Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Fred C. Lunenburg & Beverly J. Irby

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  • Part I: Getting Started

    Part II: What you Need to Know

    Part III: The Dissertation Chapters

    Part IV: The Defense and afterward

  • Copyright

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    Preface

    Purpose of this Book

    We have written this book to help graduate students write the dissertation from beginning to end successfully. Each of us has taught courses focused on writing the dissertation. We have a combined total of more than 40 years of experience supervising doctoral dissertations. Together we have chaired more than 100 dissertations. In addition, we have been external examiners of doctoral dissertations for several universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the United States. Thus, we have written this book to compile the best of our wisdom on how to make the process of writing the dissertation a less mysterious and more rewarding experience. Our approach is applicable also to writing master's theses, which we view as limited-scope dissertations.

    From our combined experience, we have found that if the key elements of each dissertation/thesis chapter are clearly identified with corresponding examples of those elements (or sections), it takes the mystery out of writing the dissertation. Thus, we have designed this book to explicitly describe and define the elements (sections) of each dissertation chapter and provide examples of completed dissertations that illustrate typical ways to write the sections of each chapter. We have extracted examples from more than 100 completed dissertations from well-known universities. We present multiple viewpoints that include quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches. Our writing style throughout is intentionally conversational, as if we were talking directly to the student.

    How to Use this Book

    Our goal is to provide advice to those learning how to write the major elements (sections) of a dissertation. Thus, in each chapter of the book, we provide specific information about sections commonly found in dissertations, such as how to write research questions or hypotheses, how to select a sample for the study, how to write descriptions of instruments, how to write results of data analyses, how to interpret the results, and so forth. Our goal is to define and explain the rationale for the common elements (sections) of each chapter of the dissertation. Then we support our advice with numerous examples to illustrate how previous doctoral students have written those sections. The model we use is the traditional five-chapter dissertation. We realize that there are many variations to this model. Students and faculty who are chairing dissertations should feel free to modify the approach to reflect advising style, unique subject area, and institutional requirements.

    Who Should Read this Book

    This book should be of special interest to students in the social and behavioral sciences, including education, psychology, social work, and business. Its contents should be applicable also to those studying nursing and other health sciences with a behavioral base, certain aspects of anthropology, sociology, and criminal justice. Other students will find the book useful as a dissertation guide. As mentioned previously, our approach is applicable also to writing master's theses.

    The book can be used as the principal text in courses focused on writing the dissertation or master's thesis. It may be used also as a supplementary text in seminars that introduce students to graduate education or in research methods courses, particularly those in the social and behavioral sciences.

    Organization of the Book

    This book contains 12 chapters in four major parts and 10 appendixes. In Chapter 1, we discuss how to go about selecting a suitable topic for a doctoral dissertation or master's thesis. We suggest that students begin their search for a suitable topic at the outset of their graduate programs. Good sources of possible topics include: textbooks, professional journals, dissertations, theories, current employment, and existing databases. The characteristics of a good research topic include: whether it is of personal interest, significant, feasible in terms of available data, appropriate to knowledge and skill level, manageable, and attractive for funding.

    Chapter 2 includes valuable tips about selecting a chairperson and other committee members. Issues to consider in the selection process include: the reputation of the faculty members, their interest and expertise in the topic, their accessibility, the feedback they provide the student, and the goodness of fit between the student and the dissertation chair and the other committee members. The chapter also deals with ways to identify prospective chairpersons and committee members, including the student's own experience with the faculty member, other students’ opinions, and an examination of completed dissertations and faculty Web sites.

    Chapter 3 contains quantitative research designs, including descriptive research, correlational research, causal-comparative research, quasi-experimental, and experimental research. In Chapter 5, we discuss qualitative and mixed methods designs, including case study, ethnography, ethology, ethnomethodology, grounded-theory, phenomenology, symbolic interaction, and historical research. The overall purpose of these two chapters is to provide an overview of the two basic approaches to conducting research: quantitative and qualitative. Sandwiched between Chapters 3 and 5 is Chapter 4, which deals with basic statistical procedures.

    The overview of basic statistical procedures in Chapter 4 includes descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Parametric and nonparametric tests are discussed, as are the statistical procedures commonly used in social and behavioral science research. The focus is on the application of the common statistical procedures used in the social and behavioral sciences for given research designs.

    Chapter 6 contains the structure and writing of the introduction chapter of the dissertation or master's thesis, including the elements (or sections) that comprise that chapter. These sections include: background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, significance of the study, definition of terms, theoretical framework, research questions or hypotheses, limitations, delimitations, and assumptions. The section organization of the study, concludes the introduction chapter of the dissertation. We follow specific guidance on what to include in each section of the chapter with examples from completed dissertations.

    Chapter 7 is divided into three parts. In the first part of the chapter, we provide an introduction on how to systematically search and review the literature. We discuss six sources: handbooks and encyclopedias, annual reviews, review articles, abstracting and indexing services, government documents, and public search engines. In the second part of the chapter, we discuss eight techniques to help the student write a clear and effective review of the literature chapter. They include: organizing material in a funnel, being specific, making an outline, writing the introduction, using headings, using transitions, writing a summary, and being careful not to plagiarize. The chapter concludes with several additional strategies to help the student critically synthesize the body of literature. We provide examples from dissertations and published articles throughout the chapter.

    Chapter 8 includes the structure and writing of the methodology chapter, including the elements (sections) that comprise that chapter. These sections include: selection of participants, instrumentation, data collection, and data analysis. We provide pertinent information related to each of the sections of the methodology chapter, as well as numerous examples of each of these sections from completed dissertations.

    Chapter 9 contains information on how to write the results chapter. Each element (or section) of the chapter is described, followed by examples from completed dissertations. We discuss different methods of organizing results for both quantitative and qualitative studies: by research questions or hypotheses, variables, or themes.

    Chapter 10 consists of information on how to structure and write the discussion chapter of a dissertation or master's thesis. We discuss each element (or section) that should be included in the discussion chapter, and provide examples of each section of the chapter from completed dissertations.

    Chapter 11 contains advice on the steps to be taken to ensure a successful proposal defense and final oral defense of the dissertation. These steps include: preparing a well-written document, knowing the format of the defense, preparing the presentation, practicing the presentation, and anticipating questions. We provide an explanation of how decisions are made by dissertation committees at the defense, and what students should do after a decision has been reached.

    Chapter 12 includes suggestions on seeking a wider audience for the completed dissertation. Issues explored include preparing a paper for a professional conference or job interview, finding a publisher for the manuscript, or converting the dissertation into a journal article, monograph, or book.

