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Seeking a Dissertation Writer

Seeking a Dissertation Writer

Hello,

I am seeking an experienced Dissertation Writer. Three chapters are written, but needs upgrades and corrections. So, 2 additional chapters need  to be written. There is a Dissertation Template that must be followed precisely, so please contact me if you have real-life experience writing on a Doctoral-level, and actually writing a Doctoral Dissertation.

The Dissertation Questionnaire needs to be corrected, and you will see the Methodologist's recommendations on the right side of the document, just tap the little bubbles. If you have any questions, please let me know. 

The Dissertation Template needs to be corrected also, please take a look at Chapters 1-3, and update the document once you read everything on the document, and become better acquainted with the assignment. 

Chapters 4 & 5 are on hold until these 3 chapters are completed, below you will see comments from the Professor Committee, please let me know if you are able to address these items. 

Please review the Grading Criterion at the end of each paragraph setting, and it will let you know how many pages/paragraphs are required, and what the Professors are seeking to be written. 

This is additional information from the Professor Committee, please let me know if you can assist with this:

  1. Submit the questionnaire (instruments you have developed earlier for approval.)
  2. After approval from the panel, do the field testing (to validate the instruments.
  3. The field test consists of testing the questionnaire on one participant (if you are doing the interview) and one group (if you are doing a focus group also). At this point, you are using 2 sources of data.
  4. One you collect the data on the field test, you will transcribe the data using MAXQDA (review the email I have forwarded to all my learners. You were copied. From there, you will create a code book see instruction in DCNetwork (I have emailed you a sample already).
  5. Once you coded the results, the committee (Dr. Stanley and I) will review the coding and approve it. If it is correctly done, the committee will review the full proposal and make sure ALL the components are addressed before we can send the proposal to AQR2. If the process 2-6 is not completed, you cannot move to the next phase because this is THE INSTRUCTIONS of the MPM. 

1

Instructions for Using the Template Comment by GCU: Remove the Instructions once you have carefully read through this section.

General Information

The GCU dissertation template is designed to make the task of writing your dissertation as straightforward as possible. The basic guidelines for completing the proposal/dissertation manuscript are contained in this template. Please note that dissertation requirements may change over time as new designs, types of analyses and research paradigms enter the research literature. As such, it is possible that the template contains omissions, inconsistencies, or minor errors. In service to addressing these potential issues, the dissertation template is updated on a regular basis. As an independent doctoral level researcher, it is your responsibility to check regularly for template updates and to use the most current version of the template. If you need clarification or have questions, please contact your chair.

All template formatting directions must be followed, and all rubric requirements must be satisfied or addressed. There are many important instructions in the text that describes most sections. The template includes many “bubble comments” that appear in a special margin on the far right of the document. To make sure you can see these comments, choose the Review menu tab from the Word ribbon (top of the page), and in the Tracking group make certain that All Markup is selected in the first dropdown box. Comment by GCU: What you are reading right now is a bubble comment!

The template relies heavily on a Microsoft Word tool called Styles. Most Word users can see the current Word styles on the Home menu in what is called the Style Gallery in the right half of the menu ribbon. The style of the currently selected text is highlighted in the gallery (you may have to scroll up or down to see the current style). This template uses styles for headings, lists, and other formatting. Information on using Word styles in the template is contained either in the template text or bubble comments. Please follow all formatting directions, failure to do so may delay reviews and progression through the dissertation milestones.

Learners should note that the Word styles used in this template are “linked” within Word to this document. As long as you use this template as the basis for your document, the correct styles will be available. However, if you open a blank Word document and copy/paste from this template, the template styles generally will not copy with the text. Because of this, it is a good practice to always copy to or edit in this document. If for some reason you need a blank document with the Word styles from this template, use CTRL+A to select the entire template and then press Delete. You will now have a blank document based on this template. You can be certain that the correct Word styles are attached to your document if the text “QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 12-01-21” appears in the footer of the page.

The more closely you follow the template format and rubrics, the smoother will be the review and ultimate approval process. If you have questions about anything in the template, please contact your committee chair for guidance. Good luck in your dissertation journey! Listed below are some recommendations to successfully use this template:

Instructions for Using the Dissertation Template

1. Please note with this version 9.0, there is no longer a separate proposal template. Chapters 1-3 constitute the proposal.

2. Carefully read narrative for each chapter and section to know what is required and find important tips for completing each section. Please note text in red font as critical information in writing your manuscript.

3. Carefully review each criterion listed in the rubric below each section for very specific details for how the sections will be evaluated.

4. Ensure you have addressed all the required criteria for each section. Write to the criteria table (embedded rubric) requirement and make it clear in your writing when addressing each criterion.

5. Do not alter key Level 1 headings or the Level 2 or 3 subheadings within the template. These headings are used to build the automated Table of Contents. If the headings are altered, you will need to reassign appropriate level headings in Word in order to format the manuscript.

6. Dissertation committee members DO NOT EDIT and are not responsible for editing documents. They may point out errors and indicate what needs corrections. All dissertation artifacts need to be written at the doctoral level appropriate for scholarly research and publication, including meeting APA requirements for tables, figures, citations, references, and formatting as specified in the template.

7. It is critical that you edit and proofread this dissertation document prior to submitting to your chair, committee members, and reviewers. Writing errors, such as bad grammar, spelling mistakes, poor paragraph and sentence structures, and incoherence are common mistakes that will result in the manuscript being returned for corrections and delay in your milestone progression.

8. Plagiarism and citing authors as having said something you believe they meant, or you hoped they meant are considered ethical violations and may be subject to code of conduct per university policy. GCU uses plagiarism software to check dissertations for plagiarism.

9. Use clear and consistent file naming nomenclature and version control instructions. This practice is critical to ensure your chair and committee members are reviewing the correct document. Work with your chair to establish a preferred format. For example: lastname.firstname.file name.version #.date;

a. Smith.Linda.Proposal_Draft.v.1.8.6.2020 or

b. Jones.Theo.Dissertation_Draft.v.3.8.6.2020

10. Use two computer monitors when working on your dissertation. Show the template itself on one monitor, and the template in which you are writing your proposal or dissertation on the other monitor. This process will help ensure you are reviewing the narrative in each section you are writing and addressing all required criteria for that section.

11. Order a hard copy of the latest APA Manual, keep it on hand, and refer to it often while writing your dissertation. This will save many hours in formatting. Several items to note regarding APA 7.0 and the dissertation template:

a. Number of spaces after a period. APA 7.0 recommends one space after the terminal punctuation in a sentence. In the current V.9 template one space is used after terminal punctuation in a sentence. GCU will accept one or two spaces if it is consistent across the entire manuscript.

b. Level 3 headings: Note that in the APA 7th Edition, Level 3 headings are now on a separate line, flush left, Title Case, bolded and italicized. This template has been updated to conform to APA 7th edition.

12. Your dissertation should be written in clear, concise language consistent with doctoral level research standards in peer reviewed publications in your topic area. Personal opinions, unsubstantiated research claims, inadvertent plagiarism, as well as improper citations and references are common scholarly writing mistakes that will delay development of the dissertation proposal or final manuscript. Please note that plagiarism is a serious ethical violation with resulting university disciplinary action per the University Policy Handbook.

13. The GCU Library offers a number of excellent resources for using Word and complying with APA 7.0 including guides, webinars, and one-on-one support. Please seek out GCU resources to ensure your dissertation manuscript meets the GCU Form and Format requirements. Several recommended resources are provided below:

a. https://libguides.gcu.edu/APA/Formatting

b. https://support.microsoft.com

c. https://libguides.gcu.edu/Doctoral

14. Remember your dissertation will be read and evaluated by many scholars and professionals interested in your research. You are ultimately responsible for the quality of your dissertation study and the final manuscript. This template is intended to assist you in conducting your research and writing the best possible dissertation. The quality of your work represents your credibility as a doctoral scholar. Please use this important template resource as recommended in service to helping you to produce a high quality, scholarly dissertation that you are proud to publish!

PRIOR TO SUBMITTING FOR REVIEW, REMEMBER TO DELETE THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING THE TEMPLATE, UNNEEDED/UNUSED PARTS OF THE TEMPLATE, SUCH AS GCU BUBBLE COMMENTSAND/OR EXTRA APPENDICES. HOWEVER, DO NOT DELETE BUBBLE COMMENTS FROM YOUR CHAIR, COMMITTEE MEMBERS, OR PEER REVIEWER UNLESS THEY INSTRUCT YOU TO DO SO. BE SURE TO RETAIN THE CRITERION (RUBRIC) TABLES.

Ten Strategic Points

Complete the Ten Strategic Points document below for your chair and committee members to reference during review of your proposal or dissertation. The Ten Strategic Points represents the foundational elements of your study, must be aligned, and should be continuously updated as appropriate based on each iteration of your proposal or dissertation document. For additional detail on the Ten Strategic Points refer to the full document located on the DC Network> Dissertation Resources>Folder 05 Dissertation Template. Please Note: The Ten Strategic Points should be moved to Appendix A in the final dissertation manuscript before moving into Level 7 Form and Formatting.

Ten Strategic Points Comment by GCU: Do not remove until Level 7 Review – Form and Formatting

The ten strategic points emerge from researching literature on a topic, which is based on, or aligned with a defined need or problem space within the literature as well as the learner’s personal passion, future career purpose, and degree area. The Ten Strategic Points document includes the following key points that define the research focus and approach:

Strategic Points Descriptor

Learner Strategic Points for Proposed Study Comment by GCU: Delete bulleted items within each box as you add your Ten Strategic Points information based on each descriptor.

1.

Dissertation Topic– Provides a broad research topic area/title.

· Topic comes out of the problem space supported by the literature, not the learner’s head or personal agenda

· Aligned to the learners’ program of study, and ideally the emphasis area

· Researchable and feasible to complete within the learners’ doctoral program, including extension courses as needed.

· Focused

2.

Literature Review – Lists primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: (a) Background of the problem and the need for the study based on citations from the literature; (b) Theoretical foundations (theories, models, and concepts) and if appropriate the conceptual framework to provide the foundation for study); (c) Review of literature topics with key themes for each one; (d) Summary.

· Background to the problem

· Literature is predominantly from past 5 years

· Historical treatment of problem being studied

· Clearly defines a stated need

· Theoretical foundation

· Theories, models, or concepts and if appropriate the conceptual framework are described to guide the research and the data collection

· Review of literature topics

· Relevant to the topic

· Demonstrates breadth of knowledge

3.

Problem Statement – Describes the problem to address through the study based on defined needs or problem space supported by the literature

· Statement is structured appropriate for the design

· Researchable

· Describe the problem to be better understood

4.

Sample and Location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study phenomenon with small numbers).

· Size is appropriate for design

· Likely to be able to access it/get permission

· Identify alternative to their organization (associations, community orgs, research companies, snowball sampling, etc.)

5.

Research Questions – Provides research questions to collect data to address the problem statement.

· Appropriate for the design

· Resulting data will address the problem statement

· Minimum of 2

6.

Phenomenon – Describes the phenomenon to be better understood (qualitative).

· Qualitative: Describe the phenomenon to be better understood

7.

Methodology and Design – Describes the selected methodology and specific research design to address the problem statement and research questions.

· Methodology and design sections

· Appropriate for problem statement

· Justifies the methodology or design using problem statement and citations

· Methodology does not discuss design, instrument, data collection

· Design does not discuss instrument, data collection, data analysis

8.

Purpose Statement – Provides one sentence statement of purpose including the problem statement, methodology, design, target population, and location.

· Purpose statement = Methodology + design + problem statement + sample + location

9.

Data Collection – Describes primary instruments and sources of data to answer research questions.

· Qualitative: Includes at least two data rich collection approaches or data sources; case study has minimum of 3; quantitative data can be collected to support qualitative sources; demographics are identified and appropriate to the study (but are not counted as a data source). Note that narrative and phenomenological designs typically rely on one data source (interviews). Since there is only one, that means that the data produced from a single source must be particularly robust.

· Describes various permissions needed; sample and sampling approach; recruiting and selecting final sample; data collection steps; how data will be stored, security maintained, privacy maintained

10.

Data Analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address research questions.

