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A qualitative approach to understanding the complexity of curriculum reform: considering the case of Bhutan

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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This case study examines the methods I used to carry out my PhD field research in 2010 and 2011 on the modernization of the educational system in Bhutan. Distinguishing educational modernization in Bhutan is the state policy of Gross National Happiness, which shows powerful aspirations toward conserving ‘traditional’ knowledge and values while advancing modernization and global engagement. In order to understand how education policy is translated into practice, I examined available text, including written policy documents, and I also conducted interviews and observations with key stakeholders—that is, policy makers, education leaders, and teachers. Demonstrating some of the methodological challenges of conducting research in a cross-cultural context, this case details the complex issues involved in planning and carrying out qualitative research with a large group of participants. As will be discussed, concern was paid to reflexivity and the role of the researcher in the school setting. Close attention was also given to the iterative process of analyzing and managing hundreds of pages of transcripts and data from observational records.

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