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In this chapter, we will talk about the preliminaries of the research. In the first instance it will be about the rationales, then the background of the study will be set for the reader who will get a brief insight of the present situation of the decision making process in the school-based management. The problem statement, as well as the aims of the study will be presented. In this part we will also get to know some of the research questions and the significance of the research, together with an explanation of some key terms of the research title will be given. Some parameters such as the format and the time frame of the study will also be stated.
1.1 The rationale of this research
According to MasterPaper.com, the rationale of a study contains a statement which performs two main functions:
It describes a situation within which the proposed project is located; and
It suggests the reason behind carrying out such a project.
A third purpose can be to justify the methods a researcher intends to use for solving his/her research problem. The rationale occupies an important role in a research project. Firstly it is important for a researcher to write a rationale while submitting his/her research proposal so as to get advice and approval for the research project. In fact it is only after getting the approval from the supervisors that a researcher can begin his/her research work. Moreover the rationale plays also a role when the researcher writes the ultimate version of his/her study as it enables readers to understand how far the project has contributed to knowledge or to practice that his/her work represents
For instance in the case of my study, one of my rationales will be in a school-based management the Principal/Rector is the first key actor. However, the rector alone cannot change everything; teachers and external partners are important stakeholders. Nevertheless with the fast evolution of the society there has been a significant change in the roles and responsibilities of students in colleges. So the purpose of this research is to study the behaviour of rectors towards student leadership, that is, whether rectors consider and encourage student representatives to be an integral part of the decision making process of their colleges.
1.2 Background of the study.
The background of the study provides readers with essentials background information of the relationship between the specific topic of the research and the general area of study. This aspect helps to clarify the area of concern or what needs justify the research. Any information that helps the evaluator to understand the problem can be included. Here we can also indicate why we believe that it is, in fact, a researchable problem. For this research, as the background of the study we can talk about the decision making process in the school based management in Mauritian Sector and how this process can be improved if rectors promote student leadership.
1.3 Aims of the study
The aim of the study is:
To know how decision making process is being done in the school-based management;
To show the importance of using the participative leadership style in schools;
To consider distribution of leadership not only to the usual policy makers but also to students;
To know how does the Rector of a specific BEC college promote student leadership in the management of the school.
1.4 Research questions
This research will try to answer to following questions:
What is the student leadership?
What can be the contribution of student leadership in a school-based management?
How far effective can be the contribution of student leadership in a school-based management?
How far can rectors promote student leadership in school-based management?
1.5 Significance of the study
The significance of a study is a subpart in which the researcher writes about the benefits of doing the proposed research and the advantages that can be gained by carrying out the study. As far as this research is concerned, we can talk about for example adopting a new approach in connection with the decision making process rather than to continue using the traditional way of leading if they are to obtain better results.
1.5 Explanation of key terms
Some of the key terms of the Research title which need to be defined and explained right from the start of the study are:
Investigation: A detailed inquiry or systematic examination. (free online dictionary)
Rectors: the head of certain universities, colleges, and schools. (Online Oxford
Student: One who is enrolled or attends classes at a school, college, or university.
(free online dictionary)
Leadership: organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal (Wikipedia)
Management: the act of the conducting or supervising (Online Merriam-Webster)
1.6 Format of the study
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Literature Review
Chapter 3 - Research Methodology
Chapter 4 - Analysis of data
Chapter 5 - Conclusion and recommendation
So in this chapter we have had a look at the different parameters of this research work such as the rationale, the background and the aims of the study. We also had an overview of the different research questions, the significance of the study, the explanation of the key terms and finally the format of the research.
2 Literature Review
After having put forward in the previous chapter the different delimitations, in this part of the research I will give a critical account of what has been published by accredited scholars and researchers on my topic. I must be able to convey to the reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on my topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. While writing a literature review I must be able to:
make a critical appraisal of the different works related to my area on interest;
identify areas of controversy in the literature;
show relationships between different works;
show how it relates to my own work.
