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The 10 Strategic Points for the Prospectus, Proposal, and Dissertation Introduction

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The 10 Strategic Points for the Prospectus, Proposal, and Dissertation Introduction
In the Prospectus, Proposal and Dissertation there are ten key or strategic points that
need to be clear, simple, correct, and aligned to ensure the research is doable, valuable, and
credible. These points, which provide a guide or vision for the research, are present in almost
any research. They are defined within this 10 Strategic Points document.
The 10 Strategic Points
The 10 strategy points emerge from researching literature on a topic which is based on, or
aligned with, the defined need in the literature as well as the learner’s personal passion, future
career purpose, and degree area. The 10 Strategic Points document includes the following ten
key or strategic points that define the research focus and approach:
1. Topic – Provides a board research topic area/title.
2. Literature review - Lists primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: (a)
Background of the problem/gap and the need for the study based on citations from the
literature; (b) Theoretical foundations (models and theories to be foundation for study);
(c) Review of literature topics with key theme for each one; (d) Summary.
3. Problem statement - Describes the problem to address through the study based on defined
needs or gaps from the literature.
4. Sample and location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study
phenomena with small numbers and variables/groups with large numbers).
5. Research questions – Provides research questions to collect data to address the problem
statement.
6. Hypothesis/variables or Phenomena - Provides hypotheses with variables for each
research question (quantitative) or describes the phenomena to be better understood
(qualitative).
7. Methodology and design - Describes the selected methodology and specific research
design to address problem statement and research questions.
8. Purpose statement – Provides one sentence statement of purpose including the problem
statement, methodology, design, population sample, and location.
9. Data collection – Describes primary instruments and sources of data to answer research
questions.
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12/15/2012 10. Data analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address
research questions.
The Process for Defining the Ten Strategic Points
The order of the ten strategic points listed above reflects the order in which the work is done
by the learner. The first five strategic points focus primarily on defining the focus for the
research based on a clearly defined need or gap from the literature as well as the learner’s
passion, purpose and specialty area focus. First a learner identifies a broad topic area to research
for their dissertation based on a clearly defined need or gap from the literature -- that they are
interested in because it is based on their personal passion, future career purpose, and degree
being pursued. Second, the learner then completes a review of the literature to define the need or
gap they will address, the theories and models that will provide a foundation for their research,
related topics that are needed to demonstrate their expertise in their field, and define the key
strategic points behind their proposed research. Third, the learner develops a clear, simple, one
sentence problem statement that defines the problem, or gap, that will be addressed by the
research. Fourth, the learner identifies some potential population samples they would have access
to in order to collect the data for the study, considering the fact the quantitative study sample
sizes need to be much larger than those for qualitative studies. Fifth, the learner develops a set of
research questions that will define the data needed to address the problem statement.
Based on the above five strategic points the learner now defines the key aspects of the
research methodology through the last five strategic points. Sixth, the learner either describes the
phenomena to be studied (if it is a qualitative study), or develops a set of hypotheses (matching
the research questions) that defines the variables that will be the focus for the research (if it is a
quantitative study). Seventh, the learner determines if the study will be qualitative, quantitative
or mixed research based on (a) the best approach for the research, (b) the size of the sample they
can get permission to access, (c) availability of data collection tools and sources, and (d) time
and resources to conduct the study. And they select the best design approach considering these
same factors. Eight, the learner develops a purpose statement by integrating the problem
statement, methodology, design, sample and location. Ninth, the learner identifies the data they
will need to collect to address the research questions or hypotheses and how they will collect the
data (e.g., interviews, focus groups, observations, tested and validated instruments or surveys,
data bases, public media, etc.) Tenth, they identify the appropriate data analysis, based on their
design, to be used to answer their research questions and address their problem statement.
Criteria for Evaluating the Ten Strategic Points: Clear, Simple, Correct and Aligned
When developing research, it is important to define the ten strategic points so they are simple,
clear and correct in order to ensure anyone who reviews them will easily understand them. It is
important to align all of the ten strategic points to ensure it will be possible to conduct and
complete the research. The problem statement must come out of the literature. The research
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12/15/2012 questions must collect the data needed to answer the problem statement. The methodology and
design must be appropriate for the problem statement and research questions. The data collection
and data analysis must provide the information to answer the research questions (qualitative) or
test the hypotheses (quantitative). Developing the 10 Strategic Points as a two to three-page
document can help ensure clarity, simplicity, correctness, and alignment of each of these ten key
or strategic points in the prospectus, proposal, and dissertation. Developing these ten strategic
points on a two to three pages also provides an easy-to-use use template to ensure the ten
strategic points are always worded the same throughout the prospectus, proposal, and
dissertation.
