Professor Anna-Maija Pirttilä-Backman, Jyoti Verma and Raul Kassea (University of Helsinki, Finland, Patna University, India, University of Yaounde, Cameroon )
In the study about 90 teachers and 20 principals in Cameroon, India and Finland are discussing about trust in interviews conducted in the beginning of the year 2009.The objective is first to understand how trust is represented by the teachers and principals of primary and high schools of the participating countries.
The study first conducts 6 focus group discussions between a small group of teachers from primary and high schools (following a design for selecting the teachers in these groups). The objective is to understand what is trust between the teachers grounded on , what is distrust between teachers grounded on, whether trust exists or it needs to be built, whether trust can be lost and recovered, what impact trust has on the work life of the tecahers and whether having too much trust is possible and what are its consequences, etc.
There are some culture sensitive questions too as to whether, caste, ethnicity, language and region, etc. have an impact on trust between the teachers and the principal and the teachers.
After the focus group discussions are completed the teachers respond to a couple of small imaginary incidences like what the teachers might discuss when a new principal was going to join them (this is in reagrds to trusting the new principal). Similarly, what might have happened when trust breaks between an earlier trusting relationship between the teachera and their principal?
In the end, the participants select and rank cards that have at least five grounds (written on them) on which people base their decision to trust and rank these cards.The researchers' try to know why the teachers selected the cards they did, and the reason behind their ranking of the cards.
There is one more excercise which is about finding from the participants the qualites of a trustworthy colleague and principal according to them with the help of a figure with empty boxs which has a top box saying "Trustworthiness".
The second part of the focus groups is run with the same guiding questions but now the focus is on relationship between the teachers and the Principal of their school. All the excercise are run again.
We also interview 6 teachers and six principals separately using the list of the same guiding questions to see if people talk more fearlessly when interviewd individually and whether what has been talked in the focus groups are complemented/not complemented by the individual inerviews.
The ultimate aim of the study is to understnd trust between people in superior -subordinate positions and the character of the trusting/distrusting relationship between them.