Construction of Meaning of Practice in a Depressed Economy: A Qualitative Case Study of Secondary School Teaching in Zimbabwe

Construction of Meaning of Practice in a Depressed Economy: A Qualitative Case Study of Secondary School Teaching in Zimbabwe

Author: 
Julian Bhebhe
Program of study: 
Ed.D.
Abstract: 
The economic hardships that plagued Zimbabwe since the 1990s damaged the education system. Schools lacked funding to maintain infrastructure and struggled to replace and upgrade teaching technologies needed to achieve desired goals. The deterioration of secondary school conditions necessitated a study to understand how teachers made sense of existing problems to perform assigned duties under given circumstances and identify strategies teachers used to cope with day-to-day challenges. The conceptual framework driven by social constructivism helped design the study and captured concepts that constituted the construction of meaning of practice and strategies teachers used to cope with existing school problems. Sources of data collection included observations of school and classroom conditions, interviews of five teachers per case from multiple sites, and document analysis to provide background information about school conditions and to verify details from participants. NVivo software helped analyze and visualize the data. The results indicated that all schools experienced dire shortage of teaching materials and equipment but the condition of infrastructure, school grounds, sports fields, and utilities varied among cases. The results of the study should encourage educational leaders to appraise school environments and make targeted investments in school infrastructure to maintain conditions supportive to teaching.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this research to my parents and my eldest sister. My mother was my second grade teacher. My father was my principal and teacher at sixth grade. My eldest sister out of the goodness of her heart sacrificed her limited resources to support me through secondary education. My parents and eldest sister demonstrated that with proper education one could succeed and adapt to any culture. With that foundation, they challenged me to pursue the desire of my heart. This accomplishment affirms my parents’ belief in me and raises the bar for my children. My parents’ expectations were not in vain.
Acknowledgements: 
My gratitude goes to my Maker who renewed my mind and provided the passion to undertake this study. With understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, I found the motivation to investigate the experiences of other people working under difficult conditions. I thank my dissertation chair, Dr. Nancy Kennedy who joined the committee after data collection and provided the eyes I needed to revise my work and meet required academic excellence. Dr. Kennedy took time to review my work. She was supportive as a leader, exemplary as a mentor, and pleasant as a colleague, always ready to address my concerns and provide insight and encouragement. My sincere gratitude goes to Dr. Xianbin Li for his guidance on research design and methodology. Dr. Li stood by me despite challenges and delays along the journey. I am grateful to Dr. Maria Shaheen for joining my team toward the finish line. Dr. Shaheen took her time to review my dissertation and provided useful suggestions for improvement. Overall, I thank my dissertation committee for attending to my questions and concerns, for timely feedback and wise counsel. I must acknowledge loved ones who supported me throughout this journey even when I communicated and played less. I would like to express my appreciation to Belinda whose knowledge of research and writing shaped this study.