    Appendixes A, B, and C are sample letters used in survey research. Appendix A is the initial letter sent to a prospective participant requesting participation in a study. Appendixes B and C are follow-up letters designed to increase response rate of the study sample.

    Appendixes D, E, F, and G contain dissertation proposal outlines for quantitative and qualitative studies. Each dissertation proposal outline uses a different method of analysis. The dissertation proposal outline is the first step in writing the dissertation proposal.

    Appendix H contains guidelines used to critique a qualitative research study. Much can be learned from critiquing a qualitative study using the guidelines provided.

    Appendix I is a typical agreement between a doctoral student and a dissertation chair, which has been used by the authors of this book. Among other things, it describes guidelines the authors use when agreeing to chair a dissertation. It has been field tested for the past 10 years.

    Appendix J is a detailed checklist used by the student for monitoring the quality of a dissertation. The checklist is structured for a traditional five-chapter dissertation and conforms to the elements (or sections) contained within each dissertation chapter.

    Acknowledgments

    This book has been a cooperative effort between scholars of the field and experienced editors and publishers. We wish to express our appreciation to the reviewers and others whose suggestions led to improvements in this book.

    We also wish to thank the people at Corwin Press whose contributions made this a much better book.

    We are grateful to our dean, Genevieve Brown, for creating an environment conducive to research and contributing the necessary resources to complete this book. Special thanks are also extended to Alicia Raley and Dacey Ellington, who typed portions of this book.

    Corwin Press gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following people:

    Mary Betsy Brenner, Professor

    Gevirtz School of Education

    University of California—Santa Barbara

    Santa Barbara, CA

    Sharon Toomey Clark, Educational Consultant

    Clark & Associates

    Claremont, CA

    Randy L. Joyner, Adjunct Professor

    Appalachian State University

    Corwin Press Author

    Boone, NC

    Maria Piantanida, Adjunct Associate Professor

    Carlow University and University of Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Carol Roberts, Professor

    University of La Verne

    Corwin Press Author

    La Verne, CA

    Mark H. Rossman, Professor Emeritus

    Capella University

    Minneapolis, MN

    William A. Rouse, Jr., Assistant Professor

    Department of Educational Leadership

    East Carolina University

    Greenville, NC

    FredC.Lunenburg
    BeverlyJ.Irby

    About the Authors

    Fred C. Lunenburg is the Jimmy N. Merchant Professor of Education and Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Research and Doctoral Studies in Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University. Prior to moving to the university, he served as a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools. He has authored or coauthored more than 100 articles and 20 books, including Educational Administration: Concepts and Practices (Thomson/Wadsworth, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), The Principalship: Vision to Action (Thomson/Wadsworth, 2006), Shaping the Future (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), The Changing World of School Administration (with George Perreault) (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), and High Expectations: An Action Plan for Implementing Goals 2000 (Corwin Press, 2000).

    Beverly J. Irby is Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling at Sam Houston State University. Previously Director of Field Experiences, she has been a school psychologist, educational diagnostician, director of special education, elementary school principal, and superintendent of schools. She has authored or coauthored 12 books and more than 150 articles in education. In addition, she has secured grants totaling more than $25 million and often serves as a consultant to school districts. She is a member of the International Who's Who of Women and has received the Texas Council of Women School Educator's Outstanding Educator Award, the Renaissance Group Research Fellow Award, and the AERA Willystine Goodsell Award.

  • Appendix A: Initial Letter Soliciting Participation

    University Letterhead

    College of Education

    Address

    Date

    Principal's Name and Address

    Dear____________________:

    Two hundred principals have been selected to participate in a basic research project in educational administration being conducted at XYZ University. Enclosed is a questionnaire-type instrument, which is employed to secure:

    • Your opinions concerning certain aspects of principal-teacher relationships
    • Your opinions on a number of important social and personal questions

    The forms do not take long to complete; the time required by most individuals varies from ten to fifteen minutes. Since we are collecting opinions, there are no correct or incorrect answers. All that is necessary is that you give your frank opinion. Your responses will be strictly confidential; all replies are anonymous, and no individual or school will be named in any report of the research.

    Please read the directions carefully and then proceed to answer all the questions. Some of the questions may be difficult to answer with the information given, but please respond to each statement as well as you are able, following the directions.

    Your prompt attention and cooperation will be greatly appreciated, as it is a prerequisite to the success of this research. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    John Smith

    Doctoral Student

    Tom Jones, Ph.D.

    Professor

    P.S.: You will receive a report of the research, probably early next year, but perhaps sooner.

    Copyright © 2008 by Corwin Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, by Fred C. Lunenburg and Beverly J. Irby. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, http://www.corwinpress.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

    Appendix B: First Follow-Up Letter

    University Letterhead

    College of Education

    Address

    Date

    Principal's Name and Address

    Dear________________________:

    About two weeks ago, you were one of the 200 school principals who received a questionnaire-type instrument in connection with a basic research project in educational administration being conducted at XYZ University. These forms do not take long to complete; the time required by most individuals varies from ten to fifteen minutes.

    Your prompt attention and cooperation will be greatly appreciated, as it is a prerequisite to the success of this research. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    John Smith

    Doctoral Student

    Tom Jones, Ph.D.

    Professor

    P.S.: If you have misplaced the questionnaire, please drop the enclosed coded post card in the mail and you will receive another copy of the instrument by return mail.

    Copyright © 2008 by Corwin Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, by Fred C. Lunenburg and Beverly J. Irby. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, http://www.corwinpress.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

    Appendix C: Second Follow-Up Letter

    University Letterhead

    College of Education

    Address

    Date

    Principal's Name and Address

    Dear________________________:

    About three weeks ago you were one of 200 principals who received a questionnaire-type instrument in connection with a basic research project in educational administration being conducted at XYZ University. These forms do not take long to complete; the time required by most individuals varies from ten to fifteen minutes.

    Enclosed is another copy of the questionnaire, in case you have misplaced the original. Your responses will be strictly confidential; all replies are anonymous, and no individual or school will be named in any report of the research.

    Your prompt attention and cooperation will be greatly appreciated, as it is a prerequisite to the success of this research. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    John Smith

    Doctoral Student

    Tom Jones, Ph.D.

    Professor

    P.S.: If the individual to whom this letter is addressed is no longer in the position, the new principal should respond to the questionnaire. You will receive a report of the research, probably early next year, but perhaps sooner.