Value of the 10 Strategic Points Document
This 10 Strategic Points document can be used for communicating and aligning key
stakeholders for the dissertation. This document can be used to get agreement between the
learner and the chair on the initial focus and approach for your research. The document can be
used to review the proposed research with the people or organizations where the learner needs to
get permission to conduct their research which is needed before the learner develops their
Proposal. The document is useful for communicating the dissertation focus when attracting a
Content Expert as well as for reviewing the proposal with the dissertation committee and the
AQR reviewers. Further, submitting this document with the prospectus to the Methodologist will
assist in demonstrating to the methodologist the methodology, design, data collection, and data
analysis align with the problem statement, research questions, and hypotheses or phenomena.
Examples of the 10 Strategic Points Document
It is important that the ten strategic points are clear, concise, doable, and aligned throughout
the prospectus, proposal, and dissertation. Following are samples for a quantitative study and a
qualitative study. A mixed method study, which requires the completion of a sheet for both a
quantitative and qualitative method and therefore takes much more time and resources to
complete, is not recommended unless the learner has lots of extra time and resources to complete
it. Additionally the learner must be able to do both qualitative and quantitative data analysis. A
qualitative study with numbers or descriptive statistics does not mean it is mixed method study.
Qualitative data can be displayed using tables, charts, graphs and descriptive statistics. A table to
use to develop your 10 Strategic Points is shown following the examples. Example 1: Ten Strategic Points for a Quantitative Correlational Study:
1. Topic – Provides a board research topic area/title: Relationship of Servant Leadership
behaviors in principals, school culture, and student performance
2. Literature review - Lists primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: a.
Background of the problem/gap; b. Theoretical foundations (models and theories to
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12/15/2012 be foundation for study); c. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one; d.
Summary.
a. Background of the problem/gap;
i.
The national call for school accountability is a critical issue that has
gained attention from federal educational lawmakers given the rate at
which American students are falling behind other countries influenced
federal lawmakers in the creation of the NCL Act (Koretz, 2009).
ii.
The school principal of the twenty first century has been asked to do and
be competent in more and more tasks than the previous two centuries of
school principals including improving student performance and the school
culture (Kafka, 2009).
iii.
The characteristics of school culture are complex, and a leader must
understand these complex variables before they create change with the
school (MacNeil et al., 2009).
iv.
Black (2010) conducted a mixed method correlated study showing
relationship of servant leadership and school climate.
v.
Pritchard et al. (2005) explored the relationships between district and
school culture and student achievement.
b. Theoretical foundations (models and theories to be foundation for study);
i.
Servant leadership model (Greenleaf, 1977; Patterson 2003)
ii.
School culture models (MacNeil, 2009; Schein, 1985)
iii.
Broad set of studies exploring relationship among these two models and
performance in school. (Halawah, 2005; MacNeil et al.,2009)
c. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one;
i.
National Agenda: Need to improve the performance of students in
schools to be competitive as a nation (Koretz, 2009 ).
ii.
Changing Role of Principal: The role of the principal in American
schools has changed dramatically from its beginnings of uniformed
education (Rousmaniere, 2007).
iii.
Servant Leadership in Principals lead to More Effective leaders: The
study used the Self-Assessment for Servant Leadership Profile (SALS) to
assess whether or not a leader was a servant leader and the Leadership
Practices Inventory (LPI) to assess principal effectiveness. (Taylor et al.,
2007).
iv.
Principal’s Behavior influence School Culture: The principal’s
influence on school culture has an indirect effect on organizational and
cultural factors of a school (MacNeil et al., 2009).
v.
School Culture influences Student Performance: A strong relationship
exists between school culture and student performance (McCoach et al.,
2004).
vi.
Measuring Servant Leadership Behaviors: About 10 validated/tested
Instruments exist to measure Servant Leadership Behaviors some of which
have been used in schools
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12/15/2012 vii.
viii. Measuring Culture: Validated/tested instruments to measure culture exist
and have been used in schools.
Measuring Student Performance: State Test Scores are a standardized
way to measure student performance used across all schools in a state. d. Summary.
i.
Gap/problem: There is a need to identify different approaches to improve
student performance
ii.
Prior studies: Prior studies show various relationships between two of the
three variables (servant leadership behaviors, culture and student
performance) with only one exploring all three
iii.
Quantitative study: Instruments and sources of data exist to collect
numerical data on the three variables
iv.
Significance: research will add to the broad area of correlating leadership,
culture and performance; research may identify specific approaches to be
use by school leadership to improve student performance 3. Problem statement - Describes the phenomena to study (qualitative) or
variables/groups (quantitative) to study, in one sentence: It is not known if there is a
relationship between the level of a principal’s servant leadership behaviors and
characteristics as perceived by teachers in principals and school climate as perceived by
teachers.
