For this assignment, choose two theories or models that might be useful in a quantitative study in your subject area. Then, choose two theories or models that might be u
Please make sure that you follow all the professor's instructions. Please read the study guide. Please use the APA 7th edition. Please watch out for Spelling and grammar errors.
Book Reference: Roberts, C., & Hyatt, L. (2019). The dissertation journey: A practical and comprehensive guide to planning, writing, and defending your dissertation (3rd ed.). Corwin. https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781506373331
For this assignment, choose two theories or models that might be useful in a quantitative study in your subject area. Then, choose two theories or models that might be useful in a qualitative study in your subject area. For each theory, address the prompts below.
- Determine who the founder is and when it was created.
- Explain its purpose and components.
- Assess how it might support a study in your subject area.
This assignment should be at least three pages in length. Use at least three sources, one of which may be the eTextbook. Adhere to APA Style when constructing this assignment, including in-text citations and references for all sources that are used. Please note that no abstract is needed.
Chapter 8 Writing the Introduction
The introduction chapter of your dissertation sets the stage for your study and typically consists of the following sections: an introduction to the study, the research problem, the theoretical or conceptual framework, the purpose statement, a statement about the type of research method and questions/hypotheses, the significance of the study, the delimitations, the assumptions, a definition of terms, an organization of the remaining chapters, and a summary that states the key points made in the chapter. Most introductions in the social sciences follow a similar pattern; however, they may vary according to the type of research methodology used.
The overall structure of the introduction chapter moves from the general to the specific, beginning with an overview of the general area under study and ending with specific research questions/hypotheses. Think of writing this chapter in a V or funnel-shaped fashion, as shown in Figure 8.1 .
Figure 8.1 Funnel From the General to the Specific
To help you focus your introduction, first, draw a large funnel and fill it in to help you visually focus your topic. The top of the funnel begins with an introduction, a description of the general area to be studied. Next, identify a more specific problem within the general area. Say why this problem is important to study and specify what is already known about the problem. Then, specify what is not known about the problem that is important to study. Finally, state a specific purpose statement in one or two sentences followed by research questions that guide the study.
The Introductory Paragraph
A good introduction states the focus of your study and discusses the general issues that surround it. It describes the broad, general context and pertinent background information related to the problem you investigated. Your introduction includes a brief summary of literature and research about the problem you investigated, leading to a description of the problem statement. In other words, what is the current understanding of your topic? Don’t include a complete history of your study area.
The opening sentences of your introduction should grab the readers’ attention and draw them into the study. Creswell (2015) calls the first sentence a narrative hook. A good narrative hook does the following: “cause the reader to pay attention, elicit emotional or attitudinal responses, spark interest, and encourage the reader to continue reading” (p. 65). Some examples of narrative hooks might include interesting statistical data, a stimulating question, or a relevant quotation. Generally, the introduction consists of about three to five pages; however, it may vary, depending on the nature of the study and the preferences of your advisor.
Because the primary function of the introductory chapter is to set the context of your study, be cautious about using an overabundance of citations. The information provided in the introduction expands to include a detailed, comprehensive review of related literature.
Once you introduce your topic area, you then narrow it to a specific research problem that contributes to knowledge and practice. You can show this contribution in several ways: filling a gap in the research or literature, exploring an unanswered question, extending previous research, resolving contradictory findings, or “giving voice to people silenced, not heard, or rejected in society” (Creswell, 2015, p. 63). In this section, you must provide sufficient evidence to support the extent of the problem and to convince the reader the problem is real, important, and timely.
A research problem can be defined as
the issue that exists in the literature, in theory, or in practice that leads to a need for the study. The research problem in a study becomes clear when the researcher asks, “What is the need for this study?” or “What problem influenced the need to undertake this study?” (Creswell, 2002, p. 80)
The problem statement tells the story behind the variables or concepts to be studied and provides background for the purpose statement and research questions.
The problem statement should do the following:
· Have a line of logic that leads the reader to the purpose statement
· Provide a background to the variables or concepts to be studied
· Cite literature sources, but not extensively
· Conclude with the “need to know”—formally stated as significance of the study
Line of Logic
The problem statement begins with a general introduction to the study and, through a careful line of reasoning, focuses down to become more detailed and specific to your study. Your writing should be clear, precise, and directional. There should be a sequential line of logic. For example, the research problem leads directly to the purpose statement, which leads directly to the research questions. An important point to remember is that the line of logic comes from you. It cannot be found directly in the literature.