· Qualitative: Include descriptive statistics; analytic approach appropriate for specific design; summary specific to the design

· Data analysis approach aligned to the design and RQs

The Proposal/Dissertation Title Appears in Title Case and is Centered Comment by GCU: American Psychological Association (APA) Style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, footnotes, and the reference page. For specifics, consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, second printing. For additional information on APA Style, consult the APA website: http://apastyle.org/learn/index.aspx NOTE: All notes and comments are keyed to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, second printing. GENERAL FORMAT RULES: Dissertations must be 12 –point Times New Roman typeface, double-spaced on quality standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1-in. margins on the top, bottom, and right side. For binding purposes, the left margin is 1.5 in. [8.03]. To set this in Word, go to: Page Layout > Page Setup> Margins > Custom Margins> Top: 1” Bottom: 1” Left: 1.5” Right: 1” Click “Okay” Page Layout> Orientation> Portrait> NOTE: All text lines are double-spaced. This includes the title, headings, formal block quotes, references, footnotes, and figure captions. Single-spacing is only used within tables, figures, and bulleted lists [8.03]. The first line of each paragraph is indented 0.5 in. Use the tab key which should be set at five to seven spaces [8.03]. If a white tab appears in the comment box, click on the tab to read additional information included in the comment box. Comment by GCU: Formatting note: The effect of the page being centered with a 1.5" left margin is accomplished by the use of the first line indent here. However, it would be correct to not use the first line indent and set the actual indent for these title pages at 1.5." Comment by GCU: If the title is longer than one line, double-space it. As a rule, the title should be approximately 12 words. Titles should be descriptive and concise with no abbreviations, jargon, or obscure technical terms. The title should be typed in uppercase and lowercase letters [2.01], also known as “Title Case.” Twelve words will fit on the spine of the printed dissertation.

Submitted by

Insert Your Full Legal Name (No Titles, Degrees, or Academic Credentials) Comment by GCU: For example: Raven Marie Garcia

Equal Spacing

~2.0” – 2.5”

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Education

(or) Doctor of Philosophy

(or) Doctor of Business Administration

Equal Spacing~2.0” – 2.5” Comment by GCU: Delete yellow highlighted “Helps” as your research project develops.

Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, Arizona Comment by GCU: HINT: There are several “styles” that have been set up in this GCU Template. When you work on your proposal or dissertation, “save as” this template in order to preserve and make use of the preset styles. This will save you hours of work!

[Insert Current Date Until Date of Dean’s Signature]

QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 12.01.21

© College of Doctoral Studies, Grand Canyon University 2005-2021

QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 12.01.21

© College of Doctoral Studies, Grand Canyon University 2005-2021

© by Your Full Legal Name (No Titles, Degrees, or Academic Credentials), 202x Comment by GCU: NOTE: This is a required page. The copyright page is included in the final dissertation and not part of the proposal. Comment by GCU: For example: © by Xavier William Lopez, 2021 This page is centered. This page is counted, not numbered, and should not appear in the Table of Contents.

All rights reserved.

QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 01.24.21

© College of Doctoral Studies, Grand Canyon University 2005-2021

Grand Canyon University

The Dissertation Title Appears in Title Case and is Centered Comment by GCU: If the title is longer than one line, double-space it. The title should be typed in upper and lowercase letters, also known as “Title Case.”

By

Insert Learner Full Legal Name (No Titles, Degrees, or Academic Credentials) Comment by GCU: For example: Jane Elizabeth Smith

Successfully Defended and Approved by All Dissertation Committee Members

[Insert Date]

DISSERTATION COMMITTEE APPROVAL:

The following committee members certify they have read and approve this dissertation and deem it fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of XXX.

Full Legal Name, EdD, DBA, or PhD, Dissertation Chair

Full Legal Name, EdD, DBA, or PhD, Committee Member

Full Legal Name, EdD, DBA, or PhD, Committee Member

ACCEPTED AND SIGNED:

________________________________________ ____________________

Michael R. Berger, EdD Date

Dean, College of Doctoral Studies

Grand Canyon University Comment by GCU: This page is only included in the final dissertation and not part of the proposal. However, the learner is responsible for ensuring the proposal and dissertation are original research, that all scholarly sources are accurately reported, cited, and referenced, and the study protocol was executed and complies with the IRB approval granted by GCU.

The Dissertation Title Appears in Title Case and is Centered

I verify that my dissertation represents original research, is not falsified or plagiarized, and that I accurately reported, cited, and referenced all sources within this manuscript in strict compliance with APA and Grand Canyon University (GCU) guidelines. I also verify my dissertation complies with the approval(s) granted for this research investigation by GCU Institutional Review Board (IRB).

[Wet Signature Required]

_____________________________________________ ______________________

[Type Doctoral Learner Name Beneath Signature line] Date Comment by GCU: This page requires a “wet signature.” Remove the brackets and type in the learner’s name. The learner needs to sign and date this page and insert a copy into the dissertation manuscript as an image (JPEG) or PDF text box. This page must be signed and dated prior to final peer Level 5 review.

Abstract Comment by GCU: On the first line of the page, center the word “Abstract” (boldface) Style with “TOC Heading” Beginning with the next line, write the abstract. Abstract text is one paragraph with no indentation and is double-spaced. This page is counted, not numbered, and does not appear in the Table of Contents. Abstracts do not include references or citations. The abstract must fit on one page. The abstract is only included in the final dissertation and not part of the proposal.

The abstract is the most important component of your dissertation! It is required for the dissertation manuscript only. The abstract is typically the last item written and should be updated based on final acceptance of manuscript by the dissertation committee members and reviewer(s). The abstract is intended as a precise, non-evaluative, summary of the entire dissertation presenting the major elements and findings of the study in a highly condensed format. Although few people typically read the full dissertation, the abstract will be read by many scholars and researchers. Consequently, great care must be taken in writing this page of the dissertation. The content of the abstract should mirror the structure of the entire dissertation, covering the research problem purpose of the study to solve the problem, theoretical foundation, research questions stated in narrative format, sample, location, methodology, design, data sources, data analysis approach, major findings or trends based on the analysis. The most important finding(s) should state the themes that support the conclusion(s). The abstract should close with a conclusion statement of the study implications and contributions to the field. The abstract does not appear in the table of contents and has no page number. The abstract is double-spaced, fully justified with no indentations or citations, and no longer than one page. Refer to the APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition, for additional guidelines for the development of the dissertation abstract. Make sure to add the keywords at the bottom of the abstract to assist future researchers. Comment by GCU: Please note this is crucial and must be included in the abstract at the final dissertation stage. The most common error in abstracts is failure to present results. This is required for dean’s signature.

Keywords: Abstract, one-page, vital information lopesup Comment by GCU: Librarians and researchers use the abstract and keywords to catalogue and locate vital research material.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

ABSTRACT

(Dissertation Only—Not Required for the Proposal)

(one page)

The abstract provides a succinct summary of the study and MUST include: the purpose of the study, theoretical foundation, research questions stated in narrative format, sample, location, methodology, design, data sources, data analysis, results, and a valid conclusion of the research. Note: The most important finding(s) should be stated with actual codes and resulting themes data/numbers (qualitative).

The abstract is written in APA format, one paragraph fully justified with no indentations, double-spaced with no citations, one page, and includes key search words. Keywords are on a new line and indented.

The abstract is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, uses correct sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Dedication Comment by GCU: The Dedication page is the first page in the dissertation with a Roman Numeral. In the final dissertation, this is usually page vi, so we have set it as vi.

An optional dedication may be included here. While a dissertation is an objective, scientific document, this is the place to use the first person and to be subjective. The dedication page is numbered with a Roman numeral, but the page number does not appear in the Table of Contents. It is only included in the final dissertation and is not part of the proposal. If this page is not to be included, delete the heading, the body text, and the page break below. lopesup Comment by GCU: If you cannot see the page break, click on the top toolbar in Word (Home). Click on the paragraph icon. ¶Show/Hide button (go to the Home tab and then to the Paragraph toolbar).

Acknowledgments Comment by GCU: See formatting note for Dedication

An optional acknowledgements page can be included here. This is another place to use the first person. If applicable, acknowledge and identify grants and other means of financial support. Also acknowledge supportive colleagues who rendered assistance. The acknowledgments page is numbered with a Roman numeral, but the page number does not appear in the table of contents. This page provides a formal opportunity to thank family, friends, and faculty members who have been helpful and supportive. The acknowledgements page is only included in the final dissertation and is not part of the proposal. If this page is not to be included, delete the heading, the body text, and the page break below. lopesup Comment by GCU: If you cannot see the page break, click on the top toolbar in Word (Home). Click on the paragraph icon. ¶Show/Hide button (go to the Home tab and then to the Paragraph toolbar). Do not use section breaks except those preset in the template! They reset the pagination.

Table of Contents Comment by GCU: This is an automatic Table of Contents. This means that Word “reads” the headings and subheadings in the document that have been “styled,” and generates/updates the TOC. This is a time saver and ensures the headings and subheadings in the TOC exactly match those in the text. The preferences for all styles in this template have already been set. The Table of Contents pages are counted and show a Roman numeral page number at the top right. The page number is right justified. The page number should not be listed in the Table of Contents. NOTE: The Table of Contents must be 12-point Times New Roman typeface, double-spaced. Titles that are longer than one line should be single spaced, and double spaced between entries. All the styles (TOC 1, TOC 2, TOC 3) have been set up this way already. Unlike the body of the dissertation, the Table of Contents is right justified, (i.e., not ragged right). Dot leaders must be used. Title should be styled as “TOC Heading” (double spaced, no indent, bold, “keep with next”). The TOC styles have been set up this way in the template already. The Table of Contents reflects the specific levels of organization within the dissertation. All major (chapter) headings must be worded exactly the same and occur in the same order as they do in the GCU dissertation template. Any heading that appears in the Table of Contents must appear in the text, and any heading in the text must appear in the Table of Contents. As noted elsewhere in this comment, as long as you use this automatic TOC, the headings in the TOC will match those in the text since the automatic TOC “reads” the styles of the headings in the text. Subheadings differentiate subsections of each chapter, are single-spaced and upper and lowercase. In the Table of Contents, these TOC1: Left: 0", Hanging: 0.5" Tab stops: 6" TOC2: Left: -0.25", First line Indent 0.5: Tab stops: 6" TOC 3: Left: 0.63”; no first line indent, Tab stops: 6" The headings and subheadings in the Table of Contents must exactly match the text body, and they will do so automatically when you use this automatic TOC (which “reads” the headings in the text. Comment by GCU: HINT! If you see lots of text (not just headings) when you update the TOC, that means that those sections of text have been styled as a heading, rather than as “Normal” or List Bullet or List Number. Fix this IN THE TEXT (not in the TOC!!)

List of Tables xii List of Figures xiii Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study 1 Introduction 1 Background of the Study 8 Definition of Terms 10 Anticipated Limitations 13 Summary and Organization of the Remainder of the Study 14 Chapter 2: Literature Review 17 Introduction to the Chapter and Background to the Problem 17 Identification of the Problem Space 19 Theoretical Foundations 23 Review of the Literature 28 Problem Statement 34 Summary 36 Chapter 3: Methodology 38 Introduction 38 Purpose of the Study 39 Phenomenon and Research Questions 40 Rationale for a Qualitative Methodology 41 Rationale for Research Design 43 Population and Sample Selection 45 Study Sample and Sampling Strategy 45 Recruiting Plan and Site Authorization 46 Sources of Data 48 Research Data 49 Additional Data 50 Trustworthiness 53 Credibility 54 Dependability 55 Transferability 55 Confirmability 56 Data Collection and Management 58 Data Analysis Procedures 60 Ethical Considerations 63 Assumptions and Delimitations 67 Assumptions 68 Delimitations 68 Summary 70 Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Results 72 Introduction 72 Important Changes and Updates to Information in Chapters 1-3 73 Preparation of Raw Data for Analysis and Descriptive Data 74 Preparation of Raw Data for Analysis 74 Descriptive Data 75 Data Analysis Procedures 79 Reflexivity Protocol 79 Data Analysis Steps 80 Results 82 Presenting the Results 82 Limitations 88 Summary 90 Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations 92 Introduction and Summary of Study 92 Summary of Findings and Conclusion 93 Overall Organization 93 Reflection on the Dissertation Process 94 Implications 96 Theoretical Implications 96 Practical Implications 97 Future Research Implications 97 Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study 97 Recommendations 99 Recommendations for Future Research 99 Recommendations for Future Practice 100 Holistic Reflection on the Problem Space 101 References 103 Appendix A. Ten Strategic Points 109 Appendix B. Site Authorization 110 Appendix C. IRB Approval Letter 111 Appendix D. Informed Consent 112 Appendix E. Copy of Instrument(s) and Permission Letters to Use the Instrument(s) 113 Appendix F. Codebook 114 Appendix G. Transcripts 115 Appendix H. Feasibility and Benefits Checklist 116 Appendix I. Strategies to Establish Trustworthiness 120 Appendix J. Developing Qualitative Interview Questions Systematically 121 Appendix K. Sample Frames, Interview Duration, Transcript Expectations 127 Appendix L. Minimum Progression Milestones 128 Appendix M. Additional Appendices 129

List of Tables Comment by GCU: This List of Tables has been set up to update automatically (when you click to do so). The List of Figures “reads” the style “Table Title,” which should be used in the text for the table title and subtitle of each table. Check “Help” in Word on how to update the TOC. The List of Tables follows the Table of Contents. The List of Tables is included in the Table of Contents and shows a Roman numeral page number at the top right. The page number is right justified with a 1 in. margin on each page. Dot leaders must be used. The title is bolded. On the List of Tables, each table title and subtitle will appear on the same line are single spaced if more than one line and double-spaced between entries. See 5.01-5.19 for details and specifics on Tables and Data Display. The preferences for the Table of Figures (style for the List of Tables) have been set up in this template. The automatic List of Tables (set up here) uses the style “Table of Figures, which has been formatted to achieve correct single space/double space formatting. All tables are numbered with Arabic numerals in the order in which they are first mentioned. [5.05]

Table 1 Correct Formatting for a Multiple Line Table Title is Single Spaced and Should Look Like this Example xii

Table 2 Alignment Table 15

Table 3 Description of Building Blocks for the Theoretical Foundations Section 25

Table 4 Steps for the Theoretical Foundations Section 26

Table 5 Qualitative Core Designs and Descriptions 44

Table 6 Example of a Clean, Easy-to-Read Table 77

Table 7 Example of Clean, Easy-to-Read Table for Focus Group Data 77

Table 8 Example of Case Unit Profiling (in Narrative) 78

Table 9 Initial Codes 85

Table F1 Sample Codebook 114

To update the List of Tables: [Place cursor on the page number or title Right click Update Field Update Entire Table], and the table title and subtitle will show up with the in-text formatting. Below is a sample table: lopesup Comment by GCU: Make sure to remove the narrative text and sample table on this page in your manuscript.

