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Tuesday, 18 February 2014 09:52

Research Method and Design Featured

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Research Method and Design

           In this chapter, I will examine the design and methodology of my research topic. I will start by providing a description of the research methodology and present an outline of the pilot study. I will also present an outline of selecting participants to assess the needs of After-School programs. Data collection, instrumentation, ethical considerations, methodological assumption, and research design will then be discussed.

Research Methodology and Design

The goal of my research topic determines How Effective Are Afterschool Teachers to Work with Students with Autism or Emotional Behavioral Disorders. I will answer my research question by interviewing teachers of after school programs, parents of students with Behavioral and Emotional disorders and the management team of after school programs. Knowing the ability of after-school programs to handle students with Behavioral and Emotional disorders and autism will assist students be competent in class and learn social and communication skills. This will see that students with special needs are given an equal opportunity as their counterparts to excel in class and final exams scores.

Through this research, it will be possible to conduct a needs assessment of after-school programs so as to ensure that teachers of these programs are provided with the necessary skills and knowledge on how to handle students with autism and emotional/ behavioral disorders. The needs assessments will also guide in the provision of the necessary facilities required by students with special need hoping to be part of the after-school programs. Through this study, it will be possible to come up with a handbook to guide policy makers and staff members of after school programs gain confidence and be effective in working with children having autism and EBDS.

There are various literature materials calling for a recreation of educators to be trained in integration (McGhee et al., 2005; Hutchison et al., 2008; Rosenzweig et al., 2008). However, there are limited resources, especially in community based- after school programs, to employ experts who can help to train the teaching staff on how to work with special needs students. Identifying the critical needs of after-school programs will help to give best results and recommendations that are informative and practical. In order to establish the needs of teachers in after school programs, I used the grounded theory approach.

The grounded theory approach was established by sociologist Strauss and Glaser in the 1960s (Charmaz, 2006). The grounded theory is not like the positivist deductive approach that aims to collect data as a way of disproving or approving a given hypothesis that has been developed. Grounded theory is a method of qualitative research whereby data is used to generate theories and themes concerning a process.

For me to find data on my research question I used the format of qualitative semi structured interview that targets teachers of after-school programs, parents of children with special needs and the heads/managers of after- school programs. I analyzed the themes generate by participants, mainly on their opinions and perceptions about educators ability to work with Children suffering from autism and EBDs. Based on the themes I had to find areas in need of improvements based on what parents, educators and after-school program leaders feel.

Pilot study

I will first generate a set of initial questions to assess needs as per the common and recurring themes in the research literature. This is detailed in the Instrumentation section. In order to find the recurring themes, I piloted a list of questions with the help of three staff members who showed that they have experience, skills and knowledge of handling students with EBDs and autism. Two of the staff members had more than five years experience in teaching children with special needs in after school programs while the other one had one year experience in the after-school program and had the training required for working with students with EBDs and autism. The three were only to give support and not to participate in the actual study.

I informed the informants about the schedule of the interview about the after-school programs needs such as the qualification of teachers, availability of resources and facilities and how parents feel towards the program. However, I did not transcribe or record the responses they gave me. I informed the informants my main goal of the research, which is to establish the needs of after school programs and to come up with the best way of teachers to integrate effectively children with autism and EBDs into the after-school programs.

After the interview process, informants of the pilot study are presented with a list of questions and to give suggestion on changes aiming to improve quality and clarity of questions. They were also asked if some questions were appropriate need to add or omit some from the list. The process took a period of 45 minutes to find the opinion of each informant.

The pilot study feedback helped be to remove other questions and change the wording of the list of questions on my initial list. I, for example, removed the question that says, “Do you think it is essential for this after school program to enroll students with autism and EBD?” This is a question that would not have given me good data according to the comments of one of my supervisor. He suggested that I replace this question with, “to your opinion, which is the major benefit of incorporating students with special needs in after school program? After the completion of review and questions piloting from my list, I now went ahead to conduct the assessment of actual needs.


The set of questions in the first category in identifying the after- school teachers needs is mainly based on literature materials on students with autism and EBDs. The questions are also guided by my personal experience on how children with special needs can be supported through after-school programs. The second category of questions is as per certain studies that mention the anecdotes of successful ways of working with special students (Cross et al., 2004; Hutchison et al., 2008). The third set of research questions directed towards the benefit that children with special needs enjoy when they are part of after-school programs (Rosenzweig, 2008, Durlak et al., 2010).

The fourth, fifth and six questions present the challenges those teachers of after-school programs face in their effort to integrate students with special needs. These questions are supported by various research articles (Scholl et al. 2005; McGhee et al. 2005; Jinnah-Ghelani and Stoneman 2009).

Question seven involve ways of overcoming challenges such as expert training, education of after school teachers and the need for teachers of after school programs to communicate with regular teachers. This is because the regular teachers are knowledgeable about the characteristics of the students. Question 8 is on modeling behaviors as shown in the works of Hutchison et al., (2008) and Dellamattera, (2011). Question 9 is directed to parents and involves the role of parents in policy changes (Jinnah-Ghelani & Stoneman, 2009; Brewin et al., 2008; Rosenzweig et al., 2008).

