ArticlePDF Available

Giving voice to headteachers using interpretative phenomenological analysis-IPA: Learning from a Caribbean experience

Authors:

Abstract

Successful school leadership is an issue debated globally, but these discussions do not seem to occur within the context of inclusive education in the Caribbean. Although there have been reports indicating steady progression in educational leadership and inclusive practices within the last decade, no planned, long-term innovations have emerged. This article reports part of a small-scale, qualitative study, conducted with 16 headteachers of secondary schools from across Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago. An interpretative phenomenological approachwas used to explore how headteachers ascribe meaning to their unique, lived experiences and how this affects their role in facilitating inclusive education. The study identified a relationship between the lived experiences of headteachers, and their resulting approach to leading their respective schools. There is also potential for the strengthening of educational leadership and inclusion through reflexive practice that promotes equity in the schools’ contexts.
Article
Giving voice to headteachers using
interpretative phenomenological
analysis-IPA: Learning from a
Caribbean experience
Mishel P Moriah
University of Aberdeen, UK
Abstract
Successful school leadership is an issue debated globally, but these discussions do not seem to occur within the context of
inclusive education in the Caribbean. Although there have been reports indicating steady progression in educational
leadership and inclusive practices within the last decade, no planned, long-term innovations have emerged. This article
reports part of a small-scale, qualitative study, conducted with 16 headteachers of secondary schools from across Guyana
and Trinidad & Tobago. An interpretative phenomenological approachwas used to explore how headteachers ascribe
meaning to their unique, lived experiences and how this affects their role in facilitating inclusive education. The study
identified a relationship between the lived experiences of headteachers, and their resulting approach to leading their
respective schools. There is also potential for the strengthening of educational leadership and inclusion through reflexive
practice that promotes equity in the schools’ contexts.
Keywords
lived-experiences, interpretivism, research context, researcher positionality, participants’ voice
Introduction
Opportunities for educational leaders to speak and be
heard should always be an essential element of
21st-century schooling. The focus of this article is to pres-
ent an account of the design and process of an interpreta-
tive phenomenological approach (IPA) study, concerning
the lived experiences of headteachers in leading inclusive
practices in their schools. It also reflects on the nature of
the headteachers’ lived experiences that were used as a
yardstick for leading their schools. It was anticipated that
knowledge of headship experiences and perceptions
would help the headteachers to ascertain how they oper-
ate, to review if they could be better supported and to
reflect on how their headship could be strengthened to
contribute towards the development of inclusive educa-
tion in their schools.
In this article, the voice of headteachers is argued to be
of unique significance to the success of their leadership
practice. According to Covey (2004), those on the path to
greatness find their voice and inspire others to find theirs,
and those who inspire others to find theirs are the leaders
needed now and for the future. Covey (2004) suggests four
questions that may guide leaders in finding their voice:
What are you good at? What do you love doing? What need
can you serve? What do you feel like you should be doing?
This article explores how a study of headteachers’ experi-
ences, using an IPA framework, created the opportunity for
them to hear their voices; understand their strengths and
further develop this potential to lead their schools in the
context of Caribbean settings.
Why the interpretive phenomenological
approach?
IPA aims to offer insights into how a given person, in a
given context, makes sense of a given phenomenon (Smith
et al., 2009). In this case, it was used to explore how head-
teachers ascribe meaning to their unique, lived experiences
and how this affected their role in facilitating inclusive
education.
IPA was selected as a way of framing such a study
because of its qualitative ability, as it is best able to offer
insights into how a given person, in a given context, makes
sense of a given phenomenon. This psychological approach
is especially appropriate for understanding the experiences
and perspectives of Caribbean school leaders and how these
experiences impact their role in facilitating inclusive prac-
tices in secondary education because of three key reasons.
First, although there are multiple ways to interpret the
same experience, IPA focuses on understanding the parti-
cipants’ experiences through their lens, with the view that
Corresponding author:
Mishel P. Moriah, Research Fellow in Education, School of Education,
University of Aberdeen, King’s College, Aberdeen AB24 5UA, UK.
E-mail: mishel.moriah@abdn.ac.uk
Management in Education
2018, Vol. 32(1) 6–12
ª2017 British Educational Leadership,
Management & Administration Society
(BELMAS)
Reprints and permission:
sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0892020617748141
journals.sagepub.com/home/mie
MiE
only his or her perspective can infer his or her meaning.
How a person perceives things to be, regardless of how
skewed their perceptions may be, is assumed to be their
reality. For example, the literature reviewed shows experi-
ence to be a deciding factor in the selection of headteachers
in the Caribbean; in which case, the lived experience of the
principal is of utmost importance in the context of the study
because Caribbean school leaders largely draw upon their
experiences to get through their days at school.
Second, this approach matches the epistemological posi-
tion assumed in this research; that only the person experi-
encing a particular phenomenon is best able to understand
their experiences: IPA is suited to circumstances in which
participants are invited to offer a rich, detailed, first-person
account of their experiences. One-on-one and unstructured
interviews are considered the best means of assessing such
accounts because the interviews facilitate the elicitation of
stories, thoughts and feelings about the phenomenon. By
developing a rapport with participants, interviews can pro-
vide as much depth as possible (Smith et al., 2009).
