The study implemented a mixed methods design in order to obtain the advantages of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Furthermore, the mixed methods design was useful in terms of integration, giving the researcher confidence in the conclusions and results drawn from the study (McKim, 2017). To provide a qualitative perspective, the study used the interview research phase, while the quantitative approach employed questionnaires. The combination of interviews and questionnaires could be anticipated to provide a methodological framework aligning with the contemporary approach to mixed methods studies and aiming to bridge a gap between different traditions used in research (Meister, 2017). Additionally, the possibility for the researcher to conduct an in-depth analysis of the study problem while leaving room for future exploration of similar topics supported the choice of a mixed methods design.
For the purpose of data collection, the researcher used face-to-face interviews with teachers as well as online questionnaires (Szolnoki & Hoffman, 2013). Interviews consisted of closed- and open-ended questions that the interviewer asked participants during one-on-one meetings. Questionnaires, developed in a digital format, were provided to those participants who could not dedicate time to thirty-minute face-to-face interviews. The key intention behind developing both questionnaires and interviews was to ensure that the questions asked of participants were clear and comprehensive. In this way, the researcher ensured that respondents would give profound answers based on their experiences.
First, it is important to explore the specific design of interviews in qualitative research. In the study, semi-structured interviews were implemented, constituting the administration of several key questions to define main exploration areas while also allowing the interviewer and respondents to diverge from a rigid structure in order to provide detailed answers (Jamshed, 2014). Semi-structured interviews were chosen as the preferred format, providing respondents with guidance on topics of interest while also ensuring that interviews did not resemble the type of questionnaire that usually yields quantitative data. The approach can be considered highly flexible and, in comparison to structured interviews, allows for the elaboration and discovery of information that the respondents might not initially contemplate. According to Adams (2015), “semi-structured interviews are superbly suited for a number of valuable tasks, particularly when more than a few of the open-ended questions require follow-up queries” (p. 611). Overall, semi-structured interviews provided the researcher with the opportunity to use thirty minutes to an advantage: preparing for questions ahead of time while also giving respondents freedom to express their opinions in their own words (Stuckey, 2013). Questions included in the interviews were adopted from Alghamdi’s (2015) research.
Second, the method for conducting digital questionnaires will be discussed. The researcher expected the questionnaires to provide quantitative data. Apart from supporting and interacting with the qualitative data acquired through the use of semi-structured interviews, web-based questionnaires were necessary to account for the portion of the study sample unable to attend interviews (Regmi, Waithaka, Paudyal, Simkhada, & van Teijlingen, 2016). The questionnaires were translated into Arabic for the convenience of the respondents. With the help of three university educators, structural changes and upgrades were made in surveys to ensure clarity.
The online surveys consisted of a total of 28 questions; they included multiple-choice questions, a five-point Likert rating scale (questions with answers that ranged between strongly agree and strongly disagree) and several open-ended questions. The method was used in the interest of saving time and cost as well as making sure that all participants involved in the study would be able to provide their perspectives on the use of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs). The benefits of online questionnaires are generally associated with convenience; for example, teachers could complete surveys at a time that fit their schedule, taking as much time as necessary to give their responses or completing the survey in multiple sessions (Regmi et al., 2016). It was important to make sure that the online survey sent to participants via email would be as convenient for them as possible to achieve a high response rate.
After face-to-face interviews and online questionnaires were completed, all data were transcribed. Transcripts were examined to identify relevant responses that were then used in data analysis. In addition, all instances or divergent and convergent opinions from the general norm were marked. Overall, the mixed methods design, combining interviews and questionnaires, allowed the researcher to understand the respondents’ attitudes towards IWB application (Schoonenboom & Johnson, 2017). From a qualitative perspective, the researcher examined different attributes pertinent to interviews to identify trends and diversions from the norm. In particular, the process empowered the scientist to note the various observable qualitative behaviours (Miller, Birch, Mauthner, & Jessop, 2013). From a quantitative perspective, the collected data were subjected to analysis with the help of such tools as regression, correlation and Chi-square.
In order to find an appropriate sample of participants for the study on teachers’ attitudes to IWBs, the researcher targeted primary school teachers located in Ha’il City, Saudi Arabia. It was important to find at least one hundred teachers to ensure a varied perspective on the part of practitioners. In addition, a sample size of at least one hundred teachers would be enough to reduce the occurrence of sampling errors associated with an insufficient number of cases in “special subgroups to allow meaningful analysis” (de Vaus, 2005, p. 143). Similar to the mixed methods research design, it was chosen to combine the characteristics of probability and non-probability sampling because multiple steps were necessary to select an appropriate group of participants. First, to account for the probability sampling, the researcher implemented simple random sampling in selecting several schools in Ha’il City. This was achieved by means of retrieving a list of primary schools in the identified geographical area, narrowing the number down to schools that had IWBs and using randomisation computer software to choose three schools from which research participants would be selected (Alvi, 2016).