Background to the Problem’s Variables or Concepts
Providing background information to your research problem requires answering the following questions:
1. What do we already know about this problem?
2. What do we not know about this problem? What has not been answered adequately in previous research and practice?
3. What do we want to know about this problem?
The problem statement is the discrepancy between what we already know and what we want to know. It is necessary to provide background information about both what is known and what is not known. The problem statement also tells the story about why we care—why we should conduct this study. It is important for the reader to know what is unique and different from previous research. Try to conceive of your study as a large jigsaw puzzle with a piece missing. Or you may conceive of your study as fulfilling an indicated need for further advancement of previous research. That missing piece is the gap you want to fill. To discover that missing piece, you must read widely in the literature base of your topic area.
When all of these studies are aggregated, you can then tell something about the problem’s domain. (See Figure 8.2 .)
Figure 8.2 Defining the Problem’s Domain
The variables or factors you selected for study must exist within some conceptual or theoretical framework that you develop from reading the literature. You cannot pull your topic out of a hat. Appropriate citations from the literature help provide a justification for selecting these variables or concepts. Creating a conceptual framework is one of the few places where you have the opportunity to display original thought. If, however, you conduct an inductive qualitative study, your variables or concepts emerge from the data. Rather than starting with a conceptual framework, you investigate broad, general areas that become more focused through data gathering in the field.
Citing the literature helps you build a case for why your research should be undertaken. The references and quotations support your arguments. However, keep in mind that in most cases, citations should be used sparingly in the problem statement. It is not a formal review of the literature.
For impact, keep your sentences short and write an opening sentence that stimulates interest. In short, your introductory chapter should convince your readers of the study’s need and value.
Need to Know
What is the need for this particular study? Why does this specific study need to be conducted? So what? What contribution will your study make to the literature or to the field? Who benefits from your study and in what way? The major discussion of the study’s importance may be found in the Significance of the Study section.
Common Errors in Writing the Problem Statement
Here are some common errors students make in submitting drafts of their problem statements:
· Failing to get to the point. Avoid tedious length in introducing the study. The reader wants to know what your study is about.
· Making the reader believe that we already know the answer. If we know it, then we don’t need to study it.
· Covering extraneous issues, whether interesting or not. These are “rabbit runs”—interesting but irrelevant to the topic. Resist the temptation to share with the reader the volume of interesting but irrelevant information you accumulated.
· Being inconsistent. The problem should be clearly and logically related to the purpose statement and research questions.
· Stating what we should do rather than what we want to know. Such phrases as we must, we should, and it is imperative that belong in a position paper. In short, stay off a soapbox.
· Writing in “dissertationese” rather than in English. This causes your writing to be stilted, awkward, and artificial. Just say what you mean in natural phrases.
· Using unnecessary technical language and jargon. This keeps the reader from understanding the main idea of what you’re trying to say.
· Using extensive quotations and references. These get in the way of the logical flow of ideas.
· Using abstruse arguments. Refrain from making points that are unclear or difficult to understand. Write in a clear, simple, and straightforward manner.
· Engaging in personal reflections or editorializing. Reserve this for Chapter 5 .
· Making unsupported claims or statements. The problem must be written in the context of theory and relevant literature.
· Using disjointed recitation of the studies cited. You create the line of logic and use literature citations to substantiate your points.
The opening sentences of your dissertation should be approached thoughtfully and carefully, for this is the place to win or lose your audience. Therefore, introduce your topic in a way that engages readers—that captures their interest and makes them want to continue reading. Creswell (2004) called these opening lines the narrative hook, a term he claimed is “drawn from English composition, meaning words that serve to draw, engage, or hook the reader into the study” (p. 102). A convincing narrative hook, according to Creswell (2015), might include one or more of the following:
1. Statistical data (e.g., “More than 50 percent of the adult population experiences depression today.”)
2. A provocative question (e.g., “Why are school policies that ban smoking in high schools not being enforced?”)
3. A clear need for research (e.g., “School suspension is drawing increased attention among scholars in teacher education.”)
4. The intent or purpose of the study (e.g., “The intent of this study is to examine how clients construe the therapist–client relationship.”) (p. 65)
There are a variety of other possibilities for introducing your study; the main thing to remember is to begin in an engaging manner that will interest your audience so they keep on reading.