Third, the IPA approach is good at bringing to the sur-
face deep issues and enabling voices to be heard. Accord-
ing to Fullan (2001), Sergiovanni (2000) and Combs et al.
(1999), an individual’s values and underlying beliefs influ-
ence their behaviour and guide their work practices and
approaches. A leader’s authenticity, therefore, depends on
the nature of his or her belief system as well as the ability to
share it meaningfully (Deal and Peterson, 1999). Capacity
to lead in this way may be derived from the lived experi-
ence of the individual leader, whose experience often
drives his or her beliefs and actions.
The following questions guided the study.
1. How is school leadership positioned in the current
Caribbean context, concerning the differential con-
ditions of preparation and orientation of
headteachers?
2. How do Caribbean school leaders’ practices align
and respond to ideas of inclusive education?
3. What conditions challenges and prepare them for
their role?
4. How can school leaders impact or influence the
process of inclusive education in a Caribbean
school environment?
The interpretive nature of the IPA method has much to
offer headteachers in multiple contexts. It provides insight
into questions relating to their expertise, their leadership
capabilities and preferences, and guides decision making to
(or ‘intending to’) make a positive impact on their practice.
Interpretative phenomenological analysis
According to Smith et al. (2009), IPA is the single most
useful research method that explicitly offers the kind of
interaction with participants which expose their different
reality according to their lived experiences. In this study,
the IPA analysis allowed for the Interpretation of both the
explicit and the implicit dimensions of the school leaders’
narrative, where headteachers gave accounts of their
personal lived experience as it related to school leadership
and inclusive education in their unique context. The phe-
nomenological background to this approach sees it as
exploring how people ascribe meaning to their experiences.
This type of analysis is set within the broader context of
interpretative social science research, using mainly quali-
tative data and offers both a methodological and an analy-
tical approach towards exploring and understanding the
experience of a particular phenomenon.
This interpretive stance has subjected IPA to criticism
with, mostly, Husserlian phenomenologists, for example,
Finlay (2009), arguing that research is phenomenological
only when it meets two criteria. First, it involves a
description of the lived world or lived experience and,
second, the researcher has adopted an open phenomeno-
logical attitude, which, at least, refrains from importing
external frameworks and sets aside judgments about the
realness of the phenomenon (Finlay et al., 2009). Others
do not require such strict criteria, for example, Georgie
(2000), who explains that IPA is phenomenologically
inspired because it attracts thoughts. Georgie does caution
thattheseideasmayneedtobemodifiedtomakethem
meaningful in the context in which their interpretation is
used.
In essence, phenomenological studies, such as IPA,
examine the structure of various types of experience. The
structure of these forms of experience typically involves
what Husserl called intentionality:thatis,itsbeing
directed towards something. IPA asserts that our conscious
experience is directed towards our intentions or actions in a
particular context or depending on specific factors (for
example, the tree you see in the school yard is distinct from
the general concept of a tree, depending on the purpose it
serves at a point in time). These make up the meaning or
content of a given experience and are distinct from the
things they present or mean. This article discusses three
main areas of methodological focus, derived from reports
in a Caribbean study, regarding headteachers’ leadership
experiences:
1. the adaptability of IPA to unique contextual conno-
tations of the phenomenon;
2. IPA as a differentiated approach, exploring
researcher positionality;
3. IPA emphasis of participants’ voices.
IPA studies are adaptable to the different contextual
connotations of the phenomenon
IPA is an investigative method, which sets out to capture
the experiential and qualitative experience and sense-
making of an event from a particular perspective within a
particular context. In the study, participants were purposely
sought out and selected because they had something to say
about school leadership. Hence ‘IPA study represent a per-
spective, or personal experiences and application thereof,
rather than a population’ (Smith et al. 2009, p4, 49; Lang-
dridge, 2007). By this approach, IPA sought to understand
the human condition ‘as it manifests itself in concrete, lived
Moriah 7
situations’ (Valle and King 1978 p. 6); in this case, the
interpretation of the Headteachers experiences.
IPA as differentiated approach – exploring
researcher positionality
According to Foote and Bartell (2011: 46), ‘The position-
ality that researchers bring to their work and the personal
experiences through which positionality is shaped, may
influence their choice of processes, and their interpretation
of outcomes.’ Positionality reflects the position which the
researcher chooses to adopt within a given research study
(Savin-Baden and Howell Major, 2013: 71). It is identified
by locating the researcher in relation to three areas: the
subject, the participants and the research context and pro-
cess (Savin-Baden and Howell Major, 2013). These areas
are coloured by values and beliefs, discussed in the follow-
ing section. To ensure credibility in IPA research, Giorgi
(2000) proposed that an individual needs to bracket out the
outer world as well as individuals’ biases to successfully
achieve contact with real meaning. The aim of bracketing/
epoche
´is to enable the researcher to describe the things
themselves and attempt to set aside the natural attitude or
all the assumptions we have about the world around us
(Sokolouski, 2000). In contrast, the IPA researcher does
not try to bracket-off his or her preconceptions; instead,
the preconceptions are used to aid understanding and inter-
pretation of the participants’ accounts. In this study, the
issue of bracketing was of particular significance, because
of my positionality as a former school leader in the research
context; also because of the participating headteachers’
role as insiders/co-researchers, in this way; they described
the impact of their personal on their leadership practice.
