Methodological Questions in Analysing the Content, Structure and
Meaning of Student Teachers' Management Schemata

Year: 1989

Author: Butcher, Jude

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Researchers have used a wide range of techniques to investigate teachers' thinking. Yinger (1986), concerned about the validity of research data in studies of interactive thinking, examined the role of stimulated recall interviews in research on teachers' thought in action. His detailed analysis showed that the teachers involved in such research are more likely to be reconstructing the situation rather than recalling what they were thinking while they were actually teaching. He concluded that the use of such interviews "may be at best only tangentially related to actual thinking during the recorded event..." (1986, p. 273). Yinger's work emphasises the need for researchers to question the type of data they are collecting and the extent to which those data are related to the purposes of the research. Morine-Dershimer (1988) has also addressed questions related to the validity of the data in her examination of how the different approaches researchers use to analyse and interpret data can influence what they learn about the language of the classroom. She concluded "that what we know is highly dependent upon our ways of knowing". Morine-Dershimer also stated her strong belief "that the method of triangulation of findings from alternative systems of analysis can greatly contribute to that more complete understanding" of the classroom.

This paper presents two frameworks for addressing questions of internal validity in the data collection segment of a research study being undertaken at the present time. The frameworks are used here to examine the collection of data in a two phase study of teacher schemata in the classroom management domain. Internal validity is defined as the extent to which the data are measures of the variables the research purported to measure (Tuckman, 1978; Shimahara, 1988). It is the basis for claiming that the research data are to be accepted as accurate measures of the variables being studied.

The purposes of the study referred to in this paper were to:
-describe the content, structure and meaning of teacher management schemata
-identify differences in teacher management schemata
-identify transitions in the development of teacher management schemata
-explore the relationships between teachers' management schemata, management behaviour and teacher efficacy
- explore these differences and relationships with respect to teachers' level of expertise and career stage.