Application of grounded theory in an international research context depicting everyday school life of children with disabilities - Experiences, problems and good practice from Bangkok

Year: 2012

Author: Proyer, Michelle, Sriwanyong, Siriparn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This abstract is part of the research project CLASDISA ( involving three capitals: Vienna, Addis Ababa and Bangkok. The main intention of the project is to analyse barriers and facilitators, school aged students with disabilities face in different societies which are shaped by diverse cultural perceptions of disabilities.
Focusing on the research process in Bangkok this presentation aims to illustrate challenges faced when using Grounded Theory (GT): drawing a picture from the generation of a standardized research design in order to acquire funding, via first experiences in the field to the creation of individualized research methods. 
In order to get an idea of the educational situation of children with somatically caused disabilities between 7 and 14 years, an international research team (involving staff from University of Vienna, Addis Ababa University and Srinakharinwirot University Bangkok) developed semi-structured interview guidelines for different groups: children with disabilities, their parents, classmates, teachers and additional experts (e.g. disability associations, therapists). One sample is made up of one child, one parent/legal guardian and a teacher. Next to interviews and focus group discussions, the following sources were used to gather qualitative data in the course of different field visits: classroom observations, appraisal of school compounds as well as analysis of further documents such as IEPs and national policies.
Based on GT the research design in Bangkok was intended to be flexible. Related to a rather open approach to the design of the sample, the development of the research instruments from standardized guidelines to individual approaches could be noticed. This went hand in hand with a constant exchange at national (academic research partners in the countries working with a researcher from Austria in the field) and international level (cross-national exchange among the three countries).
Over a period of two and a half years of data collection, problems and good practices related to the application of GT involved to the following issues:
- High amount of data collected in relation to sample saturation
- Translation of data collected (5 Languages involved)
- Intercultural application of a standardized research design for a diverse sample
In order to learn about the challenges children with diverse disabilities face in the context of education in different cultural context, research methods have to be individualized to a great extent. GT offers a lot of opportunities in this regard but a number of issues related to intercultural applicability have to be considered.