Theoretical or Conceptual Framework
Doctoral students hate to hear these words from their dissertation advisor: “Your study sounds promising, but what is your theoretical framework?” This question is often met with silence, raised eyebrows, or shrugged shoulders, indicating more information is needed about this term. In discussing the theoretical framework, Merriam (2001) stated,
A colleague of mine once commented that if she could have figured out what a theoretical framework was early on, she could have cut a year off of her graduate studies! Indeed, the theoretical or conceptual framework of a study and where theory fits into a research study continue to mystify and frustrate many a novice (and sometimes experienced) researcher. (pp. 44–45)
Few texts or books about writing a dissertation or thesis discuss the process, importance, or purpose of developing a conceptual or theoretical framework and making it explicit. It is often the missing link in student scholarship. Hopefully, this section will ground your understanding in this important aspect of designing and clarifying your research.
What Is a Conceptual or Theoretical Framework?
It is a lens through which your research problem is viewed. It can be a theory, a construct that conceptualizes your study’s focus, or a research perspective. Miles and Huberman (2014) defined it this way: “A conceptual framework explains, either graphically or in narrative form, the main things to be studied—the key factors, variables, or constructs—and the presumed relationships among them” (p. 20). Some of the visual forms a conceptual framework might take could be tree diagrams, mind maps, flowcharts, concept maps, or diagrams such as triangles, circles, and so on. In their book, Qualitative Data Analysis, Miles and Huberman provide several graphic illustrations followed by descriptive narrative that serve as examples of conceptual or theoretical frameworks.
The conceptual or theoretical framework provides the boundaries or scaffolding for your study. Like a microscope, it narrows your field of vision, thus helping you limit the scope of your study. After all, it is usually not possible to study everything about your research topic. Making your conceptual or theoretical framework explicit provides clarity for the reader as to exactly what your study is about and provides the focus and content for making decisions about your study’s design. By not grounding your study within an explicit conceptual or theoretical frame, your study takes on a “So what?” quality.
How Does a Conceptual Framework Differ From a Theoretical Framework?
Often, the terms conceptual framework and theoretical framework are used interchangeably, and rarely is a differentiation made. A theory is a discussion about related concepts, assumptions, and generalizations, while concepts can be defined as words or phrases that represent several interrelated ideas. If your study is grounded in a particular theory or theories, then perhaps the better term would be theoretical framework, since theory would be used to explain the particular phenomenon under study. It implies a higher level of conceptual organization. If your study does not include a specific theory, it still contains concepts and subconcepts that define the interrelationship of the ideas contained in your study. Some studies contain a review of theory as well as a conceptual framework. We recommend a conference with your dissertation advisor to determine the best approach for your particular study. Remember, no study is without some implicit framework. Your challenge is to discover it and make it explicit.
Why Do You Need a Conceptual or Theoretical Framework?
A well-defined conceptual or theoretical framework helps you to view your area of interest more acutely. Similar to a telescope or microscope, a conceptual or theoretical framework narrows and brings into focus your field of vision, which is necessary for limiting the scope of your study. It helps define the research problem and structures the writing of your literature review. In addition, it acts as a filtering tool to select appropriate research questions and to guide data collection, analysis, and interpretation of findings.
How Do You Find a Conceptual or Theoretical Framework?
The best way to select an appropriate conceptual or theoretical framework for your study is to immerse yourself in the research and theoretical literature related to your topic of interest. You may not find a specific theory to guide your study; however, you will discover a variety of interrelated core concepts and subconcepts from which to frame your study.
Example 1 of a Conceptual Framework
The following are sections from a quantitative dissertation about student persistence and academic success in an institution of higher education. The researcher prepared a separate section in Chapter 1 devoted to the study’s underlying theories.
To properly frame this study . . . it was appropriate to go to the recognized experts in college persistence. These theorists studied college persistence for over 35 years and developed models that have been tested and validated.
Student persistence is complex, made up of many variables (Lewallen, 1993). Studies since the 1970s attempted to isolate the most important and influential elements of student retention, attrition, and ultimately persistence to bachelor’s degree completion. Two theorists who heavily influenced the direction of this research were Vincent Tinto and Alexander Astin (Blecher, Michael, & Hagedon, 2002; Colbert, 1999; Hutto, 2002).