    Copyright © 2008 by Corwin Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, by Fred C. Lunenburg and Beverly J. Irby. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, http://www.corwinpress.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

    Appendix D: Dissertation Proposal Outline (Correlational)

    Predicting Graduation Rates: An Analysis of Student and Institutional Factors at University Council for Educational Administration (Ucea) Public Universities

    Problem:

    • To examine the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and student SAT scores and students graduating in the top 10% of their high school class.
    • To examine the relationship between the graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and students paying out-of-state tuition and students from underrepresented populations (i.e. African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American).
    • To examine the relationship between the graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the percent of full-time faculty and the average salary of full-time faculty.
    • To examine the relationship between the graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and class size (i.e., percent of classes with fewer than 20 students; percent of classes with 50 or more students).
    • To examine the relationship between the graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and total student educational expenditures (i.e., tuition and fees, cost of instruction, research, student services).
    Literature:
    Graduation Rates:

    American College Test (1999); Braxton & Mundy (2001); Caison (2004); Chronicle of Higher Education (1999); Engle, Reilly, & Levine (2003); Goenner & Snaith (2003); Horn & Carroll (1998); Mangold, Bean, Adams, Schwab, & Lynch (2002); Pascarella & Terenzini (1991); Schuh (1999); Tinto (1993).

    Student Factors:

    Braustein & McGrath (1997); Credle & Dean (1991); Engle, Reilly, & Levine (2003); Gardner, Keller, & Protrowski (1996); Goenner & Snaith (2003); Gold (1995); Good, Halpin, & Halpin (1992); House (1992); Payne, Pullen, & Padgett (1996); Porter (2003); Rowser (1997); Schuh (1999); Schwartz & Washington (2002); Tinto (1987).

    Institutional Factors:

    Astin (1983); Chronicle of Higher Education (2005); Goenner & Snaith (2003); Jacoby & Garland (2004); Landrum (2001); U.S. News & World Report (2006).

    Research Questions:
    • What is the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and student SAT scores?
    • What is the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and students graduating in the top 10% of their high school class?
    • What is the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the percent of students paying out-of-state tuition?
    • What is the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the percent of students of underrepresented populations (i.e. African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American)?
    • What is the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the percent of full-time faculty?
    • What is the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the average salary of full-time faculty?
    • What is the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and class size (i.e., percent of classes with fewer than 20 students; percent of classes with 50 or more students)?
    • What is the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and total student educational expenditures (i.e., tuition and fees, cost of instruction, research, and student services)?
    Design:
    1. Sample:

    Sixty-three public universities in the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA)

    2. Data Collection:

    All data for the sample are available in: (1) The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac Issue 2005–2006, (2) U.S. News and World Report 2006 Edition of America's Best Colleges, (3) The U. S. Department of Education Graduation Survey retrieved at The Education Trust: College Results Online, and (4) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (iPEDS) Spring 2001–2004 Data File.

    3. Data Analysis:

    Research Question 1. A Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is a statistically significant relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and student SAT scores.

    Research Question 2. A Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is a statistically significant relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and students graduating in the top 10% of their high school class.

    Research Question 3. A Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is a statistically significant relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the percent of students paying out-of state tuition.

    Research Question 4. A Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is a statistically significant relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the percent of students from underrepresented populations (i.e. African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American).

    Research Question 5. A Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is statistically significant relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the percent of full-time faculty.

    Research Question 6. A Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is a statistically significant relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the average salary of full-time faculty.

    Research Question 7. A Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is a statistically significant relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and class size (i.e., percent of classes with fewer than 20 students; percent of classes with 50 or more students).

    Research Question 8. A Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is a statistically significant relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and total student education expenditures (i.e., tuition and fees, cost of instruction, research, and student services)?

    The Pearson Correlation describes and measures the linear relationship between two variables. However, correlation tells us nothing about the predictive power of variables. Multiple regression analysis will be utilized to predict values of the dependent variable (graduation rates) from the independent variables found to be significantly correlated (student and institutional factors). For example, if the Pearson Correlation reveals a strong and significant relationship between SAT scores and graduation rates, a regression analysis will help identify a model that allows us to predict graduation rates based on students’ SAT scores. Thus, highly ranked colleges and universities can use the regression model to predict that a student entering college with an SAT score of 1400 should have a 97% chance of graduation.

    Contribution:
    • To determine the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and student SAT scores and students graduating in the top 10% of their high school class
    • To determine the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and students paying out-of-state tuition and students from underrepresented populations (i.e. African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American)
    • To determine the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and the percent of full-time faculty and student-faculty ratio
    • To determine the relationship between graduation rates at University Council for Educational Administration public universities and student tuition and fees

    Copyright © 2008 by Corwin Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, by Fred C. Lunenburg and Beverly J. Irby. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, http://www.corwinpress.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

    Appendix E: Dissertation Proposal Outline (Analysis of Variance and Regression)

    The Relationship of Superintendent Leadership Styles to Student Achievement and School District Financial and Demographic Factors
    Problem:
    • To determine differences in superintendents’ leadership styles and student achievement as measured by Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) school district ratings of exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable, and low performing.
    • To examine the relationship between superintendents’ leadership styles and student achievement as measured by TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics.
    • To examine the relationship between superintendents’ leadership styles and 11 selected school district financial and demographic factors, such as (a) percent of economically disadvantaged students, (b) percent of limited English proficient students, (c) percent of minority populations, (d) percent of special education students, (e) percent of gifted and talented students, (f) percent of career and technology students, (g) per pupil cost for instruction, (h) percent of operating expenses spent on instruction, (i) percent of operating expenses spent on extracurricular activities, (j) amount of local tax value per pupil, and (k) pupil-teacher ratio.
    • To examine the relationship between student achievement as measured by school district TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics and 11 school district financial and demographic factors, such as (a) percent of economically disadvantaged students, (b) percent of limited English proficient students, (c) percent of minority populations, (d) percent of special education students, (e) percent of gifted and talented students, (f) percent of career and technology students, (g) per pupil cost for instruction, (h) percent of operating expenses spent on instruction, (i) percent of operating expenses spent on extracurricular activities, (j) amount of local tax value per pupil, and (k) pupil-teacher ratio.
    Literature:
    Transformational Leadership:

    Bass (1981, 1985); Bass & Avolio (1990, 1993, 1994, 1995); Bass, Avolio, & Goodheim (1987); Bennis & Nanus (1985); Bright (1987); Buck (1989); Burns (1978, 1984); Byrd (1987); Downton (1973); Hampton, Summer, & Webber (1987); Hoover (1987); House (1977); King (1989); Koh (1990); Orr (1990); Roberts (1985); Rouche (1989); Sergiovanni (1990, 1992); Smith (1982); Stogdill (1963); Tichy & Devonna (1986); Tichy & Ulrich (1984); Zaleznik (1989).

