This chapter consists of methods that will be employed to gather and analyze the data in this study. Particularly, this chapter addresses the details regarding the design of the study, the sample of the study, the instruments, the data collection procedures and the analysis that will be carried out.
The aim of this study is to investigate the perceptions and applications of preschool teachers about the principle of child centered education in Early Childhood Education curriculum in preschool institutions of Turkey. In the light of this aim, the researcher will conduct a qualitative research, because it has been thought that qualitative research provides more meaningful, clear, useful and in-depth results for this study. Therefore, conducting a qualitative research will provide complex, detailed understanding of the issue (Creswell, 2007). As a result of this, qualitative design will be more appropriate.
There are five features of qualitative research which are naturalistic, descriptive data, concern with process, inductive and meaning. Naturalistic emphasizes the role of natural setting which is source of data (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). In this study, preschool institutions embody natural settings. Descriptive data is one of the distinct features of qualitative research (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). In this research, interview transcripts, field notes, photographs will be the sources for obtaining the main data. Process is important for qualitative researchers rather than outcomes or products (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). In this study, the researcher not only focuses on preschool teachers' perceptions but also focuses on applications of them. Inductively data analyzing is preferred by qualitative researchers. They do not try to support or unsupport hypotheses. Meaning is the main concern for the qualitative approach. Qualitative researcher focuses on question of what the participants' perspectives are (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). In this research, preschool teachers' perceptions and applications are main focal point.
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There are five qualitative approaches which are narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography and case study. Narrative research focuses on stories which are told by individual in chronological order. Phenomenology focuses on understanding the essence of the experience. Grounded theory studies appropriate when there is a noticed absence of a theory in a particular situation. Ethnography is used when researcher investigated culture and social structure of a group. Case study research provides exploring bounded or multiple bounded cases over time, collection of data with multiple sources of information (e.g., observation, interviews, audiovisual material and documents and reports), reporting a case description and case-based themes (Creswell, 2007).
Nonparticipatory case study will be used in this study. Although I will collect data from preschool institutions as participant during one semester, I will not participate to any educational activities regarding developing curriculum, teaching, helping to children in their studies. I will not manipulate or control any variables during this study. I will interact with participants in their natural setting.
Case study design will be used in order to "gain an in-depth understanding of the situation and meaning for those who are involved" Merriam (1998, p.19) cited by YÄ±lmaz (2004). Merriam (1998) emphasized that researchers are interested in "process rather than outcomes, in context rather than a specific variable, in discovery rather than confirmation" (p.19). in case studies, cited by YÄ±lmaz (2004). I will focus on what preschool teachers' perceptions and applications are, rather than any educational outcomes of child centered education such as test score of cognitive development of children. In during this study, I will focus on determining issues as far as possible rather than proofing the pre-accepted ideas.
Therefore, case study research is the best research approach in order to investigate preschool teachers' perceptions and applications. For this reason, in this study, the researcher will use case study research approach.
The Study Case
Three preschool institutions will be used as the study site during this study. While one of these preschool institutions take places in a district which has high social economic status, the second one takes places in district which has middle social economic status and last institution' district has low social economic status. The school size of each institution will be defined according to number of student. Each institution's number of student will be at least 100. The number of student is important due to educational environment. Generally, comparing to small schools, larger ones have more facilities, which are more appropriate to child center. Three institutions' physical environments have to be similar to each other. Because in this study, I will focus on teachers perceptions and applications rather than other factors related with child centered education.
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In this study, firstly, the researcher will interview with teachers then will observe the same teachers in their educational setting during one academic semester. Participants' permission is important in order to interview with and observe them; therefore their permission will be asked before conducting the study. Moreover, after every participant accepts to participate to the study, interviews and observations can be done. Also the researcher will inform the participants about the aim of the study before starting to work with them. Additionally, if participants want to take information concerning the results of study, the results will be quoted to them. The main purpose of interviewing with preschool teachers and observing them is to gain in-depth information regarding teachers' perception and application on child centered education. I will use an interview and observation protocol. I will add them to study as an appendix.