Insider research refers to a situation when researchers
conduct research with populations of which they are also
members and share an experiential base with the study
participants (Asselin, 2003; Kanuha, 2000).The issue of
researcher positionality in the group and context being
considered was relevant to the IPA methodology because
the researcher played a direct and intimate role in both data
collection and analysis.
Although at face value the researcher appeared in an
outsider position to the research population, the process
revealed her as more of an insider than previously thought.
For example, during the data analysis phases, it seemed
natural to write herself into the research (using terms like
‘us’ and ‘them’). Further reflection also revealed some
shared experiences, opinions and perspectives with the par-
ticipants, but these common identities were often short
lived. Although it was easy to see herself on either end of
the research spectrum, not all populations were homoge-
neous, so differences were expected and appreciated.
Hence, complete bracketing could not be achieved, as it
was impossible for the researcher to interact with the
research context, as a total stranger. This justifies Wolcott’s
(1994: 13) view, that ‘there is no such thing as immaculate
perception, as it is impossible to expect anyone to thor-
oughly bracket off their presumptions to achieve a God’s
eye view’ of a phenomenon. Heidegger (1962) also argued
that nothing can be encountered without reference to the
person’s background and understanding. In other words,
meaning is found from both the way human beings are
constructed by the world and the way they construct the
world from their background and experience. Hence, the
past is presented as productive, that it should help the inter-
preters’ current understanding (Schleiermacher et al., 1969,
cited in Palmer, 1969, 1971; see also Annells, 1996). As an
insider, the researcher was able to understand the research
context better and engage meaningfully in double herme-
neutic. In this case, her role was ‘to make sense of the
participants trying to make sense of what was happening
to them’ (Smith et al., 2009: 3).
Owing to the researcher’s familiarity with the context of
the study, there has been much self-reflection during this
research process. In fact, researching as an insider seemed
to limit the type and scope of engagement in such familiar
context because knowledge is pervasive and affects deci-
sion making. Upon reflection, insider positionality in qua-
litative research does not make anyone a better or worse
scientist; it just makes you a different type of research
specialist.
IPA emphasizes the participants’ voice
Uniqueness is another characteristic of the lived experience
of an individual. It goes without saying that ‘no two people
will experience the world in quite the same way’ (Spinelli,
1989: 14) because individual experiences are uniquely
interpreted and understood. In the study, no two partici-
pants related their experiences in the same way, and parti-
cipants’ characteristics differed from one headteacher to
the next. Also, participants’ personality variables were a
significant factor in the way in which experiences were
related and interpreted. Valle and King (1978: 245) distin-
guished between ‘immediate experience’ and ‘reflective
experience’, the latter being that which has been filtered
by linguistic and cultural frameworks. These frames corre-
spond to what Spinelli (1989: 14) referred to as ‘cognitive
and affective biases’ – schemata, mental and attitudinal
structures that filter and shape our experiences in a unique
way, thus rendering them ‘only partially shareable’. It is not
to say that each participant’s experience of school leader-
ship was unshareable. There were shared experiences,
especially when headteachers had common cultural and
historical roots.
These similarities informed the structure of educational
leadership, as they knew it, and served to highlight the
uniqueness of the elements of the lived experience of the
individual. In in-depth/unstructured interviews, such as
were conducted in this research, areas of commonality
among the headteachers were identified. However, there
was a need to question that which was unique in each
participant’s leadership practice, against this fabric of com-
monality. Furthermore, gaining a comprehensive under-
standing of the participants’ lived experience required an
acknowledgement of the importance of perceptions;
because it was the perceptions of the participants that
constituted the data to be analysed and developed
8Management in Education 32(1)
(Giorgi, 1994: 203). Giorgi also claims that that knowledge
of such reality can only occur through the consciousness of
it. Hence, it was better to study the reality claims made by
the headteachers through their consciousness of it, so that,
the researcher was more interested in the headteachers’
perceived reality. Nonentheless, what seemed significant
was that their perceptions were seen not as complete, finite
views of reality, but as constantly shifting interpretations,
yet, reliable indicators of how they were likely to act in (or
react to) their environments.
In IPA terms, the relationship between perceptions
and reality is also seen to be interdependent and
dynamic, so that the perceptions come to mean reality
itself, hence, the only reality headteachers were able to
experience. Giddens (1984) purports that the social
world is both free and determined, that is, it is the free
agency of the individual that is determined by the struc-
tures within society. Hence, although Caribbean school
leaders are free to express their ideas concerning how
they want their schools to be, their actions seemed con-
strained by structures, the bureaucracy and protocols
within which they must operate. The interpretative phe-
nomenological approach enabled a clear understanding
of how the participants made sense of their experiences
and provided a platform for their voices to be heard.
