Addressing Bullying in Elementary and Middle School Classrooms

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Topic: Education
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Nature of Study

The study mainly focuses on teachers’ lack of knowledge on how to deal with the issue of bullying in the classroom in an effective manner; it also suggests some of the effective ways that they can rely on to address this problem. There will be a total of 20 participants who will be interviewed in this study.

The participants will comprise 10 teachers from elementary school, 5 teachers from middle school, and 5 principals from both elementary and middle schools. It is believed that the insights and lived experiences of 15 teachers and 5 principals will provide new knowledge in relation to the bullying issue.

The objective of this study will be to suggest ways that elementary and middle schools can employ in dealing with bullying cases in schools. Many researchers have proved that a qualitative research functions best in cases where they do not have a prior knowledge of the variables to be investigated (Klenke, 2008).

In addition, the literature available does not adequately give a proper insight into the bullying problem, especially in the elementary and middle schools. For that reason, the best way of collecting the information is for researchers to extract the required data from participants by questioning them over the problem matter (Johnson & Christensen, 2011).

The sampling criteria that will be used in this study are random and purposive sampling methods. Random sampling, which entails picking participants without considering any qualification, will be used to select the teachers who will participate in the study.

Purposive sampling, which requires participants to be selected based on some set criteria, will be applied in selecting the school principals. The two sampling methods will definitely result in the selection of participants who will be able to provide the researcher with the best information regarding this bullying issue (Merriam, 2009).

Even though random sampling will be used to select teachers who will participate in the study, there are criteria that will be set for them. Firstly, the participating teachers will be required to have taught for at least one year. Secondly, they will have served in the panel that is responsible for the formulation of rules guiding students’ behavior in their respective schools.

Lastly, they will have to be teachers from Duval County, Florida. On the other hand, the principals will have been administrators for not less than two years. Like teachers, the participating principals will also be from Duval County, Florida. The participants will be selected from West Jacksonville Elementary School and John E Ford Middle School.

A qualitative method, which is designed in phenomenological format, is preferred for this study since it is the only method that can assist the researchers to come up with the most effective methods that teachers can use to address the problem of bullying in schools (Rubin & Babbie, 2010).

The main objective of the study, which will be to collect qualitative data through interviewing the participants and presenting the analyzed findings and proposals to the school administrators for action, will be conducted by gathering lived experiences of teachers and principals concerning the issue of bullying.

Due to the kind of information required for this research, a qualitative phenomenological study is preferred over other types of qualitative designs.

A qualitative phenomenological study is the only design, which allows the researchers to investigate aspects such as the interference of bullying on daily instruction, the class time used in resolving bullying issues in classroom, the common types of bullying that occur in classrooms, the effect of bullying on students’ performance, the effects of bullying on individual student progress, and the measures put in place to address bullying in classroom (Rubin & Babbie, 2010).

Assumptions, Scope, Limitations, and Delimitations of the Study

Assumptions

This qualitative phenomenological study will be carried out with three assumptions in mind. Firstly, since there is no way of assessing the honesty of the participants, it is assumed that they will be willing and ready to demonstrate the highest degree of frankness, sincerity and commitment in their responses (Litosseliti, 2009).

Secondly, it is assumed that the information collected will reflect on the various aspects of the lived experiences of the participants. Thirdly, it is assumed that the purpose of the study, which is to find ways of dealing with bullying problems in schools, will be achieved.

Scope

The scope of the study is to examine the lived experiences of the participants in relation to the effects of bullying using West Jacksonville Elementary and John E Ford Middle schools.

To establish the main scope, the study will investigate relevant factors such as the effect of bullying on daily instruction and student performance, types of bullying that occur in classrooms, measures that can be put in place to deal with the issue, and how the teachers and school heads can support victims of this vice among other aspects.

Limitations

Even though the study will be conducted in a way that will probably give data of very high quality, there are some aspects that cannot be avoided.

Some of the limitations that have been foreseen and which are common with qualitative studies include: the varied empirical levels possessed by each participant, which may adversely affect the data collection process, and the readiness and willingness of the participants, which could be a problem if they will not be ready to contribute freely.

Another possible limitation will be the small sample size of the participants that has been set for the interview. It would be difficult to use the information collected from the small sample size to come up with a comprehensive solution (Edwards & Skinner, 2012).

Delimitations

There are a number of delimitations that have been set to guide this study. The researchers in this study will confine themselves to only the question that is relevant to the scope of the study, which is to examine the aspect of bullying in schools. The researcher will interview only the 20 participants that have been set for the interview. Lastly, the research will be a qualitative study with a phenomenological design.

