07-RES/714

Quantitative Methodology

This  8-week course began September 16, 2014. The instructor for RES/714 was Kimberly Lowrey, Ph.D.

Course Description

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of quantitative research approaches and their application to decision making in complex organizations. Various methodologies for data collection and statistical analyses will be discussed, with an emphasis on the ways in which quantitative analyses are utilized in professional settings.

Course Competencies

  • Competency A: Demonstrate understanding of fundamentals of quantitative data analysis procedures, which include: descriptive and inferential statistical procedures; assumptions—what they measure— and their appropriateness to different types of research designs and data commonly used in institutional and organizational research.
  • Competency B: Demonstrate understanding of fundamentals of quantitative methods and their applications to different types of research problems within organizations.
  • Competency C: Demonstrate understanding of fundamentals of quantitative research designs, how they differ, and their appropriateness to different types of educational problems.
  • Competency D: Identify knowledge gaps in a selected subfield of study, synthesize relevant information, and formulate focused quantitative research questions to address these gaps to expand the body of knowledge in the field of study.
  • Competency E: Demonstrate understanding of applied research within organizations and how the results of quantitative research can inform decision-making, policy-making, and programming.
  • Competency F: Critique published research in the field of study that implements and reports research designs.
  • Competency G: Demonstrate an understanding of ethical implications and human subjects policy associated with research endeavors in the field of study.

The first two weeks of most doctoral programs are devoted to reading, however this was not one of those courses. We hit the ground running. The reading list for this course is listed at the bottom under references. Note that in addition to the required texts, there were a number of journal articles that were also required reading for each week.

  1. Introduction and Overview of Scientific Research
  2. Research Design
  3. Research Design continued
  4. Data Collection, Assessment and Measurement, Statistical Validity and Reliability
  5. Descriptive Statistics, Variables, and Correlations Statistics
  6. Surveys and Sampling, Data Preparation, Analysis, Inference, and Interpretation
  7. Inferential Statistics and Categorical Variable Analysis
  8. Regression Analysis and Ethical Considerations in Research

Papers

There were a number of assignments that required time and effort. However, I am just focusing on the papers. They were as follows:

  • Week 1: In week 1 we first established study groups. Since four of us had met and share some time personally we felt like we knew one another and agreed to sign on as a learning team. Three of us were from the HEA program and one was from nursing. This is the first class where all PhD students (HEA and Nursing) are combined. After we developed teams we had statistics exercises to complete each week. We would all post our responses and then one of us would submit the team copy. Additionally in week 1 we had to review the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) website and review the Belmont Report. As a team we discussed the following: 1) What is the scientific method? What is the importance of scientific research?; 2) What are some criteria for determining appropriate rigor and scientific merit in quantitative research?; and 3) How do CITI requirements and the Belmont Report influence ethical participating in research? After discussion we each wrote a 750-word response that summarized our discussions. I earned an A on this paper.
  • Week 2: In week 2 we were asked to research a problem at an organization with which we are familiar. For the HEA students it had to be an administrative problem We were to write 1,400 to 1,750 words with the following components:
    • Write a problem and purpose statement.
    • Explain how the problem can guide a research study.
    • Develop a research question for use with a quantitative research design.
    • Identify the independent and dependent variables for the proposed study.
    • Include a directional or nondirectional hypothesis or hypotheses for the study.
    • Explain your choice of hypothesis or hypotheses for the proposed study.
    • Discuss the importance of the problem and how your study links theory, research, and practice adding notable support to the professional body of knowledge.

We did this as a team. Because we had a nurse and three HEA students we had to decide which direction to move forward. It was decided to work on one of the dissertation topics from the HEA side (note mine). This was a bit challenging since only one person is intimately familiar with the topic. The topic selected was mentoring for students transitioning from high school to college. We earned an A on this paper.

  • Week 3: In week 3 we were asked to develop a research question for a quantitative research study of interest. This was another team exercise and we built on the work we completed in week 2. We wrote a 750-word paper that included the research question and design, and explained why the research design is appropriate for the research question. We identified the research design as correlational and defended our choice using a critical approach including cited references. Finally, we provided an example of how we could change the research question to use a different research design. We earned an A on this paper.
  • Week 4: In week 4 we were to create an 8-10 slide Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, using one of the research questions we developed in week 3. This was a team exercise. We outlined the purpose of the study, the research question, and the research design. We then discussed the appropriate level of measurement to be used with the question. We provided rationale for our selection and went through all levels of measurement and explained why any other level is inappropriate. We earned an A on this assignment.
  • Week 5: In week 5 we had to select a quantitative research article from a peer-review research journal and critique the article using critique guidelines outlined in one of our texts (see Vogt, year) Then, as a team we wrote a paper of 1,150 to 1,400 words in which we used the critique guidelines to present our critique of the article. We earned an A on this assignment.
  • Week 6: In week 6 we finally began to get our hands on SPSS. As a team, we read a research study scenario that corresponds to our area of study (HEA). We then opened the dataset that corresponded to our study and followed the directions in the file. The task was to enter the data into SPSS and perform the data with appropriate statistical techniques. We submitted a copy of the SPSS data analysis print-out sheet for review. We earned an A on this project.
  • Week 7: In week 7 we used the print-out sheet from the week 6 exercise as the basis for a 1,050-1,400 word paper describing the data generated, and the results of the tests. We considered the following questions: 1) why were the tests requested?; 2) How did we explain the results using proper statistical terms?; and 3) what was the most challenging part of producing a print-out an endeavoring to understand the outcomes of the tests generated? We earned an A for this assignment.
  • Week 8: In week 8 we were asked to develop a research proposal. We were to identify a researchable problem (continued to use the one we used all along), create a research proposal using a research design of our choice and write a 1,400 to 1,750 word paper/proposal. Items to include were:
    • the title of the research study in 16 words or less
    • an introduction, which presents the importance of the research topic, along with the background of the problem, the research problem, and the purpose of the study. The importance of the study to the profession and to leadership in organizations is presented along with the study section, which includes the research design, the number of the sample size, and why the size is appropriate.
    • discuss why quantitative research is the best design for the study and why qualitative methods are not appropriate for the study.
    • identify which statistical tests will be used to analyze the data based on the purpose of the study and the research questions.
    • identify any ethical concerns involved with the study and how we plan to protect individual rights and concerns, including the right of confidentiality, in the sample.
    • provide a reference list of 6 proposal-appropriate, peer-reviewed research articles.

We earned an A on this final assignment.

Challenges

For this particular course, the course material was challenging enough. I’ve always thought of myself as more of a qualitative researcher. I’ve never developed a sense of confidence around statistics. I was thankful were were able to work in teams; I’m not so sure I could have successfully completed the class otherwise. However, working in a team was also a bit challenging. The nursing student must have been uncomfortable with the HEA topic we followed throughout the course. In fact, by weeks 7 & 8 her participation was very minimal. On the other hand, early on I worked very hard to contribute my part only to have the paper rewritten by another team member which was discouraging to say the least. In the end we all passed with the help and encouragement of one another and that was good.

Successes

I learned much about team dynamics, mentoring, and qualitative methodology.

I successfully completed the course with 97.2 out of 100 points. I earned an A and 3 credits. So I have now completed 22 units and have 43 more to go.

Required Reading

Marczyk, G., DeMatteo, D., & Festinger, D. (2005). Essentials of research design and methodology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Steinberg, W. J. (2011). Statistics alive! (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Vogt, W. P. (2007). Quantitative research methods for professionals. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Supplemental Resources

IBM® SPSS® Statistical Software

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