Research-Methodology-October-2016 organized Essay Example

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Chapter 3: Research Methodology

3.1 Introduction

The aim of the study was to investigate how technology is used to help children with hearing impairment, visual impairment and intellectual disability in Saudi Arabia. The study sought to find answers to the following research questions:

  1. What challenges do educators face while using different assistive technologies while teaching children living with any of the three types of disabilities (hearing impairment, visual impairment and intellectual disability) in Saudi Arabia?

    1. What types of technological tools are used in schools for children with disability (hearing impairment, visual impairment and intellectual disability) in Saudi Arabia?

    2. How does variable such as age and gender affect the educators’ perceptions about the use of technology to support learning of students with disabilities?

    3. What experiences do educators have about the use of technology to support the learning of students with disabilities?

    4. What can be done to improve the use of technology to support the education of students with these disabilities in Saudi Arabia?

This chapter presents information about the methodology that was used in the research. The chapter is divided into various sections as follows. First is the research paradigm within which the research was located, including justification for the use of the pragmatic paradigm that was selected. This is followed by the research design, whereby the sequential exploratory design and the mixed methods approach were used. The next section discusses the population within which the study was located, the sample of study and the sampling procedure that was used. This is followed by information about data collection, which includes the ethical procedures that were followed, the data collection tools and how they were piloted, the process of collecting the data, and how the quantitative and qualitative data that were collected were analysed. At the end of the chapter, a brief summary of the chapter’s details is provided.

3.2 Research Paradigm

A research paradigm refers to “a perspective about research held by a community of researchers that is based on a set of shared assumptions, concepts, values, and practices” (Johnson & Christensen, 2012,
p. 31). A research paradigm can also be defined as a way of studying a social phenomenon from which a particular understanding of the phenomenon can be obtained and explanations made (Hua, 2016). A paradigm can also be understood as a set of ideas regarding the manner in which a particular problem exists and a set of agreements about how such a problem can be investigated (Mukherji & Albon, 2010). Based on these definitions, it is clear that the selection of a paradigm for any research is important since the paradigm influences the methodology to be used and also shapes the researcher’s perceptions of the issue being investigated (Mukherji & Albon, 2010). There are different types of research paradigms, and they include positivism, interpretivism, the critical paradigm, and pragmatic paradigm (Cryer, 2006; Mertens, 2010; Rubin & Babbie, 2009; Schoen, 2011). Each of the aforementioned research paradigms has its own perspectives regarding the nature of reality (referred to as ontology), the theory of knowledge or what the researcher can know about the subject (referred to as epistemology), and how the researcher can get information about the perceived reality (i.e. the methodology to be used) (Riazi, 2016). The different research paradigms are explained below.

3.2.1 Positivist research paradigm

The positivist research paradigm asserts that the things that exist can be described factually (Denicolo, Long & Bradley-Cole, 2016). The positivist ontology (the nature of reality) is also built in the belief that the world is external and that there exist one objective truth to any research situation or phenomenon regardless of the belief or perspective of the researcher (Edirisingha, 2012). Positivism follows natural principles and encompasses a researcher who makes an attempt to take a neutral and disinterested role. As such, observations of phenomena based on the positivist research paradigm must be carried out objectively. Values and biases must be eliminated as much as possible, and there has to be a clear distinction between the subject and the researcher (Marlow, 2011), meaning that the researcher has to remain detached from the participants in the research or the subject being studied.

Positivists take a structural and controlled approach in carrying out research by identifying an understandable research area, coming up with a suitable hypothesis or hypotheses, and by making use of an appropriate research methodology (Edirisingha, 2012). Along the same line, positivism holds that scientific methods are the only way to establish the truth as well objective reality about a given phenomenon (Chilisa & Preece, 2005). Scientific methods encompass a cycle of research that includes observation, discovery of underlying patterns and coming up with a theory, formulating a hypothesis, carrying out research to subject the hypothesis to test, and rejecting or accepting the hypothesis that was used (Mukherji & Albon, 2010). The use of quantitative methodology is applied, which involves collection of data scientifically in a precise way that is determined by measurement and then subjected to scientific analysis with the objective of making the results generalisable (Mukherji & Albon, 2010). This involves testing and observing the “cause and effect” relationships that exist between different types of variables (Walsh & Wigens, 2003, p. 22).

3.2.2 Interpretive research paradigm

Research located in the interpretive paradigm involves not seeing people as things that can be researched like phenomena, but seeing them as individuals with the capacity to think, interpret and attach meanings to various occurrences (Magnusson & Marecek 2015). Researchers doing research based on the interpretive research paradigm argue that instead of people simply perceiving their particular material and social circumstance, each individual makes sense of his or her environment or context within which they exist based on a cultural framework of “socially constructed and shared meanings”, and that people’s interpretation of the world influences their position in the world (Mukherji & Albon, 2010, p. 23). In particular, interpretive researchers “are interested in people’s ways of making sense of their activities, experiences, and relationships” and how they intend to act in accordance with these ways of making sense (Magnusson & Marecek 2015, p. 2).