The problem
The problem addressed by the study was as the result of
escalating support needs among mainstream school age
children in the Caribbean, which had led to an increasing
demand for new and more comprehensive education pro-
grammes. Such troubling events can contribute to the cre-
ation of complex new school situations (Fullan and
Hargreaves, 1996; Lambert et al., 1997), which could have
worrying implications for school principals regarding pro-
fessional training to meet the challenges of 21st-century
schools. As the progression towards inclusive schooling
heightens, the role of headteachers in the Caribbean
becomes more and more complicated. Such complexities
demand greater flexibility and wisdom in negotiating
school life amid the complications. The insights from
reflections of the headteachers themselves were considered
a valuable way to offer solutions to these issues concerning
next steps: by holding a mirror up to the headteachers’
perceptions of their lived experience they would become
empowered to identify and address the challenges.
Recruitment and ethical considerations
A purposive sample was taken of 16 headteachers from
public secondary schools in the Caribbean. In considering
the purpose of this study, a set of criteria was established
that considered the unique characteristics of the schools,
what was known about the potential participants and each
school’s population. Lists of respondents who matched the
criteria and who were willing to participate in the study
were invited to participate and informed about its nature
and purpose. A key principle for constructing ethical
research is that of ensuring that the participants agree
voluntarily to be engaged in the research. In this study, the
headteachers who were approached gave informed and
explicit consent, free from coercion and bribery to take part
in the study (ESRC, 2005). The emphasis on informed
consent arises from fundamental democratic rights of free-
dom and self-determination (Cohen et al., 2000). Letters of
assurance and confidence in the research and researcher
were provided by the researcher’s university supervisors
on request. Signed declarations were provided, which also
explained how the participants would be protected from
potential harm and violation of their privacy while reassur-
ing them that the researcher planned to maintain the integ-
rity of the research and its ethical standards.
Unstructured interviewing with IPA
in mind
The data was collected within a period of 3 to 5 months.
The design of the interviews needed to evolve as themes
emerged because the structure was not predetermined; this
allowed participants to explore their understandings of the
phenomenon explicitly. Hence, the interviews lasted
approximately 1 hour, and were usually done face to face;
although flexibility was offered to use alternative modes of
communication, such as video conferencing and the tele-
phone, depending on the respondents’ preferences and
availability.
This research guided the researcher to appreciate the
merit of the conversational nature of an unstructured inter-
view to allow the interviewer to be highly responsive to
individual differences and situational changes (Patton,
2002) while aiming to try to capture the richness of the
participants’ unique experience. The researcher was, there-
fore, aware that they were an integral part of the research
instrument, trying not to structure the inquiry by using
predefined frameworks and questions. Scott and Morrison
(2006) indicated that the success of the interview depended
on the researcher’s ability to generate questions in response
to the context and to move the conversation in a direction of
interest to the researcher. In this case, to aid understanding
of the experiences of these school leaders and how these
impacted their role in facilitating inclusive education in
their respective schools.
The discussions followed sequences that were primarily
narrative or descriptive. The sequences begun with a ques-
tion that allowed the participant to recount a fairly vivid
work-related episode or experience. For example, how did
you become a school leader? In this way, it was hoped that
the participant would quickly become comfortable and
engrossed in his or her story. Promptings or invitations to
be more analytical were introduced when it became appar-
ent that they had eased into the interview. Care was taken to
ensure that the participants’ concerns led the conversations;
with matters arising out of the discussion were followed up
by the researcher. This following up procedure was neces-
sary because the respondents may have said something that
was not anticipated and, because they arise unprompted,
may well be of particular importance to the participant
Moriah 9
(Smith et al., 2009). As discussed earlier both interviewer
and interviewee in an IPA study are active participants
within the research process. Full attention was given to the
participant at all times during the interview and care was
taken to avoid all possibilities of distraction. The interviews
needed to be carried out in a clear and confident manner so
that the participants knew there was no pre-set agenda and
that they were free to say whatever they had to say about
the topic in as much detail as they cared to give. Partici-
pants were reminded that the stories of their experience
were the most important aspect of the research process and
they were assured that there were, therefore, no right and
wrong answers or ideas.
Although the interviews were mainly participant led, an
interview schedule was used as a contingency measure
(Smith et al., 2009). Questions were set as in an ‘ideal’
situation and as expected or most appropriate for the parti-
cipants. However, this guideline of broad, open-ended
questions served as a contingency frame to help decide how
and when to probe interesting leads. Even so, when reading
the transcripts later, additional aspects were identified as
worthy of further investigation. In retrospect, it was felt that
this could be remedied through the use of follow-up inter-
views or a process of triangulation where participants could
be contacted to verify transcripts or clarify points made
during the discussions.