Research Method and Design Appropriateness

Research Method

The method that will be used to collect data in this study is qualitative research. This type of research method mainly entails exploring and observing social issues, understanding situations and suggesting the most effective remedies (Hartas, 2009). A qualitative research is a common phenomenon at work places, learning institutions and in other fields of study.

A qualitative research method is most appropriate for the collection of data in studies that do not involve figures and numbers. The research method is also appropriate in examining areas in which just a few or no studies have been conducted. The method is equally easier to work with as it does not require any scientific skills and knowledge (Flick, 2009).

A qualitative research that involves the examination of lived experiences of the participants in relation to their knowledge of bullying in schools is quite appropriate for this study.

The focus of the study mainly involves observing and making inquiries about bullying, which is a common social aspect in the lives of students at elementary and middle schools. There two important aspects that make a qualitative method the most suitable approach to this study: the social nature of the scope of the study and the social set up.

The research method will be appropriate for the study since it does not require any scientific skills and applications. The study will only require an examination of social aspects such as types of bullying and remedies used to stop it. The responses to such inquiries will not be required to be in figures in any way, but just in words and statements.

It is recommended that a qualitative research method be used in studies in which the researcher cannot transform the data collected into numbers.

A qualitative research method is also appropriate for this study since very few studies have been conducted on the issue of bullying in these schools; on the other hand, there are only few or no cases of bullying in the higher learning institutions (Alan, 2012).

The data collected in the study will be of great importance to institutions that also suffer from the same social problem. The recommendations, which will be made from the study, will help many schools overcome this problem.

Use of a quantitative approach, which involves the use, analysis and interpretation of scientific figures, would not be appropriate for this study. A quantitative method also involves comparing different groups of data collected. A quantitative method involves a precise measurement of variables that must be known to the researcher.

It also includes testing of hypotheses, which have to be formulated before the commencement of the data collection (Polonsky & Waller, 2011). None of these aspects will form part of the study and so a quantitative approach cannot be applied to it.

Research Design

For this research, the most appropriate research design will be the phenomenological design. The phenomenological design is used for studies that are intended to examine shared experiences and commonalities on a social issue among individuals, mostly professionals, in a group.

The phenomenological design is appropriate for this research since individuals who will be participating in the interviews are professionals and the subject matter is social in nature (Cresswell, 2013). The focal point of the study will be to examine the shared experiences of these individuals that concern bullying in the schools where they teach.

Another reason that makes the phenomenological design the most appropriate qualitative design for this study is the researchers will have a prior knowledge of the variables that will be involved in the study.

Secondly, the study will have a broad focus, which will include examining the lived experiences of the participants on the subject matter and finding ways of controlling the problem matter. Thirdly, the study will be using a small sample size, which will consist of only 20 participants. Lastly, the information will be exclusively gathered in speech form (Merriam, 2009).

Apart from the phenomenological design, there are other forms of qualitative designs. These other ones include narrative, case study research, ethnographic, and ground theory (Allen & Babbie, 2010). However, all these other forms do not seem to suit the nature of the study that will be carried out.

For instance, an ethnographic design is meant for studies that are intended to develop a portrait of people’s culture, behavior and beliefs, but not their lived experiences regarding an issue. On the other hand, the grounded theory is suitable for studies that are intended to give explanations regarding actions, processes and interactions among individuals, but not lived experiences, which is the scope of the study to be carried out (Cresswell, 2013).

Population, Sampling, and Data Collection and Rationale

Population

The main focus of this study is to examine the lived experiences of the elementary and middle school teachers and principals on the issue of bullying in their respective institutions. The purpose of the research is to generate the most effective ways that can be used to minimize or to completely eradicate the bullying problem from schools.

For that reason, the target population comprises of teachers and principals who teach and head these schools respectively. Most teachers have experienced bullying in their classrooms and are best placed to give appropriate responses during the interviews that will be conducted in this study.

The target population is set to come from teachers working in Duval County in Florida State. The decision to pick the target participants from this county is based on the fact that this location records the highest number of bullying cases.

It is assumed that the information extracted from the participants will be of great value and will probably reflect on the real situation on the ground. Such information can help come up with workable solutions that can see bullying in schools halted or controlled.