In regard to ontology and epistemology (the association between the person doing the research and the reality), interpretivism holds the position that reality is relative and can be understood in many ways rather than one (Edirisingha, 2012). In addition, according to interpretivists, the multiple realities are also dependent on other systems in regard to meanings, which implies that it is even more difficult to interpret the meanings by relying on fixed realities (Williamson, 2002). As well, the knowledge that is gathered in through interpretivism is not objectively determined or perceived but is socially constructed (Edirisingha, 2012). This means that as opposed to positivism, in which researchers have to be objective in their analysis and detached from the subject being studied or the participants, interpretivism requires an active connection between the researcher and the subject, and the meaning of what is being investigated has to be “socially and individually constructed” (Williamson, 2002, p. 30). As noted by Lin (2015), the researcher in an interpretivist paradigm “usually positions him- or herself as a participant-observer” in relation to those being researched (p. 25).Therefore, the interpretive paradigm allows the researcher to collect data that reflects how the research participants express themselves in regard to their feelings and experiences about a given phenomenon, which embodies some subjectivity (Rubin & Babbie, 2010). Instead of collecting data using quantitative methodology, which is the case when using a positivist paradigm, researchers who adopt an interpretive research paradigm use qualitative methodologies to collect data. This is based on the idea that the practical interest that underlies the interpretive approach is to develop knowledge that enriches the researcher’s and others’ “understanding of how people are doing what they are doing, and why, from the perspectives of the participants, i.e. the meanings they give to their actions” (Lin, 2015, p. 25).

3.2.3 Critical theory research paradigm

In contrast to the interpretive and positivist paradigms, which have in common the attribute of having as their aim the development of descriptive theories of the social world, the critical theory research paradigm seeks provide an answer to the critical questions of how the findings of a research will affect those being studied and the ways in which the research findings will be used (Lin, 2015). In addition, critical theory appreciates the point that the aim of research is not just to describe what happens in the world but also to provide change to the world (Lin, 2015; Wilson, 2001). As argued by Riazi (2016), critical theorists concern themselves with power relations and the social prejudice that results from those relations and regard research as an avenue of changing social institutions and power relations on the basis of the unequal relations. It is because of the aforementioned features of the critical theory paradigm that Smith (2010) has noted that “this paradigm is not really a theory, either, but a view of the world that sees society in terms of conflict, inequity and power struggles” (p. 25). As such, from the critical perspective, researchers need to think about what the implication of carrying out research in an unjust world is and thus help in empowering groups that have been subordinated by demystifying policies, practices and institutions that produce and sustain the subordination of some groups in the society (Lin, 2015).

3.2.4 Pragmaticparadigm

The pragmatic paradigm emerged out of the notion that different research paradigms cannot be mixed or that they are incompatible (Creswell, 2009). In essence, pragmatism is a developing paradigm that permits the use of both deductive and inductive reasoning through a variety of combinations of quantitative and qualitative data (Creswell, 2009). Pragmatism can be described as a philosophical paradigm that considers reality as provisional instead of viewing it as absolute (Najmaei, 2016). One of the most notable aspects of the pragmatic
paradigm is that instead of choosing between methods that have in the past been deemed to be paradigmatically mismatched, it focuses on “what works” to provide an answer to the question being asked in a research (Ary, Jacobs, Sorensen & Razavieh, 2010, p. 559). According to Creswell (2014), allowing the use of what is deemed to be workable, as envisaged in the pragmatic paradigm, makes it possible for researchers to utilise all approaches from a pluralistic viewpoint to comprehend the problem that is being investigated. Creswell (2014) adds that pragmatism does not view the world being in absolute unison, which allows researchers to apply many approaches of data collection and analysis as opposed to relying on only one data collection method (e.g. qualitative or quantitative).

In pragmatic research, what is considered to be working is the truth about the subject that is being investigated at the time that the study is conducted. Given that pragmatism “places primary importance on the research question” (Shannon-Baker, 2016, p. 322), this means that the nature of the study and what is to be investigated determine when to use the pragmatic
paradigm. More importantly, in the pragmatic
paradigm, the truth is not premised on a strict interdependence between reality and the mind (Najmaei, 2016). Further, when pragmatism is used as a research paradigm, it “sidesteps the contentious issues of truth and reality, accepts, philosophically, that there are singular and multiple realities that are open to empirical inquiry and orients itself toward solving practical problems in the “real world”” (Feilzer, 2010, p. 8). This means that a pragmatic paradigm is not limited by the realities that may be attached to either qualitative or quantitative data collection methods when any of the methods is used singularly in a research. Because of the relative ‘freedom’ that the pragmatic paradigm confers on researchers, this approach can be applied in research studies that involve qualitative and quantitative data. This point is emphasised in the statement: “pragmatic investigations can use both quantitative and qualitative data to provide the best understanding of the research problem” (Najmaei, 2016, p. 25). Therefore, pragmatism was selected as the paradigm for the current research.

3.2.5 Epistemology, ontology, methodology and axiology of the pragmaticparadigm

The interpretive and positivist research paradigms are based on the trilogy of ontology (the nature of reality and how it is understood), epistemology (the relationship between the researcher and what is known, or how others know what is) and methodology (the justification for tools that are selected to interrogate the issue in question) (Biddle & Schafft, 2015; Klenke, 2008). In contrast, pragmatists go beyond this trilogy and include axiology as the basis of their paradigm (Klenke, 2008). As noted above, in regard to ontology, positivist researchers take into consideration a single reality while interpretivists consider many constructed realities. In regard to epistemology, positivist researchers are of the view that the researcher and the subject are independent, while interpretivists regard the researcher and the subject to be connected (Mukherjee & Hirawaty, 2016). With respect to methodology, positivist researchers are of the view that it is possible for a context and time to be independent, while interpretivist researchers consider context and time together (Mukherjee & Hirawaty, 2016).