4. Sample and location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study
phenomena with small numbers and variables/groups with large numbers).
a. Location: Alaska
b. Population: All schools in rural Alaska
c. Sample: One district in rural Alaska with approximately 20 principals who each lead a
single school
d. Number of observations for each principal in the sample: There are 5 to 10 teachers in
each school all of whom will be asked to complete the instruments on the principal
5. Research questions – Provides research questions to collect data to answer the
problem statement: R1: What is the relationship between teacher-perceived principal
servant leadership characteristics and teacher-perceived school culture? R2: Are there
relationships between teacher-perceived principal servant leadership characteristics and
student achievement? R3: Are there relationships between teacher-perceived school culture
and student achievement?
6. Hypothesis/variables or Phenomena - Provides hypotheses with variables for each
research question (quantitative) or describes the phenomena to be better understood
(qualitative). 5
12/15/2012 a. H1: There is a significant relationship between a principal’s servant leadership
characteristics as perceived by teachers and measured by the SLAI and teacherperceived secondary school culture as measured by the SCS.
b. H10: There is not a significant relationship between a principal’s servant leadership
characteristics as perceived by teachers and measured by the SLAI and teacherperceived secondary school culture as measured by the SCS.
c. H2A: There is a significant relationship between the principal’s servant leadership
characteristics as perceived by teachers and as measured by SLAI and student
achievement measured by the SIVS.
d. H2A0: There is not a significant relationship between the principal’s servant leadership
characteristics as perceived by teachers and as measured by SLAI and student
achievement measured by the SIVS.
e. H3A: There is a significant relationship between teacher perceived secondary school
culture as measured by the SCS and student achievement as measured by the SIVS.
f. H3A0: There is a significant relationship between teacher perceived secondary school
culture as measured by the SCS and student achievement as measured by the SIVS.
7. Methodology and design - Describes the selected methodology and specific research
design to address problem statement and research questions: This study will use a
Quantitative methodology with a Correlation Design
8. Purpose statement – Provides one sentence statement of purpose including the
problem statement, sample, methodology, and design: The purpose of this quantitative
correlational study was to develop an understanding of the relationships between secondary
school principals teacher-perceived servant leadership, teacher-perceived school culture,
and student achievement in all of the schools in the Lower Kuskokwim School District.
9. Data collection – Describes primary instruments and sources of data to answer
research questions:
a. Independent variable: Level of principal’s servant leadership characteristics /behaviors:
Data will be collected using one of the standard instruments/surveys that measure the
Servant Leadership Style by measuring level of servant leadership characteristics in 610 dimensions currently used for similar studies (Dennis and Bocarnea; 2005)
b. Dependent variable: Level of climate in the school: : Data will be collected using one of
the standard instruments/surveys currently used for similar studies that measure School
Climate by measuring the different dimensions of climate (MacNeil et al., 2009).
c. Dependent Variable: Student performance will be measured by the state/school
standardized test scores (SIVS).
10. Data analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address
research questions.
a. Descriptive statistics will be used to summarize the sample descriptive data and the
data on the three variables
b. To test the hypotheses and research questions, inferential statistics were calculated for
the hypothesis (H1, H2A, H3A) tested using simple linear regression analysis.
6
12/15/2012 c. A test for univariate outliers will be conducted to determine if any cases may not
statistically be part of the sample collected. Example 2: Ten Strategic Points for a Quantitative Causal Comparative Study:
1. Topic – Provide a board research topic area/title: Impact of teacher collaboration within
Mathematics PLCs on Texas state math assessments 2. Literature review - List primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: a.
Background of the problem/gap; b. Theoretical foundations (models and theories to be
foundation for study); c. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one; d
Summary:
a. Introduction and Background
i. Gap exists in tactics that contribute to improved performance in mathematics state
test scores especially for low SES Hispanic students (NCES, 2010). .
ii. Opportunity to quantity the relationships between collaboration in teachers and
higher state mathematics test scores (DuFour, 2011).
b. Theoretical Foundation
i. Models of collaboration (Naughton, 2006).
ii. Models of high performing schools (Sanders, 2010; Wilson, 2011),
c. Review of Literature topics with key theme:
i. Trends in Education at the National & State Level: Gaps exist in the performance
on state mathematics tests (NCES, 2010)
ii. Characteristics of the Low SES Student Population: Although performance gaps
continue to be higher for some high minority low SES schools (NCES, 2010),
others are high performing or excelling schools on state test results (Jensen, 2009;
Dyson, H. 2008). .
iii. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs): PLCs are being established with
departments to improve collaboration and identify tactics to improve student
performance (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2006).
iv. Teacher Collaboration: Collaboration has been shown to contribute to school and
student success in qualitative but not quantitative studies (Piccardi, 2005; Erkens,
2008; DuFour, 2011).