    Student Achievement:

    Educational Economic Policy Center (1994); Firestone (1991); Goals 2000: Educate America Act (1994); Heck, Larsen, & Marcoulldes (1990); Heller (1994); Johnson, Lein, & Ragland (1997); Mace-Matluck (1987); McCord (1996); National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983); Newmann, King, & Rigdon (1997); Shavelson (1991); Texas Education Agency (1997); Vornberg (2000); Zigarelli (1996).

    Accountability and the Superintendent:

    Alpin & Daresh (1984); Buck (1989); Cawelti (1981); Clark, Clark, & Campbell (1993); Collier (1987); Collier, Sclafani, & Estes (1987); Cuban (1988); Duigan (1980); Ford (1999); Fullan (1993, 1998); Geery (1997); Lunenburg & Ornstein (2000); Marks (1981); Mintzberg (1973); Palmaffy (1998); Pankratz & Petrosko (2000); Sergiovanni (1992); Schlechty (1990, 2000); Siccone (1997); Wallace (1985).

    Financial and Demographic Factors:

    Brookover & Lezotte (1979); Coleman (1966); Crisfield (1999); Educational Economic Policy Center (1994); Golden (1999); Tomlinson (1980); Turner (1999).

    Research Questions:
    • What differences exist in superintendent leadership styles and student achievement as measured by Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) school district ratings of exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable, and low performing?
    • What is the relationship between superintendents’ leadership styles and student achievement as measured by school district TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics?
    • What is the relationship between superintendents’ leadership styles and 11 selected school district financial and demographic factors, such as (a) percent of economically disadvantaged students, (b) percent of limited English proficient students, (c) percent of minority populations, (d) percent of special education students, (e) percent of gifted and talented students, (f) percent of career and technology students, (g) per pupil cost for instruction, (h) percent of operating expenses spent on instruction, (i) percent of operating expenses spent on extracurricular activities, (j) amount of local tax value per pupil, and (k) pupil-teacher ratio?
    • What is the relationship between student achievement as measured by school district TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics and 11 selected financial and demographic factors, such as (a) percent of economically disadvantaged students, (b) percent of limited English proficient students, (c) percent of minority populations, (d) percent of special education students, (e) percent of gifted and talented students, (f) percent of career and technology students, (g) per pupil cost for instruction, (h) percent of operating expenses spent on instruction, (i) percent of operating expenses spent on extracurricular activities, (j) amount of local tax value per pupil, and (k) pupil-teacher ratio?
    Design:
    1. Sample:

    207 school districts in Texas

    207 superintendents and 3 principals from each school district (one representing each school level: elementary, middle, high school)

    420,000 students (approximately)

    2. Instrumentation:

    Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Bass & Avolio, 1985)

    TAAS tests in reading, writing, and mathematics (TEA Web site)

    Financial and demographic factors (PEIMS-TEA Web site)

    3. Data Collection:
    • MLQ (self-report version) administered to the superintendent and the MLQ (principal version) administered to three principals in the 207 school districts
    • TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics retrieved from the TEA Web site
    • Eleven financial and demographic factors retrieved from the TEA Web site
    4. Data Analysis:

    Research Question # 1: 12 ANOVAs computed for each of the 12 subscales of the MSQ to determine differences in superintendents’ leadership styles among the four school district ratings.

    Research Question # 2: Three stepwise multiple regression analyses computed to determine MSQ predictors of school district TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics.

    Research Question # 3: 12 forward stepwise multiple regression analyses computed to determine financial and demographic factor predictors of the 12 subscales of the MLQ. For those scales significantly related to financial and demographic factors, backward stepwise multiple regression analyses computed to determine financial and demographic factor predictors of the MSQ subscales.

    Research Question # 4: Three forward stepwise multiple regression analyses computed to determine financial and demographic factor predictors of school district TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics.

    Contribution:
    • To determine the influence of superintendent leadership on school district ratings
    • To determine the influence of superintendent leadership on student achievement as measured by TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics
    • To determine relationships between 12 MSQ subscales and 11 school district financial and demographic factors
    • To determine relationships between 11 school district financial and demographic factors and TAAS scores in reading, writing, and mathematics

    Copyright © 2008 by Corwin Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, by Fred C. Lunenburg and Beverly J. Irby. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, http://www.corwinpress.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

    Appendix F: Dissertation Proposal Outline (Multivariate Analysis of Variance)

    The Relationship between Brain Dominance and Leadership Style of School Superintendents and Business Chief Executive Officers
    Problem:
    • To explore the prevailing brain hemisphere characteristics and self-perceived leadership styles of school superintendents and business chief executive officers.
    • To investigate the effects of intervening variables such as affiliation (business or education), gender, experience level, and age on brain hemisphere characteristics and leadership style.
    Literature:
    Brain Research:

    Agor (1983, 1984, 1985); Andrews (1980); Begley & Carey (1981); Blakeslee (1980); Bogen (1977); Bogen & Gogen (1969); Bunderson (1988); Bunderson, Olsen, & Herrmann (1984); Carnine (1990); Cassell (1978); Chall & Mirsky (1978); Cicchette (1991); Cohen (1979); Cone (1981, 1982); Coulson & Strickland (1983a, 1983b, 1996); DeBono (1971, 1985); Eccles (1973); Edwards (1979, 1982); Epstein (1974, 1978, 1984); Fagan (1979); Finn (1983); Ford (1987); Freeman (1995); Garrett (1976); Gaylean (1981); Gaylin (1976); Garmon (1985); Gazzaniga (1967, 1983, 1985a, 1985b); Geschwind (1979); Goldstein (1985); Goleman (1977); Gorovitz (1982); Gowan (1981); Grefe (1982); Hardyck & Haapanen (1979); Hart (1975, 1978, 1981, 1983); Hatcher (1983); Herrmann (1981a, 1981b, 1981c, 1982a, 1982b, 1988, 1989, 1996); Hutson (1984); lronson (1984); Jaynes (1976); Kane & Kane (1979); Kanter (1983); Katz (1978); Kerensky (1983); Kimura (1973, 1978, 1985); Kinsbourne (1975, 1982); Leaffer (1980); Levitt (1963); Levy (1972, 1978, 1980, 1983); Levy & Trevarthen (1976); Lynch (1986); Maguire (1990); McCallum & Glynn (1979); McKenney & Keen (1974); McLean (1978); McQueen (1984); Mintzberg (1976); Nebes (1974); Norris (1984, 1985a, 1985b, 1985c, 1986, 1988); Oates (1979); Ornstein (1972, 1978); Ornstein & Brandwein (1977); Ornstein & Thompson (1984); Owens (1986); Perelle & Ehrman (1983); Piatt (1983); Reitz (1986); Restak (1979); Reynolds & Torrance (1980); Riggs (1991); Ross (1990); Samples (1980); Satz (1979); Schkade & Potvin (1981); Scott-Soler (1991); Segalowitz (1983); Sperry (1964, 1973, 1975); Springer & Deutsch (1990); Spruill (1986); Suojanen (1976); Torrance (1981); Trevarthen (1980); Trotter (1976); Wallace (1992); Wenger (1982); Wessman (1987, 1988); Witelson (1977); Wittrock (1977); Youngblook (1981); Zelinski & March (1976); Zemke (1984).