Pragmatists consider the aspects that both interpretivists and positivists consider and also bring in the dimension of axiology (the aspect of ethics and what people value) (Biddle & Schafft, 2015). Thus, philosophical researchers, or pragmatists, look at what knowledge is (ontology), how people know about the knowledge (epistemology), the values that go into the knowledge (axiology), and the process that needs to be used to study that knowledge (methodology) (Mukherjee & Hirawaty, 2016).

3.2.6 Justification for applying the pragmatic research paradigm to this study

Given the possibility of using quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods approaches as the approach to the study, a number of factors were considered to ensure that the most appropriate research paradigm is selected for the study. According to Creswell (2014), the factors that need to be considered when choosing a research paradigm include the research problem and personal experiences among others. Therefore the research questions of the study and the researchers own expectation of that the results would be guided the selection of the research paradigm. The research questions have some elements that would be quantifiable and hence determined quantitatively such the “types of technological tools” that are used and how variables such as age and gender affect the educators’ perceptions about the use of technology to support the learning of students with disabilities. At the same time, other aspects needed to be determined qualitatively, such as the educators’ experiences in regard to their interactions with students and the assistive technologies. There was also the need to see the value attached to the knowledge gained from the quantitative and qualitative data, which is made possible by the pragmatic research paradigm. Therefore, since pragmatism “is an adequate research paradigm for research design than positivism and constructivism” (Mukherjee & Hirawaty, 2016, p. 45) and “promotes the mixing of methods and integration of research findings” (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2011, p. 290), pragmatic research was regarded as the best paradigm for the current research.

3.3 Research Design

Research design can be defined as the overall strategy that a researcher chooses to integrate in the different elements of a study in a logical and consistent manner, thereby making sure that the researcher effectively addresses the research problem (De Vaus, 2001). This includes the plan for collecting, measuring and analysing data, and is premised on the research problem (De Vaus, 2001).

According to Taylor, Kermode and Roberts
(2006), a research design offers a framework that can be used in a research project as the basis for answering a specified research question. The research design also offers guidance to the researcher in conducting the study, and provides pointers to guide those involved in the study throughout the research project (Khan, 2008; Taylor et al., 2006). Because of the importance of the research question in selecting the research design to be used, the current study relied on the research questions as stated in the introductory section of this chapter (section 3.1). Since the research questions have elements that require the use of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies as justified by the use of the pragmatic research paradigm, the sequential exploratory design was selected while the mixed methods approach was employed for data collection. Further details are provided below.

3.3.1 Sequential exploratory design

This study employed the sequential exploratory research design. It involved the use of both quantitative and qualitative research approaches, in what is referred to as mixed methods research, employing one method after another. According to Edinger (2008), a sequential exploratory approach “permits the collection and analysis of data both quantitative and qualitative” (p. 57). Ordinarily, research designs that involve the collection of quantitative and qualitative data can employ parallel or sequential forms of data collection (Cameron, 2009). The parallel form, also known as the convergent strategy, involves the concurrent collection of data and analysis of two types of data (Cameron, 2009; Creswell, 2014). On the other hand, the sequential form or the exploratory sequential strategy means that the two types of data are collected in sequence, i.e. one type of data offers a basis for collecting another type of data (Cameron, 2009; Creswell, 2014).

According to Creswell (2014), the choice of the approach to be used (sequential or concurrent/parallel) is determined by whether emphasis is placed on either the qualitative or quantitative approach or on both approaches. Where emphasis is placed on both approaches, the convergent approach is considered best. On the other hand, if the researcher places emphasis on either the quantitative component or the qualitative component of the study, then the sequential exploratory strategy is best used (Creswell, 2014).

The sequential exploration strategy was adopted for the present research. This strategy allows the researcher to either commence the study with qualitative research, from where he/she obtains data, which is then used as a foundation for the quantitative research, or to start with quantitative research followed by qualitative research (Creswell, 2014). In the current study, the researcher started with quantitative research, followed by the qualitative research. The rationale of adopting this strategy was to assist in generating an understanding of the study topic based on the quantitative study and using the same understanding to create further awareness on any gaps that would be identified in knowledge through the qualitative study. In this study, the researcher wanted to gain knowledge about teachers’ perceptions regarding the use of technology for students with disabilities (hearing impairment, visual impairments and intellectual disabilities) so that the responses would be helpful during the process of designing questions for the second phase of the study, involving a qualitative research approach.

3.3.2- Mix methods approach

This research utilised mixed methods, in accordance with the research paradigm that was selected – the pragmatic
paradigm. As was noted above, pragmatism “promotes the mixing of methods and integration of research findings” (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2011, p. 290). This point informed the decision to use the mixed methods approach in the research.

Mixed methods research is a kind research whereby a researcher or a group of researchers combines aspects of quantitative and qualitative research approaches (for instance the use of quantitative and qualitative viewpoints, methods of data collection, and data analysis and inference techniques) for the purpose of getting a wider and deeper understanding and corroboration of the phenomenon that is being investigated ( Watkins & Gioia, 2015). As noted by Creswell (2003), in mixed methods research, “investigators use both quantitative and qualitative data because they work to provide the best understanding of a research problem” (p. 12). For instance, in using a mixed methods approach, it is possible to use both a qualitative method (e.g. using open-ended questions and interviews) and a quantitative method (e.g. using survey questionnaire) to collect data.

