School based decision making at a time of rapid change - Denis Hayes
Note the range of issues that were considered when organising this case study:
Motivation for carrying out the study.
The preparatory work needed before the study can commence.
Gaining agreement from the staff of the institution.
The methodology employed.
Writing up the study.
Feedback to participants.
Key issues arising from the research.
Motivation for the research
the speed of externally imposed change
the contact with a school head who espoused SBDM
my own need to keep abreast of the changes
reading around the subject
informal approach to the head teacher
development of an ethics protocol (confidentiality)
formal approach to the head by myself and to the chair of governors by the director of studies
Gaining agreement from the staff
going in to school to explain the proposal
waiting for a response from staff
agreeing an ethics protocol (ensuring confidentiality)
attendance at regular meetings (field diary, using the right hand page for notes about what was said and agreed, left hand for my reflections upon the process)
allowing time for my presence in school to become unremarkable
informal chats with individuals and small groups of staff
after about a term, the start of interviews with each teacher (interview questions based initially on literature, later depended more heavily on issues arising from field-work)
after two terms, interviews with the head began, about once per half-term
active data collection continued for over two years
began immediately with commentaries on what I had seen and observed
some anxieties over whether I was misinterpreting events and comments
semi-structuring my interviews to allow the respondents to feel some ownership of the interview
interim feedback to the head using a management audit approach which allowed me to maintain my research status
development of tentative hypotheses throughout the time, adjusting and modifying as new insights were available
careful analysis of interviews and field notes to erect categories and list statements, etc under these categories
erection of typologies to explain data as my ideas became clearer
second interviews to confirm my impressions and clarify points
construction of explanatory models and argument about generalisability
final write-up using 'right of reply' material as appropriate and acknowledging my own part as researcher, links with previous work in the field, limitations of the research, the process and procedures associated with the research, etc.
summary for governors and offer to attend a meeting to further clarify points
summary given verbally to staff
several sessions with the head to discuss the implications of findings
thorough preparatory time is not wasted
it is difficult to maintain the balance between openness and breach of confidentiality
the write-up needs to be of high quality: clear, well organised and taking nothing for the granted (such that if someone wished to replicate your study in a different context, they would be sufficiently well informed to be able to do so... reliability )
diagrams are most useful for organising one's own thinking
evidence has to be weighed carefully and a full picture has to be offered to the reader such that s/he is able to comprehend the basis on which conclusions are drawn (for instance, this may mean including whole interview transcripts or large parts of them from which your selected extracts are drawn...validity ).
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