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Writing about Methods in Dissertations and Doctoral/Project Studies With Jeff Zuckerman and Paul Lai Walden University Writing Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing about Methods in Dissertations and Doctoral/Project Studies With Jeff Zuckerman and Paul Lai Walden University Writing Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing about Methods in Dissertations and Doctoral/Project Studies With Jeff Zuckerman and Paul Lai Walden University Writing Center

2 Session objectives Learn basics of presentation of the methods section (EdD/DBA) or chapter (PhD) Learn writing tips and university resources to use in researching and writing your proposal

3 Questions Use the Q&A box on your screen Type a question, and Paul and I will answer it.

4 How do I get from there to here? Wait a second. Where do I even begin?

5 Methods in the capstone EdD Research option: Section 3; see EdD research study rubricEdD research study rubric Project option: Section 2; see EdD project study rubricEdD project study rubric DBA Section 2; see DBA doctoral study rubricDBA doctoral study rubric PhD Chapter 3; see PhD dissertation checklist and rubricPhD dissertation checklist and rubric New PhD rubric webinar (Center for Research Quality)webinar

6 Templates at writingcenter.waldenu.edu

7 Methods and the proposal Conduct preliminary research and research between drafts Way 1: Literature first 1.Draft literature review 2.Draft methods section 3.Draft introduction Way 2: Introduction first 1.Draft introduction 2.Draft literature review 3.Draft methods section Do not begin with the method. Your research problem dictates your method, so you need to identify your problem first. Research problem webinar Your research problem dictates your method, so you need to identify your problem first. Research problem webinar

8 Methods Your Objectives

9 Connect your method to your identified researchable problem. Choose a research design in that method to study your research question(s) (i.e., not just “qualitative”). Describe specific data collection and analysis plans and strategies. Explain your ethical responsibilities. Organize according to the university rubric.university rubric

10 Problem statement and methods Identifies a gap in literature, or in EdD/DBA, a gap in practice. Quantitative: Gap is best addressed by examining the relationship between two or more variables Qualitative: Gap is best addressed by increasing understanding about an issue (the “issue” cannot or should not be quantified) Mixed method: Gap is best addressed through multiple methodological approaches. Employing only one method will not adequately address the gap.

11 Introduction to the Study  Methods Parts of Chapter/Section 1 concerning methods preview Problem Statement & Research Questions/Hypotheses: guide the choice of method Nature of the Study: provides overview of method/design Limitations: determines generalizability of final results Delimitations: clarifies the focus of the study. Significance/social change/so what?

12 Nature of the study and methods (ch/sec 1) Provides a brief introduction to your methods Include most important details (e.g., qual / quant / mixed; number of participants; names of instruments) Direct readers to methods section for more information (e.g., “See Chapter 3 for an extended discussion of the proposed study’s methods.”)

13 Writing tips For the proposal, write in the future tense what you plan to do. – “I will run a regression analysis…” After the proposal has been approved and data have been collected and analyzed, convert what you did to past tense. But. – “I ran a regression analysis…” Appropriate use of first person is required in APA 6 th edition. But. Be specific: Replicable – Recipe card analogy (how many participants, which instruments, etc.). But.

14 Excerpt from Quantitative Chapter 3 Introduction The first section of this chapter includes a description of this quantitative research study. I used a quasi-experimental design to test the primary question about the impact of developmental coursework on graduation rates. The next section, focusing on the setting and participants, includes a description of the population, reasons to use a purposive sample, and the criteria for selection of participants. The final portions of this chapter describe cross-tabulations of the nominal data and the analysis process utilizing the likelihood ratio chi-square technique, along with ethical considerations.