Creswell (2003) also argues that mixed methods research involves “collection of both quantitative and qualitative data sequentially’ (p. 21). What this means is that when a researcher uses two methods sequentially, he or she seeks “to elaborate on or expand the findings of one method with another method” (Creswell, 2003, p. 16). This may encompass starting with a qualitative method to explore the phenomenon in question followed by a quantitative method that involves a large sample in order for the researcher to generalise the results to a given population. As well, the researcher can start the study with a quantitative method to test concepts or theories, followed by a qualitative method that entails exploring the issue with a small number of individuals or cases (Creswell, 2003). The two research approaches can also be used simultaneously (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2009) (referred to as the concurrent or parallel form as explained above). Combined, the aforementioned points illustrate why the sequential exploratory design was used for the current research.

Quantitative methods involve painting a broad picture of the relationship or relationships among constructs that are assessed through the generation and averaging of nomothetic data over a considerably big number of research participants (Heppner, Wampold, Owen, Wang, & Thompson, 2016). This type of research (quantitative) is most closely associated with a positivist paradigm (Heppner et al., 2016), but it can also be used in a pragmatic paradigm since pragmatic research involves the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods (Eynon, Hjorth, Yasseri, & Gillani, 2016). Quantitative research methods make an attempt to test a research hypothesis or hypotheses by use of scientific methods. Quantitative methods characteristically depend on numerical data as opposed to the language data that is employed in qualitative designs.

On the other hand, qualitative research relies on a “naturalistic and interpretive approach” to make it possible to understand the question or problem that is being investigated (Heppner et al., 2016, p. 121). Qualitative approaches aim to provide an understanding of issues through methods such as observation and interviews, and stress the process in which people generate and give meanings to their social experiences as well as lived realities (Heppner et al., 2016; Taylor, Killick & McGlade, 2015).

In the current study, mixed methods research was chosen since it was regarded the best approach to provide a deeper understanding of the use of technology by children with various disabilities from the perspective of their teachers. Not only is the use of the mixed methods approach supported by the use of the pragmatic research paradigm, but it is also embedded in the sequential exploratory strategy that has been discussed above. As noted by Najmaei (2016), the pragmatic paradigm supports the use of the mixed methods approach because “pragmatic investigations can use both quantitative and qualitative data to provide the best understanding of the research problem” (p. 25).

In accordance with the principles of pragmatic research, a mixed methods research design is used to support the findings of a study by nesting or embedding a second study into the first study (Heppner et al., 2016),. This allows the researcher to have a better understanding of a specific element of the research, as supported by Najmaei (2016) in the statement that was quoted above. In the current study, the researcher was of the view that the use of quantitative methods would help in providing answers to some of the research questions, but would not address all aspects of the research questions. In particular, a quantitative method such as a survey would address issues such as the types of technologies that are used by children with disabilities and the number of teachers who believe or do not believe that the use of technology by children with disabilities helps improve the children’s learning. As noted by Slack and Parent (2006), surveys can help in answering questions such as “who, what, when, where, and how many or how much” (p. 21). But quantitative methods may not adequately address issues such as teachers’ lived experiences with the use of technology and the challenges that teachers face with respect to interactions with children with disabilities who use different technologies. This is where the use of qualitative methods such as interviews comes in. Interviews were therefore used to provide an insight into the teachers’ lived experiences and perceptions in relation to the issues being investigated. The mixed research design was therefore used to provide a better understanding of the results by validating the results or addressing issues that may not have been clearly addressed using one method, as noted by Hesse-Biber (2010).

3.4 Participants

The study participants were 266 teachers of students with intellectual disabilities, hearing impairment and visual impairment in schools that use various technologies to help these children in their learning process. A total of 270 teachers (from nine schools for children with intellectual disabilities, hearing impairment and visual impairment; each school having 30 teachers) had been targeted for the research. However, out of the total number of 270 teachers, 266 teachers provided their responses to the survey. Of the 270 teachers, sixty were also interviewed as part of the research.

The decision to study the perceptions of teachers was informed by the point that teachers spend most of their time at school with the children with special needs, and are therefore likely to have a good understanding of the children’s needs as well as where the use of technologies is most beneficial. The same teachers have a role to help and guide children with special needs like those with intellectual disabilities, hearing impairment and visual impairment not only through their school and homework, but also in assisting them to overcome obstacles they might otherwise not be in a position to. According to Miller, Fader and Vincent (2001), the success of any services offered to young children rests with the professionals offering such services. In particular, Miller et al. (2001) indicate that teachers sometimes play a major curriculum development role for children with disabilities, and they assume the role of implementers of the special education curriculum.

3.4.1 Sampling of Schools

Since the research aimed to investigate educators’ perceptions and experiences of the use of technology to support the learning of children with hearing impairment, visual impairment and intellectual disabilities in Saudi Arabia, the sampling strategy purposefully targeted schools that offer learning for children with the aforementioned disabilities.