Table 1 Correct Formatting for a Multiple Line Table Title is Single Spaced and Should Look Like this Example Comment by GCU: Each table must be numbered in sequence throughout the entire dissertation (Table 1, Table 2, etc.), or within chapters (Table 1.1, Table 1.2 for Chapter 1; Table 2.1, Table 2.2 for Chapter 2, etc.), or within appendices (Table B.1 for Appendix B; Table G.1 for Appendix G, etc.). Comment by GCU: Use style “Table Title” for Table title and subtitle: After the Table number (after the period) use two soft returns [SHIFT + RETURN] and then italicize the table subtitle. Comment by GCU: Use Word’s “table” tool for all tables. DO NOT CREATE TABLES “FREE HAND” USING TABS AND SPACES. If you do not know how to work with tables in Word, look for help online. Table tool accessible from INSERT Word Menu Text in tables should be Times New Roman, font size 10, single spaced with two pts. before and after each line/paragraph. These preferences have been set in the “Table Text” style. Place borders at the top and foot of the table, and below the header row(s). Do not place any vertical borders in a table.

Participant Comment by GCU: To fit a table to the page margins: Click anywhere in the table. Choose the LAYOUT menu from Table Tools in the menu ribbon. Choose the AUTO FIT dropdown. Select AutoFit Window to autofit the table to the page margins.

Gender

Role

Location

Susan

F

Principal

School A

Mary

F

Teacher

School A

Joseph

M Comment by GCU: To vertically center text in each cell, highlight cells, right click when cursor is in cells to format, click Table Properties > Cell > click on image with centered text

Principal

School B

Note . Adapted from: I.M. Researcher (2010). Sampling and Recruitment in Studies of Doctoral Students. Journal of Perspicuity, 25, p. 100. Reprinted with permission. Comment by GCU: Permission must be obtained to reprint information that is not in the public domain. Letters of permission are included in the appendix [See 5.16 in the APA Manual]. Note that this is in regular size 12 font.

List of Figures Comment by GCU: This is an example of a List of Figures It is an “automatic” list that will, when updated, match the Figures titles, subtitles and page numbers in the text. The List of Figures follows the List of Tables. The title “List of Figures” is styled as Heading 1. The List of Figures is included in the Table of Contents (which will show up automatically since it is styled as Heading 1). and shows a Roman numeral page number at the top right. The list of figures has been set up with the style “Table of Figures,” for which all preferences have been set in this template (hanging indent tab stop 5.99” right justified with dot leader). Figures, in the text of the manuscript, include graphs, charts, maps, drawings, cartoons, and photographs [5.21]. In the List of Figures, single-space figure titles and double-space between entries. This has been set up in the “Table of Figures” style in this template. See 5.20-5.30 for details and specifics on Figures and Data Display. All figures are numbered with Arabic numerals in the order in which they are first mentioned. [5.05] The figure title included in the Table of Contents should match the title found in the text. Note: Captions are written in sentence case unless there is a proper noun, which is capitalized.

Figure 1 The Relationship of Things xiii

Figure 2 Incorporating Theories and Models of Research 24

Figure 3 IRB Alert 65

Figure 4 Diagram of a Blank Sociogram 86

To update the List of Figures: [Place curser on page number or title Right click Update Field Update Entire Table], and the figure title and subtitle will show up with the in-text formatting. Below is a sample figure: lopesup

Figure 1 The Relationship of Things Comment by GCU: Formatting Tip: The caption for each figure should be placed above the figure, and be “styled” as “Caption” (as this one is). Placing the Figure title and subtitle above the graphic is new in APA 7th edition. Comment by GCU: In general, high quality graphics software handle the technical aspects of constructing figures.” [5.22]. Each figure must be numbered in sequence throughout the entire dissertation (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.), or within chapters (Figure 1.1, Figure 1.2 for Chapter 1; Figure 2.1, Figure 2.2 for Chapter 2, etc.).

Comment by GCU: Each picture or graphic should have a border. If there is no border, right-click the figure, choose Format Picture > Fill and Line (paint bucket icon) > Line > Solid line, and then choose black as the color (the default is blue).

xiii

QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 01.24.21

© College of Doctoral Studies, Grand Canyon University 2005-2021

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study Comment by GCU: This heading is styled according to APA Level 1 heading (style: “Heading 1”) [3.03]. Do not modify or delete as it will impact your automated table of contents

Introduction Comment by GCU: This heading is styled according to APA Level 2 heading (style: “Heading 2”) [3.03]. Do not modify or delete as it will impact your automated table of contents

THIS CHAPTER SHOULD BE WRITTEN AFTER THE LEARNER HAS WRITTEN CHAPTERS 2 AND 3. The minimum progression milestone for draft of Chapter 1 “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist and content expert is in dissertation course 966E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 966E is the absolute latest course for Chapter 1 acceptance by chair and submission to methodologist and content expert. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit Chapter 1 in earlier dissertation courses.

In this section the researcher describes what they propose to investigate. The College of Doctoral Studies recognizes the diversity of learners in our programs and the varied interests in research topics for their dissertations in the Social Sciences. Dissertation topics must, at a minimum, be aligned to the learner’s program of study: PhD in General Psychology; Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership; Ed.D. in Teaching and Learning; DBA in Business Administration; PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. Please note the PhD program in General Psychology does not support clinically based research. If there are questions regarding appropriate alignment of a dissertation topic to the degree program, the respective program chair will be the final authority for approval decisions. The College also strongly recommends a learner’s topic align with the program emphasis, however emphasis alignment is not “required.” The College will remain flexible on the learner’s dissertation topic if it aligns with the degree program in which the learner is enrolled.

The introduction section is used to develop the significance of the proposed study by describing how it is new or different from other studies and how it advances knowledge and practice or addresses something that is not already known or understood within a particular context or problem space. The learner also includes the purpose statement in this section, which was developed in Chapter 3. Please carefully review the following information for specific template requirements and guidelines for use. Comment by GCU: Use “the proposed study” every time you refer to the study in the proposal. “The study” or “this study” can be confused with other studies you may be discussing.

This GCU Dissertation Template provides the structure for the GCU dissertation. It includes important narrative, instructions, and requirements in each chapter and section. Learners must read the narrative in each section to fully understand what is required and review the section criteria table which provides exact details on what must be included in the section and how the section will be scored. As learners write each section, they should delete the narrative and “Help” comments but leave the criterion table after each section as this is how the committee members will evaluate the learners’ work. Additionally, when inserting their own narrative into the template, learners should never remove the chapter and section headings, as these are already formatted, or “styled.” Removing the headings will cause the text to have to be reformatted; that is, you will need to reapply the style. “Styles” are a feature in Word that define what the text looks like on the page. For example, the style “Heading 1”, used for Chapter headings and the List of Tables title, the List of Figures title, the References title, and the Appendices title, has set up to conform to APA: bold, double spaced, “keep with next,” Times New Roman 12. In addition, the automatic TOC “reads” these styles so that the headings show up in the TOC and exactly match those in the text. Correct heading formatting is a requirement. Correct section formatting is a requirement. The template itself is correctly formatted for APA and publication in ProQuest; it should be maintained. Do not override the formatting on the preliminary pages, level 1 and 2 headings, or Appendices titles.

The learner should display the navigation pane in Word by choosing “View” from the ribbon and selecting “Navigation Pane” in the Show section. The Navigation pane shows the first and second level headings that will appear in the Table of Contents. Learners must also learn how to use the features of the “Review” tab to track changes in the document, view/delete comments, accept/reject and move through comments and track changes, and show Markups. This is a critical feature of Word that will allow learners and committee members to manage iterative review process for completing the proposal and dissertation. Research course e-books also provide additional guidance on constructing the various sections of the template. The research e-books can be accessed in the various program research courses, and through the links provided on Learner Dissertation Page (LDP). (e.g., Grand Canyon University, 2015, 2016, 2017a, 2017b).

To ensure the quality of the proposal and dissertation, the writing needs to reflect doctoral level, scholarly-writing standards from the very first draft . Each section within the proposal should be well organized and easy for the reader to follow. Each paragraph should be short, clear, and focused. A paragraph should (1) be three to eight sentences in length, (2) focus on one point, topic, or argument, (3) include a topic sentence the defines the focus for the paragraph, and (4) include a transition sentence to the next paragraph. Include one space after each period. There should be no grammatical, punctuation, sentence structure, or APA formatting errors. Verb tense is an important consideration for Chapters 1 through 3. For the proposal, the researcher uses present or future tense (e.g., “The purpose of the study is to…”). For the dissertation, the researcher uses past or present perfect tense (e.g., “The purpose of the study was to…”). Taking the time to ensure high-quality, scholarly writing for each draft will save learners time in all the steps of the development and review phases of the dissertation process. Comment by GCU: Note that APA style requires a comma after the last item in a list (the “Oxford” comma). Comment by GCU: See https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/grammar/verb-tense

As a doctoral level researcher, it is the learner’s responsibility to ensure the clarity, quality, and correctness of their writing and APA formatting. It is also up to the doctoral learner to ensure articles are represented, cited, and used appropriately. When a citation is misrepresented, this is a serious research ethics violation. The GCU Student Success Center provides various resources to help learners improve their writing. The chair and committee members are not obligated to edit documents. Additionally, the peer reviewers will not edit the proposal or dissertation. Poor writing quality will delay progression through the dissertation milestones. If learners do not have good writing skills, they may need to identify a writing coach, editor, and/or other resource to help with writing and editing. Proposals and dissertations that are fundamentally unreadable and submitted with egregious grammatical, structural, and/or form-and-formatting errors may be returned without a full review.

The quality of a proposal or dissertation is evaluated based on the quality of writing and on the criteria that GCU has established for each section of the document. The criteria describe what must be addressed in each section within each chapter. As learners develop a section, they should read each section description first. Then, learners should review each criterion contained in the table below the description. Learners will use both the narrative description and criteria as they write each section. They should address each listed criterion clearly to the chair and committee members. Learners need to write clearly enough that a reader can find where each criterion is met in each section.

The template is set up as a blueprint for a well-structured proposal and dissertation. It contains the elements of a solid research study. The advantage of the template is that it provides a framework, clear expectations, and criteria that meets expected standards for a doctoral dissertation. Doctoral learners should address all criteria in order to meet these expected standards. Keep in mind that these criteria are suggested, and any unaddressed criteria needs to be discussed with the committee. When the template format or criteria are not followed, learners should include an explanation as to why this occurred. For example, in Chapter 2 – Literature Review, the recommended length is approximately 30 pages. If a learner has completed a thorough review within 27 pages, and the committee agrees the literature review meets expectations, the learner may move forward with the 27-page literature review. Another example is the recommendation that 75% of citations are within the past five years. This is a general guideline to help ensure the learner’s research is current within the defined problem space. Learners need to work with committee members to ensure that appropriate foundational and current literature are represented. There may other criteria within the template that may not apply and as such, the learner can address with a brief explanation.

Prior to submitting a draft of the proposal, dissertation, or a single chapter to the chair or committee members, learners should assess the degree to which each criterion has been met. Use the criteria table at the end of each section to complete this self-assessment. The following scores reflect the readiness of the document:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions Are Required. Comment by GCU: Format with style “List Bullet.” Sub-bullets use “List Bullet 2” style. Numbered or bulleted lists are indented .25 inch from the left margin. Subsequent lines are indented further with a hanging indent of .25” per the example in the text. Each number or bullet ends with a period. Bullet lists use “List Bullet” Style. Numbered lists use “List Number” Style.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations.