2.1 What is literature review?
2.1.1 Theories on literature review
According to University Library, a literature review is not a book review, it is instead "a survey of articles, books, and other sources, such as dissertations, conference proceedings, etc, relevant to a particular issue, area of research or theory, providing a description, summary and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic." In this definition we can note that it begins by saying what we should not do. It is important for someone to know this aspect so as to avoid confusion because often we tend to think that the best way of doing literature review is to look for and read books which has treated the subject and reproduce what the author has already said. But in reality we must examine the resources (articles, books, journals, etc) in connection to our subject, to summarise them and to analyse them critically. For instance in the context of our study I will have to search for articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings which is related to school based management and school leadership. The next step will be to summarise them and to make a critical analysis of the different theories which have already been in this context.
The mathematician, Lois E. Reed, in his research paper, Performing a literature review, "the literature search is not just one distinct step in a research task. It is both a step and an iterative feedback loop. Defining an unsolved problem determines what kind of literature search is appropriate, and performing a literature search helps define an unsolved problem." Here we can note that this is a very important step which must be carried out before beginning our research in order to know what has already been tested and written about, also are the theories tested valid or not and finally to avoid a repetition of what has already been discovered. In connection to our study doing a literature search will help us to define what is a school based management, what is student leadership and also how rectors should promote this type of leadership in order to find new ways to run their colleges smoothly.
Another theorist, Cooper, H. M. (1988), mentioned that "... a literature review uses as its database reports of primary or original scholarship. The primary reports used in the literature may be verbal, but in the vast majority of cases reports are written documents." In the two above-mentioned definitions it has been emphasised that literature review is an important step before beginning our research work during which the researcher must analyse theories which has already been developed but according to Cooper before doing the analysis the authenticity of the data must be verified and then reviewed. In the case of this research work, before doing the analysis of the different theories concerning the school based management school and student leadership, we must verify the primary sources of the theories to test their validity and reliability.
2.1.2 Definition of literature review
Before defining the literature review, let us have a look at what a researcher must not do. First of all we do not argue for the pros and cons like in an argumentative essay. Also we must not only list the sources one by one. Finally a literature review is organised around ideas, not the sources themselves as an annotated bibliography would be organised. Instead of providing a theoretical definition of literature review let us now explain what a researcher must do to write it. First of all the researcher must make a critical and evaluative account of what has already been written on his topic. He needs to sum up, synthesise and analyse others point of view on the chosen topic. Then the researcher describes and analyse the knowledge that already exist and the gaps which cropped up in the research related to the topic. He/she must also explain the connection between his/her own study and the research which has been formerly done. Finally a literature review must disclose things which are similar or different, the consistencies and inconsistencies and controversies in the previous work. The conclusion of a literature review must re-focus the lenses of the researcher, and bring together the different views of different theorists into one main idea centered on the topic. For example, after having investigated the different theorists on leadership and management, now we have to bring the argument around student leadership in school based management.
2.2 Importance of literature review
The study and search of literature is a very important aspect while conducting a research. In fact before we can create a new knowledge, we must know the current state of knowledge about our research subject. Researchers need to make full use of knowledge and insights of others and draw on elements of prior research as in literature review the aim is to learn as much as we can from the efforts and work of others which has been published. According to Chitu Okoli and Kira Schabram (2010) a literature review "include providing a theoretical background for subsequent research; learning the breadth of research on a topic of interest; or answering practical questions by understanding what existing research has to say on the matter."
According to Hart (1998), the literature review consists of the following purposes:
Distinguishing what has been done from what needs to be done;
Discovering important variables relevant to the topic;
Synthesising and gaining a new perspective;
Identifying relationships between ideas and practice;
Establishing the context of the topic or problem;
Rationalising the significance of the problem;
Enhancing and acquiring the subject vocabulary;
Understanding the structure of the subject;
Relating ideas and theory to applications;
Identifying methodologies and techniques that have been used;
Placing the research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments.