Purposive sampling involves selecting a sample based on the understanding of a population (Babbie, 2008). It is also premised on the supposition that the researcher aims to discover, comprehend and gain insight; and for that reason, must choose a sample from which the most can be learned (Merriam, 2009). A purposive sample is thus one where individuals from a pre-specified grouping are purposively identified and sampled (Gerrish & Lacey, 2010). Such an approach is not so much concerned with random sampling since it aims at getting a sample of information-rich research participants (Struwig & Stead, 2001). Specifically, the sampling process was designed to only target those special education schools that offer learning to children with the disabilities that have been discussed. For each of the three identified disability categories, three schools were selected. In total therefore, nine schools were sampled for inclusion in the study. The selection criteria for each sampled school involved was a requirement to have only one separate specialisation in teaching students in each of the three disability categories identified herein. In total, therefore, three schools sampled for inclusion in this research specialised in teaching students with visual impairment. Another three schools specialised in teaching students with hearing impairment, while the third category of schools were those that specialised in teaching students with intellectual disabilities. The schools were identified by the researcher based on information that is publicly available about these schools (i.e. the schools offer education to children with hearing impairment, visual impairment and intellectual disabilities). The nine schools targeted for the research were selected from three regions of Saudi Arabia (Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam) due to convenience and accessibility.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides education to people with special needs (auditory disability, visual disability and intellectual disability) through institutes supervised by The Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia such as Al Amal Institute, Al Noor Institute and Institute of Intellectual Disability.

Al Amal Institute is one of the specialised institutes in auditory disability. Education in Al Amal Institute is based on taking educational directions in teaching. The educational system starts in the primary stage from the age of seven years, and the institution uses a curriculum similar to the one that is used in public education. As for Al Noor Institute, it is the nucleus of private education in Saudi Arabia for visual disability. It provides educational, rehabilitative and cultural programs. Most Al Noor Institutes follow the boarding school system which includes a residential section to stay in. In addition, the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia provides all institutes with a version of its teachers’ and students’ textbooks customised and recorded by the Central Talking Library. The third type of targeted schools in this the research is Institute of Intellectual Disability. Saudi Arabia established these institutes for intellectual disability. It starts with the qualifying stage which lasts for two years and is followed by the primary stage which is six years long. During this period, students, based on their abilities, get reading and writing classes to improve their basic skills. There is an integrated approach for the students, and special printed books are available for them. The students are subject to continuous evaluation throughout the year, and based on reports, the growth of the students’ abilities and their collected grades are determined and thus transferred to the next stage (Afeafe, 2000).

3.4.2 Population and Sample

Teachers in all the selected schools were invited to participate in the study. The sampling frame for the survey fell within the convenience sampling technique. Convenience sampling entails getting subjects wherever they can be found and usually wherever is convenient (Jackson, 2015). Further, participants are selected based on their accessibility as well as willingness to respond. Although convenience sampling is easy to use and less expensive, it has been criticised for being a weak form of sampling since the researcher does not make any attempt to know the population or to utilise a random process in selection (Gravetter & Forzano, 2012). In addition, the researcher has little control over the authenticity of the sample, and as such, there is a high possibility of obtaining a biased sample (Gravetter & Forzano, 2012). However, these weaknesses were eliminated in this study by the fact that the researcher was employing purposive sampling to select the schools (special schools) in which the participants (teachers) were to be studied. The researcher made it clear that only those teachers who were involved in teaching children with the aforementioned disabilities should participate in the research. From each of the nine selected schools, the researcher targeted at least 30 teachers. Details about the study and consent forms, together with questionnaires, were distributed to all participating schools. Teachers who consented to participate were asked to complete the questionnaires. The schools’ principals were also targeted (purposefully selected) to provide further information.

Table 3.1: Number of Teachers of the sample size:

Number of Teachers

% of sample

Al Amal Institute

Al Noor Institute

Institute of Intellectual Disabilities

3.4.3 Response Rate:

Each school has about 20–30 teachers; which means that if all the teachers had responded, the questionnaire survey would involve a maximum of 270 participants, (calculated as: 30 teachers × 9 schools = 270). As the researcher, I was expecting 270 teachers to respond; however, 266 teachers responded to the questionnaire. I also interviewed 60 of these teachers as a way of administering the open-ended questions in the questionnaire. To abide with Saudi custom, my male research assistant went to the schools for male students and distributed the questionnaire and interviewed participants.

Of the total of 270 questionnaires distributed, 266 were returned. The overall response rate was 89 percent. As illustrated in Table 3.2, the total questionnaires returned were 266 of which 106 were from Institute of Intellectual Education, 82 from Al Amal Institute and 78 from Al Noor Institute.

Table 3.2: Sampling response rate and percentage of participants per school:

Response rate (%)

Participant (%)

Al Amal Institute

Al Noor Institute

Institute of Intellectual Education

3.5 Data Collection Instruments

The research adopted the use of open-ended questions and interviews in order to collect qualitative data, while the survey questionnaire was used for collecting quantitative data. The survey questionnaire focused on the teachers’ background information (such as gender, teaching experience) and their perceptions about the use of technology to support the learning of students with hearing impairment, visual impairment and intellectual disability in Saudi Arabian schools. The questionnaire was a Likert-scale type and contained about 21 statements to be rated on a 1—5 point scale from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree” respectively. I translated the survey from English to Arabic to ensure the cultural adaptation of the survey for Arabic- speaking Saudi participants. Examples of statements that were contained in the in the questionnaire are:

  1. Learning can be improved considerably if teachers support the use of assistive technologies for the students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

  2. The use of technology helps children with disabilities (Hearing impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities) improve their learning.