3 = Item is Exemplary. No Revisions Required.

Sometimes the chair and committee members will score the work “between” numbers, such as a 1.5 or 2.5. The important thing to remember is that a minimum score of 2 is required on most criteria before one can move to the next step in the review process. The chair has the discretion to determine when a document is ready for committee member review or peer review.

Learners need to continuously and objectively self-evaluate the quality of writing and content for each section within the proposal or dissertation. Learners will score themselves using the learner column in the criterion tables as evidence that they have critically evaluated their own work. When learners have completed a realistic, comprehensive self-evaluation of their work, they then may submit the document to the chair for review. Using all 3’s will indicate that the learner has not realistically evaluated their work. The chair will also review and score each section of the proposal and dissertation and will determine when it is ready for full committee review. Keep in mind the committee review process will likely require several editorial/revisions rounds, so plan for multiple revision cycles as learners develop their dissertation completion plan and project timeline. Notice in the criterion tables that certain columns have an X in the scoring box. As mentioned above, the chair will score the entire document; the methodologist is only required to score Chapters 1, 3 and 4; and, the content expert is only required to score Chapters 1, 2, and 5. The chair and committee members will assess each criterion in their required chapters when they return the document with feedback.

Once the document has been fully scored and the chair and committee members deem the document adequately developed to move forward to Level 2 or Level 5 Peer Review, the chair will submit the proposal or dissertation for Peer Review. Refer to the Dissertation Milestones Guide for descriptions of levels of review and submission process. Keep in mind the proposal and dissertation review processes are highly iterative. Learners will make many, many revisions incorporating chair, committee members, peer reviewers, IRB reviewers, and dean’s comments into a finished fully approved manuscript. Important Note: Learners are not finished with the dissertation until the dean signs the cover page, and the doctoral degree will not be conferred without a completed, committee approved, dissertation accepted and signed by the dean. lop esup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Introduction

(Typically three to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

The learner introduces the dissertation topic supported by prior research as defined by the problem space (see Chapter 2 for more information regarding problem space).

The learner states the purpose statement.

The learner provides an overview about how the study advances knowledge and practice.

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Background of the Study Comment by GCU: This heading uses Word Style “Heading 2”

In this section of Chapter 1, the learner describes the recent history of the problem under study. A summary of results from the prior empirical research on the topic is provided. Learners must identify how they will focus their research to produce an original dissertation. This involves the difference between what is known in a field of research and what is not yet understood. This process involves reading the literature and becoming deeply familiar with how a specific topic has been studied, how the research is trending, and what approaches have been used to study it in order to identify what still needs to be understood.

First, the learner identifies the need for the study, which the dissertation study will address. Strategies learners can use to identify what still needs to be understood include:

Using results from prior studies. Comment by GCU: Format bulleted lists using the Style “List Bullet.” The preferences for this style are: Numbered or bullets are indented .25 inch from the left margin, subsequent lines are indented further to .25 inches. Each number or bullet ends with a period. These preferences have been set in this dissertation template.

Using recommendations for further study.

Using professional or locally based problems documented in the literature.

Using broader societal areas of research in current empirical articles.

Synthesis of problems and approaches to formulate a unique need or problem that still requires additional study.

What needs to be understood through research can be established though various ways (such as those above). What needs to be understood does NOT have to explicitly be stated as a research “gap”, but rather synthesized and justified from the research literature. What needs to be understood must be clearly stated and justified for the reader. This approach should be viewed as an “opportunity” to provide new information about a topic or area based on an in-depth synthesis to identify what still needs to be understood. For alignment purposes, this same wording must be used whenever there is a reference to what needs to be understood throughout the document.

Next, the learner builds an argument or justification for the current study by presenting a series of logical arguments, each supported with citations from the literature. A local research need is appropriate for a study. However, the learner needs to situate what needs to be understood by discussing how the research is applicable to/beyond the local setting and may be contributory to professional or broader societal needs. The identification of what needs to be understood, developed from the literature, will be the basis for creating the Problem Statement (in Chapter 2). lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Background of the Study

(Typically two to three paragraphs or approximately one page)

The learner provides a brief history of the problem space, and a summary of results from the prior research on the topic.

The learner identifies what still needs to be understood within the problem space.

The learner provides a clear statement of what still needs to be understood: “The research that needs to be better understood is …”

The learner builds a justification for the current study, using a logical set of arguments supported by appropriate citations.

Learner situates what needs to be understood by discussing how the research is applicable to/beyond the local setting and may be contributory to professional or broader societal needs.

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Definition of Terms

In this section the learner describes the study constructs and provides a common understanding of the technical terms, exclusive jargon, phenomena, concepts, and technical terminology used within the scope of the study. The learner defines terms in lay language and in the context in which they are used within the study. A definition of term is typically 1-3 sentences in length. The learner should include any words that may be unknown to a lay person (words with unusual or ambiguous meanings or technical terms).

The learner supports definitions with citations from scholarly sources. Do not use Wikipedia to define terms. This popular “open source” online encyclopedia can be helpful and interesting for the layperson, but it is not appropriate for formal academic research and writing. Do not use dictionaries to define research terms; these definitions should come from the research literature and scholarly sources. A paragraph introducing this section prior to listing the definition of terms can be inserted. However, a lead-in phrase is needed to introduce the terms such as: “The following terms were used operationally in this study.” This is also a good place to “operationally define” unique phrases specific to this research. See below for the correct format: Comment by GCU: For example, look for the scholarly encyclopedias published by Sage Research

Abbreviations . Do not use periods with abbreviated measurements, (e.g., cd, ft, lb, mi, and min). The exception to this rule is to use a period when abbreviated inch (in.) to avoid confusion with the word “in.” Units of measurement and statistical abbreviations should only be abbreviated when accompanied by numerical values, e.g., 7 mg, 12 mi, M = 7.5 measured in milligrams, several miles after the exit, the means were determined [4.27]. Comment by GCU: All terms should be styled as Heading 4 (level 4 headings).

Order. Definitions must be in alphabetical order.

Phenomena. The learner should indicate if any defined terms or concepts are study phenomena and make certain that all study phenomena are included in this list.

Spaces . Do not use periods or spaces in abbreviations of all capital letters unless the abbreviation is a proper name or refers to participants using identity-concealing labels. The exception to this rule is that a period is used when abbreviating the United States as an adjective. Use a period if the abbreviation is a Latin abbreviation or a reference abbreviation [4.02]. Use standard newspaper practice when presenting AM and PM times, as in 7:30 PM or 6:00 AM.

Term. Write the definition of the word. This is considered a Level 4 heading. Make sure the definition is properly cited (Author, 2020, p.123). Terms often use abbreviations. According to the American Psychological Association (APA, 2020), abbreviations are best used only when they allow for clear communication with the audience. Standard abbreviations, such as units of measurement and names of states, do not need to be written out. Comment by GCU: It is vital to include page numbers with in-text citations: “p.” for a single page, “pp.” for more than one page (e.g., p.12, and pp. 123-124). NOTE: Page or paragraph numbers are included with a direct quote.

Time Units . Only certain units of time should be abbreviated. Do abbreviate hr, min, ms, ns, s. However, do not abbreviate day, week, month, and year [4.27]. To form the plural of abbreviations, add “s” alone without apostrophe or italicization (e.g., vols, IQs, Eds). The exception to this rule is not to add “s” to pluralize units of measurement (12 m not 12 ms). Refer to APA Manual 7.0 for additional information on abbreviations. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Definitions of Terms

(Each definition may be a few sentences to a paragraph.)

The learner defines any words that may be unknown to a lay person (words with unusual or ambiguous meanings or technical terms) from the research or literature.

The learner conceptually defines the phenomena in the study

The learner supports definitions with citations from scholarly sources, where appropriate.

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Anticipated Limitations

Anticipated limitations are inherent to the method and design used, which the researcher has no control over, such as bias. In contrast, delimitations are things over which the researcher has control, such as location of the study. Identify the anticipated limitations of the research methodology and design. Provide a rationale for each anticipated limitation and discuss associated consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings based on the anticipated limitations. The following are examples of anticipated study limitations: lopesup

Limitations of data sources. Comment by GCU: This is an example of using the style “List Bullet”. For bulleted information, apply the “List Bullet” style from the style guide.

Self-reported Data. Participants in this investigation will be interviewed and will also complete a short survey. These two sources of data are considered “self-reported” and difficult to independently verify. Therefore, potential bias may exist related to participants recall of the (a particular experience or event) including selective memory, exaggeration, or attribution. Comment by GCU: This is an example of using the style “List Bullet 2”. For bulleted information tabbed further to the right than the “List Bullet” styled tab above, apply the “List Bullet 2” style from the style guide. Comment by GCU: This is an example of how to write an anticipated limitation.

Limitations of sampling strategy

Convenience sampling. Potential poor transferability to results.

Purposive sampling. Potential to be prone to bias.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Anticipated Limitations

(Each limitation may be a few sentences to a paragraph.)

The learner identified anticipated limitations.

Learner provided a rationale for each anticipated limitation.

Learner discussed consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings based on anticipated limitations.

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary and Organization of the Remainder of the Study

For the proposal, the learner must include a project timeline for completion of the dissertation. This may include going through committee review, level 2 peer review, proposal defense, IRB, data collection, data analysis, completing chapters 4 and 5 and updating proposal language, committee review of dissertation, level 5 peer review, dissertation defense, form and formatting, etc. (See the Dissertation Milestones Guide for more information.) When the dissertation is complete, this section should be revised to eliminate the timeline information. Comment by GCU: When it is necessary to divide a paragraph at the end of the page, two lines must appear at the bottom of the page (widow) and two at the top of the following page (orphan). This is called “widow/orphan” control and has been set up on the Normal Style in this template.

For both the proposal and the dissertation, the learner will also summarize feasibility of the study and complete the feasibility and benefits checklist in Appendix H. The learner will complete the alignment table below (referred to as Table 2 below) and assess if the items are aligned. If the items are not aligned, the learner will work with the committee to discuss alignment until alignment of the items occurs. It is vital that the learner work on alignment during the courses prior to attending the first residency and then continue to use and update the table as the research study matures.

Insert Project Timeline Here:

Table 2 Alignment Table Comment by GCU: The Alignment Table also helps prepare the learner for Residency 1.

Alignment Item

Alignment Item Description

Problem Space Need:

[State the problem that needs to be better understood – should be one to two sentence(s)]

Problem Statement:

[State problem statement]

Purpose of the Study:

[State purpose statement]

Phenomenon:

[State phenomenon]

Research Questions:

[State research questions]

Methodology/Research Design:

[State methodology and design]

Finally, the learner then provides a transition discussion to Chapter 2 followed by a description of the remaining chapters. For example, Chapter 2 will present a review of current research on the centrality of the dissertation literature review in research preparation. Chapter 3 will describe the methodology, research design, and procedures for this investigation. Chapter 4 details how the data was analyzed and provides both a written and graphic summary of the results. Chapter 5 is an interpretation and discussion of the results, as it relates to the existing body of research related to the dissertation topic. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Chapter 1 Summary and Organization of the remainder of the study

(Typically one to two pages)

FOR PROPOSAL ONLY: The learner provides a project timeline for completion of the dissertation. [Remove this for the dissertation.]

The learner provides a summary of feasibility of the study. The learner completes Appendix H (Feasibility and Benefits Checklist).

The learner completes the alignment table above. Furthermore, the items within the table are aligned.

The learner describes the remaining Chapters and provides a transition discussion to Chapter 2.

The learner correctly formats the chapter to the Template using the Word Style Tool and APA standards. Writing is free of mechanical errors.

All research presented in the chapter is scholarly, topic-related, and obtained from highly respected academic, professional, original sources. In-text citations are accurate, correctly cited, and included in the reference page according to APA standards.

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Comment by GCU: Use INSERTPage Break to set a new page for the new chapter. Do not use hard returns to create a new page. Do not insert a section break

Chapter 2: Literature Review Comment by GCU: Use INSERTPage Break to set new page for new chapter. Do not use hard returns to get there. Do not insert a section break. Comment by GCU: This chapter should include an exhaustive review of the literature. The Review of the Literature section should be a, minimum of 30 pages, but likely much longer as you need to continue to add and synthesize the most recent publications related to your research topic.

Introduction to the Chapter and Background to the Problem

The minimum progression milestone for draft of Chapter 2 “Acceptance” by chair and submission to content expert is either in dissertation course 960 or 965 as negotiated with the chair. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Either Dissertation course 960 or 965 is the absolute latest course for Chapter 2 acceptance by chair and submission to content expert. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit Chapter 2 in earlier dissertation courses.