For instance, in the case of our study I will be doing a literature review on management, administration, leadership, the school culture, the school management, distributed leadership, student leadership, etc An example of literature review about school management is:
The one responsible for managing all these resources is the principal or the head-master. Here is a list of his expected duties: find the best and cheapest way to achieve the objectives, careful planning, organization of human resources and materials, using the physical resources in the best way, controlling and monitoring all the different school activities, decision-making and the evaluation of the progress and achievements. In short, "school management means the use of people and other resources to accomplish the objectives of the school." a definition of Kutz and Boone (1984), quoted by M.&N. Dash(2008).
3 Research methodology and research methods
In the previous chapter we had a look at the different aspects of the literature review, in this part the researcher will be focussing on the research methodology and the research methods.
Before defining the research methodology and methods it is important to know what research is. Bassey (1999:38) cited in the book of Ann Briggs and Marianne Coleman that "research is systematic, critical and self-critical enquiry which aims to contribute towards the advancement of knowledge and wisdom." In this definition we have some keywords which need to be explained in order to clearly understand the meaning of research. The first word is "systematic" which means that a research must be done in an orderly and structured way. We have also "critical and self-critical" which implies that the study must be done in such a way that others can scrutinise, judge and criticise. Finally a research must be done with the main objective of adding knowledge to what has already been discovered.
3.2 Research methodology
In accordance with M.S.Sridhar (2008) reaearch methodology is "a science of studying how research is done scientifically in order to systematically solve the research problem by logically adopting various steps. It helps to understand not only the product of scientific inquiry but the product itself. Finally it aims to describe and analyse methods, throw light on their limitations and resources." In this definition we can say that research methodology is a way to methodically solve the research problem. It may be understood as an art of studying how research is done scientifically. In it we study a variety of steps that are generally used by a researcher in studying his research problem along with the reason behind them.
3.2.1 Types of methodologies
There are three main type of methodologies namely, qualitative research, quantitative research and the mixed methods
22.214.171.124 Qualitative research
Qualitative research is the collection of information through observations, interviews and by analysing documents and summarising the conclusion primarily through narrative or verbal means. Examples of qualitative research methodologies are case study, ethnographic study, grounded theory, phenomenological study, etc
126.96.36.199 Quantitative research
As for quantitative research, it is an approach which summarises results obtained numerically. In fact this type tries to measure the problem and identify how prevailing it is by looking for projectable results to a larger population. Examples of quantitative research methodologies are survey research, experimental research, correlational research, casual-comparative research, etc.
188.8.131.52 Mixed methods
As it name implies, the mixed methods gathers both qualitative and quantitative information as researchers believe that by combining both types, the results which will be obtained will be more accurate and more complete. Examples of mixed-methods research methodologies are action research, program evaluation, etc.
3.1.2 My research methodology
For this research project, the methodology which I have chosen is the case study. The case study is one of the numerous ways which can be used to conduct a research. According to Bill Gillham (2000) "a case study is one which investigates an individual, a group, an institution, a community or even multiple cases in order to answer specific research questions and which seeks a range of different kind of evidence (...) to get the best possible answers to the research questions." In this definition we can note that first of all this method consist of investigating, which is a relevant method to carry out this research as the title of this study is about an investigation about the promotion of student leadership by rectors. Also Gillham talked about the investigation which can be done in an institution and in our case it will be done in an educational institution in order to find the most suitable answers to our research questions.
3.3 Research methods
At this stage of this work it is crucial to point out the difference between research methodology and research methods. As we have seen in the previous part, research methodology is the way the researcher opts to use to solve the research problem, either he choose to do a case study, an action research, etc, while research method is the tools the researcher uses to collect data for his/her research methodology. Among the research methods we have non-participant direct observation, participant observation, questionnaires, interviews, surveys, etc. As far as this research work is concerned, the research methods that I will be using are observation, questionnaires and interviews.
Observation is mostly used when the object of study is the human subject in action. Observation is directed by a specific purpose, systematic, carefully focused and thoroughly recorded. However, it must be subject to the usual checks for accuracy, validity and reliability.
The observer must know just what to look for, being able to distinguish between the significant aspects and those that have little or no importance to the investigation.