It was hard to control the direction and pace of the con-
versation and the degree of directedness of the questions
and statements proposed during the discussion. The
researcher was aware that the quality of the conversation
was mostly influenced by the participants’ representation
of their diverse work environment. Hence, in all cases, the
researcher was the learner in the conversation, trying to
make sense of the interviewee’s experiences from his or
her point of view. Taking this position helped the
researcher to assume an open-minded approach throughout
the interviews, to dismiss preconceived notions and adopt a
neutral stance concerning the participants’ stories (Smith
et al., 2009). This neutrality required consistent effort to
refrain from inserting the researcher’s insider knowledge of
the context and allowing participants to explore their
thoughts and experiences without interruptions. The
researcher deliberately took the time to process partici-
pants’ responses and showed genuine interest in the new
information being revealed.
Another major feature that might have affected the inter-
view process was the rhythm or dynamics of the interaction
(Smith et al., 2009). At the beginning of the interview the
expectation was that there might be condensed meanings,
narratives and understandings; but as the conversation pro-
gressed and the participants warmed up to the exercise and
were relaxed, there were changes in the interview tone. The
discussion moved from the descriptive to the active, from
the general to the specific, from the superficial to the dis-
closing (Smith et al., 2009). All this was happening in
parallel to, but at least partly independent of, the unfolding
topic sequence. In preparation, the researcher remained
alerted to the interview dynamics and ready to revisit the
first issue at a later point if necessary. In any case, questions
on more sensitive topics were asked later in the interview to
avoid impeding the flow of discussion.
Participants were encouraged to speak more about them-
selves rather than others; to maintain their attention to the
personal meaning of events. However, as the interview
progressed, the participant’s dynamic shaped the interview
dialogue, and there was no longer any need to probe for
responses repeatedly. This demonstrated that the interview
technique did facilitate a general shift from talking about
things at the generic to the specific level. In this way, IPA
attempted to expose the obvious and to reveal the strange in
the familiar. According to Reid et al. (2005, cited in Smith
et al., 2009), such one-to-one interviews can be easily man-
aged, allowing a rapport to develop and giving the partici-
pant the space to think, speak and be heard. They were
therefore well suited to in-depth and personal discussion
suitable for the theoretical foundations of IPA.
Making sense of the data
Thematic analysis is the primary analytical approach used
in IPA for identifying, analysing and reporting patterns and
themes within data. This type of analysis organizes and
describes the data set in rich detail, making interpretation
easier (Boyatzis, 1998). Thematic analysis helps to unravel
the reality of the participants’ experiences (Smith et al.,
2009). There are seven stages in the thematic analytic
process.
1. The interview transcript is read multiple times so as
to achieve a deep emersion and to become familiar
with the depth and breadth of the content; generat-
ing original codes.
2. The coded text segments are examined to under-
stand the participants’ accounts further and to estab-
lish themes.
3. A third phase re-focused the analysis at the broader
level of issues, rather than codes, and involved sort-
ing the different codes into potential themes, collat-
ing all the relevant coded data extracts within the
identified themes.
4. The themes were reviewed and explored, searching
for connectedness. This phase began when a set of
candidate themes was devised and involved the
refinement of topics.
5. Themes were defined and named, giving preference
to the participants’ meanings.
6. The sixth phase began when a full thematic map of
the data had been generated and involved the final
analysis and write-up of the report.
7. The final phase is one of synthesis in which the
three aspects of IPA (the adaptability to population,
the exploration of researcher positionality and the
importance placed on participants’ voice) all work
together in the study to produce rich, meaningful
reports of the participants’ experiences of the
phenomenon.
8. Through this study, the researcher came to under-
stand interpretivism as the foundation of the IPA
10 Management in Education 32(1)
method, seeking to understand the world school
leaders inhabit. This allowed an understanding
about leadership practice each school leader has
had, concerning their different experiences, and
how each interpreted or made sense of their experi-
ences in unique ways. The Interpretive stance sup-
ports the attempts by the research participants to
make sense of what has happened to them, as part
of what Smith et al. (2009) call the interpretative
endeavour. This is informed by hermeneutics,
which is the theory of interpretation; the develop-
ment of a plausible but contingent line of meaning
attribution to account for a phenomenon.
Findings
This study found the role of Caribbean headteachers to be
elusive; with regards to set roles and guidelines regarding
inclusive education. It was difficult to purposely align their
training and professional development with their required
practice towards a quality inclusive education programme.
School leadership practice was mostly aligned with a situa-
tional approach whereby headteachers constantly impro-
vised strategies to embrace the complex and flexible
contexts of their schools. Headteachers in the Caribbean
were also found to be very instrumental and innovative in
providing leadership under uniquely challenging circum-
stances. Headteachers’ experiences are central to their role
of facilitating inclusive education in their schools, as these
experiences seem to have an impact on their attitudes
towards their jobs and the way in which they lead.
Conclusion
This article has introduced IPA as a research methodology
oriented to exploring and understanding how headteachers
made sense of their experiences in facilitating inclusive
education within their unique work environment. Qualita-
tive research methods that focus on the lived experience of
people in leadership positions are relatively underutilized
in educational research, yet they are arguably the most
valuable for deriving rich data on issues relating to practice
and experiences.
