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close this bookCase Study Research - A Model of Best Practice at Loreto Day School, Sealdah, Calcutta - Occasional paper No.1 (DFID, 1998, 36 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. Researcher's Preface
View the document2. Executive Summary
Open this folder and view contents3. Case Profile
Open this folder and view contents4. Best Practice
Open this folder and view contents5. Critical Issues
View the document6. Implications of the Study
View the document7. Appendix 1: Research Methodology
View the document8. Bibliography

7. Appendix 1: Research Methodology

Research Questions

a) Towards a Model of Best Practice in an Indian School: A Case Study of Loreto Day School, Sealdah.

· How can 'best practice' be defined?

· What are the characteristics of best practice in a school, as evidenced from theory and the grounded reality of that school, and how are these characteristics manifest?

· What factors contribute to best practice in a school?

· What influence does the historical, socio-cultural and resource context of the school have on the culture of the school?

· Why does 'best practice' reside in a particular school setting, and what generic principles of application might be derived from a case study of such a school, its specific context notwithstanding?

b) The documentation and analysis of a model of 'Barefoot Teacher Training' which Loreto Day School, Sealdah, has developed.

· What are the critical issues in para-teacher training generally, and as part of a working school's programme, particularly?

· How has the Barefoot Teacher Training Programme evolved and developed?

· What is the way forward in terms of monitoring, evaluation and refinement of the programme?

Methodology and Sampling

The research design was based on the principles of applied case study research (Yin, 1994). The tools of qualitative research, for example, semi-structured and conversational interviews, observation and documentary analysis, were used as the basis for constructing a picture of the research setting from multiple sources. In practice, data was collected using a checklist of observations and questions addressed to different informants, situations and documents. Extensive fieldnotes were made, and both interviews with key informants and group discussions with pupils were audio-taped. The researcher visited the case study site on three separate occasions for a period of twelve days in total.

The use of multiple sources contributed to building up a chain of evidence related to the research questions, ensuring that the study demonstrates linkage between the research procedures used and the concepts under study, that is, construct validity. The evidence on which the findings are based also underwent a level of cross-checking or triangulation as a result of the use of using multiple sources. Moreover a level of checking of the findings with informants was built into the research process as a further means of validating the evidence, as draft reports were circulated to key informants and colleagues as a way of corroborating the evidence. Clearly, researcher interpretation is intrinsic to the process of data analysis and reporting the findings. However, interpretation takes place within the context of analytic strategies such as an iterative process of building explanations to ensure the rigor of the findings (ibid., p. 111) as well as on-going dialogue with key informants. In the final analysis, the critique of subjectivity in case study research is answered by the transparency of the process, and by its own realistic set of claims:

Concealment not subjectivity is the crime. The case study addresses the critique of subjectivity by presenting findings, procedures, basic data, and its own frame of reference for public scrutiny and attack. It does not claim the status of "truth" or the "last word"; it simply invites confrontation by a better analysis" (Millar, 1983, p. 135).

Similarly, the scrutiny of documents related to the process of change in the school over a nineteen year period (mainly newsletters for public consumption), and the BTTP, used transparent critical and interpretive procedures as a way of assessing the accuracy, representativeness and credibility of the written sources, insofar as this is possible.

Sampling procedures of informants included reputational sampling (Johnson, 1994) where contact was made with those who were considered important to the process of change and innovation by others. A combination of random and convenience sampling of regular and 'rainbow' pupils, teachers, administrative staff, and BTTP trainees was also used.

Outline of Research Design

Research Activity

Key Informant/s


Semi-structured interviews

Sister Cyril (Principal)
Ms Laeticia Gomes (BTTP co-ordinator)

· To elicit shared principles, values and practices from key staff;

Ms Sanghita Mullick (BTTP)
Ms Shushila (BTTP asst.)
Ms Teresa Mendes (Social Worker and Editor of Newsletter)

· To develop a list of characteristics present in teaching staff and at the school which contribute to best practice;

Ms Nandita Bir (Rainbow School Co-ordinator)
Ms Dippanita Biswas (Asst. on Rainbow Programme)

· To examine processes at work over a period of time through the lenses of key staff;

Head of Rural Village Child-to-Child Programme

· To construct an accurate picture of the school from multiple perspectives.

Random conversation interviews

Regular pupils
Rainbow pupils
Administrative Staff
BTTP trainers and trainees

To generate a wider and more critical perspective on the school vision from informants who may have lower investment in the change process than the key informants.

Focus group discussion

Class 7 Regular Pupils

· To challenge and probe taken-for-Granted understandings of the child-to-child programmes in order to assess their longer term educational value.


Class teaching
Rainbow School

· To gain a more holistic picture of the school's activities;

Village child-to-child programme
BTTP sessions on-site
BTTP sessions in the field

· To establish aspects of best practice which have not been articulated in interviews;

· To analyse the gap between the vision and the reality (where it exists) and thereby to cross-check the principles of best practice as espoused against the realities of various teaching situations.

Documentary Analysis

Newsletters (1979-1998);
Staff Development material;

· To place the change processes in the historical context of the school;

BTTP documentation;
Newspaper and magazine articles;

· To establish critical moments in the evolution of the school's vision;

'We are the World' Value Education textbooks;

· To elicit principles for managing change over a long period of time;

Journal articles and resource packages on Loreto Programmes;

· To document the development of the BTTP programme;

Literature on change, innovation and best practice in schools.

· To consult a wider body of sources in the interests of cross-checking the findings of the research.

Publication and Dissemination of Findings

The findings of the research will be published and disseminated in a number of ways.

Firstly, an interim report issuing out of the preliminary visit to Loreto Day School, Sealdah, will be made available to Ms Barbara Payne (DFID India), Dr Tom Welsh (DFID British Council India), and Sister Cyril (Loreto Day School, Sealdah) for comment and discussion. This report will constitute a working document on which the final report will be based. Secondly, a final report will be published for DFID British Council India for wider distribution as appropriate. A third means of dissemination of the findings will take the form of a workshop