In this chapter, the learner presents what needs to be studied within the boundaries of the problem space, presents the theoretical framework for the study, develops the topic, and specifies the problem statement. In order to perform significant dissertation research, the learner must first understand the literature related to the research focus. A well-articulated, thorough literature review provides the foundation for a substantial, contributory dissertation. The purpose of Chapter 2 is for the learner to develop a well-documented argument for what needs to be researched, the selection of the research topic, and formulation of the problem statement. A literature review should be a synthesis of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. It is not an expanded annotated bibliography, or a summary of research articles related to the topic. It is intended to reflect a deep understanding and synthesis of scholarly sources and empirical literature articles which define what needs to be understood and studied.

The learner uses the literature review to place the research focus into context by analyzing and discussing the existing body of knowledge and effectively telling the reader everything that is known, or everything that has been discovered in research about that focus, and what still needs to be understood in terms of the problems addressed, approaches used, and results produced. As a piece of writing, the literature review must convey to the reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic and build an argument in support of the research problem. Learners are advised to utilize a good source to identify predatory journals. One such source is Cabell’s Directory of Publishing Opportunities.

In this section, the learner describes the overall topic to be investigated, and outlines the approach taken for the literature review and the evolution of the problem based on the “problem space” as identified in the literature from its origination to its current form, that is, by the trends in the literature. The learner must make sure that this Introduction to the Chapter and Background to the Problem section addresses all required criteria listed in the rubric table below. Learners may want to create a subsection title for the Introduction section and for the Background to the Problem section to provide clarity to the reader. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Introduction to the chapter and Background to the problem

(Typically two to three pages)

Introduction : The learner provides an orienting paragraph, so the reader knows what the literature review will address.

X

Introduction : The learner describes how the chapter is organized (including the specific sections and subsections).

X

Introduction: The learner describes how the literature was surveyed so the reader can evaluate thoroughness of the review. This includes search terms and databases used.

X

Background: The learner provides a broad overview of how the research topic has evolved historically.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Identification of the Problem Space

The notion of the “problem space” is an approach GCU uniquely uses to support learning how to approach the identification of the gap. GCU has adapted the concept of the problem space from the fields of cognitive psychology and design (including interaction design, user experience design, and research and development (Card, Moran, & Newell, 1983; Colman, 2015; Euchner, 2019; Hora, 2016; Norman, 1986; Spradlin, 2012; Yoon, 2001). These disciplines and approaches share the premise that the problem space is composed of the thinking and set of key issues or components that produce a well-defined problem. For doctoral learners at GCU, a well-defined problem produces a tightly defined Problem Statement.

The topic, the problem statements that other researchers have defined, and the approaches that other researchers have taken, all constitute the “problem space” for a study. The problem space is a way to help you establish some boundaries for the literature review, so that you have a clear idea of what to include and what to exclude. What needs to be known or understood is the result of the analysis of the literature review within the problem space, and the problem statement expresses how the proposed study will address what needs to be known or understood.

Becoming deeply familiar with how a specific topic has been studied involves reading and synthesizing the literature related to the problem space, focusing primarily on the past five years. Lack of research on a topic or personal interest in an unresearched topic are not sufficient reasons to do a dissertation. Just because something has not been researched does not mean it should be. Therefore, the learner must be “well read” on their topic to identify ways their study will add to the existing body of knowledge on the topic. The learner should explain why the extant theories and empirical studies need further inquiry.

The problem space is thus comprised of identifying what is known and not yet understood about a topic, understanding how it has come to be known (the theories, designs, methods, instruments) and then figuring out what is not yet known. The result of this deep and systematic thinking results in identifying the problem to be addressed in the research study, and the resulting well-structured problem statement.

All learners must identify how they will focus their research to produce an original dissertation. This involves the difference between what is known or understood in a field of research and what is not yet known or understood. This process involves reading the literature and becoming deeply familiar with how a specific topic has been studied, how the research is trending, and what approaches have been used to study it in order to identify what still needs to be known or understood.

Practice-based research may initially define the problem based in a practice within an organization or setting. However, the approach to investigating the problem needs to follow scholarly research procedures. This means that the problem space needs to include literature that is scholarly in nature so that the proposed dissertation research will advance knowledge and practice. The literature review should include peer-reviewed articles from research-based journals as well as journals on professional practice and research-based industry journals.

There are a variety of ways to synthesize the literature. Below is a set of steps that may be used:

First, explore original literature on the topic. The topic should focus on an issue pertinent to the learner’s program of study to determine what has been discovered and what still needs to be understood.

Second, while exploring the original literature identify the broad topics and problems researched. Explore the evolution of the research on the problem. How did the focus change? What findings emerged from these studies?

Third, describe the research from the past 2 to 3 years to discover what has been discovered, what problems have been studied, and what still needs to be understood. Discuss the trends and themes that emerged. Studies that were published within the past 2-3 years will still be relevant (within the past 5 years) at the point of graduation.

Note: Problem space for the dissertation study should primarily come from the empirical research literature or studies dated within three to five years of the learner’s projected graduation date. This is a recommendation, not a rule.

Dissertations can be used to support the problem space; however, one must supplement dissertation citations with citations from other peer-reviewed research on the topic.

Fourth, define the topic and problem statement by synthesizing the recent studies, including trends, and define what still needs to be understood.

While the verbiage in this section highlights a set of steps designed to help GCU doctoral learners identify what still needs to be understood for their study, there are other methods that can be used. These include using recommendations for future research from prior studies and literature reviews, adding to a broadly researched area through clearly targeted research, reframing problems to focus the research on identifying the solutions, and synthesizing areas of research to define a new or innovative area of research. This section must clearly identify the specific sources that form the basis for what will become the problem for the study. Comment by GCU: Learners can access further information on these strategies on the Doctoral Community Network website (https://dc.gcu.edu) under the Residency tab (on the left side of the Home page). Also, see https://dc.gcu.edu/blogs/faculty__staff_presentations/dr_june_maul_finding_the_gap_in_the_literature_1st_steps_to_your_dis.

In the last part of this section, the learner will describe how the study is situated within the problem space established in the previous discussion within this section. The learner should also describe how the study may add to the body of literature. Finally, the learner should discuss any potential practical or professional applications that might occur as an outcome or application of the study. For additional information on the Problem Space see the DC Network>Dissertation Resources>Scholarly Writing Resources folder. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Identification of the Problem Space

(Typically two or three pages)

The learner provides a detailed description of how the problem space has evolved over time, and the effects it has had on the research (research trends).

X

The learner summarizes the problem space, highlighting what has been discovered and what still needs to be understood related to the topic from literature or research dated primarily within the last five years.

X

The learner discusses and synthesizes the evolution of the research on the problem. Specifically:

· Identifies the key sources used as the basis for the problem space

· Identifies trends in research and literature.

· Identifies how the research focus has changed over the recent past (five years).

· Discusses key findings that emerged from recent studies.

· Discusses prior research and defined future research needs.

X

From the findings of research studies and evolution of recent literature on the topic, the learner defines the parameters for problem statement for the study.

X

The learner describes how the study will contribute to the body of literature.

X

The learner describes the potential practical or professional applications from the research.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Theoretical Foundations Comment by GCU: This section has been adapted from the GCU e-book (2016); Chapter 2 by Dr. Renee Wozniak, and Chapter 4. Background of the Problem, Developing the Theoretical Foundations, and Significance of the Study By Dr. June Maul

This section identifies theories or models from seminal sources that provide the foundation for the research, guide the research questions, justify the phenomena under investigation. In this section, the learner should cite the seminal source(s) along with references reflective of the foundational, historical, and current literature in the field, and should demonstrate overall understanding of the related theories or models and their relevance to the proposed study. Additionally, this section describes how the dissertation research will add to or extend the theories or models. For example, Cullison (2020) conducted a qualitative case study to understand the how community members and school personnel described the influence of that community art projects had on their willingness to collaborate. Allport’s (1954) contact theory and Epstein’s (1987) model of involvement comprised the theoretical foundations of the study. These were aligned with phenomena of public arts as a novel approach for effecting changed perceptions or prejudices toward a school.

A dissertation presents the theories, models, or concepts that provide the foundation or building blocks for developing the research questions and hypotheses as well as for collecting the data. Once the researcher identifies the theories, models, and/or concepts that will provide the foundation for their research, they use this information to develop the research questions that provides the focus for their research (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Incorporating Theories and Models of Research

This figure is a chart that represents the theoretical foundation. The middle circle is labeled "Theoretical Framework." This circle is surrounded by an outer layer of circles that all are pointing towards the middle circle, reading "concepts," "models," "theories," and "laws."

The theoretical framework considers the problem statement for the research as it identifies the theories, models, and/or concepts the researcher will use to develop the research questions for their specific study. In addition, these theories, models, and concepts help the researcher identify or create protocols to collect data, as well as other data collection approaches. Researchers define the concepts of theories, models, and laws differently. Table 3 provides definitions and examples.

Table 3 Description of Building Blocks for the Theoretical Foundations Section

Types of Building Blocks

Definition of the Building Blocks

Examples of the Building Blocks

Theories

A concise and coherent broad explanation for an observed phenomenon, which is predictive. For a theory to be accepted, it must be supported in multiple forms or evidence or research. The evidence can include different observations and tests and may come from different fields of study.

Scapegoat theory

Planned behavior theory

Game theory

Goal-setting theory

Models

A visual display of a theory, showing the relationships between a set of concepts or a list of steps in a process.

Resilience model

EI model

Change leadership model

Balanced scorecard model

Concepts or Ideas

A general notion or idea; conception. An idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars. A construct. A directly conceived or intuited object of thought (Dictionary.com, 2017).

Concepts can be measured.

Trustworthiness

Bias

Gender

Age

Profit

Some researchers go beyond describing the theories, models, and concepts they used to develop their research questions. They identify additional related theories, models, and concepts. When using this broader approach, this section becomes a Conceptual Framework. In this section, the researcher compares and contrasts the various theories, models, and concepts, ultimately justifying the ones most relevant to the research.

Developing the Theoretical Foundations section requires a step-by-step approach as described in Table 4. To begin, researchers identify the models, theories, or concepts that are relevant for the problem statement. The researcher commonly finds this information in the same literature in which they found the theory, model, or concept. For a qualitative study, if the researchers were trying to identify 1-3 models that would help provide the basis for describing the phenomenon under study and were studying how effective change leadership influences an organization, they could use a Change Leadership model.

Table 4 Steps for the Theoretical Foundations Section

Steps

Focus of Each Step

Step 1: Identify theories, models, and/or concepts.

Review the literature, particularly from the Background of the Problem section, and identify potential theories, models, and concepts used in similar or related research.

Or search Google Scholar and Google for terms from the problem statement. Name and describe the ones planned for use in the study.

Step 2: Relate the theories, models, and/or concepts to the problem statement.

Describe how the selected theories, models, and/or concepts are relevant to the problem statement.

Focus on the components of the phenomenon explored through the problem statement.

Step 3: Develop the research questions and hypotheses based on the problem statement and the selected theories, models and/or concepts.

The selected theories, models, and concepts help frame the research questions differently for qualitative and quantitative research.

Identify 1–3 theories, models, or concepts that are related to the phenomenon being studied. Develop research questions based on those 1–3 theories, models, or concepts.

After selecting the theories, models, and/or concepts, researchers discuss how each relates to the problem statement. For a qualitative study this means discussing how theory or model frames research on the phenomenon. Finally, researchers develop the research questions for their study using the models.

The problem space addresses what the researcher will study, and the paradigm—the theoretical foundation—speaks to how the study approaches the research problem. In other words, the theoretical foundation explains the way the researcher shapes the study as they have. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Theoretical Foundations

(Typically two or three pages)

The learner discusses the theoretical foundation and, where appropriate, the extended conceptual framework that undergird and frame the study.

X

The learner identifies theory(ies), model(s), and/or concept(s) from seminal source(s) that provide the theoretical foundation to use in developing the research questions, identifying phenomena, and describing the sources of data.

X

The learner cites the appropriate seminal source(s) for each theory, model, or concept.

X

The learner includes a cogent discussion/synthesis of the theories, models and concepts, and justifies the theoretical foundation/framework as relevant to the problem statement for the study. The learner connects the study directly to the theory and describes how the study adds or extends the theory, model, or concept.

X

The learner’s discussion reflects understanding of the foundational and historical research relevant to the theoretical foundation.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Review of the Literature

In this section the learner provides a broad, balanced overview of the existing literature related to the research topic. The Review of the Literature includes themes, trends, and conflicts in research methodology, design, and findings. The learner provides a synthesis of the existing literature, examines the contributions of the literature related to the topic, and discusses the methodological approaches used for the research based on related empirical studies. Through this synthesis, the learner applies this information to define the problem space and what still need to be understood, as well as to the creation of the plan and approach for their study.