v. Teacher Collaboration (independent variable) can be measured using a tested and
validated instrument (dependent variable) (Naughton, 2006); Student
Achievement can be measured using mathematics results on state test scores
d. Synthesis/Summary
i. Background: There is Need to Close the Mathematics Achievement Gap
ii. Gap/Problem: Demonstrate relationship between collaboration in PLC and
mathematics achievement in high minority low SES grade schools
iii. PLCs: The Way to Implement Change is through Collaboration through PLCs
iv. Collaboration: Collaboration is a mean to Impact Student Achievement
v. Final Thoughts
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12/15/2012 3. Problem statement - Explain the phenomena to study (qualitative) or variables/groups
(quantitative) to study, in one sentence: It is unknown what differences exist, if any, in the
levels of perceived teacher collaboration within PLCs in schools identified as high
performing versus those reported at low performing schools, which serve both a high
percentage of low SES students and Hispanic students, on state math assessment.
4. Sample and location – Identify sample, needed sample size, and location (study
phenomena with small numbers and variables/groups with large numbers): Need at
least 30 grade schools that are high performing and 30 that are low performing on state
mathematics test scores with a part of the state of Texas. Schools need to have established
PLCs for mathematics.
5. Research questions – Provide research questions to collect data to answer the problem
statement: R1: What differences exist, if any, between the levels of perceived teacher
collaboration within PLCs in schools identified by the state of Texas as high performing
versus those perceived at low performing schools that serve both, a high percentage of low
SES and Hispanic students, on state math assessment?
6. Hypothesis/variables or Phenomena - Develop Hypotheses with variables for each
research question (quantitative) or describe the phenomena to be better understood
(qualitative)
a. Compare high performing schools on their state test scores in mathematics (group 1) to
low performing schools (group 2) on their perceived level of collaboration in the
mathematics PLCs.
b. HA: There would be a significant difference between the levels of perceived teacher
collaboration within PLCs in schools identified by the state of Texas as high performing
versus those perceived at low performing that serve both, a high percentage of low SES
and Hispanic students, on state math assessment.
c. H0: There would be no significant difference between the levels of perceived teacher
collaboration within PLCs in schools identified by the state of Texas as high performing
versus those perceived at low performing that serve both, a high percentage of low SES
and Hispanic students, on state math assessment.
7. Methodology and design - Describe the selected methodology and specific research
design to address problem statement and research questions: Quantitative methodology
with a causal comparative research design
8. Purpose statement – Provide one sentence statement of purpose including problem
statement, sample, methodology, and design: The purpose of this causal comparative
quantitative study is to examine to what extent the level of teacher collaboration within
Mathematics PLCs is a factor that affects the mathematics achievement level on the Texas
mathematics assessment of elementary schools identified as 'high performing' or 'low
performing', serving a majority of low SES and Hispanic students. 8
12/15/2012 9. Data collection – Describe primary instruments and sources of data to answer research
questions: For the independent variable, this study will use the Mathematics Staff
Interaction Questionnaire (MSIQ) developed by Naughton (2006). To measure the
dependent variable, the researcher will use archival data (provided by the district’s Research
Review Board office) for each elementary school in one North Texan school district to rank
schools based on achievement level as indicated by the 2011 Texas mathematics assessment.
10. Data analysis – Describe the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address
research questions: Descriptive statistics will describe the sample characteristics and
variable results. An independent t-test will test for difference between the two groups of 30
schools (high performing versus low performing on mathematics) on level of collaboration: A
priori analysis will be used to justify the sample size. Example 3: Ten Strategic Points for a Qualitative Case Study:
1. Topic – Provides a board research topic area/title: A Case Study of how a comprehensive
global programme, the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, influences the
success of a single middle school.
2. Literature review - Lists primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: a.
Background of the problem/gap; b. Theoretical foundations (models and theories to be
foundation for study); c. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one; d.
Summary.
a. Background of the problem/gap:
i.
Prior studies which show a relationship between achievement in mathematics
and literacy and taking a language identified need to study how taking a
foreign language leads, especially in immersion programs, to higher levels
of cognitive development as reflected in higher scores in mathematics and
literacy (Stewart, 2008).
ii.
Dr. Celestine Gail Carr (1994) concluded that further studies on the effects of
foreign language studies on vocabulary, mathematical concepts, and
mathematical computations examining for a correlation between foreign
language aptitude and mathematical aptitude at the middle school level.
iii.
Dr. Carolyn Joyce Taylor-Ward (2003) identified the need for future sties on
relationship between studying elementary school foreign language and
academic achievement on state test scores.
b. Theoretical Foundations (models and theories to be foundation for study);
Lev Vygotsky, a pioneer in developmental psychology researched the development of
language and its relationship to thought (Vygotsky, 1986). Vygotsky studied cognitive
development and its relationship to the role of social interaction with the environment
(Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky proposed that language, along with environmental social
interaction helps a child to learn to reason (Vygotsky, 1978). Learning a foreign
language is a social activity that...

 

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