Staying after School: At-Risk Students in a Compensatory Education Program

By Bram A. Hamovitch | Go to book overview

Appendix: Methods

This appendix gives the reader additional information about how the data were gathered for this study. I will discuss the various methods that allowed me to gather the data, explain how I gained access to OSRP, and present some of my impressions about my relationships with subjects. In addition, I review how the subjects were selected to participate in the program, and give a brief overview of the two sites. Finally, I present a general statement indicating how I view the data-gathering and coding processes.

The data-gathering process was largely completed by following the advice and guidance in qualitative methodology described by Bogdan and Biklen ( 1992). The focus in this methodology is on inductive analysis, description, and subjects' perceptions. The emphasis is on discovering the varieties of realities that are present in a complex group situation. Research is approached inductively, with a set of loosely framed questions. This allows the researcher to remain flexible in responding to serendipitous leads and findings. It permits the research to take on new directions as one progresses through the process of data collection and analysis. For example, the focus of this study changed from its original concentration on the relationship between the students and their schools to one that ultimately focused on an examination of OSRP's programmatic efforts.

The data are based on the participant observations (in which I functioned primarily as an observer) and semistructured interviews that were completed by myself during the months of January to July 1992. I attended and observed OSRP classroom sessions, job-trailing sites, and field trips. I conducted in-depth interviews with staff, students, parents, and job-trailing employers. Written program documents were gathered and analyzed as a further source of information. Generally, I attended three or four classroom sessions each week, in addition to interviews and job-trailing observations. Field notes were taken openly by myself during observations, followed by an expansion of these notes shortly thereafter (usually within a few hours). Casual encounters were also recorded in my notes as soon as practical.

Gaining access to OSRP was surprisingly easy. I had heard about the program from a friend whose relative is a staff member in the program. I sensed in talking to her

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