The learner must provide scholarly citations for all ideas, concepts, and perspectives. The learner’s personal opinions or perspectives are not included, and the research of others must be properly attributed, cited, and referenced. The Review of the Literature section should be approximately 30 pages. (30 pages reflects a typical dissertation literature review in length and is a recommendation, not a rule). It is important not to get caught up in the number of pages but rather focus the breadth, depth and quality of the literature review is support of the study. A well-written, comprehensive literature review will likely exceed 30 pages.

The literature review must be continuously updated throughout the dissertation research and writing process. To ensure a current, relevant literature review, the majority of references in Chapter 2 (approximately 75%) should be within the past five years. This is a recommendation, not a hard, fast rule as the learner, chair and content expert should evaluate the overall quality, and relevancy of scholarly sources presented in this chapter. Other requirements for the literature review include:

The learner will describe the phenomenon/a in the study discussing the prior empirical research that has been done on the phenomena.

The learner will discuss the various methodologies and designs that have been used to research topics related to the study. The learner uses this information as a part of the arguments to justify the design in Chapter 3.

The learner will argue the appropriateness of the dissertation’s instruments, measures, and/or approaches used to collect data.

The learner will discuss and synthesize studies related to the dissertation topic. This may include (1) studies describing and/or relating the phenomenon, (2) studies on related research such as factors associated with the themes, (3) studies on the instruments used to collect data, (4) studies on the broad population for the study, (5) studies defining the need from a community, professional, or organizational perspective, and/or (6) studies similar to the topic. The themes presented, and research studies discussed and synthesized in the Review of Literature demonstrates a deep understanding of all aspects of the research topic. The set of topics discussed in the Review of Literature must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the broad area in which the research topic exists.

For each major section in Review of the Literature, the learner will include an introductory paragraph that explains why the topic was explored relative to the dissertation topic.

For each major section in Review of the Literature, the learner will include a summary paragraph(s) that (1) compares and contrasts alternative perspectives on the topic, (2) provides a synthesis of the themes relative to the research topic discussed that emerged from the literature, (3) discusses data from the various studies, and (4) identifies how themes are relevant to the dissertation topic.

The types of references that may be used in the literature review include empirical articles, peer-reviewed or scholarly journal articles, scholarly studies from foundations and governmental organizations, a limited number of dissertations (no more than 5 recommended), and books (no more than 5-10 recommended) that present cutting-edge views on a topic, are research based, or are seminal works.

The learner will expand on and provide additional arguments for what still needs to be known or understood (the need for the study) that was defined in the Background of the Problem section.

The learner may organize the body of a literature review in a variety of ways depending on the nature of the research. However, the approach taken to the organization and flow of the topics for the Review of Literature section must be explained clearly and included in an introductory section of Review of the Literature. Learners will work with the committee, particularly the chair and content expert to determine the best way to organize this section of Chapter 2.

Chapter 2 can be particularly challenging regarding APA format for citations and quotations. The learner should refer to the APA manual frequently to make sure citations are formatted properly. It is critical that each in-text citation is appropriately listed in the References section. Incorrectly citing and referencing sources is a serious scholarly and ethical violation, particularly when writing a dissertation. As an emerging scholar, learners must demonstrate the capability and responsibility to properly cite and reference every single source referenced in the literature review and throughout the dissertation. Note that all in-text citations within parentheses must be listed in alphabetical order with semicolons between each citation (e.g., Barzun & Graff, 1992; Calabrese, 2006; Hacker, et al., 2008; Mason, 2010; Nock, 1943; Squires & Kranyik, 1995; Strunk & White, 1979).

In general, “brief quotes,” or quotes of fewer than about 40 words should be avoided. The learner should paraphrase in almost all situations except where the actual words in the quote have significance. For example, we would not paraphrase, “Four score and seven years ago…” If such a quote is used, incorporate it into the narrative and enclose it with double quotation marks. The in-text citation is included after the final punctuation mark [6.03], and the final punctuation mark in quoted text should be placed inside the quotation mark.

For a quote within a quote, use a set of single quotation marks. Here is an example of a direct quote within a quote integrated into the narrative. In the classic introspective autobiography, The Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, one reads that, “one never knows when or where the spirit’s breathe will rest, or what will come of its touch. ‘The spirit breathes where it will,’ said the Santissimo Salvatore, ‘and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth.’” (Nock, 1943, p.187) [4.08]. Comment by GCU: Book titles, periodicals, films, videos, television shows, and non-English words and phrases appear in italics. [4.21] Names of the titles of short articles and essays appearing in periodicals are set off by quotation marks. Comment by GCU: In addition to non-English phrases, acts, wars, and treaty names appear in italics. [4.21]

As a rule, if a quote comprises 40 or more words, display this material as a freestanding block quote. Start formal block quotes on a new line. They are indented 0.5 inches in from the left margin. The entire block quote is double-spaced. Quotation marks are not used with formal block quotes. The in-text citation is included after the final punctuation mark. [6.03]. Below is an example of a block quote: In an important biography, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, historian H. W. Brands wrote:

In February 1731, Franklin became a Freemason. Shortly thereafter, he volunteered to draft the bylaws for the embryonic local chapter, named for St. John the Baptist; upon acceptance of the bylaws, he was elected Warden and subsequently Master of the Lodge. Within three years, he became Grandmaster of all of Pennsylvania's Masons. Not unforeseeable he—indeed, this was much of the purpose of membership for everyone involved—his fellow Masons sent business Franklin’s way. In 1734 he printed The Constitutions, the first formerly sponsored Masonic book in America; he derived additional [printing] work from his brethren on an unsponsored basis. (Brands, 2000, p. 113) lopesup Comment by GCU: Block quotes are indented .5 inches. To create a block quote, highlight the entire paragraph and click on the “increase indent” button.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Review of the Literature

(Approximately 30 pages)

The learner assures that this section of Chapter 2 should be approximately 30 pages. (Thirty pages reflects a typical literature review length and is  a recommendation, not a rule). The purpose of the minimum number of pages is to ensure that the overall literature review reflects a foundational understanding of the theory or theories, literature and research studies related to the topic. A well-written comprehensive literature review that reflects the current state of research and literature on the topic is expected and will likely exceed 30 pages. Literature reviews are updated continuously. This is an ongoing process to dissertation completion.

X

The learner describes the phenomena being explored in the study discussing the prior research that has been done on the phenomena.

X

Themes or Topics: The learner discusses and synthesizes studies related to the dissertation topic. May include (1) studies focused on the problem from a societal perspective, (2) studies describing and/or relating the exploring related phenomena (qualitative), (3) studies on related research such as factors associated with the themes, (4) studies on the methodological approach and instruments used to collect data, (5) studies on the broad population for the study, and/or (6) studies similar to the study. The themes presented, and research studies discussed and synthesized in the Review of the Literature demonstrates understanding of all aspects of the research topic, the research methodology, and sources of data.

X

The learner structures the literature review in a logical order, including actual data and accurate synthesis of results from reviewed studies as related to the learner’s own topic. The learner provides synthesis of the information, not just a summary of the findings or annotation of articles.

X

The learner includes in each major section (theme or topic) within the Review of the Literature an introductory paragraph that explains why the topic or theme was explored relative to the overall dissertation topic.

X

The learner includes in each section within the Review of the Literature a summary paragraph(s) that (1) compares and contrasts alternative perspectives on the topic and (2) provides a synthesis of the themes relative to the research topic discussed that emerged from the literature, and (3) identifies how themes are relevant to the dissertation topic and research methodology.

X

The learner provides additional arguments for the need for the study that was defined in the Background of the Study section.

X

The learner ensures that for every in-text citation a reference entry exists. Conversely, for every reference list entry there is a corresponding in-text citation. Note: The accuracy of citations and quality of sources is verified by learner, chair, and content expert.

X

The learner uses a range of references including founding theorists, peer-reviewed empirical research studies from scholarly journals, and governmental/foundation research reports.

X

The learner verifies that all references are scholarly sources. NOTE: Websites, dictionaries, publications without dates (n.d.), are not considered scholarly sources and are not cited or present in the reference list.

X

The learner avoids overuse of books and dissertations. Comment by GCU: When citing books and dissertations this implies that you have read the entire book or dissertation. Be mindful of this as you select sources. Dissertations are not considered peer-reviewed research, so limit the number of referenced dissertations to 3-5 total.

Books: Recommendation: No more than 10 scholarly books that present cutting edge views on a topic, are research based, or are seminal works.

Dissertations: Recommendation: No more than five published dissertations should be cited as sources in the manuscript. (This is  a recommendation, not a rule).

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Problem Statement Comment by GCU: Levels of headings must accurately reflect the organization of the dissertation. For example, this is a level 2 heading, and has been “styled” as Heading 2.

The learner should begin the Problem Statement section with a declarative problem statement based on the Identification of Problem Space and Review of the Literature sections above. Some examples of how to phrase a problem statement include:

It is not known how or why…

Based on what is known in literature, _____ is still unknown/what still needs to be understood is…

While the literature indicates ____________, it is not known in (school/district/organization/community) how/why __________. Comment by GCU: Format bulleted lists using the style “List Bullet.” The preferences for this style are: Numbered or bullets are indented .25 inch from the left margin, subsequent lines are indented further to .25 inches. Each number or bullet ends with a period. These preferences have been set in this dissertation template.

Keep in mind that Problem Statements can be presented in a variety of ways that reflects what needs to be understood within the parameters established by the problem space. Once the Problem Statement is established, for alignment purposes, when the Problem Statement is restated in other chapters, it should be worded exactly as presented in this section.

This section then describes the general population affected by the problem along with the importance, scope or opportunity for the problem and the importance of addressing the problem. Questions to consider when writing the problem include:

1. What still needs to be understood from the research literature that this problem statement addresses?

2. What is the real issue that is affecting society, students, local organizations or businesses and/or professional practice?

3. At what frequency is the problem occurring?

4. Why has the problem not been well understood in the past?

5. What does the literature and research say about how the problem should be addressed at this time? lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Problem Statement

(Typically three or four paragraphs or approximately one page)

The learner states the specific problem for research with a clear declarative statement.

X

The learner describes the population of interest. The population of interest includes all individuals that could be affected by the study problem.

EXAMPLE: The population of interest might be all adults in the United States who are 65 or older. The target population is a more specific subpopulation from the population of interest, such as low-income older adults ( ≥ 65) in AZ. Thus, the sample is selected from the target population, not from the population of interest.

X

The learner discusses the scope and importance of addressing the problem.

X

The learner develops the Problem Statement based on what needs to be understood as defined in the Problem Space and the Review of the Literature.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary

In this section, the learner succinctly restates what was written in Chapter 2 and provides supporting citations for key points. This section should reflect that learners have done their "due diligence" to become well-read on the topic and can conduct a study that is contributory to the existing body of research and knowledge on the topic. The learner synthesizes the information from the chapter to define the problem space arising from the literature, what needs to be studied, the theory(is) or model(s) to provide the foundation for the study, and the problem statement. Overall, the information on this section should help the reader clearly see and understand the relevance and importance of the research to be conducted. The learner should close the Summary with a transition to Chapter 3. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Chapter 2 Summary

(Typically one or two pages)

The learner synthesizes the information from all prior sections in the Literature Review using it to define the key strategic points for the research.

X

The learner summarizes the problem space, what still needs to be understood, and how it informs the problem statement.

X

The learner identifies the theory(ies) or model(s) describing how they inform the research questions.

X

The learner builds a case (argument) for the study in terms of the value of the research and how the problem statement emerged from the identification of the problem space and review of literature.

X

The content of this section reflects that learners have done their “due diligence” in synthesizing the existing empirical research and writing a comprehensive literature review on the research topic.

X

The learner summarizes key points in Chapter 2 and transitions into Chapter 3.

X

The chapter is correctly formatted to dissertation template using the Word Style Tool and APA standards. Writing is free of mechanical errors.

X

All research presented in the chapter is scholarly, topic-related, and obtained from highly respected, academic, professional, original sources. In-text citations are accurate, correctly cited and included in the reference page according to APA standards.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Chapter 3: Methodology

Introduction

The minimum progression milestone for draft of Chapter 3 “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist is either in dissertation course 960 or 965 as negotiated with your chair. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Either Dissertation course 960 or 965 is the absolute latest course for Chapter 3 acceptance by chair and submission to methodologist. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit Chapter 3 in earlier dissertation courses.

In Chapter 3 the learner documents how the study will be conducted, including enough detail that another researcher could follow the steps. The learner begins the chapter with the Problem Statement, which should be worded exactly as presented in Chapter 2. The learner provides a re-orienting summary of the research focus (topic and what still needs to be understood) as described in Chapters 1 and 2 and outlines the expectations for Chapter 3. There should be no “new” information in this section.