There were also open-ended questions at the end, which focused on the following themes:

  • Type of technologies used in schools.

  • teachers’ experiences,

  • how technology affects learning,

  • The challenges involved and how these challenges can be overcome.

The following questions were also used in the interviews:

  1. Does the school you teach in use assistive technology for students with (hearing impairment, visual impairments and intellectual disabilities) in Saudi Arabia?

  2. What types of technological tools are used in your school for student with (hearing impairment, visual impairments and intellectual disabilities) in Saudi Arabia?

  3. What is your experience as a teacher using technology?

  4. What difference do you think technology makes when it is used among students with (hearing impairment, visual impairments and intellectual disabilities) Saudi Arabia?

  5. Have you ever designed a program for student with (hearing impairment, visual impairments and intellectual disabilities) to improve their use of technology? What was it like?

  6. How is technology used towards enhancing learning for student with (hearing impairment, visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities) disability in Saudi Arabia?

  7. What is the role of technology and its influences on the learning of student with (hearing impairment, visual impairments and intellectual disabilities) disability in Saudi Arabian schools?

  8. What are the challenges faced by your school in the implementation and/or use of technology for the learning of student with the aforementioned disabilities in Saudi Arabia?

  9. How do you think the challenges can be overcome?

The use of open-ended questions in the interviews implies that the respondent is asked to provide his or her own answers to the questions (Rubin &Babbie, 2010). Qualitative questionnaires are often used when the researcher wants to know how the participants feel, think about or experience a phenomenon, or when the researcher wants to know why the respondents think something happens (Johnson & Christensen, 2012). Since the participants give their responses by writing their answers in their own words, the open-ended questions can offer rich information (Johnson & Christensen, 2012). The researcher conducted 60 interviews with participants from all the nine schools involved in the study. The interviews involved the use of the open-ended questions outlined above and took place in an informal manner during work time.

3.6 Data Collection

This section presents information about the various activities that were conducted as part of the data collection process. The activities are as follows. First is the process of seeking approval from the UNE Ethics Committee, which was done to ensure that the study was approved and to guarantee that ethical considerations would be adhered to during the research. The next part is a description of a pilot study that was conducted to check the feasibility of the data collection tools (i.e. a survey questionnaire and interview questions), This is followed by a description of how the actual collection of data for the research was conducted.

3.6.1 Ethical procedures and informed consent

Prior to the process of collecting data, the researcher sought ethics approval from the UNE Ethics Committee. The need to seek ethics approval is related to the fact that researchers have documented various ethical dilemmas that can crop up during the process of field work and data collection, many of which are premised on issues of power and privilege, honesty and lying, as well as the overall quality of the association between the researcher and what is being researched (Klenke, 2008). In addition, there are ethical issues relating to the construction of knowledge and matters of advocacy (Klenke, 2008).

Once the approval was obtained, the researcher sent a letter to the Ministry of Higher Education in Saudi Arabia detailing the purpose and relevance of the research. The researcher also contacted the Ministry of Higher Education in Saudi Arabia with the purpose of distributing a survey questionnaire to teachers and school principals and conducting face-to-face interviews with them. The questionnaires were then distributed to the nine schools in Saudi Arabia that were targeted from three regions: Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. The schools included Al Amal Institute, Al Noor Institute and Institute of Intellectual Education.

Over a period of three months, the researcher visited each school to seek the school principals’ approval for the collection of data in their schools. During each visit, the researcher provided the school principal copies of Information Sheet for Participants, Consent Forms and questionnaires schedules. Upon each school principal granting that the research be conducted, the researcher was given an appointment to have a meeting with the targeted participants from each school. All copies of the consent forms were stored in safe cabinet.

3.6.2 Pilot study

A pilot study was first conducted by asking teachers in two schools to complete a draft questionnaire and allowing them an opportunity to participate in interviews along with school principals. This was to help the researcher validate/refine the questionnaire before it was used in the actual data collection process. The essence of conducting a pilot test is to determine whether the data collection tool (in this the questionnaires and interview) can be administered to collect accurate data (Cargan, 2007). More importantly, a pilot study is intended to provide answers to the following questions: whether there are enough directions for the researcher to carry out the research and analyse the collected information; whether the procedures involved are standardised; whether the necessary information is being made available; whether the questions being asked are appropriate for the people that are participating in the research; and whether the information that is being gathered is consistent (i.e. whether the necessary items have been included that can be evaluated for internal consistency) (Cargan, 2007).

During the time of piloting the research instruments, the researcher performed the following in order to answer the questions relating to the pilot study. To start with, the researcher anticipated the actual conditions of the survey, such as problems in understanding some questions in the questionnaire. To remedy the situation, the researcher planned to be around when the research participants are answering the questions in the questionnaire so as to offer them assistance should they need any. Secondly, to ensure that the sample that was being used for the pilot study represented the actual sample that was targeted for the research, the researcher used respondents from two schools that were part of the schools targeted for the actual research. The importance of pretesting the survey instrument on people of a similar nature as those to be involved the actual research has been emphasised by Walliman (2006) when he stated that where possible, the researcher should “test a pilot study on people of a similar type to those in the intended sample to anticipate any problems of comprehension or other sources of confusion” (p. 90). As well, the researcher tested for validity by ensuring that all the main topics of the research had been included. Thus, the questions that were used in the pilot study are the same ones that were used in the actual research. In addition, the researcher tested for reliability of the research instrument by checking the formats of the questionnaire and the interview as well as the clarity of the questions that were being asked.

