Chapter 3 – Research Methodology
This chapter will explore the methodological method used to complete this research project. The main aim of this study was to explore the certainty of the inclusion of children with ASD in mainstream school in Ireland. In particularly the research will look at the inclusion of children in mainstream school from teachers and parents point of view. Experiences and approaches experienced by participants were explored. This chapter defines the chosen research design used by the researcher to complete this research project.
3.2 Research Aims and Objectives
‘Including Children with ASD in Mainstream Primary School: An Exploration of the Challenges and Deliberations for Parents and Teachers.’
This research aimed to explore from parents and teacher’s perspective the challenges and deliberations that are involved when including a child with ASD in mainstream school. It also aimed to investigate if the needs of children with ASD were being met in mainstream school. To carry out this research the researcher identified four main aims and three objectives.
1. To examine the definition of autism in more detail.
2. To research the historical concept on inclusion of children with special needs in education.
3. The find out the advantages and disadvantages of including children with ASD in mainstream school and if their needs are being met.
4. To explore the challenges around including children with ASD in mainstream school from a teacher and parent’s perspective.
1. To critically evaluate the appropriate and relevant literature to get a better insight on the inclusion of children with ASD in mainstream school and to provide in depth information around this topic.
2. To study the research findings and the frequent themes identified throughout.
3. To recommend appropriate recommendations on this research topic.
3.3 Rationale for the Research
The reason the researcher chose this topic was because of her own individual experiences of having a family member with ASD who attends mainstream school and due to the researcher working with children who have ASD. The researcher witnessed the challenges often faced by parents and teachers when including a child with ASD in mainstream school. The researcher noticed that although mainstream school has many benefits for children with ASD sometimes it lacks some supports for the child and their parents. The researcher also noticed how some subjects can be sensitive for a child with ASD and wanted to investigate the main subjects that affect some children with ASD. The researcher aimed to investigate the challenges and why they occur.
3.4 Research Design
Quantitative and qualitative are two research approaches that could be used to collect data for this research. Regularly, the difference between quantitative research and qualitative research is outlined in terms of using words which would be qualitative research rather than using numbers which is quantitative research. Qualitative research also looks at using open ended questions and getting direst responses foe example qualitative interviews, whereas quantitative research looks at using closed ended questions and responses. (Creswell & Creswell, 2017)
Qualitative research is an approach used for discovering and understanding the definition groups or individuals assign to a social or human problem.
To carry out this research it involves developing questions and procedures, data that is usually collected in the participants setting, data analysis inductively building from to general themes and then involves the researcher making explanations of the meaning of data.
The written piece to this structure is usually quiet flexible. This type of research is usually based on individual experiences. (Creswell & Creswell, 2017)
Quantitative research is a method used when testing objective theories by investigating the connection among variables. In turn, these variables can be measured and then data can be analysed using statistical procedures. The written report has more of a structure. (Creswell & Creswell, 2017)
For this research the researcher chose to use the qualitative method. The reason the researcher chose this method was because she wanted to get a more insight to the data she wanted to know and to also witness the participants facial expressions and whatever opinions they had personally.
3.5 Research Methods
The researcher chose to carry out semi-structured interviews. Galletta (2013, pg. 2) believes that, semi-structured interviews are specifically structured to address certain dimensions of your research question but also allowing space for participants to suggest new meanings to the topic of study. (Galletta, 2013)
‘Interviewing gives us access to the observation of others’ (S.Weiss, 1994, p. 1)
The researcher believed this would be the most suitable approach for the research. The researcher asked planned questions that she put together but also asked unplanned questions depending on the participants answers. This allows the researcher to gain more knowledge based on the participants answer. These unplanned questions can also allow the participants bring up any topics they might want to talk about.
To carry out this research the researcher carried out five semi-structured interviews with five participants who have experience with children who have ASD in mainstream school. The researcher interviewed three parents whose child attends mainstream school and has ASD and two teachers who teach children with ASD in mainstream school. The duration of each interview lasted 15 to 25 minutes.
3.6 Research Sampling
Sampling is used to gather valuable information about a population and is generally used in academic researches (Thompson, 1992, cited in Lim and Ting 2012). The population can be made up of any group that shares similar characteristics (Hajek, 1981, cited in Lim and Ting 2012). Zikmund, Ward, Lowe and Winzar (2007, cited in Lim and Ting 2012) state that, the method of sampling includes several items or a small percentage of the population in effort to make decisions about the entire population.
The research chose purposive sampling for this research. The reason the researcher chose this type of sampling was to gain an insight to the inclusion of children with ASD in mainstream school from participants who had direct experiences around this topic. The purpose of purposive sampling is to select information that the provide the best understanding to the topic and convince the audience of the research. (Emmel, 2013)
The sample of participants for this research were all female participants. Each participant had experiences around the inclusion of children with ASD in mainstream school. All the participants were mature in age and living in Limerick. The researcher believes that the sample chosen will represent a bigger population in the same area. Below the participants are outlined in the sample profile.
Number of Participants Occupation of Participants
Participant 1 Teacher in Mainstream School
Participant 2 Parent of Child with ASD
Participant 3 Parent of Child with ASD
Participant 4 Parent of Child with ASD
Participant 5 Teacher in Mainstream School
3.7 Data Collection
From semi-structured interviews data was collected and was audio recorded using a voice recorder on a mobile phone. The reason the researcher used semi-structured interviews was because she felt it would allow the conversations to run more smoothly. These files were kept on a laptop and then using Microsoft Word were transcribed. Once all the transcriptions were complete, they were then deleted for the privacy and confidentiality of the participants.
3.8 Data Analysis
To examine the data the researcher used a thematic analysis. To do so, the researcher read each transcript carefully to get a better understanding of each interview and spot the recurring themes. The recurring themes were then numbered and identified.
3.9 Ethical Considerations
When doing research interviews, students and professionals are obliged to maintain ethical standards. These ethics are usually set down by a set of ‘guidelines’ or a ‘code of ethics’. (Keats, 2000, p. 28)
To carry out the interviews the researcher must follow a set of ethical guidelines. To proceed with the interviews the researcher had to get Ethical approval from the Limerick Institute of Technology which you will find in the appendix. The researcher chose to interview five strangers to get a better and honest response. According to Braun and Clarke (2013) interviewing strangers can sometimes be easier than interviewing people you know because you don’t have to achieve a dual relationship. It may also be easier because the participant might feel more comfortable revealing personal information to strangers.
To allow the participant a better insight to each interview, the researcher gave out written information with the goal, purpose and structure for this research. The written piece also stated that each interview was voluntary and if the participant wanted to withdraw from the interview at any moment they may do so, and all given information is completely confidential.
The researcher communicated openly and honestly with each participant. Contact details of the researcher were also included, and the participants were reassured to contact the researcher if they had any further questions and worries. A consent form was also given to each participant. All information given was securely stored and only the researcher had access to it. Given the nature of the topic and for confidential reasons, each participants name was changed to secure their identity.
Five participants were interviewed for this study. Due to the small number of participants it cannot be presumed that the findings are the same for every school across Ireland and for every child who has ASD in mainstream school. One limitation for this study was finding suitable participants. With a few phone calls and research each participant volunteered to be interviewed. The researcher interviewed five professionals and each interview was different. The aim of this research was to gain an insight into the inclusion of children with ASD in mainstream school from five different perspectives. The research also got an insight into both the positives and negatives of the inclusion of children with ASD in mainstream school.