Second, to account for the non-probability feature of research sampling, teachers in the randomly selected schools were recruited with the help of convenience sampling, a method used to target participants on the basis of their accessibility and proximity to the researcher (Cronin, Coughlan, & Smith, 2015). While this method can be criticised for not selecting a sample representative of an entire population, its use is justified because teachers are usually busy, and it is impossible to meet them all. Therefore, the researcher used convenience sampling because it was relatively fast, did not require many financial resources, was easy and facilitated recruiting readily available participants.
As a result of simple random and convenience sampling, the final sample of teachers included 120 people; 61 were male teachers, and 59 were female. Inclusion criteria for the sample were generally not limited since the researcher needed to recruit a diverse sample of teachers having different levels of experience (including teaching different courses), different genders, ages and cultural and religious characteristics, as well as other demographic factors. While convenience sampling implies some degree of bias, the characteristics of the population used in the research ensured the minimisation of bias to balance out the accessibility feature of the sampling methodology used.
Research Reliability and Validity
Both validity and reliability are essential components of selecting survey instruments. While validity indicates whether an instrument can successfully measure what it was intended to measure, reliability shows whether a chosen instrument gives the same results over several trials. In order to ensure that questions included in the survey were valid, the researcher subjected them to preliminary testing. Furthermore, given the fact that interviews gained perspectives from different participants, it was possible to develop a framework that helped in analysing personal experiences comprehensively.
Reliability and validity in research help to increase transparency while decreasing opportunities for inserting bias in qualitative aspects of a study (Singh, 2014). Therefore, both concepts are important in conducting contemporary research because they are useful to enhance the accuracy of assessing and evaluating the work done on a particular research issue. Importantly, without the assessment of reliability and validity, it is impossible or at the least difficult to measure the effects of errors on relationships that are being studied in research (Mohajan, 2017).
Research Design Justification
Mixed methods designs have gained popularity in social and health services research because they provide a unified look at a problem: from both quantity-centred and quality-centred approaches (Tariq & Woodman, 2013). In the study on teachers’ attitudes to IWBs, this research design is justified because it was necessary to measure the overall trends as well as comprehend the individual attributes of teachers that could affect their experiences with IWBs (Balta & Duran, 2015). From a qualitative perspective, the researcher was able to observe trends and predict possible results on the basis of face-to-face interactions with participants (Sanjari, Bahramnezhad, Fomani, Shoghi, & Cheraghi, 2014). From a quantitative perspective, the researcher managed to obtain a framework for further analysis, transcribing information with the help of different research tools.
Overall, the mixed methods design used for studying teachers’ attitudes regarding IWBs provided the researcher with an opportunity to explore the study problem in a multi-faceted way. The design is an innovative way of addressing the complexities that accompany educational research that deals with teachers’ perspectives. Despite the fact that the design presented challenges, such as complexity, the approach provided the researcher with a wider selection of tools to be used to answer the initial research question (Tariq & Woodman, 2013).
During the research, several limitations were present. For example, when planning to interview teachers about their attitudes towards IWBs, the initial expectation was to interview at least ten out of one hundred twenty participants. However, only eight teachers could give their time for interviews, and only seven of them gave consent to be recorded. Notably, culture played a role as females are usually hesitant about being recorded. This meant that the researcher had to take notes in the process of conducting an interview with one participant (Oltmann, 2016). In addition, cultural issues also influenced the gender characteristics of the sample participants who took part in interviews. It was impossible for the researcher to interview male teachers, meaning that only female teachers were interviewed. Another study limitation was associated with the time frame for the research. Schools in Saudi Arabia were going to close for summer holidays, limiting the amount of time available to the researcher to conduct the study. If teachers had not been preparing to leave on vacation, it would have been possible to dedicate more time as well as recruit a male researcher to help interview male teachers.
When preparing to conduct as well as during the process of conducting interviews and questionnaires, the researcher had to account for several ethical issues. Prior to selecting the schools from where participants would be recruited, the researcher informed the Ministry of Education in Ha’il City to obtain an official agreement for surveying and interviewing teachers. The ministry facilitated contact with primary schools and provided a list of educational facilities in the area having IWBs. This allowed the researcher to narrow down the search to fewer schools in the area.
Regarding interviews and questionnaires, the researcher included a consent form and provided confidentiality to participants as desired. Ensuring participants’ confidentiality within the study was necessary to prevent an ethical imbalance (Denscombe, 2015). All participants were provided with a pamphlet that included information about the research purpose, objectives, hypothesis and more. Also, the pamphlet included information about possible risks that participants might encounter. Since the study did not need to include the participants’ names, the researcher chose to completely exclude personal identification and assigned numbers to the participants’ surveys as well as interviews. In addition, the research files were kept in a private folder secured by a password to guarantee the safety of the information. All participants who asked for a recording of their interviews were provided with a digital copy.
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