Remember, throughout this chapter, that verb tense must be changed from present or future tense (proposal) to past tense (dissertation manuscript). At the dissertation stage, all comments regarding “the proposed research” or “the proposal” must be removed and edited to reflect the fact that the research has been conducted. Furthermore, consider what happened during data collection and analysis. Sometimes, the research protocol ends up being modified based on committee, peer review, or Institutional Review Board (IRB) recommendations. After the research study is complete, carefully review this chapter, and provide an explanation (in Chapter 4) on alterations to data collection or analysis protocols, reflecting on how the study was actually conducted. lopesup Comment by GCU: Learners: when you write Chapter 4 and have a situation in which whatever occurred during data collection and analysis differed from what was originally written in the proposal, you may include a “teaser” such as: “See chapter four for a discussion of how data collection was affected.” Other than changing tense to past tense, the chapter should remain unchanged.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Chapter 3 Introduction

(Typically two or three paragraphs)

The learner begins by restating the Problem Statement for the study.

X

The learner provides a re-orienting summary of the research focus from Chapter 2 and outlines the expectations for this chapter.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Purpose of the Study

In this section, the learner states the purpose statement and introduces how the study will be accomplished. The section should begin with a declarative statement, “The purpose of this ….” Included in this statement are also the research methodology and design, target population, and the geographic location. For example, if the Problem Statement is: It is not known how women small business owners make strategic business decisions when planning the expansion of their companies, then the Purpose Statement would be: The purpose of the qualitative case study is to understand how women small business owners in the U.S. northeast region make strategic business decisions when planning the expansion of their companies. For alignment, when the purpose of the study is restated in other chapters of the proposal it should be worded exactly as presented in this section. lopesup Comment by GCU: NOTE: Each paragraph of the dissertation must have 3-5 sentences at minimum, and no longer than one manuscript page.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Purpose of the Study

(Typically one or two paragraphs)

This section begins with one sentence that identifies the research methodology, design, problem statement, target population, and geographic location. This is presented as a declarative statement: "The purpose of this qualitative [ design] study is to … [ include the Problem Statement] at a [setting/geographic location]."

X

The learner introduces how the study will be carried out.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Phenomenon and Research Questions

In this section the learner needs to describe the phenomenon to be understood as a result of the study and state the research questions. This must include a discussion of how the research questions address the problem statement. The section also includes a brief discussion of how the data to be used to address the research questions will be obtained. This will include high-level descriptions of the instrument(s), protocols, and any other data collection methods that will be used as sources of data. Below is an example of a correctly stated research question for a case study design:

RQ1: How do women small business owners make strategic business decisions when planning the expansion of their companies. lopesup Comment by GCU: To correctly format research questions and hypotheses, apply the “List RQ” style.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Phenomenon and Research Questions

(Typically one or two pages)

The learner establishes the research questions, and defines the phenomenon/a

X

The learner describes the nature and sources of necessary data to answer the research questions (primary versus secondary data, specific people, institutional archives, Internet open sources, etc.).

The learner describes the data collection methods, instrument(s) or data source(s) to collect the data for each research question.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Rationale for a Qualitative Methodology

In this section the learner establishes the rationale for selecting a qualitative methodology for the study. For example, the learner may include arguments based on the empirical studies used in the Review of the Literature in Chapter 2. The learner should justify the epistemological foundation for the choice of a qualitative methodology. The learner should include an argument for why the selected methodology is better than the alternative methodologies (quantitative or mixed methods) based on what still needs to be understood from the problem space, problem statement, and research questions. The learner should support arguments using citations from authoritative authors/seminal sources on research methodology and/or design. The citation should be a complete sentence which provides evidence to support the learner’s argument and not merely the author and date information in a set of parentheses, It is important that the rationale provided in this section leaves no doubt that the qualitative methodology is the best methodological approach for the study, over quantitative. Please note that GCU does not support mixed methods research for doctoral learners due to complexity of the research designs and time to complete a mixed method study. lopesup Comment by GCU: It is important that you support your position with sources from the literature. These sources should come from authors who have published in established journals in your field and not from textbooks. Some examples of what constitutes an authoritative source are: Baxter, P. & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative Case Study Methodology: Study Design and Implementation for Novice Researchers. The Qualitative Report 13(4):544-559 Brown, P.A. (2008). A review of the literature on case study research. Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education 1(1). Englander, M. (2012). The Interview: Data Collection in Descriptive Phenomenological Human Scientific Research. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 43: 13–35 Englander, M. (2019). Phenomenological Psychological Interviewing. The Humanistic Psychologist. Advance online publication. doi.org/10.1037/hum0000144 Groenewald, T. (2004). A phenomenological research design illustrated. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 3(1). http://www.ualberta.ca/~iiqm/backissues/3_1/pdf/groenewald.pdf Jones, M., & Alony, I. (2011). Guiding the use of grounded theory in doctoral studies—an example from the Australian film industry. International Journal of Doctoral Studies 6. Koivu, K.L., & Damman, E.K., (2015). Qualitative variations: the sources of divergent qualitative methodological approaches. Qual Quant 49:2617–2632; DOI.org: 10.1007/s11135-014-0131-7 Maxwell, Joseph A. (2017). Qualitative research design: an interactive approach. Sage. Noor, K.B.M. (2008). Case Study: A Strategic Research Methodology. American Journal of Applied Sciences 5(11): 1602-1604 Reissman, C.K. (2005). Narrative analysis. In Narrative, Memory, and Everyday Life. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 17. Ylona Chun Tie, Y-C., Birks, M., & Francis, K. (2019). Grounded theory research: A design framework for novice researchers. Sage Open Medicine 7: 1-8. doi.org/10.1177/2050312118822927 Comment by GCU: Introductory research textbooks or GCU research e-books are not acceptable sources for this section.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Rationale for a Qualitative Methodology

(Typically one or two pages)

The learner defines and describes the chosen methodology.

X

The learner provides a rationale for choosing a qualitative methodology, based on what still needs to be understood from the problem space, problem statement, and research questions.

X

The learner provides a rationale for the selected methodology based on empirical studies on the topic.

X

The learner justifies why the methodology was selected as opposed to alternative methodologies.

X

The learner uses authoritative source(s) to justify the selected methodology. Note: Do not use introductory research textbooks (such as Creswell or internal GCU research course e-books) to justify the research design and data analysis approach.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Rationale for Research Design

The learner uses this section to establish the Rationale for the Research Design for the study. The learner includes a detailed description of, and a rationale for, the specific design for the study and describes how it aligns to the qualitative methodology indicated in the previous section. GCU’s pre-approved core designs for qualitative studies include qualitative descriptive, phenomenology, qualitative case study, narrative, and grounded theory. The learner should use articles from Chapter 2 to support design choice. In addition, the learner may use methodology articles or scholarly books by thought leaders on the design. See Table 5 for the designs and descriptions of the designs. lopesup

Table 5 Qualitative Core Designs and Descriptions

Design

Description

Qualitative Descriptive

A poorly understood phenomenon is described at a manifest, overt level, that is, what is apparent but as yet undescribed. This design should focus on developing an extensive description of the phenomenon.

Phenomenology

The essence of human experience with a phenomenon as “lived” in a way that it is unique to each individual. “Lived experience” focuses the way the participants experience the situation emotionally, reflectively.

Qualitative Case Study

An in-depth investigation of one or more cases that will triangulate to achieve holistic description.

Study of a case that is in depth, using three or more sources of data to understand the phenomena in its complexity to achieve an in-depth treatment.

Cases can be public/private institutions, civic/ professional organizations, local groups or communities, people, programs, events, behavioral conditions, actions/ decisions, work processes, and so forth.

Narrative

Stories are told by the participants to the researcher with the intent of creating a unified narrative or story that describes or explains a life episode (from humanities). The purpose of the researcher is to have the participants share the story. The researcher asks follow-up; clarifying questions in order to fully explore the narrative. The researcher is not ‘interacting’ (re: sharing their own story.

Grounded Theory

A theory or model is developed to describe the phenomenon as a concept, process, interactions, components, or actions (from sociology). Studies done at GCU usually produce a model in the form of a graphic organizer to be used in practice but grounded in evidence.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Research Design

(Typically one or two pages)

The learner identifies the research design for the study. The learner provides the rationale for selecting the research design supported by empirical and methodological references.

X

The learner justifies why the design was selected as the best approach to collect the needed data, as opposed to alternative designs.

X

The learner uses authoritative source(s) to justify the design. Note: Do not use introductory research textbooks (such as Creswell) to justify the research design and data analysis approach.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Population and Sample Selection

In this section the learner summarizes the study setting (e.g., location), the population of interest (general population), target population, sampling strategy, sample size range, and sample. Learners should identify each of these explicitly within this section. The learner must use sampling terminology to identify the specific type of sampling to be used for the study. Qualitative research involves a nonprobability sampling approach, such as convenience sampling, purposeful (or purposive) sampling, and volunteer sampling. There are many others depending on the study design; as such, it is necessary to describe the sampling approach in detail. lopesup

Study Sample and Sampling Strategy

This section provides a summary of the general and target populations, study sample and size, then specifically describes and justifies the study sample in terms of size, sampling strategy, and inclusion and exclusion criteria for study participants. Please note, sample sizes in qualitative research are smaller than those in quantitative research. Appendix K specifies requirements for sample size and adequacy of data for several qualitative research designs. GCU has provided guidelines regarding sample size for each of the core designs, which are based on the traditions of design and analysis in qualitative research (Grand Canyon University, 2015, 2016, 2017a, 2017b, 2020). See Guest, Bunce, and Johnson (2006), and Mason (2010) for two examples that discuss the sufficiency of sample size in qualitative research.

Recruiting Plan and Site Authorization

Include a detailed description of the recruiting plan for the study. Your recruiting plan should reflect the sampling strategy. Part of the recruiting approach is the discussion of obtaining site authorization (Appendix B) in order to access the target population. Include relevant information, such as confidentiality measures, geographic specifics, and participant requirements. Provide a rationale for the recruiting plan and procedures.

Please note: The learner needs to present a detailed primary recruiting plan “A” for obtaining a sufficient sample size. The learner also needs to provide a secondary, detailed plan “B” and tertiary, detailed plan “C” as backup for obtaining a sufficient sample size if the primary Plan A does not work. The learner can then provide all three plans in the IRB application. This means if Plan “A” does not work, the learner will not need to file an amendment with IRB. If the learner has not obtained an adequate sample size after going through all three recruiting plans, the learner can move forward with data analysis and will include a discussion in Chapters 4 and 5 addressing why the proposed sample size was not achieved. lopesup Comment by GCU: This is intended to address ‘due diligence’ in obtaining a sample size and then moving forward.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Population and Sample Selection

(Typically one or two pages)

The learner defines and describes the population of interest (the group to which the results of the study would be generalized or applicable) (such as police officers in AZ).

The learner defines and describes the target population from which the sample ultimately is selected (such as number of police officers in AZ who belong to the police fraternal association).

The learner defines and describes the study sample, who are the individuals who will volunteer or be selected from the target population and are the final source of data, and the final group from whom complete data will be collected.

NOTE: There is no such thing as a sample population, there is only a “sample” that is taken from the target population of the population.

X

The learner describes the required sample size to secure adequate qualitative data as based on the literature related to the design indicated in the previous section and provides the rationale for how this size was derived.

X

The learner defines and describes the sampling procedures (such as convenience, purposive, snowball, etc.) supported by scholarly research sources.

For a purposive sample, the learner identifies the screening criteria (“purposes”) and how the participants will be screened (e.g., demographic questionnaire, expert knowledge of topic, screening questions such as years of experience in a position).

The learner defines and describes the sampling strategy and the process for recruiting individuals to comprise the sample. The learner provides a compelling argument that the target population is large enough to meet the target sample size by defining the “sample frame” (the subset of the target population from which the sample will be drawn).

X

The learner discusses the primary plan to obtain the sample (plan “A”) as well as two back up plans to use if plan “A” does not provide the minimum target sample size.

X

The learner describes the process used to obtain site authorization to access the target population and study sample. This includes the information required to obtain this authorization, such as a description of confidentiality measures, the limits of study participation requirements, and geographic specifics, for example.

The learner includes evidence of site authorization in Appendix B prior to submission for peer review.

If public data sources or social media are used to collect data, and no site permission is required, the learner provides a rationale and evidence for why these sources can be used without this permission.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Sources of Data

In this section the learner fully identifies and describes the types of data that will be collected, as well as the specific research materials, instruments, and sources used to obtain or collect those data (interviews, questionnaires, media, documents, focus groups, observations, etc.). The learner will use the term research data to refer to data that will be collected specifically to address the research questions. Data used for screening/selection purposes, or demographic data, should be referred to as additional data. The learner will discuss the specific research materials, instruments, or sources used to collect data for the proposed study. The learner will include a brief introductory paragraph and then use the following section organization: lopesup

Research Data Comment by GCU: APA Level 3 heading

Sources of qualitative data, such as interview protocols, are usually developed by the researcher. This differs considerably from quantitative data since the purpose of a qualitative study is to achieve depth of understanding of a particular situation and context to understand meaning and specific social attributes (organizational context, social relationships, roles, group patterns, and so on).

