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Even though the positivist and phenomenological approaches seem to completely contradict one another, Bryman and Bell (2004) maintain that a researcher should not select one or the other but, instead, should weave the two together. In other words, for those aspects of the research problem which can be better served if explored through a scientific approach, the positivist methodology should be employed whereas those which require the researcher’s more active engagement or an analysis of the social environment, the phenomenological approach should be used. The implication here is that the two approaches can coexist within a single study and can be used to explore different aspects of the research problem (Bryman and Bell, 2004). Rather than select the one approach over the other, the selected research approach shall combine between the two. As such, the researcher shall engage in the objective analysis of tardiness behaviour through the analysis of attendance records while, at the same time, monitoring 20 students for a period of 12 weeks for the purpose of closer and more critical observation of the dimensions of the defined problem and the behavioural and situational variables which induce it. The effects of the corrective strategies which shall be deployed vis-àvis these 12 students shall also be observed. To this extent, the research unfolds within a phenomenological framework. The research, however, is not restricted to the phenomenological approach as a thorough investigation of the problem also necessitates the adoption of positivist approach. Therefore, for a better understanding of the social and environmental factors influencing tardiness, the
researcher will survey faculty members and homeroom teachers and interview the two school administrators responsible for the control of the problem. The researcher shall, in other words, explore the socio-environmental factors influencing tardiness.
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3.2.2 Quantitative versus Qualitative
The data gathered shall be analysed from both the qualitative and quantitative approaches. As Punch (2000) emphasises, within the context of social science research, both approaches must be used in order to arrive at both an objective, measurable understanding of the phenomenon and a humanistic comprehension of its socio-environmental dimensions. While attendance records and the effects of the corrective strategies on the twenty students under observation shall be qualitatively analysed, the variables which influence tardiness rates, both increase and decrease, shall be qualitatively analysed as a strategy for uncovering the socioenvironmental factors influencing tardiness rates. In other words, both qualitative and
quantitative data analysis approaches shall be used for the purposes of arriving at a more holistic understanding of the phenomenon.
3.2.3 Deductive versus Inductive
Marcoulides (1998) defines the deductive approach as a testing of theories. The
researcher proceeds with a set of theories and conceptual precepts in mind and formulates the study’s hypotheses on their basis. Following from that, the research proceeds to test the
proposed hypotheses. The inductive approach, on the other hand, follows from the collected empirical data and proceeds to formulae concepts and theories in accordance with that data (Marcoulides, 1998). While not disputing the value of the inductive approach, the research opted for the deductive approach, or the `top-down,’ as opposed to the `bottom-up’ method.
3.3 Data Sources and Data Collection Methods
For the purposes of this research and given that both primary and secondary data are needed, three data collection methods will be used. Apart from the desk-based data collection method traditionally associated with secondary data collection, primary data will be collected