The study also highlighted as relevant the qualitative
research data that revealed the personal perspectives of
participants, through their lived experiences, as providing
first-hand accounts of the situation. This provided a better
understanding of what it is like to work in integrated school
environments under challenging conditions as perceived by
participants. For the purpose of this study, IPA offers a
means of developing an understanding of the potential for
improving the experience of students with learning disabil-
ities through inclusive practices in mainstream schools.
For the practitioner, the value of this kind of research
into lived experiences is that the findings are attuned to
issues such as inclusion and leadership, which could be
usefully explored in practice (Green and Britten, 1998).
IPA as a research approach can be used to challenge con-
ventional discourses or ways of thinking about issues such
as school leadership. This is because of its strong commit-
ment to use richly detailed and uniquely holistic represen-
tation of language and activities that adequately describe
the experiences of headteachers (Smith et al., 2009; Smith
and Osborn, 2008).
The findings from the IPA research are highly consistent
and offer a clear understanding that can be used to contex-
tualize existing research to inform understanding of under-
researched topics like educational leadership. The findings
could also be used to provoke a reappraisal of what is
considered known about educational leadership in various
settings. Education practitioners could use IPA as a useful
and accessible approach in schools to inform practice and
the development of support services.
Although the findings in the study were specific to the
participants, they may be generalizable to a larger group of
headteachers and school leaders globally, by establishing a
wider resonance of the study beyond its particular context.
This generalisability is possible because of similarities in
the participants’ unique lived experience that may be trans-
ferable; and because of the rigour that underpins the inter-
pretative phenomenological analysis conducted by using
the thematic strategy (Mason, 1996; Smith et al., 2009).
In addition, the comprehensive review and application of
literature has revealed relevant and similar circumstances
in various world contexts. Hence generalisability in this
qualitative research may also be established by making
sense of the similarity in school leaders’ role and situations,
rather than on an explicit sampling and the drawing of
conclusions about a specified population through statistical
inference (Yin, 2003).
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with
respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
article.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research,
authorship and/or publication of this article.
References
Annells M (1996) Hermeneutic phenomenology: philosophical
perspectives and current use in nursing research. Journal of
Advanced Nursing 23(3): 705–713.
Asselin ME (2003) Insider research: Issues to consider when
doing qualitative research in your setting. Journal for Nurses
in Staff Development 19(2): 99–103.
Boyatzis R (1998) Transforming Qualitative Information: The-
matic Analysis and Code Development. Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage.
Cohen L, Manion L and Morrison K (2000) Research Methods in
Education, 5th edn. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Combs AW, Miser AB and Whitaker KS (1999) On Becoming a
School Leader: A Person Centered Challenge.Alexandria,
VA: ASCD.
Covey SR (2004) The 8th Habit – From Effectiveness to Great-
ness; Abasyn Journal of Social Sciences 8(1): Qurtuba Uni-
versity of Science & IT, Peshawar Campus.
Moriah 11
Deal TE and Peterson KD (1999) Shaping the School Culture: The
Heart of Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
ESRC (2005) Research Ethics Framework. Swindon: ESRC.
Finlay L (2009) Debating phenomenological research methods.
Phenomenology & Practice, 3(1): 6–25.
Foote MQ and Bartell Gau T (2011) Pathways to equity in mathe-
matics education: how life experiences impact researcher posi-
tionality. Educational Studies in Mathematics 78: 45–68.
Fullan MG and Hargreaves A (1996) What’s Worth Fighting For
In Your School? New York: Teachers College Press.
Fullan M (2001) Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco,
CA: Jossey-Bass.
Giddens A (1984) The Theory of Structuration. Oxford: Polity
Press.
Giorgi A (1994) A phenomenological perspective on certain qua-
litative research methods. Journal of Phenomenological
Psychology 25(2): 190–220.
Giorgi A (2000) The status of Husserlian phenomenology in car-
ing research. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research
14(1): 3–10.
Green J and Britten N (1998) Qualitative research and evidence
based medicine. BritishMedical Journal 316(7139): 1230–1232.
Heidegger M (1962) Being and Time. New York: Harper and
Row.
Kanuha VK (2000) ‘Being’ native versus ‘going native’: Conduct-
ing social work research as an insider. Social Work 45: 439–447.
Lambert L, Collay M, Dietz ME, Kent K and Richert AE (1997)
Who Will Save Our Schools? Teachers as Constructivist Lead-
ers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Langdridge D (2007) Phenomenological Psychology: Theory,
Research, and Method. London: Prentice Hall.
Mason J (1996) Qualitative Researching, 2nd edn. London: SAGE.
Palmer R (1969) Hermeneutics. Evanston, IL: Northwestern
University Press.
Palmer R (1971) Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in
Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger and Gadamer (Studies
in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy). Evanston,
IL: Northwestern University Press.
Patton MQ (2002) Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods.
Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Savin-Baden M and Howell Major C (2013) Qualitative
Research: The Essential Guide to Theory and Practice.
Abingdon: Routledge.
Scott D and Morrison M (2006) Key Ideas in Educational
Research. London: Bloomsbury.
