Trends in M. Ed. studies about educational leadership and management conducted at one South African Higher education institution during 1995-2004.
The advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994 led to new areas of research interest, not least in the field of educational leadership and management (ELM). However, besides the Project on Postgraduate Education Research (PPER), not much research has been conducted to investigate the trends in research conducted by postgraduate students in South African universities. This study therefore aimed to contribute by investigating the trends in postgraduate research in ELM at a selected institution in the decade 1995-2004. Working in the interpretivist paradigm, the study employed an institutional case-study approach to conduct a study of 53 M.Ed. dissertations in the PPER database from the selected institution. The dissertations dealt with ELM topics. Statistical analysis on this dataset and content analyses of three selected dissertations were used to identify trends in education research at the selected institution. Robin Usher’s four concepts of con-text, pre-text, sub-text and inter-text were employed as a framework within which to interpret the findings. From the analysis it is evident that the first ten years of the democratic era in South Africa witnessed a change in the demographic profile of postgraduate research. The trends are that Black students completed more dissertations followed by Indian, White and Coloured students; there are more dissertations from males than females, although by the end of the decade the number of woman writing dissertations had increased significantly; research of ELM is mostly qualitative in approach and of small-scale studies; dissertation topics cover a range of five ELM areas of interest, with few authors exploring the con-text of ELM within the broader socio-political context of the decade under consideration.