    Leadership:

    Anasse (1984); Argyris (1962); Artise (1984); Barnard (1938); Barnard (1968, 1976); Barrett & Yoder (1980); Blake & Mouton (1964); Burke (1980); Cleveland (1985); Coulson & Strickland (1983); Cuban (1988); Culbertson (1976); Davidson (1987); DeBono (1971, 1985); Drucker (1982); Dunigan (1980); Dwyer (1984); ERS (1986); Farkes (1979); Fielder (1969); Freeman (1995); Graham (1980); Greenleaf (1977); Griffiths (1966); Guglielmino (1979); Henderson & Nutt (1980); Hersey (1986); Hersey & Blanchard (1977, 1979, 1982); Hersey & Stinson (1980); Heyberg (1966); Huckaby (1980); Jung (1923); Katz (1974); Kouzes & Posner (1990); Levitt (1963); Lynch (1986); Macoby (1981, 1982); McGregor (1960); Mesenburg (1983); Mintzberg (1976); Paulsen (1982); Peters & Waterman (1982); Pitner & Ogawa (1981); Pondez (1978); Reitz (1986); Riggs (1991); Roethlisberger (1941); Ross (1990); Rowan (1986); Scott-Soler (1991); Selznick (1957); Sergiovanni (1979); Snyder & Anderson (1987); Spruill (1986); Stodgill (1948, 1970); Stodgill & Coons (1957); Sweeney (1982); Tannenbaum & Schmidt (1958); Taggert, Daniel, Roby & Kroeck (1985); Taggert & Roby (1981); Turner (1979); Vecchio (1981); Walter, Caldwell, & Marshall (1980); Weisenberg & Grunfield (1966); Wessman (1987); Wonder & Donovan (1984); Zaleznick (1964, 1977).

    Research Questions/Hypotheses:
    Research Questions:
    • What are the brain dominance preferences of superintendents and chief executive officers?
    • Which brain dominance patterns are most prevalent among superintendents and chief executive officers?
    • What differences exist between brain dominance profiles in terms of (a) affiliation (business or education), (b) gender, (c) years of experience, and (d) age?
    Hypotheses:
    • There is no significant difference in brain dominance preferences exhibited between superintendents of schools and business chief executive officers.
    • There is no significant difference in brain quadrant scores between superintendents and chief executive officers.
    • There is no significant difference in brain quadrant scores between males and females.
    • There is no significant difference in brain quadrant scores due to experience level.
    • Age is not a significant influence in determining brain quadrant scores.
    Design:
    1. Sample:

    707 subjects from a database compiled by Herrmann International (1988–1998)

    408 (599) Chief Executive Officers and 299 (366) Superintendents

    610 males and 97 females

    2. Instrumentation:

    Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI)—Thinking Styles Assessment

    3. Procedure:

    Analysis of data elements obtained from the administration of the HBDI

    • Profile Codes—numeric representation of preference for the use of each of the four quadrants
    • Right/Left and Cerebral/Limbic Dominance Raw Scores—used to determine differences among the groups
    • Four Quadrant Scaled Scores—used to determine differences among the groups
    • Key Descriptors, Work Elements, Twenty Questions—provided descriptive information about the work characteristics and leadership style of the groups (represent their behavioral preferences for decision making and interaction with others)
    4. Statistical Analysis:
    • Multivariate Analyses
      • – MANOVA (multivariate analysis of variance)
      • – MANCOVA (multivariate analysis of covariance)
    • Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA)
    Contribution:
    • Influence the content and design of future educational administration training programs.
    • Have implications for the recruitment, selection, and training of educational administrators.
    • Guide individuals into the most appropriate course of study within the administration field.
    • Provide specific areas of focus for personal choices for professional development of practicing administrators.
    • Assist in selecting advanced-degree candidates for educational administration programs.
    • Provide initial information on the cognitive styles of educational administrators that may reflect on barriers to educational change and innovation.

    Copyright © 2008 by Corwin Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, by Fred C. Lunenburg and Beverly J. Irby. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, http://www.corwinpress.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

    Appendix G: Dissertation Proposal Outline (Qualitative)

    The Motivational Impact of Online Elective Courses: An Analysis of the Motivational Orientation of At-Risk Ninth-Graders Enrolled in Traditional and Online Elective Courses
    Problem:
    • To examine the differences in the intrinsic goal orientation of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.
    • To examine the differences in the extrinsic goal orientation of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.
    • To examine the differences in the task value of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.
    • To examine the differences in the learning control beliefs of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.
    • To examine the differences in the self-efficacy for learning and performance of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.
    • To examine the differences in the test anxiety level of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared with students enrolled in traditional elective courses.
    • To examine student perception of online instruction and traditional instruction as a means of developing motivational strategies.
    Literature:
    At-Risk Students:

    Bransford et al. (1999); Brophy (1998); Conley (1992); Diem & Katims (1998); Egan & Gibb (1997); Ferguson (2000); Gaustad (1991); George & McEwin (1999); Jones (1988); Jones & Watson (1990); Jukes (2000); Levine & Ornstein (1993); Malone et al. (1997); Marshall (1999); McCombs (2000); National Assessment of Educational Progress (1990); SCANS (1991); Renchler (1993); Ruff (1993); Shank & Jona (1999); Texas Education Agency (1996, 2000); Thornburg (1999); Vacha & McLaughlin (1992); Wehlage, Rutter, & Turnbaugh (1987); Yellen (1998).

