Sample size of five students was chosen for the investigation of Why do Black Caribbean students underperform in schools? The classroom behaviour, staff meetings, parent teacher meetings, behaviour of student with friends, etc. of each of the participant in the school were identified. Responses from the participants would vary due to the cultures and socio-economic status of the individuals. Such purposive sampling was deliberately done with a purpose to focus whether socio-economic conditions of the participants, parental involvement, low expectations from teachers, racism have an influence on their performance in schools.
All the participants were from a school based in London. The names of the students and the school are to be maintained with anonymity.
Interviews and Observation: The research design encompasses interviews of the participants and a few general observations. Interviews will garner intuitions into the individual insights, feelings and practices as well as provide data through direct response that the research is explicitly carried for. King and Horrocks (2010) suggest to frame questions as formal/informal depending on the participants age group, their educational level and the ease with which the young students can answer the questions.
Face-to-Face interviews are conducted with the young Black Caribbean students, their parents and teachers in the educational setting. Based on how contented the students are with certain research questions relating to their culture, family background, etc., the interviews are proceeded. This would allow me take data collection in accordance with the body language of the interviewees, thereby it assists in determining to what range the participants are enthusiastic or genuine about their underperformance in studies.
Students learning experiences in the school are observed in the natural setting. Interactions of the students are jotted down to have a detailed overview of the study. If the research was conducted through other means, the reactions and behaviour of the participants would not have been noticed.
Qualitative research approach views human thought and behaviour in a social context and covers a wide range of phenomena so as to understand and appreciate them thoroughly. The relationship and trust between the participants and the researcher in this approach makes it easier for the participant to contribute to influencing the research (Daniel, 2016).
Through qualitative research, theory arises from data. The emergence of theory from data, facilitates researcher to frame and reframe theories where crucial, depending on the data generated, unlike testing of data generated by other researchers. One notable advantage of a qualitative research is that expressions and experiences of the subjects can be understood although there are little or no information about the participants (Daniel, 2016).
Social constructionist theory by Burr (2015) is of supreme relevance to my research study. It helps in achieving the objectives of my research as it provides greater insights into the topic of underperformance of young Black Caribbean students with the perceptions from students, parents and teachers in an educational setting. As this theory suggests, knowledge can be continued through social processes, communications. Thus, language as a means of social interactions is of substantial significance to the research.
Constructionist view would be advantageous in studying the key issues the young students are facing. In order to have a constructionist view while conducting research interviews, there should be mutual respect and deep-understanding of the way the young students view and experience the world.
Exchanges in the social setting with other students, teachers and parents as part of routine activities construct the shared versions of knowledge. Having a constructionist view will ensure that participants are more comfortable to the questions asked when taking part in the research study. Furthermore, the participants can be more stress-free while conducting the interview allowing them to be honest and exhibit their true feelings, without being aghast of the stereotypes they have been dealing with. Therefore, this theory is the most appropriate theory applicable to my research.
Interviews were conducted for the participants. Following questions were asked in the interviews:
1. What is your family dynamic? Do you live with your parents?
2. What are your sources of information relating to your black culture?
3. What are you taught about your black culture in this school?
4. Do your teachers have high expectations of you?
5. Do your parents have high expectation of you?
6. What achievement means for you?
7. Does belonging to a black culture distract you from your studies?
8. Did you face institutional racism in your school?
9. Do your parents involve in your school activities and studies?
10. Do you come from a high socio-economic status?
There exists complexity of research ethics in qualitative research. Special care was taken to recognise social processes whereby things appear to be ethical or not. Qualitative research requires moral responsibility in a field besieged with dilemmas, not for quick pre-fixed answers (Ryen, 2011). Explicitly in ethnographic research, several problems are increasing and contextual and call for situational responses. As such, constructionist theories excluding practical ideas, social reality is more complicated, enormous and circumstantial aspect that makes research ethics more complex. Therefore, researcher must be basing ethics considering the context and situation rather than abstract principles. The role of the research is to instinctively negotiate the ethical problems. Ethical guiding principles have to be created to Authors Eisenhauer & Wynaden (2004) emphasize that guiding principles related to ethics must be formulated to direct the research in solving the initial and current issues that arise from qualitative research. Creating such guidelines will help to guarantee that the objectives of research can be attained and the rights of the participants are preserved.
This research study has to the maximum extent used ethical principles. Voluntary permission of the students was taken at the time of study to be interviewed and experiential of their behaviours and other characteristics. The students were made cognizant of the nature and purpose of the study in identifying the causes of their underachievement in schools and that it would be good for their development as well as the society. One of the students was not intended to participate in the study was permitted to withdraw from the study, while other student who exhibited interest in the research study was included. After taking consent for educational research of the black Caribbean students, they were assured of the data collected would be kept private. Students who felt uncomfortable in answering questions which were subtle to them were waived off. Questions that could potentially harm such as the bad bullying/harassment experiences the child had, to be described in detail, would make him/her emotional, were avoided. Such questions required yes/no answers. The potential harm caused in this way was very little, and it was necessary for the research study to investigate the bullying or harassment of the Black Caribbean child in British schools.
The present study would benefit the student to analyse the conditions they are experiencing in day-to-day life. The reasons for their underperformance in studies are analysed and the data is shared so that they can evolve and better handle the situations in a cultural setting that would not lead to underperformance in schools.
Data collection: Validity and Reliability
Ethnography research method was used for data collection as it is a coherent way to assimilate different components of data. The constructivist logic appreciates truth or reality to be subjective or relative to the phenomenal world of the individual. Therefore the constructivist paradigm has huge significance on the human conception of meaning or subjective human realities (Barnett, 2011).
In terms of validity another important aspect that I focused on during the interviewing process was trying to build a strong rapport with my participants. As an interviewer I was trying to establish some sense of shared ground, so that one avenue of rapport building could be opened. King and Horrocks (2010) also suggest that building strong rapport with the individuals is necessary for a successful qualitative interviews. I have ensured that the participants built a rapport by discussing their cultures so that the data they share would be authentic, true of their feelings and not manipulated.
The data collected is reliable as the questions framed were from pre-dominant researches and literature review performed. The questions were relevant and important for the study. While consistency of the study is important, the views of participants having a particular opinion and the others who do not agree to it are also noted.