This chapter describes the research methodology, which includes a description of qualitative methodology, a brief description of the participants and setting in the study, methods for data gathering, the data analysis process, the style of presentation of findings and ethical issues involved in this study. Qualitative methodology was used for this study. Methods for collecting data were individual interviews and focus group discussion.
Bogdan & Biklen (1998) recognise qualitative research as an umbrella term which encompasses several research strategies that have the following characteristics:
• The data collected is descriptive and collected through sustained contact with people in their own settings.
• The research questions are framed to investigate complex phenomena and are concerned with understanding behaviour from the participants’ perspectives.
• The researchers are often concerned with the process, such as how situations have developed rather than just the final outcome.
• Theories are developed constructively through an inductive analysis of data.
To investigate the perceptions and practices of leadership of head teachers in private secondary schools in Bangladesh, a qualitative research methodology is appropriate. In a qualitative study researchers proceed as if they know very little about the people. Although I have a general idea of how head teachers work, I put aside my previous assumptions as I gathered and analysed data for this study. I collected data through individual semi-structured interviews and a focus group interview with all four participants.
Qualitative research is descriptive and therefore suited to the current study because it has the potential to provide rich data which is context specific and allows the uniqueness of each head teacher’s leadership to be captured (Bogdan and Biklen, 1998). The main purpose of qualitative research is to provide an in-depth narration and understanding of the human experience. It is about the day to day experience of what is happening (Lichtman, 2010).
This study is inductive, which is one of the important characteristics of qualitative methodology. There was no hypothesis to prove or disprove. According to Bogdan and Biklen (1998), “The process of data analysis is like a funnel: Things are open at the beginning and more directed and specific at the bottom” (p.11). I gathered and analysed the data, and formed conclusions through an inductive approach, rather than based on my previous perceptions.
Participants and setting
This research was conducted with head teachers in four secondary schools, selected from within an administrative district, Sirajganj. Two schools were from rural areas and two from urban areas. In Bangladesh there is a considerable difference between the quality of education in rural and urban schools. Most of the urban schools have qualified and trained teaching staff, good physical infrastructure, disciplined students and active involvement by parents. On the other hand, rural schools do not have sufficient skilled teaching staff, enough physical facilities or active parental involvement. Rural schools often have insufficient quality physical facilities, such as well equipped classrooms, toilet facilities, playgrounds and laboratories and so attract fewer prospective students. When they have enough money to spend on their children’s education parents like to migrate to the urban areas. In general, schools in the cities and towns are more vibrant than the rural schools. Therefore, in this study, it was important to collect data from both rural and urban areas to encompass these differences. Below, is a brief description of the four participants in this study. To help ensure anonymity, pseudonyms have been used for the participants.
Rahim is the head teacher of Sunflower Girls’ High School, an urban school with 550 students. He began his career as a high school teacher. In 1985 he joined his present school as assistant teacher. He was promoted to assistant head teacher at the end of 1993 in the same school. He was appointed as a head teacher of Sunflower High School in 2010. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. He used to teach mathematics, physics and chemistry in the school. He is 48 years old.
Hasan is the head teacher of Bright Sun High School, a rural school with approximately 800 students. This school is a co-education school. Hasan began his teaching career in 1966 as an assistant teacher in another rural school. He worked as an assistant head teacher in the same school for twelve years. He was appointed as the head teacher of his present school in 1978. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Education from a government Teachers’ Training College. He used to teach English in the school. He is 66 years old.
Karim is the head teacher of New Sun Girls’ High School, which is a rural school with 1500 students. He started his career as a teacher in 1980 in the same school. He has a Bachelor of Commerce, and also completed a Bachelor of Education from the Bangladesh Open University (1985-87). He was appointed as acting head teacher in this school in 1996 after the death of the last head teacher. In 1997 he was appointed as the head teacher. New Sun Girls’ High School has 13 regular teachers and five casual teachers. The regular teachers receive their salary from the government while the casual teachers are paid from the school fund.
Shahid is the head teacher of Milestone High School, an urban school with 600 students. It has 11 full time teachers. This is a very old school with tradition and historical background. Shahid is proud of his school for its name and fame in the area. Shahid started his career as a teacher 1973 in the same school. He has a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Education degree from government Teachers’ Training College. He used to teach mathematics, chemistry and biology in the school. He received a promotion as assistant head teacher in 1997 and was appointed as a head teacher in 2004.
SHEIKH MOHAMMAD ALI: Assistant Professor in Education, Govt. Teachers’ Training College, Rangpur, Bangladesh.