    Attribution Theory:

    Anderman & Midgley (1998); Raffini (1993); Stage, Muller, Kinzie, & Simmons (1998); Stipek (1988); Weiner (1985).

    Goal Theory:

    Condry & Chambers (1978); Herzberg (1959); Keller (1987); Lepper (1988); Maehr & Midgley (1991); Maslow (1954); McInerney (1997); Middleton & Midgley (1997); Ryan, Hicks, & Midgley (1997); Small (1997); Wlodkowski (1981).

    Self-Determination Theory:

    Deci & Ryan (1985); Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, & Ryan (1991); Midgley & Feldlaufer (1987); Salisbury-Glennon, Gorrell, Sanders, Boyd, & Kamen (1999).

    Technology and Online Courses:

    Andrews & Marshall (2000); Burnham, Miller, & Ray (2000); Bornas (1997); Carroll (2000); Gershon & Bergstrom (1991); Guan, Wang, Young, Owen, & Andrew (1999); Jones, Valdez, Nowakowski, & Rasmussen (1994); Means (1997); Richardson (1973); Ruppert & Smith (1996); Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (2000); Taylor, McKay, Culp, Baumann, & Elinich (1997); Sherman (1998); Wendt-Keswick (1999); Young (1996).

    Research Questions:
    • What is the difference in the intrinsic goal orientation of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses?
    • What is the difference in the extrinsic goal orientation of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses?
    • What is the difference in the task value of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses?
    • What is the difference in the learning control beliefs of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses?
    • What is the difference in the self-efficacy of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses?
    • What is the difference in the test anxiety levels of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses, as compared to at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses?
    • What are the perceptions of students enrolled in online elective courses compared to students enrolled in traditional elective courses, regarding the elective course's role as a means of developing motivational strategies?
    Design:
    1. Sample:
    • 169 at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses
    • 169 at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses
    • All participants are enrolled in one large suburban district north of Houston, Texas
    2. Instrumentation:
    • The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1991)
    • Three student focus groups
    • Sixty open-ended student questionnaires
    3. Data Collection:
    • MSLQ administered to the 169 at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and to 169 at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.
    • Student responses collected in three separate focus groups of at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.
    • Student responses derived from open-ended interview questions administered to 30 at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective classes and to 30 at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective classes.
    4. Data Analysis:

    Research Question #1:

    t test for independent samples to determine differences in the level of intrinsic goal orientation between at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.

    Research Question #2:

    t test for independent samples to determine differences in the level of extrinsic goal orientation between at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.

    Research Question #3:

    t test for independent samples to determine differences in task value between at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.

    Research Question #4:

    t test for independent samples to determine differences in learning control beliefs between at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.

    Research Question #5:

    t test for independent samples to determine differences in self-efficacy between at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.

    Research Question #6:

    t test for independent samples to determine the level of test anxiety between at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses.

    Research Question #7:

    • Three student focus groups designed to elicit more information on the relationship between enrollment in online elective courses and the development of motivational strategies, which include: (a) intrinsic goal orientation, (b) extrinsic goal orientation, (c) task value, (d) learning control beliefs, (e) self-efficacy, and (f) test anxiety. Focused interviews will last from 45 to 60 minutes, and they will be recorded and transcribed in order to permit identification of emergent themes and triangulation.
    • Open-ended interviews will be conducted with 30 at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in online elective courses and with 30 at-risk ninth-grade students enrolled in traditional elective courses. Open-ended interviews will last from 30 to 45 minutes, and they will be recorded and transcribed in order to permit identification of emergent themes and triangulation.
    Contribution:
    • To determine the relationship between the enrollment of at-risk ninth-grade students in online elective courses and the development of motivational strategies, which include: (a) intrinsic goal orientation, (b) extrinsic goal orientation, (c) task value, (d) learning control beliefs, (e) self-efficacy, and (f) test anxiety, as measured by student responses on six separate MSLQ subscales
    • To determine the perceptions of at-risk ninth-grade students regarding the relationship between enrollment in online elective courses and the development of motivational strategies, which include: (a) intrinsic goal orientation, (b) extrinsic goal orientation, (c) task value, (d) learning control beliefs, (e) self-efficacy, and (f) test anxiety, as measured by student responses provided in focus groups and open-ended interviews
    • To refocus school reform efforts so that the impact of online technology on motivational strategies is considered
    • To provide a model of instruction that would help to motivate at-risk ninth-grade students through the use of online instruction

    Copyright © 2008 by Corwin Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, by Fred C. Lunenburg and Beverly J. Irby. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, http://www.corwinpress.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

    Appendix H: Qualitative Research Critique

    • Bibliographic Information (APA Style): State the title of your attached study in APA format.
    • Problem: What is the problem or need? (State it.) Is it stated clearly? (Explain.) Is it logical? (Explain.) Is the problem convincing? (Explain.)
    • Purpose: What is the purpose? (State it.) Does it focus the research? (Explain.) Does the purpose follow the problem statement logically? (Explain.) Has the researcher convinced you that this study is worthwhile? (Explain.)
    • Theoretical Framework: On what is the theoretical framework based? (Explain it.) If none is stated, please indicate that and try to surmise what it might be from the literature presented.
    • Prior Research or Literature Review: What previous work has been done leading up to this study? (You will need to do a search in dissertations and journals to determine if any major research piece is missing: for example, a name of a researcher that keeps appearing.) Is there any major body of research missing?
    • Method Research Question(s): What is/are the research question(s)? (List them.) Are the research questions specific and clear? Why or why not? Are the research question(s) related to the purpose? (Explain.)
    • Method—Data Collection and Analysis: Are participants (How many?), sampling techniques (How were they selected and was this technique appropriate and accurate—answer both: appropriate for the study and accurate?), and context for the study explicit and appropriate? (Explain.) Is the research design clear? Explain the design and whether it is appropriate for the study; was something else more appropriate? Are the collection and analysis based on solid referenced methods? (Explain.) Are the methods the best choice in the study? (Explain.) What improvements would you suggest?
    • Definition(s): Which terms are defined? Are the definitions operational? Are the definitions included within the introduction or within the methods section of the report? If there are no terms, then did the researcher include those in the written text? What terms are appropriate for this study?
    • Credibility and Reliability Issues in Design: What does the author say regarding issues of credibility and/or generalizing ability internal and/or external validity? Respond to each of the internal/external validity issues as referenced in qualitative research.
    • Method Instrumentation: Describe the instrument(s) for interviews, focus groups, and so forth. Were they preexisting, or specially created? How were they related? How was reliability established?
    • Ethics: Does the author discuss ethical issues? Do you see any ethical issues in the study? Are the ethical issues properly taken care of?
    • Limitations and Delimitations: What limitations/delimitations are identified? How do these limit generalizability, and does it matter? To what extent do the limitations/delimitations (stated or unstated) affect the value of the research?
    • Results and Discussion: Are the research questions answered? How and sufficiently? Is existing literature brought into the discussion? Are supportive representative statements used from the data when appropriate?
    • Implications and Recommendations: What are the implications from the research for practice and what recommendations for theory, further research, and/or practice are presented?
    SOURCE: © Beverly J. Irby. Used with permission.