15 Excerpt: Quantitative (proposal) Quantitative research is used when a hypothesis or theory proposes that a relationship exists between variables (Creswell, 2003). The purpose of this study was to examine whether taking developmental coursework had an impact on the graduation rates for adult students. Although demographic information will be included to describe the participants, much like qualitative research data, the frequencies of graduates in a particular year represent data that are quantitative and are appropriate for this type of analysis. This study is also designed to test a hypothesis, not develop one. Rather than true experimental, a quasi-experimental research design is viewed as the most appropriate for this research, because the participants will not be randomly distributed within treatment conditions… Past tense for finale: was included Finale: Were appropriate; was also designed Passive voice

16 Excerpt: Quantitative Research Questions and Hypotheses 1. Developmental vs. No Developmental Coursework H 0 - There is no difference in the graduation rates of adults taking and not taking developmental coursework. H a - There is a difference in the graduation rates of adults taking and not taking developmental coursework 2. Gender H 0 - There is no difference in the graduation rates of adults taking developmental coursework, based on gender. H a - There is a difference in the graduation rates of adults taking developmental coursework, based on gender. JZ learned “will be”... as measured by...

17 Excerpt: Quantitative Setting of Study College students in the state of Ohio have the option of attending private or public institutions that provide certifications required for employment, applied degrees in various technologies, associate of arts and sciences degrees, and bachelor, master, or doctoral degrees. According to the Ohio Board of Regents (2006a), there were 638,146 students enrolled in these institutions, with 172,118 of them at community and technical… a large urban school district in northeastern Ohio on the Cuyahoga River with a really crummy football team blah yada yada yada yada yada yada

18 Excerpt: Quantitative Population of Study A study population can be defined in two ways (Trochim, 2001). The theoretical population is the one to which researchers want to generalize. The accessible population is composed of the individuals to whom I have access. For this study, the theoretical population will be adult students, defined as age 26 and over at entry and enrolled full-time in public 2-year colleges in the United States. The accessible population was the group of adult students from the state of Ohio who were enrolled full-time and for the first time in 1999 (n = 840), 2000 (n = 884), or 2001 (n = 894), which produced a total N = 2,618. Dissertation change to past tense If secondary data you might know this at the time of the proposal N = total population; n = subsample

19 Excerpt: Quantitative proposal Treatment The primary focus in this study is graduation rates for adults who take or do not take developmental coursework. Developmental coursework is curriculum that has been designed to prepare students for subsequent college-level courses. The independent variable for this study is whether students took developmental coursework prior to attempting college-level coursework. Hence, for purposes of this research, students who are taking developmental coursework defined the treatment group. Students not enrolled in developmental coursework will constitute the control group.… I will apply for IRB approval for this study before….

20 Excerpt: Quantitative Instruments A college placement test is used to identify the need for developmental coursework for students attending community colleges with an open access mission. To eliminate the extraneous effect of the variance among placement tests, students completing the COMPASS placement test will be targeted for this sample. The COMPASS is a computerized assessment tool distributed by ACT….

21 Excerpt: Quantitative Instruments A college placement test is used to identify the need for developmental coursework for students... Is your instrument valid and reliable? How does your reader know? If your own, did you pilot test it? Did you adequately describe the pilot test and results?

22 Excerpt: Quantitative Proposal (Future Tense) Descriptive and Inferential Analyses Individual student information of age, gender, and race…will be totaled and cross-tabulated across the control and treatment conditions of the independent variable. Subsequent to these tabulations, an inferential analysis will be conducted to test the research questions. For the primary question, the independent variable is having taken or not taken developmental coursework, and the dependent variable is the frequency of student graduation in a year across 5 years. Because both variables are nominal level, a test of independence requires a chi-square analysis of the 2 x 5 contingency table.

23 Summary excerpt: Talk to your reader Summary This chapter contained an explanation of the research study, research questions and hypotheses, and additional factors relating to the project. After the discussion of the pilot study, including the implications found, the next logical step was to conduct the research study. In the next chapter I will describe what process was followed for conducting the study and analyzing the results. I then present and discuss the findings, followed by the conclusions and recommendations for future research and practice in terms of social change in terms of social change in terms of social change in terms of social change in terms of social change in terms of social change in terms of social change terms of social change.

