LYNN COURT HOLMES MINI DISSERTATION. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree MAGISTER EDUCATIONIS EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY

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1 THE EXPERIENCES OF BLACK STUDENTS WHO DROPPED OUT OF THE MASTERS IN EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY COURSE AT A GAUTENG UNIVERSITY DURING THE PERIOD 2002 TO 2006 By LYNN COURT HOLMES MINI DISSERTATION Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree MAGISTER EDUCATIONIS in EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY in the FACULTY OF EDUCATION at the UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG SUPERVISORS: PROF. J. PILLAY & DR. E. FRITZ DECEMBER 2006

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements 1-2 Abstract 3-4 CHAPTER ONE RATIONALE AND OVERVIEW OF STUDY Introduction 5-12 Contextualisation and orientation of the research Aim of the study and research question 14 Conceptual clarification Theoretical framework 15 The post-modern, qualitative, constructivist paradigm Epistemology of social constructivism Eco-systemic theory The policy of inclusion in South Africa Barriers to learning and the policy of learning support in South Africa Qualitative case study design Researcher assumptions and the role of the researcher The site, the participants and the research process 31 Research design and methodology 31 Research design Data collection methods 32 Data analysis Trustworthiness Ethics 35 Demarcation of study Conclusion 37 II

3 CHAPTER TWO RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY 2.1. Introduction An interpretivist framework that underpins the research design A qualitative, case study research design The aim of the research The participants Research methodology Data collection procedures Pre-data collection procedure Individual interviews using semi-structured, open-ended questions Incomplete sentences Reflection an personal research diary Verification of themes Data Analysis Theoretical explanation and process of grounded theory and constant comparative method of data analysis used Theoretical sampling Coding Theoretical saturation Process of data analysis Trustworthiness of study Credibility Transferability Dependability Confirmability Ethical considerations III

4 2.9. Conclusions 83 CHAPTER THREE LITERATURE REVIEW 3.1. Introduction Extrinsic or external factors Home background, physical environment, socio-economic circumstances and lack of resources Political climate, racism, quality of education, educational environment and the curriculum Alienation and lack of social adjustment and integration Lack of role models, mentors and support programmes Intrinsic or internal factors Life stress, coping skills, age, personal responsibility & and experiences, expectations and motivation of students Differences in language, cultural norms, and religion Interpersonal factors and differences in students learning styles Conclusion 114 CHAPTER FOUR DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS 4.1. Introduction Overview of data collection and analysis Discussion of findings External or extrinsic factors 120 IV

5 Structure of the course and University factors Lack of resources Time factors Internal factors Lack of skills Cultural differences and other personal factors Combined external and internal factors Covert and/or direct (overt) racism/oppression Internalised oppression due to past experiences Conclusion 156 CHAPTER FIVE SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS, LIMITATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS 5.1. Introduction Summary of the research Recommendation External barriers Lack of time Shortage of resources University system and the structure of the course Overt (or externally expressed) racism Internal factors Cultural factors Lack of skills Racism: Internalised oppression Limitations of the study Strengths of the study Recommendations for future research Conclusions V

6 5.8. Personal reflections LIST OF REFERENCES APPENDICES Appendix A Ethics documents Informed consent Ethical clearance from Higher Degrees Committee Appendix B Beginning the research Appendix C Verification of themes questionnaire Appendix D Interview format used (Open-ended questions used for interviews) Appendix E Incomplete sentences questionnaire Appendix F Language editing certificate VI

7 LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES Figure 1.1 Bronfenbrenner s systems model 19 Figure 2.1. Steps used in the collection of data 48 Figure 2.2. The semi-structured interview as a communication event 51 Figure 2.3. Examples of incomplete sentences questionnaires 52 Figure 2.4. The process of theoretical sampling 56 Figure 2.5. Sample of tentative coding 60 Figure 2.6. Sample of tentative coding 61 Figure 2.7. Sample of how tentative codes were clustered into code families or categories 62 Figure 2.8. Example of colour coding of emerging themes 63 Figure 2.9. Illustration of themes 1 and 2 65 Figure Illustration of themes 2 and 3 66 Figure 2.11 Illustration of themes 4 and 5 67 Figure Illustration of themes 5 and 6 68 Figure Linking themes to internal and external factors 69 Figure 3.1. Factors related to the causes for high attrition rates of black students at USA Universities 86 Figure 3.2. Extrinsic factors which led to high drop out rates of black students from University 90 Figure 3.3. Intrinsic factors which led to high drop out rates of Black students from University 113 Figure 4.1. Themes that emerged from data analysis 119 VII

8 Table 1.1. Student enrolment and drop out figures for the Master s in Educational Psychology course at the University of Johannesburg from Table 1.2. HPCSA registration figures for Educational Psychologists during the time period Table 2.1. Strategies to ensure trustworthiness in this research Table 4.1. Outline of the Educational Psychology Master s course modules from as accredited by SAQA and HPCSA 121 VIII

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