    Appendix I: Agreement: Guidelines for Chairing a Dissertation

    The following are guidelines that I want all doctoral students to consider as they determine whether to ask me to serve as chair of their dissertation.

    Role of the Dissertation Chair
    • The dissertation chair's job in completing the dissertation is to assist in facilitating the process, giving direction, and providing quality control.
    • The dissertation chair and the student work together to determine the committee members. The student must clear all committee members with the dissertation chair.
    • All work on the dissertation must be approved by the dissertation chair before the student will be permitted to forward chapters of the dissertation to other committee members. That is, as chapters of the dissertation are approved by the dissertation chair, but not before, the chair will direct the student to forward completed chapters to the committee members.
    • The dissertation chair and the student will complete a realistic timeline for the completion of the dissertation; however, it is not the responsibility of the dissertation chair to keep the student on the timeline.
    Function of the Proposal
    • The dissertation proposal must be thoroughly understood by the student, from the statement of the problem through the review of the literature to the methodology, before defending the proposal.
    • The dissertation proposal must be delivered to all committee members two weeks prior to the proposal defense.
    • Once the proposal has been approved, be aware that it is not a contract; rather, it is a guide. The actual dissertation may be altered slightly as the dissertation chair and committee members work through the process of completing the dissertation with the student.
    • The student will PROOFREAD thoroughly the dissertation proposal and assure that the proposal is free of typographical and grammatical errors, and obvious omissions.
    Preparation of the Dissertation
    • Each student must become familiar with the dissertation format by reviewing my publication, Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, and other dissertations on the student's topic.
    • Each student must become familiar and must be sufficiently knowledgeable of the research design, including the specific statistical tests or the qualitative method or combination of the two, and table headings and format. The student must do this by reading research and statistics books and by reviewing dissertations or research studies using the particular method. The student must find those dissertations, theses, research studies, or books on his or her own.
    • The student should expect to write as many drafts of the dissertation proposal and the dissertation as is necessary to render it in acceptable form for wider distribution. However, the first draft of each chapter the student submits to the dissertation chair should be in as perfect form as is humanly possible. The dissertation chair will ask for explanations of the statistical tests, why the student chose the particular test, or, in the case of qualitative method, why the specific method(s) were selected.
    • The student should expect to hire an external editor and/or a statistician.
    • Before submission to the chair and subsequent distribution to committee members, the student will PROOFREAD thoroughly each chapter for typographical and grammatical errors, and obvious omissions. Use, but do not rely exclusively on, spell check to detect errors. Proofreading means reading the dissertation word for word from the front matter through to the vita.
    Dissertation Defense
    • The chair will not authorize the student to schedule the dissertation defense date until the chair has received and corrected all chapters of the dissertation.
    • After approval by the chair, all chapters of the dissertation must be delivered to all committee members at least two weeks prior to the dissertation defense.
    • The student must have the entire dissertation completed by the dissertation defense date. This includes all front pages (title page, signature page, dedication, abstract, acknowledgements, table of contents, list of tables, list of figures) and back pages (references, appendixes, and vita).
    • The student will PROOFREAD thoroughly again the entire dissertation, take personal responsibility for its contents, and assure that the entire dissertation is free of typographical and grammatical errors, and obvious omissions. It is expected that the dissertation will be in publishable form at the time of the dissertation defense.
    Graduation
    • The student may project a target date for graduation (December, May, or August); however, if the student is not ready according to standards set forth by the dissertation chair or other committee members, then the student will not graduate at that particular date.
    • The completion of the graduation process involves the routing of the completed dissertation as follows: Dissertation Committee, Director of the Doctoral Program, Graduate School, Library, Department Chair, Education Dean, and Registrar. Therefore, deadlines for the dissertation defense must be enforced.
    • For December graduations, defense of the dissertation must occur at or prior to October 1.
    • For May graduations, defense of the dissertation must occur at or prior to March 1.
    • For August graduations, defense of the dissertation must occur at or prior to June 1.
    Required Copies of the Dissertation

    Required copies of the completed dissertation for doctoral students in education are as follows:

    1. Library2 (acid free, 20% cotton bond)
    2. Dean, College of Education1
    3. Chair, Dissertation Committee1
    4. Committee Members4 (one for each member)
    5. Center for Doctoral Research2
    6. Bell & Howell/UMI1
    Total11
    Headings

    Boldface type is not permitted in headings. Most dissertations will use three levels of headings. For three levels of headings, use the following format:

    Centered Uppercase Heading (All chapter headings)

    Centered Uppercase and Lowercase Heading (Level 1)

    Flush Left, Italics, Uppercase and Lowercase Side Heading (Level 2) Indent, italics, lowercase paragraph heading ending with a period. (Level 3)

    For use of more than three levels of headings, consult the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

    An example follows:

    CHAPTER III

    METHODOLOGY

    Instrumentation (Level 1)

    The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Level 2)

    Reliability. (Level 3)

    Validity. (Level 3)

    Dissertation Chair

    Student's Signature, Date

    SOURCE: Copyright © 2006 Beverly J. Irby, Genevieve Brown, and Fred C. Lunenburg.

    Appendix J: Checklist for Dissertation Quality

    Following is a list of questions to consider when evaluating the quality and content of each chapter and section within each chapter of your dissertation. Not all questions are appropriate for all studies, and not all institutions, departments, and committees will be expecting the same content in each chapter. However, we have structured this checklist in accordance with the recommended content of a five-chapter dissertation.

