Type of Study
The type of study undertaken will be a qualitative study. This is because the study is aimed at finding out the major classroom-based and discipline-related factors that contribute to the high rates of detention and suspension at Southern Aroostook High School. In addition, the study will enable the researcher to have a deeper understanding of the socio-economic factors such as household income, poverty and family structure that contribute to this dire situation. These questions can only be answered through an in-depth interaction with students and teachers so as to get their different points of view.
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The target population for this study consists of all the students and teachers of Southern Aroostook High School.
Both purposive and random sampling techniques will be used in this study. A small purposive sample of twenty students from every academic level or grade will be selected from the target population so as to facilitate in-depth interviews. The student participants will be selected based on their suspension and detention experiences at the school. Ten students who have either been detained or suspended will compose half of the student participants while the other half will involve students who have never been detained or suspended. The use of these two groups of students will facilitate the understanding of the discipline and classroom-related factors that affect the differences between the behaviors of these two groups of students. On the other hand, random sampling will be used to select ten teachers from every academic level to take part in the study.
Location of Study
The study will be done in two settings which will be determined by the data collection methods. These settings will be the school and residential homes of the selected participants. The logic behind these settings is that both are places which the participants are familiar with and therefore they will be more comfortable with the interview. In addition, the residential homes will provide the researcher with additional information that will be useful to the study. For instance, the household income of the participants can easily be identified by the type of home they live in.
Data Collection Methods
Before the data collection process, it is important to note the importance of an introductory letter to facilitate the study. The purpose of the letter of introduction is to inform the school about the study that needs to be undertaken, its purpose, and the need for the school to cooperate. The letter will also ensure the school of the confidentiality of any information provided.
Data collection for this study will be undertaken using three different methods namely: secondary sources of the students’ information, in-depth interviews and focus groups. Records maintained by the school will be used to collect information such as students’ rate or frequency of detention and/or suspension and their academic performance. An interview script will be used for the interviews and focus group discussions. The interview script will contain both closed-ended and open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions are those which do not permit respondents to explain further. The responses to such questions are monosyllables. On the other hand, open-ended questions are questions which allow respondents to give a detailed response through explanations and elaborations. The first step of the data collection process will involve planning the manner in which the interviews/focus group discussions will be conducted. Focus groups as a method of data collection will classify the participants into smaller groups according to their socio-economic background and suspension/detention experience (Zikmund, 2003).
The Study’s Reliability and Validity
Every research must take into consideration validity and reliability issues. This study will ensure its validity and reliability mainly through the methods of data collection and analysis. The use of in-depth interviews and focus groups will ensure that all the research questions are adequately answered through probing further and clarifying vague responses (Silverman, 2004). Like any other qualitative research, reliability and validity of this study will be gauged by measures such as credibility, conformability, consistency, and dependability. The in-depth interviews and focus group discussions that will be used to collect the data will provide the researcher with this opportunity because the researcher will have time to interact with the informants. This will ensure the credibility and conformability of the study. On the other hand, consistency and dependability of the study will depend on the procedures used to code and analyze the data. In this study, the same technique will be used to code and analyze all the data collected by the different instruments to avoid inconsistencies and unreliability of the results.
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Limitations of the Study
Some of the limitations that are anticipated during the study include hostility from the students and teachers. Some of participants may not be so willing to cooperate with the researchers. In addition, there is the possibility of receiving incorrect information from the participants which in turn may adversely affect the findings of the study. Most importantly, the study is limited because it only focuses on one school which is highly diverse and therefore the results may not be applicable to other schools with different characteristics.
Due to the qualitative nature of the study, the researcher will have a close interaction with the informants. Therefore, various principles must be applied to ensure that ethical considerations are practiced. One of these ethical principles is informed consent. Before undertaking the study, the participants will be provided with all the details of the research, its possible harm and benefits, as well as the respondents’ rights. Based on the information, they will be allowed to decide on whether or not they will take part in the study. The second ethical consideration is confidentiality. Confidentiality will entail respecting the privacy of the information given by the respondents. It will also be ensured by the anonymity of participants’ personal information such as their address, names and medical information (Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2005).
Significance of the Study
This study will be helpful to the school administrators because it will enable them to design the best curriculum that will include appropriate methods of instilling good behavior among the students. It will also help the teachers to know the role they play in the behavior of their students as well as the socio-economic factors that influence such behaviors. Most importantly, it will help to reduce the rates of students’ detention and suspension.
- Hesse-Biber, S., & Leavy, P. (2005). The practice of qualitative research. London: Sage.
- Silverman, D. (2004). Qualitative research: theory, method and practice. London: Sage.
- Zikmund, W. (2003). Business research methods (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Thomson/South-Western.