Sergiovanni T (2000) The Lifeworld of Leadership: Creating Cul-
ture, Community and Personal Meaning in Our Schools. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Smith JA, Flowers P and Larkin M (2009) Interpretative Phenom-
enological Analysis: Theory Method and Research. London:
SAGE.
Smith JA and Osborne M (2008) Interpretative phenomenological
analysis. In: Smith J (ed.) Qualitative Psychology: A Practical
Guide to Research Methods. London: SAGE, pp. 53–80.
Sokolouski R (2000) Introduction to Phenomenology. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Spinelli E (1989) The Interpreted World. An Introduction to Phe-
nomenological Psychology. London: Sage.
Valle R and King M (1978) Existential-Phenomenological Alter-
natives for Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wolcott HF (1994) Transforming Qualitative Data.Thousand
Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Yin R (2003) Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 3rd edn.
London: SAGE.
Author biography
Mishel P. Moriah’s professional background includes:
more than 20 years experience in academia as: primary and
secondary school teacher, Head of Department, Senior
Assistant Mistress and often acting Head Teacher of more
than two schools in Guyana and in Trinidad and Tobago.
She also tutored at the Tobago Institute of Literacy and
worked as lecturer at the University of the West Indies,
Open Campus, Tobago. Her latest roles include; Pupil Sup-
port Assistant for the Aberdeen City Council, online tutor
for the University of Dundee, Post-Graduate research
supervisor for the University of Guyana and Research Fel-
low for the University of Aberdeen.
12 Management in Education 32(1)
... As the present study seeks to understand how people experience admiration for the famous, the approach adopted here is that of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), which "aims to explore in detail participants' personal lived experience and how participants make sense of that personal experience" (Smith, 2004, p. 40). IPA was selected due to its ability to offer insights into how a person makes sense of a phenomenon in their particular context (Moriah, 2018). We argue that exploring this psychological approach is particularly appropriate in this study, as it allows us to understand the experiences and perspectives of individuals, how they ascribed meanings to admiration for famous individuals, and how these experiences shaped individuals' personal values and behaviors. ...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of fame has been associated with celebrities, wealth, attractiveness, and social recognition. Nevertheless, people have admiration for the famous who may not be celebrities. Admiration is regarded as one of the emotions of appreciation, or moral emotions, triggered by positive appraisals of excellence. It is present when seeing extraordinary displays of skills talent or achievement. However, theoretical and empirical research on admiration and its psychological effects on people are scarce. In this article, we discuss a qualitative study that explores a collection of experiences of admiration for the famous. Based on 26 in-depth interviews with residents in southern England, we explored why people admire famous individuals and how the experience may produce positive attitudes and behaviors. We found that through admiring famous individuals who are perceived to share similar interests and attributes, people may develop positive thinking about their own lives and may be more active in seeking new opportunities or engaging in self-growth. We also discuss the potential problems of admiration. This exploratory research contributes to the literature of positive psychology and has implications for furthering the understanding of people’s well-being.
Article
Full-text available
Older adults recently discharged from hospital are at high risk of functional decline and falls. A tailored fall prevention education provided at hospital discharge aimed to improve the capacity of older adults to engage in falls prevention activities. What remains unknown are the factors affecting behaviour change after hospital discharge. This study identified the perceived barriers and enablers of older adults to engagement in fall prevention activities during the 6‐month period post‐discharge. An exploratory approach using interpretative phenomenological analysis focused on the lived experience of a purposive sample (n = 30) of participants. All were recruited as a part of an RCT (n = 390) that delivered a tailored fall prevention education program at three hospital rehabilitation wards in Perth, Australia. Data were collected at 6‐month post‐discharge using semi‐structured telephone surveys. Personal stories confirmed that some older adults have difficulty recovering functional ability after hospital discharge. Reduced physical capability, such as experiences of fatigue, chronic pain and feeling unsteady when walking were barriers for participants to safely return to their normal daily activities. Participants who received the tailored fall education program reported positive effects on knowledge and motivation to engage in fall prevention. Participants who had opportunities to access therapy or social supports described more positive experiences of recovery compared to individuals who persevered without assistance. A lack of physical and social support was associated with apprehension and fear toward adverse events such as falls, injuries, and hospital readmission. The lived experience of participants following hospital discharge strongly suggested that they required more supports from both healthcare professionals and caregivers to ensure that their needs were met. Further research that evaluates how to assist this population to engage in programs that will mitigate the high risk of falls and hospital readmissions is required.
Article
Full-text available
Phenomenological researchers generally agree that our central concern is to return to embodied, experiential meanings aiming for a fresh, complex, rich description of a phenomenon as it is concretely lived. Yet debates abound when it comes to deciding how best to carry out this phenomenological research in practice. Confusion about how to conduct appropriate phenomenological research makes our field difficult for novices to access. Six particular questions are contested: (1) How tightly or loosely should we define what counts as "phenomenology" (2) Should we always aim to produce a general (normative) description of the phenomenon, or is idiographic analysis a legitimate aim? (3) To what extent should interpretation be involved in our descriptions? (4) Should we set aside or bring to the foreground researcher subjectivity? (5) Should phenomenology be more science than art? (6) Is phenomenology a modernist or postmodernist project, or neither? In this paper, I examine each of these areas of contention in the spirit of fostering dialogue, and promoting openness and clarity in phenomenological inquiry.
