The 10 Strategic Points for the Prospectus, Proposal, and Dissertation
In the Prospectus, Proposal and Dissertation there are 10 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 vision for the research, are present in almost any research. They are defined within this 10 Strategic Points document.
The 10 Strategic Points MAPPING TO PROSPECTUS
The 10 strategy points emerge from researching literature on a topic which is based on, or aligned with, the learner’s personal passion, future career purpose, and degree area. The 10 Strategic Points document includes the following 10 key or strategic points that define the research focus and approach:
1. Topic – Provides a board research topic area/title. INTRODUCTION –
3. Literature review – Lists primary points for first three of the 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. THEORETICAL FOUNDATION & LITERATURE REVIEW/THEMES
4. Problem statement – Describes the phenomena to study (qualitative) or variables/groups (quantitative) to study, in one sentence. PROBLEM STATEMENT
5. Sample and location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study phenomena with small numbers and variables/groups with large numbers). (Sources of Data)
6. Research questions – Provides research questions to collect data to address the problem statement. RQS
7. Hypothesis/variables or Phenomena – Provides hypotheses with variables for each research question (quantitative) or describes the phenomena to be better understood (qualitative). (RQs)
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
8. Methodology and design – Describes the selected methodology and specific research design to address problem statement and research questions. RATIONALE FOR METHODOLOGY – NATURE OF THE RESEARCH DESIGN
9. Purpose statement – Provides one sentence statement of purpose including the problem statement, sample, methodology, and design. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
10. Data collection – Describes primary instruments and sources of data to answer research questions. INSTRUMENTATION OR SOURCES OF THE DATA, DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURES
11. Data analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address research questions. DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURES
The Process for Defining the 10 Strategic Points
The order of the 10 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 the learner’s passion and purpose as well as the review of the literature. First a learner identifies a broad topic area to research for their dissertation that they are interested in because it is based on their personal passion, future career purpose, and degree being pursued. Second, the learner than completes a preliminary, and then ongoing, review of the literature to define the “defined” gap or need stated in the literature they will address, the theories and models that will provide a theoretical foundation or conceptual framework 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 their research will address. Fourth, the learner identifies potential sample(s) 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 be used to identify 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 phenomenon to be studied (if it is a qualitative study), or develops a set of matching hypotheses and 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. A mixed research design is generally not recommended since it will take considerably more time to learn both the quantitative and qualitative analysis process in depth, collect the data, analyze the date, and write the dissertation. As a part of this seventh step, the learner also selects the best design approach. Eight, the learner develops a purpose statement by integrating the methodology, design, problem statement, sample and location into a single sentence. Ninth, the learner identifies the data they will need 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, etc.) Tenth, the learner identifies the appropriate data analysis approach to be used to answer their research questions and address their problem statement.
Criteria for Evaluating the 10 Strategic Points: Clear, Simple, Correct and Aligned
When developing research, it is important to define the 10 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 10 strategic points to ensure it will be possible to conduct and complete the research. Developing the 10 Strategic Points as a two to three-page document can help ensure clarity, simplicity, correctness, and alignment of each of these 10 key or strategic points in the prospectus, proposal, and dissertation. Developing these 10 strategic points on a two to three pages provides an easy-to-use use template to ensure the 10 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 10 strategic points are clear, concise, doable, and align throughout the prospectus, proposal, and dissertation. Following are samples for a qualitative study. 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 3: 10 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 involves a learner’s interaction with the environment and their teacher. Vygotsky’s model supports the assumption that cognitive development transfers in the Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1978). The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program provides a medium for which a More Knowledgeable Other and the Zone of Proximal Development take place. Learners demonstrate through interaction in organized debates, hands-on experimentation projects, investigations, and problem solving activities.
c. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one;
i. Historical Events: Historically, there have been laws enacted, government initiatives, and global events that have driven the need for support of a global education as well as improved performance in basic areas such as mathematics and literacy within the United States of America.
ii. National Security: Today’s global realities make it imperative for the United States to adapt a global perspective including learning foreign languages as a priority for U.S. national security and to help the U.S. remain a global leader.
iii. Global Literacy: There are high performing schools that have comprehensive global learning programs, which have contributed to students’ cognitive development and resulting improvements of national and state standardized test scores.
iv. Cognitive Development: Empirical research shows that a relationship exists between cognitive development, comprehensive global learning, and student success in areas such as mathematics and literacy.
i. United States priority for global literacy to be competitive and secure.
ii. Learning foreign languages leads to improved cognitive development and student performance.
iii. Gap in terms of additional research needed to examine these findings.
3. Problem statement – Describes the phenomena to study (qualitative) or variables/groups (quantitative) to study, in one sentence: It is not known how the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme influences the success of a single middle school in the state of Georgia.
4. Sample and location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study phenomena with small numbers and variables/groups with large numbers).
a. Location: The state of Georgia of the United States of America.
b. Population: A school district with over 25 schools.
c. Sample: A single middle school that uses the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and has over 500 students.
5. Research questions – Provides research questions to collect data to answer the problem statement:
1. R1: What is the nature and structure of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme?
1. R2: How does the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme impact school success including Annual Yearly Progress?
1. R3: What factors of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme contribute to cognitive development?
1. R4: What factors of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme contribute to global literacy?
1. R5: How does the leadership of an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme contribute to a schools’ success?
1. R6: How is the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme evaluated?
6.Hypothesis/variables or Phenomena – Provides hypotheses with variables for each research question (quantitative) or describes the phenomena to be better understood (qualitative).
a. Phenomenon: Understanding the nature and impact of an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme in a single middle school in the state of Georgia on global literacy and improvement in cognitive development as well as mathematics and literacy performance.
7. Methodology and design – Describes the selected methodology and specific research design to address problem statement and research questions: The methodology is qualitative. The design is a single case study of a single program and how it influences a single middle school.
8. Purpose: The purpose of the qualitative single case study is to determine how the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme influences the success of a single middle school in the state of Georgia.
9. Data collection – Describes primary instruments and sources of data to answer research questions:
a. The researcher will get an overview of the International Baccalaureate Programme through the website provided by the International Baccalaureate.
b. The investigator will look at the Georgia Department of Education’s public database to determine if state standardized test scores of this single middle school show success in performance and other dimensions of performance that display on the public database.
c. The investigator will interview the founders of and curriculum developers of the International Baccalaureate to understand focus of program and how it develops global literacy and may lead to improved cognitive development reflected in mathematics and literacy scores on state tests.
d. The investigator will interview the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme school-based principal, programme coordinator, and foreign language teachers.
e. Media, curriculum (designer and school based), and evaluation reports about International Baccalaureate Programme will contribute to the study.
f. The researcher will look at factors of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (curriculum, reports, interviews with developers and the school-based principal) that contributes to cognitive development and global literacy.
10. Data analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address research questions.
a. Data will be organized and prepared for analysis.
b. Descriptive statistics will summarize the data.
c. Coding will generate themes used to address the research questions.
Table to Use to Complete your 10 Strategic Points
|Ten Strategic Points||Comments or Feedback|
|Broad Topic Area|
|Describe Phenomena (qualitative)|
|Methodology & Design|
|Data Collection Approach|
|Data Analysis Approach|