I used the triangulation process in the development of questionnaire so as to validate the actual data. This is a method that helps to verify observations as based on three different sources (Yin, 2011). The questions are guide by literature sources on this topic and my personal experience.


I selected staff members from 6 different after-school programs. Staff members were selected from each of the six centers, four teachers from each, 10 parents representing each of the six community based program close to them, and six leaders representing each of the after schools. The following aspects are used for recruiting the program leaders and staff members; leadership and experience. Four participants representing each of the programs is a small sample size, but it is sufficient to get the actual findings intended for this research.

Theoretical saturation according to Charmaz (2006) occurs when there is sufficient data in qualitative research to support analysis and the made conclusion (Charmaz, 2006). For me to understand the in-depth ideas of the participants, I held face to face interviews with the four teachers of representing their after school programs. I also held discussions and interview with the leaders of these after school programs. For parents, they were to fill in a questionnaire and return them the after-school program.

Data collection

After informing teachers and heads of the after school programs of my intention, I asked them via email on the convenient time and place to conduct the interview. I also sent parents with an interview guide and consent form and asked them that those willing to participate to inform me 24 hours before the commencing of my interview schedule.

I used the RCA RP5120-A digital voice recorder to record interviews. I then uploaded the interviews file to a Mac Book. I ensured the safety of the folder before transcribing them into Microsoft Word. The participants were free to inform me areas where they wanted their identity to be protected, and I respected that. They were also free to inquire for a copy of their recording.

Data Analysis

My goal was to reach an understanding on the experts view on the main issue of accommodating children with special needs in after school programs. This is by looking at what the literature says and comparing with the interview transcripts themes. I order to identify the actual needs for after- school educators I used inductive analysis. The main areas for analysis were on communication among staff, parents and students, experience and results, skills and education, teacher’s perception and integration strategies.


The main assumptions guiding this research method is that the suggested ideas and findings will be helpful in changing the perception and knowledge of afterschool program staff. Staff members will also internalize vital information on how to work with special students. The teachers of after school programs with greater experience will provide insights on their ability to work with students of special needs.


The fiscal and temporal constraints in this study meant the use of a small size of participants. There is lack of diversity in experience and perspective of the larger community (Yin, 2011). However, according to the purposive sampling method used, I managed to select participants with the greatest experience. The data meant that it was possible to attain my research goals. I also acknowledged the fact that each after school program has unique qualities and none can be the same with; however, I had to generate similar results of all the centers.

There was also the limitation of a few staff members. This is likely to result into a minimal comprehensive picture of the actual needs of teachers in dealing with children with special needs. However, by incorporating program directors and parents, I will have better results. Having a comprehensive picture that involves the views of children with special needs is vital in the development of integration strategies into the after-school programs (Kishida & Kemp, 2010; Hutchison 2008).

Another challenge is the biases I have placed in various after school programs. For example, I am likely overrepresented the role of the after-school program teachers in the process of integrating students more that the role of program directors, volunteers, auxiliary staff, parents and the role of children. Despite this limitation, the research studies management to generate useful data that can help teachers of after-school programs and also present useful recommendations.

Attaining credibility

Through the results triangulation, selection of the right participants and members check it is possible to attain credibility. Also, my own experience in working in an after-school program as well as literature support helps in attaining credibility of findings.

Ethical consideration

The main ethical concern was to maintain confidentiality of participants. Collected data was stored in a safe and locked room so as to maintain the confidentiality.


Charmaz, K (2006) Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through Qualitative analysis. London, UK: Sage Publication

Durlak, J, Weisberg, R, & Pecan, M (2010) a meta-analysis of after-school programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in adolescents. Journal of Community Psychology, 45, 294-309

Hutchison, P, Mecke, & Sharpe, E (2008). Partners in inclusion at a residential summer a case study. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 42, 179-196.

McGhee, S, Groff, D, & Russoniello, C (2005) providing community-based programs for youth with emotional. Recreation Journal,32-46

Kishida, Y., & Kemp, C. (2010). Training staff to measure the engagement of children in inclusive childcare centers. International Journal of Disability,
Development, and Education, 57(1), 21-4

Yin, R (2011) Qualitative research from start to finish. New York, NY: Guildford Press

Jinnah-Ghelani, H, & Stoneman, Z (2009) Elements of successful inclusion for school-age children with disabilities in childcare settings. Child Care in Practice, 15(3), 175-191

Rosenzweig, J. M., Brennan, E. M. (2008). Child care parents of children with emotional or behavioral disorders.J Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 16(2), 78-89

Dellamattera, J. N. (2011). Perceptions of pre service early educators: How adult support
Preschoolers’ social development
. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 32, 26-38

Scholl, K. G., Smith, J. G., & Davison, A. (2005). Agency readiness to provide inclusive Recreation and after-school services for children. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 39(1), 47-62

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