In order to gain objectivity, accurate methods of measuring and recording are used, like checklist or scorecard. Possible observations are recorded through instruments like audio and video recorders and motion picture camera. Reliability and validity of observation is maintained when observation is made at regular intervals. In the context of my research project, observation is important since this type of data collection is simple and cheap, we can get actual information and we can get a deeper understanding of processes which surveys cannot obtain.
Questionnaires are administered to groups of individuals. It has some advantages like offering the opportunity to establish rapport and to explain the purpose of the study to respondents. Mailed questionnaires are mostly used because it saves time and money to travel. There are two types of questionnaires: the closed form and the open form. The closed form takes little time, is objective, and is easy to tabulate and analyse. The closed form consists of yes/no, a short response and checking an item from a list. In the open form, the respondent is asked to answer in his own words. This research method is relevant to this methodology as they represent permanent records of the research. They also provide accurate information about the respondents (age, sex, occupation, etc). Questionnaires also allow respondents time to reflect on their responses carefully without hindrance from, for example, an interviewer. There is also uniformity as every person gets the same set of questions and with this we can get standardized answers.
The interview is somewhat an oral questionnaire. The respondent provides the needed information verbally in a face-to-face relationship. The respondent is able to provide confidential information if a good rapport is developed between interviewer and interviewee. Furthermore, it is important to check the truthfulness of the responses by seeking the same information in several ways at various stages of the interview. Thus, an interview must be carefully prepared. Recording the interview on tape is convenient and inexpensive. As far as interviews are concerned, this research method is relevant as while doing interviews we will be able to provide the respondents with information about our self, our experiences, our abilities and objectives. Also we can seek more information about an aspect based on the response of the respondent. The fact that the researcher is in front of the respondent, this will give the former the possibility to help the interviewee in understanding the eligibility of the requirements.
3.4 Ensuring validity:
Triangulation signifies comparing several sources of evidence in order to determine the accuracy of information. It involves the use of more than two methods in order to double check results It is basically a means of cross-checking data to determine its validity. Multiple observers, theories and methods are used in order to overcome the intrinsic biases.
3.4.2 Function of triangulation
Triangulation is feasible and a good way to obtain the benefits of both qualitative and quantitative methods which can indeed raise credibility of scientific knowledge. For this study we will have to have recourse to triangulation as it will help us to recognise valid and reliable findings. Also we will be able to compare different findings and to spot valid data sources and methods.
3.5 Sample questions
Students at my school are encouraged to discuss and help one another solve problems.
Student leaders play an vital role in the school in improving the achievement of students.
The Rector provides an arrangement which encourages student representatives to participate in the school management.
What is the vision of your school? And what vision do you want to achieve?
As a school leader, how do you offer trend and support to accomplish the school vision?
Do you think that by distributing leadership among students will help your school to achieve its vision? How?
3.6 Ethical issues
According to Angelica Orb, Laurel Eisenhauer, Dianne Wynaden (2000; 33:1, 93) while conducting a research work it is important to respect some ethical issues so as not "creates tension between the aims of research to make generalizations for the good of others, and the rights of participants to maintain privacy." So in order not find our self in an embarrassing situation, we as a researcher need to consider some ethical issues such as ask permission, to be honest, to be open, to respect confidentiality, etc.
4 Research analysis
After presenting the research methodology and research methods of this study, we will now concentrate on data analysis. The fact that for this research project, the research methodology chosen is a case study, we will focus our self on the analysis of qualitative data.
