Research paradigm is the researcher’s belief, views and ways of interacting with their real situation/environment (Pham, 2018). Hence, the ways in which research is conducted vary from one researcher to another, but the researchers are guided by certain standards and rule rules called paradigm (Creswell, 2014).
Paradigm is a basic set of beliefs that guide practices (Cresswell, 2007). A paradigm helps to make sense of the social world (Guba and Lincoln, 1994). This helps researchers to view their study in a particular way which will give them a clear approach in analysing data. Researchers use different types of research paradigms such as post positivism, constructivism, advocacy/participatory, and pragmatism (Pham, 2018).
Therefore, in this study a constructivist/interpretive paradigm will be followed. According to Creswell, (2014) constructivism or interpretive paradigm is a common paradigm used in research. The basic tenet of this paradigm is that the researcher seeks understanding of a phenomenon in its natural setting. Meaning is constructed in constructivist paradigm rather than discovered (Guba & Lincoln, 1994). In other words, as Creswell (2014:8) states, interpretation is subjective but it depends on the participant’s views of the situation under study. According to Creswell (2014:24) the researcher has to respect each participant’s views. Researchers are also “sensitive to power imbalance during all facets of the research process”. As a result, individual differences will be respected in this study. Consequently, in this research, the researcher will be focused on the situation in which the people live and work in order to understand the context (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011). Meaning will be constructed considering the research participant’s views of their real world. In other words, the aim of the researcher will be to interpret how people view their world. Therefore, researcher will develop a pattern of meaning from the participant’s views.
This study will be guided by constructivist/ interpretive research paradigm and qualitative- Interpretive phenomenological approach (IPA) to examine key stakeholders’ perception, feeling and understanding in the implementation of preschool inclusive education in the actual historical, political, social and cultural situation of Ethiopia (Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010) . Hence, this study will interpret the meaning of individuals’ experience of preschool inclusive education teachers, principals, parents, special needs and early childhood education experts in the study areas.
Epistemology in research helps the researcher to frame the study in the ‘how’ to discover knowledge or the way he knows truth/knowledge (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011). Epistemological viewpoint of this study is that knowledge can be understood by interpreting and giving meaning (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011; Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010) for individuals experiences/events and activities. The study explores practitioners’ understanding on preschools inclusive education (the teachers, principals, parents of children with disabilities) in inclusive preschools and experts in the field of preschools and special needs education. Practices in different preschool setting and practitioners are unique and are largely non-generalizable (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011). A large number of preschools children with disabilities interactions with their peers without disabilities rely on shared experience of each other (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011). To understand fully the practice of inclusive education in preschools, the researcher will explore a given community’s social, cultural, religious and traditions of childhood development and learning (Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010).
Ontology in research is a philosophical position of a researcher which deals with the nature of reality. It helps the researcher to recognize the reality that the researcher is searching for. This study frames knowledge / the reality as relative consensus and created by individuals or group experience capitalized by practices from their daily exposure in specific social and cultural context (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011; Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010). Ontological position of the researcher in this study is that knowledge and experience about preschool inclusion can be understood differently in different norms, context and culture (Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010). Therefore, this study will attempt to explore the complex and multiple realities from the stakeholders (teachers, parents, preschool principals and experts in special needs and early childhood education) and interpret to give meaning.
1.8.4 Axiology of the study
Axiology refers to the role of the researcher own values in stages of the research process. In this study, the researcher believes that knowledge/reality is value laden (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011; Anning, Cullen & Fleer, 2004) the researcher values the cultural experiences and upbringings in the child development and learning process- that means education of children with disabilities in the early years should be practices based on the social and cultural context of the schools using indigenous knowledge and belief system of the community. Therefore, the researcher believes that the implementation of inclusive education should rely on the indigenous knowledge of the school setting (Anning, Cullen & Fleer, 2004). To accomplish the understanding of multiple knowledge/reality of how children with disabilities learn in an inclusive setting, the researcher will be involved in the reality of the participants and interact with the stakeholders in deeply meaningful ways (Anning, Cullen & Fleer, 2004; Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010; Coyle, 2016) which provides an opportunity for mutual influence and the researcher to see the phenomenon through the eyes of participants (Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010).