Sampling

Sampling will be done through the random and purposive procedures. The teachers who are to participate in the interview will be selected through a random sample. However, since the resources and time allocated for this study are limited, the teachers will be picked only from two schools. These schools are West Jacksonville Elementary and John E Ford Middle.

Although the selection of the teachers will be randomly done, the target group from which they will be selected will consist of instructors who have had at least one year experience in schooling. In the case of principals, a purposive sampling will be used. The principals forming the sample will have served as administrators for a period not less than two years.

It is assumed that for the study, a sample size of 20 teachers and principals is adequate and sufficient in achieving the focus and the purpose of the study (Yin, 2011). The twenty participants will be constituted by 5 principals from the two schools, 10 teachers from West Jacksonville Elementary and 5 teachers from John E Ford Middle.

Since it is known that cases of bullying are more common in elementary schools than in the middle ones, the highest number of participants will come from the elementary school.

Data Collection Procedures and Rationale

The possible instruments for data collection during this research may include audio-visual materials, documents, direct observations, note taking, and interviews; these are the most common tools that are used in a qualitative research (Babbie, 2010).

However, for a phenomenological qualitative research, an interview is the most appropriate data collection tool (Alder & Clark, 2011). Since this study is a phenomenological qualitative study, interviews will be preferred.

The interviews will comprise a set of questions that are relevant to the topic of research. The participants will then be required to answer each of the questions that will be formulated by the researcher. Some of the questions which will appear in the interview include:

  1. In your opinion, how does bullying affect student performance and learning?
  2. What types of bullying occur in your classroom?
  3. How often do you think behaviors related to bullying interfere with daily instruction?
  4. How does your school policy work toward decreasing student bullying?
  5. What is the process for handling student complaints regarding bullying?
  6. How do administrators support students who present a complaint regarding bullying?

The questions will be administered to the participants on a face-to-face interview and their responses will be noted down. None of the questions will be closed-ended as the study seeks to determine the most effective ways of dealing with bullying in schools.

Although closed-ended questions are known to give the most accurate answers, they are at times suggestive and the responses for such questions may not reflect the situation on the ground (Denscombe, 2010).

The researcher will ensure that a favorable environment is created during the interview to encourage the participants to talk freely. Open-ended questions require that the researcher creates an environment in which the participants will be willing to talk (Wheeler & Holloway, 2010).

The researcher of the study will also be required to keenly observe the participants to see if the responses they give reflect their lived experiences. The data collected will then be compiled and simple comparisons done on the responses of the participants to see any similarity before analysis commences.

Validity and Reliability

The validity and reliability of a phenomenological study are very important aspects in a qualitative research since it does not apply any scientific skills (Gratton & Jones, 2010). The internal validity of a qualitative study is mainly controlled by the variables that the researcher seeks to include in the data collection process.

On the other hand, eternal validity is determined by other studies conducted before the current one. It is determined by making a close comparison of the findings of the current study to those of previous studies (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009).

Validity in the current study will be assessed by merely comparing the data obtained from the two groups of the participants: teachers and the principals. The responses given by the teachers from the elementary school will be compared to determine the significance of bullying in elementary schools.

The information collected from the five participants from the middle school will also be studied and closely compared to verify the intensity of bullying in elementary school. The data collected from the principals will assist in determining what can be done to control bullying and the validity of such data will be assessed by comparing the information given by different school heads.

The reliability of the data collected from the current study will be determined by comparing its findings to those of other previous studies. Although, not many studies have been conducted on this subject matter, the few that exist will help in doing the comparison. The researcher will ensure that his findings and recommendations on how to address bullying in elementary and middle schools conform to what other studies suggest.

Data Analysis

A qualitative data is generated by open ended questions (Boeije, 2009; Yin, 2011). The two broad questions that have been designed for this study include: what is the extent of bullying in elementary and middle school classrooms, how do teachers and administrators currently deal with bullying in the classroom, and what training and administrative support is needed to decease bullying in the classroom?

The first question is intended to generate information regarding the kinds and effects of bullying in schools. The first question will also help to determine the behavior of victims of bullying, their performance in class and the amount of classroom time that is spent in addressing issues of bullying.

The second question will assist in generating the most effective ways that schools can put in place to eradicate bullying problem. The information gathered from the question will also assist in finding the best ways in which teachers and school administrators should handle the bullies and their victims.

The findings from the study will then be compiled and recommendations generated. The recommendations will outline the ways through which schools can eradicate bullying and how the school principals should to handle the bully students and their victims. The findings of this proposed study will be of great benefit to the wellbeing of elementary and middle schools.

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