3.6.3 Data collection method

During subsequent meetings with the research participants after the pilot study, all the teachers and principals were invited to complete the survey and to answer the interview questions. The researcher distributed questionnaires to each of the willing participants. Each participant was required to answer the questions provided to them in the questionnaire relating to the use of technology in their schools.

In accordance with ethical considerations, participants were informed that they did not have to answer any question that they
thought
could make them feel uncomfortable, especially if the question was about an issue that touched on their privacy. Some of the participants had concerns about some of the questions in the questionnaire since they did not understand some of them (due to issues such as language barriers).
It is because of this concern that the researcher was present at the time of conducting the survey to address the participants’ questions or concerns. This was purposely done in order to reduce confusion among the participants in relation to the details of the research questionnaire. The presence of the researcher to offer assistance to the participants where necessary also enabled the participants to give further explanations regarding their answers to the questions.

3.7 Data Analysis

3.7.1 Qualitative Data Analysis

The data from the qualitative interviews comprising and open-ended questions were analysed using the Leximancer software. Leximancer is a semantic analysis tool that was developed in 2001 at the University of Queensland, Brisbane (Sotiriadou, Brouwers& Le, 2014; Liverpool John Moores University, n.d.). The software is a useful instrument of analysis for researchers who are in need of exploring a large amount of text-based data in cases where manual coding and analysis would take a long time. Examples of data that are suited for analysis using Leximancer include multiple interviews or focus group transcripts, survey data, and long reports or web-based textual data (Liverpool John Moores University, n.d.).

The Leximancer software works through a process that is referred to as “unsupervised semantic mapping of natural language” or a kind of text mining (Liverpool John Moores University, n.d., p. 1). Leximancer uses two stages of extracting information: relational and semantic, by employing a unique algothrithm for every stage (Smith & Humphreys, 2006; Liverpool John Moores University, n.d.). The software also calculates the occurrence of every word and then computes the distances between each of the words (a phenomenon known as co-occurrence). The results of calculations are shown in the form of network clouds, concept maps and concept thesauruses that can be looked at on the basis of individual concept levels and also by focusing on family connections that exist been various themes or concepts (Liverpool John Moores University, n.d.; Sotiriadou et al., 2014). Through this, the user of the data is able to quickly identify the concepts in a text and thus understand what the text is saying (Leximancer, n.d.). See figure 1 for an illustration of the Concept Map of the Leximancer software.

Research-Methodology-October-2016 organized

Figure 1: The Leximancer Concept Map

Source: Leximancer Pty Ltd (2016, p. 4)

Leximancer was chosen for data analysis in the research because it offers a fairly balanced method of assessing multifaceted data sets as well as a lucid process of making justifications for decisions about the selection of text. Additionally, Leximancer makes the researcher informed about the wider context of the text and this helps in discovering structures within text that would otherwise be hidden from the obvious view of the researcher. For instance, in the process of using Leximancer, one is able to make out sentiments by highlighting the probability of a concept being mentioned in an unfavourable or a favourable context (Liverpool John Moores University, n.d.).

To analyse the interview data that were collected in the present research, the entire data set of the interview results (transcripts) was run into the Leximancer software. To make sense of the themes in the analysis, the most predominant theme (represented by the largest circle) was identified. The largest circle was used as an indicator of the theme that was of the most significance to the research participants. Attention was paid to the themes that were positioned close to the most important theme (items close to the largest circle). Inside each theme were located the concepts that constituted each theme. Concepts with direct links or connections were regarded as words that are frequently used together and therefore worthy of exploring further, as suggested by Liverpool John Moores University (n.d.). The researcher then explored other themes in the concept map. The relevance of these themes was reflected by their hot colours (the more relevant themes being noted by their hot colours – either red or orange) (Leximancer Pty Ltd (2016). The positions of these themes and other embedded concepts were noted since the positioning provided an idea about other important themes and how they were connected. Themes that were regarded to be least important (denoted by cool colours – i.e. green and blue) were excluded from the analysis. After understanding the layout of the concept map as well as the concepts that were emerging from the data and how they were connected, the researcher then explored the various interrelationships that existed among the highlighted concepts.

Themes were then explored as concept clusters that represented the most semantically linked groups of concepts. The theme name was the most important concept in the cluster.

3.7.2 Quantitative Data Analysis:

In regard to the data that were collected using questionnaires, SPSS software was used as a means of analysing the quantitative data. SPSS provides tools to transfer, organise and analyse raw data. The software also enables the researcher to identify frequencies, descriptive, crosstabs and correlations of data among other helpful analysis from the research.

Tests were conducted to ascertain the psychometric properties (reliability) of the scale to ensure that the measurement is accurate and sound and that the constructs captured information required for the study (Hair, 2006; Creswell, 2014). To achieve this, reliability analysis (Cronbach’s alpha test) was carried out for both the pilot and main study data: to ensure consistency, accuracy, precision, stability, equivalence and homogeneity among the survey items.

