Therefore, the researcher sought permission from the rector to use the Art Room to conduct the focus group interview. Participants' permission were also sought to audio tape the interview.
188.8.131.52: Phase III: Qualitative Phase: Interviewing the school leaders: Individual interview
The researcher requested for a meeting with the school manager. During this particular meeting, the researcher elaborated on the research and its objectives and humbly requested the participation of the school leaders in the study. So, the rector, his deputy and the manager took part in phase III of the survey. They were contacted through mobile phones for the individual interview.
An individual interview is a verbal exchange of information between 2 persons, whereby one person gathering data from the other (Pole and Lampard, 2002). The researcher used such interview to collect data from the school leaders. Denscombe (2000, p. 113) affirms that such interview allows the interviewees to "speak their minds" and to lend themselves to in-depth investigations, with regards to personal accounts, experiences and feelings. On account of their respective leadership positions as heads of their school, the manager, the school rector and the deputy rector could provide information-rich data with respect to teachers' motivation. The aim of individual interview was to gather data on the professional experiences, practices and roles of the school leaders in motivating their teachers.
The researcher was particularly interested in specific motivational strategies employed by the different school leaders. These interviews have been conducted according to the same procedures as those applied for the focus group interview. An interview schedule (Appendix C) was developed in order to determine the motivation strategies employed by the school leaders. In this way, the researcher was able to prompt the participants to provide essential and relevant information. Each interview lasted about half an hour.
184.108.40.206.1: Data recording for interviews during phases II and III
Interview sessions were taped and analytic notes were taken as a means to track data and discern patterns (Maxwell, 1996). Tapes were later transcribed. All transcripts and documents were coded with any identifying descriptors removed. Results are reported in such a manner that teachers, school leaders (Rector, deputy rector or the manager), the secondary school, and school's characteristics cannot be identified.
3.7: Data Analysis
3.7.1: Qualitative data for phase II and Phase III
The following steps, typical of qualitative data (De Vos et al., 1998), were used for the analysis of the collected data. The researcher read through all the transcripts, wrote down the ideas and made a list of the themes involved. These were clustered together, based on similarities. Then, the thinking, judging and interpretation were done by the researcher. In so doing, the researcher identified some patterns and differences. Finally, the report was done in a narrative form and relevant quotes were used.
220.127.116.11: Trustworthiness of data collected
According to Bell (2004, p. 139), there is always a risk of bias in interviews. This is because these involve human beings, and, the latter are not machines. So, their manner may have an impact on the respondents.
The researcher therefore adopted the following procedures in order to ensure trustworthiness of the data obtained. The interviews were taped recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcribed data was thoroughly verified with the respondents. Direct quotations were also used to express their views and opinions. It is to be mentioned that the interviews were carried out in a natural setting, agreed by both the researcher and the respondent. Also, the teachers chose to be interviewed in English language. The above strategies helped the researcher to avoid biases.
Researchers (Schumacher and McMillan, 1993) mentioned that researchers, using qualitative data, do not aim at generalizing results, as in the quantitative part of the research. Instead, they want in-depth information and thorough understanding of the problem. Therefore, the results obtained can be useful to other school leaders and teachers, both in the public sector as well as in the private educational institutions.
3. 8:.Ethical issues
Research ethics refer to a kind of agreement between the researcher and the respondents. First, the researcher has to seek the consent of the respondents in the study. Bell (2004, p. 413) posits that the conditions for ethical research in practice are that all respondents are offered the opportunity to remain anonymous and that all information is treated with strict confidentiality. He also mentions that the respondents should be able to verify their statements.
For this research, ethical codes, in terms of data collection, data analysis are conformed. To ensure this, the researcher personally contacted the manager of the sampled school, in order t o seek his prior permission to administer the two research instruments. In addition, adequate information on the aims of the study and the procedures to be followed were given to each participant. The information obtained was kept confidential and anonymity assured. Furthermore, they were given full assurance that the findings would be strictly used for academic purposes and that the questionnaires and taped interviews, including the transcribed document would be eventually destroyed.
Chapter three presented a detailed description of both the quantitative and qualitative research designs to investigate the research problem. It emphasized on the theoretical purpose, justifying the methodology used, the data collection strategies, the trustworthiness and transferability of the study. It also included the ethical issues which have been considered for this research.
The next chapter will include discussion on the presentation and interpretation of the collected data.