Article
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of research studies in staff development and an emergence of qualitative research using such methods as observation and interview. Because of the flexible, iterative nature of qualitative research, there are several issues staff development specialists should consider when doing this type of research in their own settings. This article defines “insider research,” discusses issues unique to insider research that can threaten the trustworthiness or credibility of the study, and provides examples from a staff development perspective. Recommended techniques for data collection and analysis are provided to avoid the pitfalls of insider research
Article
Something Old, Something New Description, Analysis, and Interpretation in Qualitative Inquiry PART ONE: EMPHASIS ON DESCRIPTION Adequate Schools and Inadequate Education The Life History of a Sneaky Kid The Elementary School Principal Notes from a Field Study Confessions of a 'Trained' Observer PART TWO: EMPHASIS ON ANALYSIS A Malay Village That Progress Chose Sungai Lui and the Institute of Cultural Affairs Life's Not Working Cultural Alternatives to Career Alternatives PART THREE: EMPHASIS ON INTERPRETATION The Teacher as an Enemy Afterword, 1989 A Kwakiutl Village and School 25 Years Later The Acquisition of Culture Notes on a Working Paper On Seeking - and Rejecting - Validity in Qualitative Research PART FOUR: TEACHING AND LEARNING QUALITATIVE INQUIRY Teaching Qualitative Inquiry Learning Qualitative Inquiry Some Power of Reasoning, Much Aided
Article
PART ONE: CONCEPTUAL ISSUES IN THE USE OF QUALITATIVE METHODS The Nature of Qualitative Inquiry Strategic Themes in Qualitative Methods Variety in Qualitative Inquiry Theoretical Orientations Particularly Appropriate Qualitative Applications PART TWO: QUALITATIVE DESIGNS AND DATA COLLECTION Designing Qualitative Studies Fieldwork Strategies and Observation Methods Qualitative Interviewing PART THREE: ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION, AND REPORTING Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation Enhancing the Quality and Credibility of Qualitative Analysis
Book
Preface Part I. Foundations of Research 1. Science, Schooling, and Educational Research Learning About the Educational World The Educational Research Approach Educational Research Philosophies Conclusions 2. The Process and Problems of Educational Research Educational Research Questions Educational Research Basics The Role of Educational Theory Educational Research Goals Educational Research Proposals, Part I Conclusions 3. Ethics in Research Historical Background Ethical Principles Conclusions 4. Conceptualization and Measurement Concepts Measurement Operations Levels of Measurement Evaluating Measures Conclusions 5. Sampling Sample Planning Sampling Methods Sampling Distributions Conclusions Part II. Research Design and Data Collection 6. Causation and Research Design Causal Explanation Criteria for Causal Explanations Types of Research Designs True Experimental Designs Quasi-Experimental Designs Threats to Validity in Experimental Designs Nonexperiments Conclusions 7. Evaluation Research What Is Evaluation Research? What Can an Evaluation Study Focus On? How Can the Program Be Described? Creating a Program Logic Model What Are the Alternatives in Evaluation Design? Ethical Issues in Evaluation Research Conclusions 8. Survey Research Why Is Survey Research So Popular? Errors in Survey Research Questionnaire Design Writing Questions Survey Design Alternatives Combining Methods Survey Research Design in a Diverse Society Ethical Issues in Survey Research Conclusions 9. Qualitative Methods: Observing, Participating, Listening Fundamentals of Qualitative Research Participant Observation Intensive Interviewing Focus Groups Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research Conclusions 10. Single-Subject Design Foundations of Single-Subject Design Measuring Targets of Intervention Types of Single-Subject Designs Analyzing Single-Subject Designs Ethical Issues in Single-Subject Design Conclusions 11. Mixing and Comparing Methods and Studies Mixed Methods Comparing Reserch Designs Performing Meta-Analyses Conclusions 12. Teacher Research and Action Research Teacher Research: Three Case Studies Teacher Research: A Self-Planning Outline for Creating Your Own Project Action Research and How It Differs From Teacher Research Validity and Ethical Issues in Teacher Research and Action Research Conclusions Part III. Analyzing and Reporting Data 13. Quantitative Data Analysis Why We Need Statistics Preparing Data for Analysis Displaying Univariate Distributions Summarizing Univariate Distributions Relationships (Associations) Among Variables Presenting Data Ethically: How Not to Lie With Statistics Conclusions 14. Qualitative Data Analysis Features of Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques of Qualitative Data Analysis Alternatives in Qualitative Data Analysis Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Ethics in Qualitative Data Analysis Conclusions 15. Proposing and Reporting Research Educational Research Proposals, Part II Reporting Research Ethics, Politics, and Research Reports Conclusions Appendix A: Questions to Ask About a Research Article Appendix B: How to Read a Research Article Appendix C: Finding Information, by Elizabeth Schneider and Russell K. Schutt Appendix D: Table of Random Numbers Glossary References Author Index Subject Index About the Authors