Vincent Tinto in 1975 developed his “Model of Student Departure,” which postulated that students come to a college with a particular background molded by their own unique genetics and environmental experiences and are guided by certain aspirations toward particular goal completions. This background and goal setting impacted the academic and social integration of the student at the university. Ultimately, Tinto theorized that the successful academic and social integration of a student led to successful persistence to degree completion (Blecher, Michael, & Hagedorn, 2002; Tinto, 1975). Tinto’s theory has been widely quoted and reviewed over the last 30 years as evidenced by over 400 citations and at least 170 dissertations focusing on this theory (Braxton, Milem, & Sullivan, 2000). The basic precepts of the theory have been affirmed by many researchers (Aitken, 1982; Benjamin, 1993; Pascarella, 1983; Terenzini, 1977, 1980, 1985).
In 1970, Alexander Astin began with a general education model focusing on how students are impacted by their college experience. He then developed and expanded it over the next few years and referred to it as the “Input–Environment–Output” persistence model (Astin, 1970, 1975). Students enter higher education with unique “input” variables, again based on their own genetics and particular environmental experiences (Astin, 1970). . . . Astin defined the “environment” variables as “those aspects of higher educational institutions that are capable of affecting the student” (Astin, 1970, p. 3). These environmental variables can be anything from institutional policies, associations with other students, support programs, facilities, to specific curriculum (Astin, 1970). . . .
In conjunction with this structure, Astin designed a “Theory of Involvement” and theorized that the level of involvement of a student’s interactions within the university environment was a major factor in the eventual persistence of the student (Astin, 1970, 1984). . . . Hutto’s literature review on student retention revealed that Astin is considered the foremost researcher on student involvement theory primarily because . . . Astin has led the nation’s longest running study of college environments (Astin, 2003).
Both Tinto and Astin use an Input–Environment–Output approach to student persistence. Both acknowledge the role of student biological and environmental independent variables on the dependent outcome variables of persistence and ultimate academic success and the possible mediating role of university environmental variables on the input variables.
Note: The researcher then proceeded to describe the applicability of the Input–Environment–Output Model to his particular study.
Source: Spindle, B. (2006). A study of Alaska native student persistence and academic success at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Doctoral Dissertation, University of La Verne, California.
To see additional examples of describing a conceptual or theoretical framework, refer to Creswell’s book, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd ed.). In this book, Creswell (2002) provided models for writing a quantitative theoretical perspective section (see pp. 127–130). He also provided a description and examples of qualitative theory use (see pp. 131–136).
Example 2 of a Conceptual Framework
This example is from a dissertation titled An Exploratory Study of the Ways in Which Superintendents Use Their Emotional Intelligence to Address Conflict in Their Organizations by Geery (1997).
The purpose of this study was to describe the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and strategies associated with emotional intelligence that superintendents perceived they use to address conflict in their organizations. This study also determined the impact emotional intelligence had on superintendents’ perceptions of their ability to lead and manage their organizations. (Geery, 1997)
The conceptual framework for this study was the five concept areas of emotional intelligence: understanding their own emotions, managing their own emotions, motivating themselves, recognizing the emotions of others, and handling relationships with others. The matrix that outlines this conceptual framework follows. Notice how this framework mirrors the purpose of the study.
Understanding their own emotions
Uses emotional self-awareness
Uses emotional self-knowledge
Recognizes one’s strengths and weaknesses
Capitalizes on strengths and improves weaknesses through self-improvement
Managing their own emotions
Understands and uses impulse control
Understands and uses self-control
Displays a tolerance for dealing with stress
Holds back negative emotions to remain positive
Displays positive emotional behavior
Takes time out to relax
Understands and believes in one’s potential (potency)
Approaches challenges with enthusiasm
Displays positive energy
Accepts responsibility for own behavior
Focuses attention on the task at hand
Sets personal goals
Breaks down large tasks into smaller steps and
Celebrates small successes
Recognizing the emotions of others
Understands and demonstrates empathy
Reads people’s nonverbal behavior
Demonstrates insight about other’s feelings, motives, and concerns
Pays attention to people and relationships
Mirrors others’ movements and tones
Demonstrates regard and compassion for others
Develops rapport with colleagues and employees
Allows employees to express emotions
Provides emotional support for others
Handling relationships with others
Understands how to develop relationships
Influences, persuades, and inspires others
Appropriate expression and transfer of emotion
Harnesses the willing participation of others
Demonstrates respect for others
Recognizes and responds appropriately to people’s feelings and concerns
Makes personal connections with others
Models emotional intelligence
Builds trust in relationships
Boosts organizational morale
Builds collaboration among people
Gives praise, recognition, and rewards
By the time the reader gets to the purpose statement, there should be no doubt about what you will be doing in your study. The purpose statement, usually written in a single sentence or paragraph, clearly and succinctly states the intent of your study—what exactly you’re going to find out. It represents the essence of your study and reflects its parameters. The purpose statement, according to Creswell (2009), “is the most important statement in the entire study, and it needs to be clearly and specifically presented” (p. 111). The purpose is clarified when you specify the variables or concepts under study and indicate whether your study is qualitative or quantitative. In any one study, you may find one or more of these three types of measurements.