4.1 What is data analysis?
Undoubtedly, the analysis of data is the most difficult and strange of all of the phases of a qualitative research project. According to Rob Watling and Veronica James,in the book Research Methods in Educational Leadership and Management, "analysis is the elusive process by which the researcher hopes to turn raw data into nuggets of pure gold." In this definition we can say that the main aspect is that data analysis is a very complicated process but nevertheless it is a crucial part of a research project as it is only after completing this part that a researcher can prove that his/her hypotheses are right or wrong. In fact before making data analysis all the hypotheses of the researcher are raw data, it is only after analysing all the data that the raw data will be transformed into factual information. Another definition is that data analysis is a body of methods that help to describe facts, detect patterns, develop explanations, and test hypotheses. (Macintosh HD:DA:DA XI: Volume I:006 Intro) It is used in all of the sciences. It is used in business, in administration, and in policy. According to this definition, data analysis has different functions. It consists of various techniques which are used to explain information in relation to our research, to identify correlations between variables, (if ever they exist), to explain and to assess the hypotheses of the researcher. Also it is used in various fields. Data analysis can be explained a follows:
There are numerous steps which can be followed in order to be able to analyse data. Among them there are the following:
To collect, to prepare and to organise the data methodically and meticulously.
To records, review and explore the data collected.
To code the data into categories
To construct descriptions of people, places and activities
To concentrate on responding to research questions
To build themes and test hypotheses
To report and to interpret the data.
4.2 Importance of data analysis
As suggested earlier, data analysis is a very important part to work on while carrying a research project. In fact data analysis assists researchers to a great extent in their search for success. Steve Johnson (2011) states that "data analysis helps in structuring the findings from different sources of data collection. It is helpful in breaking macro-problem into micro-parts. This process acts as a filter when it comes to acquiring meaningful insights out of huge data-set." According to this definition we can say that simply collecting data will not help the researcher greatly. The data collected has to be analysed in order to draw any conclusion about the research question. And this is why we say that analysing data is a fundamental process which helps the researcher to generate answers to his/her research questions. Johnson also argued that "data analysis helps in keeping human bias away from research conclusion with the help of proper statistical treatment." In fact we can say that as long as data has not been analysed properly there will always be risks of biasness of a research project and the interpretation of may even not be totally reliable.
As far as this study is concerned after having gathered data concerning the promotion of student leadership in a school based management through observations, questionnaires and interviews, I will carry out a primary analysis of the data collected, after which I will draft a report based on primary findings which will lead to points to ponder. Then I will carry out a secondary analysis of the data and finally I will make the final interpretation concerning the promotion of student leadership in the school based management.
Among the problems we might come across while analysing data are firstly in a case study, fewer people are studied due to the fact that collection of qualitative data is generally more time consuming. Also it is less easy to generalize in a case study as the sample is few. It is difficult to make systematic comparisons: for example, if people give widely differing responses that are highly subjective. Finally the result of analysis is somewhat dependent on skills of the researcher particularly in the case of conducting interviews, focus groups and observation.
5 Conclusion and recommendations
After considering the data analysis part, as a researcher, we are now able to conclude our study as well as making recommendations.
5.1 Importance of conclusion
To conclude a research project is as important as writing up the introduction. In fact it makes our work complete and leaves the final impression on our reader. Whatever research methodology a researcher is using, the concluding part is vital and determines the success or failure of the study. In fact if a excellent research work is not well concluded, the results may not be taken seriously. While writing conclusion there are a number of aspects which need to be included, such as, summarise of the content, restate the aims, summarise the findings, suggest implications, state the significance of the findings, state the limitation of the study, etc.
The last part of a research work includes recommendations. These can be of two types:
recommendations for further study, or
recommendations for change.
Each recommendation should trace directly to a conclusion. According to Ming Tham (2001) "the Recommendations section is important. Research often exposes further difficulties and introduces more questions." As a researcher, there is a time limit to our study, so it is not likely that our work would have brought answers to all the questions associated with the research. Consequently, we will be expected to make suggestions about how our work can be ameliorated and, according to our findings, whether there are areas that are worthy for additional analysis. Our writings in this section will show whether we have a solid appreciation of our work, and whether we have given enough consideration to its implications, not only within the narrow boundaries of the research topic, but to associated fields. For example taking consideration our research topic, we can make recommendation for relation of the student culture and the effectiveness of student leadership in the management of the school, that is, before promoting student leadership in a school based management, the rector must be sure that it would not provoke a completely opposite result that were expected.