Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 2 34 2.1 Research Design This study examines how OPPS (orthodox Protestant primary school) teachers professionally reconcile the context of a religiously diverse society and the monoreligious characteristics of their schools, and what implications that may have for preservice teacher education. I have opted for a qualitative research design, as it suits the exploratory purpose of the study: this design can deal with the so-far limited empirical insights on this particular relationship. There is room for discovering unexpected areas within the participants’ experiences (Creswell, 2014; Elliot & Timulak, 2005; Elliott, 1999; Evers, 2015; Holliday, 2007). Because it is important to gain insights into how teachers themselves understand their social reality, an interpretative approach was chosen in conducting the study (cf. Bhattacherjee, 2012;’t Hart et al., 2005). The research question is mainly descriptive in nature (cf. De Jong, 2018; Ivey, 2016). To align with the interpretative approach, I looked for rich and detailed descriptions in Results sections (Bhattacherjee, 2012; Creswell, 2007; Elliot & Timulak, 2005; Holliday, 2007; Rubin & Rubin, 2012). Because this study did not aim for generalisation, there was reluctance to use quantifying phrases and use of numbers was avoided (cf. Patton, 2015). As the research is about discovering how different teachers professionally reconcile the central issues of religious diversity and mono-religiosity, data were collected by conducting in-depth interviews that reveal the beliefs of teachers (Rubin & Rubin, 2012). These interviews are especially conducive towards exploring personal and sensitive issues (Rubin & Rubin, 2012), like the religious and individual professional issues in this study. These interviews are further characterized by a search for rich and detailed information (e.g. examples or stories), open-ended questions and flexibility of the questions asked (Evers & De Boer, 2012; Rubin & Rubin, 2012); this all relates to the explorative goal and interpretative approach. For reasons of valorisation and to further enrichmainly the data regarding the second part of the research question about teacher education, small focus groups with alumni and teacher educators were added to ensure a fit with current teacher education practices. The focus groups can provide a picture of how the theme of religious diversity has been and is being dealt with in a specific orthodox Protestant teacher education programme, Driestar Christian University for Teacher Education. Over half of the individually interviewed teachers graduated from this institution. focus groups are consistent with the explorative goal of the study (cf. Smithson, 2012). The focus groups allowed me to involve more participants in the study in a short period of time (cf. Patton, 2015). Interactions