It is important to realize that purpose statements vary according to specialized research designs. A qualitative purpose statement uses words drawn from that specialized line of inquiry and often reflects the procedures of an emerging design format. Sometimes qualitative researchers use words such as intent, aim, or objective to draw attention to the study’s intent. A quantitative purpose statement should contain the identified variables, the relationship among the variables, the participants, and the site of the research. Examples that illustrate the difference between qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods purpose statements can be found in Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approachesby Creswell (2009).
Include the purpose statement and research questions in each chapter. Be sure they appear exactly the same throughout the dissertation. Don’t get creative!◾
Statement About Method Type and Research Questions/Hypotheses
A question well stated is a question half answered.
—Stephen Isaac and William B. Michael
Your topic was introduced, background information provided, and the purpose clearly stated. In this section of the dissertation, you introduce the type of method used and state the research questions or hypotheses for the study. Your research questions/hypotheses guide the study and usually provide the structure for presenting the results of the research. Generally, good research questions should have the following:
· Clear variables/concepts
· Obvious measurement type (description, relationship, difference)
· “Thing words” clarified (success, processes, achievement, factors, etc.)
Significance and Relevance
This section is a more detailed explanation of the why of your study. Does it explore an important issue, meet a recognized need, or fill in a gap in the knowledge base? You must build an argument for the worth or significance of your research—how it should be useful to knowledge, practitioners, and policy makers.
You have to convince your reader, especially your advisor and committee, of the need for this particular study. To support your argument, you can summarize writings of experts who identified your problem as an important one and urged that research be conducted about it. Second, you can show specific data that indicate the severity of the problem and the need to resolve it.
This section clarifies the boundaries of your study. It is the way to indicate to the reader how you narrowed your study’s scope. You control the delimitations—what will be included and what will be left out. The following are some typical delimitations:
· Time of the study (e.g., February 2018 through April 2018)
· Location of the study (e.g., districts in southern California or urban areas only)
· Sample of the study (e.g., principals and superintendents)
· Selected aspects of the problem
· Selected criteria of the study
The following are some ways to express a dissertation’s delimitations:
· Only those districts with student enrollments less than 1,000 were included in this study.
· Those surveyed in this study consisted of female managers in their first supervisory position.
· The study included only those organizations that matched the selection criteria established for the study. The criteria for selection included . . .
Not all studies include assumptions. Whether or not they are indicated depends on the desires of your advisor and committee members. Basically, assumptions are what you take for granted relative to your study. The following are some examples of assumptions:
· The sample studied was representative of the total population of nurses employed at the St. Paul’s Memorial Hospital.
· Responses received from the participating managers accurately reflected their professional opinions.
· High school students can remember what their perceptions were of the bilingual program in which they participated 10 to 12 years ago.
· The participants in this study answered all of the interview questions openly and honestly.
Definition of Terms
This section of the dissertation provides the definition for the terms used that do not have a commonly known meaning or that have the possibility of being misunderstood. These terms should be operationally defined—that is, defined according to how the terms are used in your study. You can choose to define them in any way you like in order to clarify what you mean when you use that particular term. Unless they are clearly defined, they can be open to numerous interpretations. For example, the term achievement in education can refer to a variety of meanings. One operational definition may be the level of test scores throughout a school, or it could mean skill in playing the piano. It is appropriate to paraphrase or to specifically cite definitions used from the literature. The following are some examples of definitions of terms used in dissertations:
· Transformational leader: Someone in authority who articulates a clear vision for the future
· Empowerment: A process that enables people to do what they do best and for which they are held accountable
· Site-based management: A system that increases people’s authority at the school site and involves them in implementing decisions
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