The sample of this study consists of 9 preschool teachers who are working at three preschool institutions in Ankara. The number of this sample is 9, because researcher expects that making interview with 9 preschool teachers can provide enough information about preschool teachers' perceptions. Researcher will choose teachers who have at least 3 years work experience and have bachelor degree. These features are important when data will be interpreted. Thus, researcher can eliminate effects of work experience and degree of education on results of study. The schools will be selected according to their number of students and teachers, and then one school will be selected by purposeful sampling for each district. Then three teachers will be chosen from selected schools by using purposeful sampling method again. Three teachers will be selected for observation, because each teacher will be observed by the researcher during all day, every week, throughout one semester. Due to the lack of researcher's time, researcher can observe 3 preschool teachers. When researcher choose teachers, researcher will use "purposeful sampling", because if I choose more than one teachers, I can access to different perspectives, so this brings in-depth data.
Initially, I will choose three preschool institutions, and then I will contact all teachers in these institutions. I will inform them regarding myself and my study. Especially, I will emphasize the importance of study for the improvement of early childhood education area. Then, I will explain the necessary time and place for this study. Additionally, I will say that their decision regarding participant to study, positive or negative, will not affect their current or future relation with their institutions. After I will answer their questions, I will determine volunteer teachers. As a researcher, to avoid being intrusive, I will just make interview with teachers and observe them.
In qualitative research, researchers use three main techniques which are observation, interviews and analyzing documents or other forms of communication (content analysis) (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1996). The researcher will use interview and observation techniques in this study. For interviews and observations, participants will be chosen from volunteer preschool teachers.
Interviews provide information concerning people's thoughts and feelings. The types of interviews are structured, semi-structured, informal and retrospective (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1996). In this study, researcher will use semi-structured interview methods. Interview questions can be seen in Appendix A. The types of questions will consist of demographic (background) questions, knowledge questions, experience questions and opinion (values) questions. The researcher will prepare questions for interviews under the control of an expert and based on literature. Researcher will use interview in order to learn what the perceptions of preschool teachers toward the principle of child centered education are.
Interviews will be made between 12:30 pm and 14:30 pm, because, children are sleep in this period of time in preschool education. Therefore, teachers have free time in this period. Interviews will be made in a meeting room. If there is not a meeting room, the researcher will try to provide the best room for these interviews.
Observations can be made in four ways which differ in the degree of observer's participation. These are participant observation, non-participant observation, naturalistic observation and simulations (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1996). In this study, naturalistic observation will be used. In naturalistic observation, researcher observes and records what happens in the setting naturally rather than manipulating variables or controlling the activities of individuals in this setting. This kind of observation is suggested especially in observation of activities of very young children (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1996). Researchers will make observation in classes after interviews, because, one of the aims of this study is to investigate what applications of preschool teachers toward the principle of child centered education are. With the help of the observation, the researcher can access the real applications of teachers in the classroom settings, so at the end, the researcher can compare the data which is obtained from interviews with teachers and the date is taken from teacher's applications in the class.
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I will observe each teacher during all day, from the morning to evening. Researcher will observe the teachers' activities, behaviors, and applications in the classrooms. At the same time researcher will use observation protocol (Appendix B). The main purposes of field observations are compare preschool teachers' perceptions with their applications. During all observations, researcher will use the same observation protocol. In order to not miss any data, researcher will use videotape in all the field observations.
3.4. Data Analysis
The perspective of researcher is very important in a qualitative study. There is no researcher who does not have some biases. Sometimes, some details could be seen more clearly by different researchers. Therefore, qualitative researchers check their perceptions with some techniques to ensure that they are not being misinformed. These techniques enhance validity and reliability of study (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1996). In this study, to minimize the number of any kind of biases, the date will be double checked by one of the colleagues of the researcher. Also, the researcher will save every kind of data during the study, so this makes the double checked easier. Audiotapes will be used for recording. One or more participants of this study will review the accuracy of the research report. Observation will be made in a certain length of time.
3.5. Time Schedule
This study requires one semester. The pilot study will be made in the spring semester of 2009-2010 academic years. Then the main research will be made in the fall semester of 2010-2011 academic years. After data collection finished, analysis of this data and evaluation of the results are planned to be done in three months.