24 Excerpt: Qualitative proposal Introduction The primary purpose of this qualitative life history study is to explore the roles of agency and social expectations for adults who have learned to read. The secondary purpose of this study is to describe the lived experience of adults who did not learn to read in school. In this study I will also explore the potential applications of adult agency behaviors in reading intervention curriculum for adolescents who struggle to read.

25 Excerpt: Qualitative Research Design: Paradigm and Tradition According to Creswell (2008) the qualitative research paradigm should be undertaken based on the following rationales: (a) research questions begin with how and what, (b) the topic requires exploration because of multiple variables and/or a lack of theory, (c) a natural setting is required…Thus, the paradigm of qualitative research was chosen because words are more indicative of the experience of learning in reference to the cultural invention of reading than the numerical data of quantitative research…

26 What can drive your reader crazy Too much Creswell Too much didactic stuff about all the methods you used Too much didactic stuff about all the methods you didn’t use Instead Consider your reader and cut to the chase.

27 Excerpt: Qualitative Research Questions 1.What is the lived experience of an adult who does not read proficiently or who has learned to read proficiently as an adult? 2.What is the role of agency in learning to read as an adult? 3.What is the role of social expectations in learning to read as an adult? 4.How are agency and social expectations connected or revealed in the pivotal moments in the narratives of adult non- or limited readers?

28 Excerpt: Qualitative finale Participants/Population Participants were chosen for this qualitative life history because they had the shared experience of struggling to learn to read… I selected participants for this qualitative life story from a rural central Florida community. A convenience sample of 18 men and women who self-identified as having learned to read as adults was located through (a) referrals from teachers in public school adult education programs, (b) notices sent to community volunteer adult tutoring programs, (c) referrals from my professional contacts… No need for passive there. I located In your proposal you might have said 20

29 Excerpt: Qualitative Researcher’s Role Cole and Knowles (2001) stated that the “researcher serves as the central ‘instrument,’ the prime viewing lens…a guiding influence in all aspects of a study” (p. 10). As the instrument of investigation, a researcher must recognize and acknowledge the bias that cannot be left outside the research space shared by the story teller. Therefore...

30 Excerpt: Qualitative Data Collection Strategies Data collection occurred in three distinct phases: prescreening with initial brief interviews, screening with written questionnaire instruments, and inclusion in the study with extended interviews… Data Analysis Procedures Data analysis included construction of a visual display of information (see Figure 1) based on the three-level ladder of analytical abstraction developed by Carney in 1990 and presented by Miles and Huberman (1994). This data analysis plan was chosen because it allows for the correlation and corroboration of the written instruments with the interview text in a systematic and visual format.

31 Excerpt: Qualitative Measures for Ethical Protection of Participants It is the researcher’s ethical responsibility to safeguard the storyteller by maintaining the understood purpose of the research…. Researchers are also ethically bound to the institutions which support or sanction their studies. No participants will be contacted, and no data will be collected until I receive approval from the Walden University Institutional Review Board (#xxxxxxx). Blah, blah, blah Proposal future tense; finale add actual number

32 Take-home points: A research proposal is like a butter sculpture at the Minnesota State Fair

33 Writing is a process. The research problem dictates the method. The method components should be clear. Take-home points: A research proposal is like a butter sculpture at the Minnesota State Fair

34 Take-home points Writing is a process. Allow yourself multiple revisions of each section and take advantage of the Writing Center’s resources. The research problem dictates the method. Do not impose a “pet” method to address an ill- fitting research problem. The method components should be clear. The description of the method should be detailed enough so that others could replicate the study.

35 Resources Center for Research Quality Research resources – See Research Planning and Writing – See Research Design and Analysis Forms (arranged by program: DBA, EdD, PhD)Forms Writing Center Webinars – See Scholarly Writing Webinars – See Graduate Level Webinars – See Capstone Webinars

36 Questions research questions to the Center for Research Quality (see Contact Us page)Contact Us writing questions to the Writing Center Course papers/KAMs: Capstone proposals/studies: Photos courtesy CreativeCommons.org


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