A t-test was performed to analyse the effects of gender on the educators’ perceptions about the use of technology to support learning of students with disabilities. At same time, the research applied A One-Way Analysis of Variance ANOVA to analyse the effects of teaching experience and experience in using technology on the educators’ perceptions about the use of technology to support learning of students with disabilities. So as to explore how technology is used to help children with hearing impairment, visual impairment and intellectual disability in Saudi Arabia, the study employed an independent sample t-test, which is fitting rendering to Steed and Coakes (2001) when different participants have responded in different conditions. The independent sample t-test, and Levene’s Test for homogeneity of variance were also performed in SPSS by using the Levene Test for equality of variances. If the P-value is significant (p-value < .05), which the null hypotheses are rejected and the alternative hypotheses are accepted that the variances are unequal. If P-value is insignificant (p-value > .05), which the null hypotheses are accepted that there are no significant differences between the variances of the groups. The assumption here is P-value = 0.05.

3.8 Scales Reliability

This study applied the Cronbach’s alphas of internal consistency scale reliabilities to confirm the reliability of the scales for overall scale and for each of factor. The result of Cronbach’s alphas indicates that the overall reliability of core scale was 0.786, as indicating that all Cronbach’s alpha value exceeded the standard low limitation (0.70), and was considered acceptable.

3.8.1 Factor Analysis

Table 3.3: Factor loading for 21 items:

1-The Assistive Technologies

The assistive technologies currently in use in my school are effective in helping students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities) in their learning.

All stakeholders support the use of technology to support student learning.

My school has an adequate /broad wide range of assistive technologies for use by the students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

Parents of students in my school have been of great assistance, giving in-kind assistive technology devices to the school.

The Saudi Arabian education sector is doing enough to provide assistive technology to students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

My school has trained me adequately (and other teachers) in the use of assistive technologies for the students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

2-The use of Technology

Technology should be introduced in all schools that cater for children with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

The use of technology helps children with disabilities (Hearing impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities) improve their learning.

Learning can be improved considerably if teachers support the use of assistive technologies for the students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

3-IT skills for Teachers

As a teacher, I already know what can be done to improve the efficiency of assistive technologies among the students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities) in my class.

As a teacher, I have identified the skills that students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities) need in order to use assistive technologies more efficiently.

As a teacher, I’m well-versed in the research on technology tools/aids that can enhance the learning experience among students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

I am adept at using assistive technologies when teaching the students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

4-Principal

My school principal is open to improving the use of technology to help students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

My school principal expects me to use technology to support student learning.

5-Children’ effective to use Technology in their learning

Students are more pleased to use assistive technologies when their parents/guardians support the use of such technologies.

Children with disabilities (Hearing impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities) in my school are able to effectively use assistive technology to support their learning.

6-Challenges

The use of technology in my school faces too many challenges.

My school has challenges acquiring assistive technologies for the students with disabilities (Hearing Impairment, Visual impairments and Intellectual disabilities).

7-Technological Infrastructure

The lack of technology designed for Arab users is hindering technology use in my school.

Current assistive technologies need significant improvement (or redesign) if they are to help the hearing impaired students.

The seven factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0 were rotated using Varimax software to generate an orthogonal solution provided above. To provide interpretive value, this study in generally accepted factor loadings more than 0.40. The seven interpretable factors generated from the Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) regarding the educator’s perceptions: Factor 1 is The Assistive Technologies, Factor 2 is The use of Technology, Factor 3 is IT skills for Teachers, Factor 4 is Principle, Factor 5 is Children’ effective to use Technology in their learning and factor 6 is Challenges, while the final factor 7 is Technological Infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

Table 3.4 presents the results of Cronbach’s alphas. The table indicate that the subscales the Cronbach’s alpha values were within the range of acceptable levels between (0.484 and 0.844), and the overall reliability of core scale was 0.786.

Table 3.4: Reliabilities scale for each factor:

Std. Deviation

Cronbach’s Alpha

The Assistive Technologies in Saudi Schools

The use of Technology in Saudi Schools

Teachers’ Skills

Principle

Children’ effective to use Technology

Challenges

Technological Infrastructure

3.9 Summary

This chapter has presented information about various aspects of the methodology that was used in the research. The research was based on a pragmatic paradigm, which is a philosophical paradigm that regards reality as provisional instead of viewing it as absolute. This paradigm was selected because it focuses on what can work to provide an answer to the research question. More importantly, the pragmatic paradigm is well suited for quantitative and qualitative research approaches, which were used in the study in accordance with the research questions.

The research design that was employed was a sequential exploratory design that involved the use of mixed methods. This design was selected because of the ability to fit into the pragmatic paradigm. The population, sample size and participants included nine schools that offer education to children with hearing impairment, visual impairment and intellectual disabilities from three cities in Saudi Arabia.

Data collection was done after ethics approval by the university and upon seeking consent from the Ministry of Education and the respective schools. Piloting of the data collection instruments (the survey questionnaire and the open-ended/interview questions) was also done before the actual data collection to ensure that the tools could be used to collect accurate data. Two hundred and seventy teachers from the nine schools were targeted for data collection using a survey questionnaire. Out of the targeted number, 266 teachers participated in the questionnaire survey. Sixty teachers and the schools’ principals also answered open-ended questions that also acted as the questions for the interview.

The final section of the methodology chapter is about data analysis. The quantitative data in the research were analysed using SPSS while the qualitative data were analysed using the Leximancer software.

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