    Chapter I: Introduction
    Background of the Study

    Have you described how your study fits into the larger context of theory and practice? _____________

    Is adequate background presented for all the variables or concepts in the study? ____________

    Is the background of the problem presented clearly (e.g., educational trends related to the problem, unresolved issues, social concerns)? ____________

    Have the majority of the references cited been published within the past five years? ____________

    Statement of the Problem

    Is adequate information presented for an understanding of the problem? ____________

    Is the problem clearly stated? ________

    Is there a description of what has already been done related to the problem? ____________

    Is the relationship of the problem to previous research made clear? ____________

    Is there a logical transition that leads directly to the purpose of the study? ____________

    Have the majority of the references cited been published within the past five years? ________

    Purpose of the Study

    Is the purpose of the study related to the statement of the problem? ____________

    Is the purpose of the study stated clearly and succinctly? ____________

    Have the majority of the references cited been published within the past five years? ________

    Significance of the Study

    Is it clear how this study will add to the body of knowledge (theory or practice)? ____________

    Does the study have the potential of being presented at a national conference? ________

    Does the study have the potential of being published in an academic journal? ____________

    Have the majority of the references cited been published within the past five years? ____________

    Definition of Terms

    Are the terms used in the study adequately defined so that their usage is clearly understood? ______

    Theoretical Framework

    Have you provided a brief description of the relevant theory(ies) to be utilized in approaching the problem? ______

    Have you reviewed the major variables or concepts and their interrelationships derived from the existing theoretical work? ______

    Have you described a connection between these theoretical constructions and your research questions or hypotheses? ______

    Have you utilized theory as a heuristic device to examine and interpret qualitative data? ______

    Research Questions

    Are the research questions related to the problem and the purpose? ______

    Are the research questions well stated; e.g., (a) all variables clarified, (b) avoidance of “how” or “why” questions, (c) theoretical constructs clarified (achievement, success, intelligence)? ______

    Is the kind of measurement obvious (e.g., description, relationship, differences)? ______

    Is each research question testable? ______

    Limitations

    Are limitations well defined (methodology, data, analysis)? ______

    Delimitations

    Are the delimitations well defined (e.g., timeframe, location, sample, criterion)? ______

    Assumptions

    Are your assumptions clearly stated? ______

    Organization of the Study

    Is there a transition to Chapter Two and the chapters following? (Typically Chapter One ends with an overview of the entire dissertation.) ______

    Chapter II: Review of the Literature
    Introduction

    Does Chapter Two begin with an introduction using an advance organizer to prepare the reader for the content of the chapter? ______

    Body

    Is the review of the literature comprehensive? ______

    Does the review of the literature cover all variables or concepts in the study? ______

    Does the review of the literature contain at least 50 references? ______

    Are all references cited relevant to the problem? ______

    Have the majority of the references cited been published within the past five years? ______

    Are references cited completely and accurately? ______

    Are authors who make the same point combined in a single citation? ______

    Is there an overabundance of direct quotations? ______

    Is each major section of the review of the literature summarized without a summary heading (e.g., in sum, in summary, in short)? ______

    Have you searched all available sources in your review of literature? ______

    Summary

    Does the Review of the Literature Chapter conclude with a summary of the literature review and a transition introducing the next chapter? ______

    Chapter iii: Methodology
    Introduction

    Does the chapter begin with an introduction, using an advance organizer to prepare the reader for the content of the chapter? ______

    Selection of Participants

    Are the size and major characteristics of the population studied described? ______

    Are the procedures and criteria for selecting the sample clearly described? ______

    Is the sample size large enough for the method of research used? ______

    Are the size and major characteristics of the sample described? ______

    Instrumentation

    Is a rationale given for the selection of the instruments used? ______

    Are the purpose and content of each instrument described? ______

    Is the validity of each instrument described? ______

    Is the reliability of each instrument described? ______

    Are the instruments appropriate for measuring the variables studied? ______

    If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are the procedures involved in its development and validation described? ______

    If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are administration, scoring, and interpretation procedures fully described? ______

    If an instrument was developed, was a pilot test conducted with a different sample than was used in the study? ______

    If interviews were used, were procedures described for determining interviewer bias? ______

    When necessary, were interobserver or interrater reliability assessed? ______

    Data Collection

    Are the procedures for collecting data described in sufficient detail to permit replication by another researcher? ______

    If a pilot study was conducted, are its execution, results, and effect on the current study described? ______

    If the study was qualitative, were internal validity strategies described (e.g., triangulation, member checks, peer examination)? ______

    Data Analysis

    Were the statistics used appropriate for the study? ______

    Are the appropriate statistics reported for each test? ______

    For statistical tests, are sufficient statistics presented (e.g., mean, standard deviation) ______

    In a qualitative study, are the themes and patterns appropriately labeled? ______

    Summary

    Does the chapter conclude with a summary and a transition to Chapter Four? ______

    Chapter iv: Presentation and Analysis of Data
    Introduction

    Does the chapter begin with an introduction, using an advance organizer to prepare the reader for the contents of the chapter? ______

    Demographic Descriptive Statistics

    Are demographic descriptive statistics of the sample presented in table form? ______

    Are appropriate headings used to help the flow and organization of the chapter (e.g. research questions (hypotheses), themes, or variables?) ______

    Research Question (or Hypothesis) One

    Research Question (or Hypothesis) Two

    Etc.

    Are the tables and figures (if any) well organized and easy to understand? ______

    Are the data in each table and figure described in the text? ______

    Are tests of significance properly cited using appropriate degrees of freedom; e.g., [F(2,71) = 14.87, p < .001 or F(2,71) = 0.14, p < .05]? ______

    Were post hoc tests calculated when appropriate? ______

    Were effect sizes reported when appropriate? ______

    Is this chapter free of interpretation? (In qualitative studies, factual and interpretive information is sometimes intermingled to sustain reader interest.) ______

    In a qualitative study, is there a balance of direct quotations and description to enhance the meaning of themes and patterns? ______

    Is there a summary of key findings in table form when appropriate? ______

    Summary

    Does the chapter end with a summary of the entire chapter and a transition to Chapter Five? ______

    Chapter V: Summary, Discussion, and Conclusions
    Introduction

    Does the chapter begin with an introduction, using an advance organizer to prepare the reader for the contents of the chapter? ______

    Summary of the Study

    Is there a brief summary of the entire study? ______

    Discussion of the Findings

    Are the findings discussed within the framework of previous studies, the theoretical rationale, and the review of the literature? ______

    Implications for Practice

    Are the implications derived from the findings? ______

    Are implications made for theory and practice? ______

    Recommendations for Further Research

    Are recommendations for further research clearly implied from the study? ______

    Conclusions

    Do the conclusions highlight the important aspects of the study? ______

    Are the conclusions derived from the findings? ______

    Copyright © 2008 by Corwin Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, by Fred C. Lunenburg and Beverly J. Irby. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, http://www.corwinpress.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

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