Research Data Source #1. The learner describes the first research data source in detail, including the phenomena for which it will provide data. Comment by GCU: APA Level 4 heading.

Research Data Source #2. The learner describes the second research data source in detail, including the phenomena for which it will provide data, and so forth.

For an interview protocol, the learner should develop interview questions that are consistent with the design. For example, for a phenomenological design, interview questions should be highly open-ended to elicit lived experiences in terms of feelings, thoughts, and reflections. If learners are using a previously published measurement instrument, they should discuss the characteristics of the instrument in detail and why it is suitable to gather data applicable to a qualitative study. For example, for a survey tool describe how the instrument or data source was developed and constructed. Learners planning to include previously published instruments must also obtain all appropriate use permissions from instrument authors. A copy of all “permissions to use” and all instruments must be included in separate appendices (one for each instrument-permission pair). For qualitative studies, learners often revise existing instruments, so the “permissions to use” must also include “permission to revise” as well.

If research data will come from an electronic database ( archival, or secondary data), the learner must identify the database and indicate exactly how the data will be obtained or accessed and how it applies to the qualitative study. The learner must confirm that the database actually contains data that are needed to address the research questions. The learner must identify the source of the data (e.g., agency, website, etc.), and indicate how the data will physically be obtained and in what format. An outline of the structure of the database should be in an appendix, e.g., labels for the rows and columns. If permission to use the database is required, evidence of this permission also should be included in the same appendix. lopesup

Additional Data

The learner states the additional data to be collected, such as demographic data.

Additional Data Source #1. The learner describes the first additional data source in detail.

Additional Data Source #2. The learner describes the second additional data source in detail, and so forth.

Additional data includes, for example, information used for sample screening and/or selection purposes, and demographic data. For screening/selection instruments, the learner should explain how the instruments work, and exactly how the information obtained relates to participant selection. Additionally, a rationale should be provided for collection of demographic data. Use of additional demographic data should be primarily to provide a profile of the sample, and the specific demographic information collected must be relevant to the proposal topic. Due to new data privacy laws, collection of personally identifiable information (PII) is restricted. All demographic information to be collected will need to be clearly stated in the Informed Consent documents so participants are aware of the personal information they are being asked to provide as a study participant. Merely collecting demographic data to “have it” will not be approved. Note: For qualitative studies, learners may create the demographic form. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Sources of Data

(Typically one to three pages)

The learner provides a detailed discussion of the sources to be used to collect the research data that will be used to address the research questions. The required details include:

1. How the instrument was developed and constructed.

2. Interview questions must be aligned with the research design and collect the information to address the research questions and problem statement.

X

If the learner’s research data will come from an electronic database (archival, or secondary data), they provide the following information:

1. Identify the database and indicate exactly how the data will be obtained or accessed.

2. Confirm that the database actually contains data on the phenomenon or case that are needed to address the research questions.

3. Identify the source of the data (e.g., agency, website, etc.), and indicate how the data will physically be obtained and in what format.

The learner includes an outline of the structure of the database in Appendix E, e.g., labels for the rows and columns.

If permission to use the database is required, evidence of this permission also is included in Appendix E.

X

The learner provides a detailed discussion of the instrumentation and/or research materials to be used to collect any additional data, such as data to be used for participant screening/selection and/or demographic data.

For screening/selection instruments, the learner explains how the instruments work, and exactly how the information obtained relates to participant selection.

For demographic data, the learner describes why it is necessary and how it will be used. The main use of demographic data is to provide a profile of the sample, and the specific demographic information collected will be relevant to the proposal topic.

X

The learner includes a copy of all instruments, questionnaires, surveys, interview protocols, observation protocols, focus group protocols, or other research materials in Appendix E. For any instruments or research materials that require “permission to use,” Appendix E includes evidence of having obtained such permission. A protocol for data collection such as an interview or focus group or observation is more than a set of interview questions, It should provide the detailed process the learner will use to collect the data including their introduction and description of the process, the location, the physical set-up, the technologies to be used for holding and recording the meeting, the interview questions, additional probing questions, and/or facilitation and data collection techniques used in these approaches. A detailed protocol enhances the learner’s ability to defend the study.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Trustworthiness

This section describes the four key elements that together serve to produce confidence in the research procedures and results of a qualitative study. These elements constitute the overarching concept of “trustworthiness.” The four elements are credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. Credibility and transferability are the qualitative version of validity, and dependability and confirmability are the qualitative version of reliability (see Appendix I.)

Learners can start this discussion by (1) defining the concept (e.g., credibility), (2) identifying the “threats” (biases or weaknesses) inherent in their methodology (design, sampling, data collection procedures and sources of data/instruments, and data analysis), and (3) describing how they will minimize such threats (e.g., reflexivity for subjective bias in qualitative data analysis). The following are steps taken by a qualitative researcher to ensure the research is trustworthy, and are from Shenton (2004, p. 73), based on Guba’s (1981) four criteria for trustworthiness. The researcher should address as many as are applicable to the design selected. lopesup Comment by GCU: The definitions need to be supported by citations from the peer-reviewed literature

Credibility

Credibility refers to how well the study’s findings accurately represent the experiences of participants for the sample under study. In other words, credibility describes the internal validity of the study. Some strategies qualitative researchers use to ensure credibility include:

Adoption of a well-established data collection plan.

Fundamental knowledge of naturalistic inquiry, which is the essence of naturalistic inquiry is that research is conducted in natural settings, that is, in settings where the participants live or engage in activities that are relevant to the phenomenon under study. (Armstrong, 2010; Lincoln & Guba, 1985)

Deep engagement, which means sufficient time is given to listen, document, and achieve saturation of data.

Member checking, which increases the authenticity of the final transcript.

Narrative truth, which means the researcher represents the authenticity of participants’ reflections, comments, stories, and perspectives.

Negative cases and rival explanations, which include evidence that does not fit the pattern that emerges during analysis and provides an explanation.

Researcher reflexivity, which is how the researcher maintain awareness about how results unfold, documenting emerging patterns. The researcher’s positionality or “reflective commentary:” allows researcher to clearly state the lens through which the social world is interpreted and discuss how the researcher’s background influences data collection and analysis (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

Thick description, which is the context(s) of the participants be described in a rich and detailed manner.

Triangulation via use of different data collection methods, different informants, different locations

Researcher experience, which includes a description of background, qualifications, and experience of the researcher (researcher positionality) lopesup

Dependability

Dependability refers to the degree to which research procedures are documented and are reliable. Techniques used to demonstrate dependability include:

Audit trail, which is documentation of the inquiry process.

Evidence, which includes full transcripts, careful documentation of data gathering sessions, media (audiotapes, videotapes, documents, photographs), employment of “overlapping methods.”

An in-depth methodological description that provides a comprehensible record of how data were collected and analyzed. Meticulous description increases soundness of study that can be useful for future studies.

Records of the data analysis process, which includes codebooks, how coding schemes were developed, documentation of initial codes secondary codes, categories, with multiple examples from the dataset (interview transcripts, observational records, focus group transcripts, for example).

Clear alignment of what needs to be understood, problem statement, research questions, methodology, research design.

Peer debriefing, which includes consulting with mentors or experienced qualitative researchers to discuss and receive feedback on the study, prior to, during, and after the completion of the study.

Test the strength of the analysis and interpretation, which includes checking analysis and interpretation against documents, records, recordings (the dataset). lopesup

Transferability

Transferability refers to the degree to which findings are applicable to policy, practice, and future research, or the degree to which the results of a qualitative study apply to other people or contexts. Transferabilit y addresses the external validity and is the qualitative version of “generalizability” of the study’s results.

Thick description that provides background data to establish context of study and detailed description of phenomenon in question to allow comparisons of the context can be made to other contexts. The greater the detailed description of the phenomena, the more meaningful the results may be when informing another context.to be made.

Sampling sufficiency, which refers both to the sample size and to the appropriateness of the sample, so that the participants experience the phenomena so that the data collected from them provide insight into the phenomena. lopesup

Confirmability

Confirmability refers to the objectivity or the ability of others to confirm or corroborate findings (Chess, 2017, section 3, para. 3). Qualitative researchers develop confirmability through:

Coding, which is clear and well defined; the naming of patterns identified in the data; patterns can include stories, ideas, specific participant-offered terms, and phrases.

Providing ample evidence to support claims.

Intercoder reliability. The extent to which two researchers, coding data based on the same codebook (an inductively developed list of codes and their definitions) code the data in the same way.

Rival explanations and negative cases. Identify examples that do not fit a pattern that is emerging. These might indicate an alternative organizing scheme, or may be the exception that proves the rule (Creswell & Miller, 2000; Patton, 1999)

Researcher reflexivity, which is how the researcher maintain awareness about how results unfold, documenting emerging patterns. The researcher’s positionality or “reflective commentary:” allows researcher to clearly state the lens through which the social world is interpreted and discuss how the researcher’s background influences data collection and analysis (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

In-depth methodological description to allow integrity of research results to be scrutinized.

Admission or statement of researcher’s beliefs and assumptions.

Recognition of shortcomings in study’s methods and their potential effects. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

TRUSTWORTHINESS

(Typically two to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

1. Defines the concepts of credibility, transferability

2. Credibility: discusses how the study represents the participants’ experiences

3. Transferability: discusses how the study’s findings may be applicable to policy, practice, future research

X

1. Describes the threats to the credibility and transferability of the study inherent in the study design, sampling strategy, data collection method/instruments, and data analysis

2. Addresses how these threats will be minimized

X

Defines concepts of dependability and confirmability

X

Dependability: discusses how the study documents research procedures. Provides detailed research protocols.

X

Confirmability: discusses how the study could be confirmed or findings corroborated by others.

X

Describes the threats to dependability and confirmability of the study inherent in the study design, sampling strategy, data collection method/instruments, and data analysis.

Addresses how these threats will be minimized.

X

Appendices must include copies of instruments, materials, qualitative data collection protocols, codebook(s), and permission letters from instrument authors (for validated instruments, surveys, interview guides, etc.)

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, correct punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Data Collection and Management

The learner will use this section to describe in detail the entirety of the process that will be used to collect the data. “The data” includes both research and additional data (see Sources of Data and/or Research Materials). This includes describing the basic, step-by-step procedures used to carry out all the major steps for data collection for the study at a level of detail that would allow another researcher to execute the study. The learner should view this section as similar to a “recipe,” that needs to be carefully followed to produce the best possible study results (the “entrée”). It is critical for the learner to ensure that this section is clear, comprehensive, and details the exact steps to be used in the data collection process. Detail is critical! This section needs to have sufficiently detailed steps so that another researcher could collect data following those steps.

It also is important that the learner describes the method(s) of collecting data using protocols and instruments. For example, it might be that all data be collected within a single face-to-face or videoconferencing setting. Alternatively, the researcher might meet with the learner in one data collection session and ask the participant to complete a different instrument in a separate session for some reason . For the latter situation, the learner must describe the process by which data from all sources will be linked to a specific participant. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Data Collection and Management

(Typically one to three pages)

The learner describes the procedures for the actual data collection at a level of detail that would allow execution of the study by another researcher. This will include (but not be limited to) how each instrument, measurement technique, or data source will be used, how and where data will be collected, and how data will be recorded.

The learner includes a sequence of actions or step-by-step procedures to be used to carry out all the major steps for data collection. This includes a workflow and corresponding timeline, presenting a logical, sequential, and transparent protocol for data collection that would allow another researcher to conduct the study.

Data from different sources may have to be collected in parallel (e.g., paper-and-pen surveys for teachers, corresponding students, and their parents AND retrieval of archival data from the school district). Provides detailed description of data collection process, including all sources of data, such as interviews, observations, surveys; and methods used such as field tests, expert panel review, and member checking. Note: The collected data must be sufficient in breadth and depth to answer the research question(s) and interpreted and presented correctly, by theme, research question and/or instrument.

X

The steps include acquisition of site authorization documents, IRB approval, and the procedures for obtaining participant informed consent and protecting the rights and well-being of the participants.

The learner includes copies of the relevant site authorizations, participant informed consent forms, recruitment announcements/materials (e.g., posters, e-mails, etc.) in appropriate appendices.

X

The learner describes the data management procedures for paper-based and/or electronic data. This includes, for example, data security procedures and how and when data will be destroyed.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Data Analysis Procedures

The learner uses this section to identify and provide a rationale for the data analysis approach for the study, and to provide a step-by-step description of the procedures to be used to conduct the analysis. The key elements of this section include:

Description of analytic approach that should clearly connect to the problem and research questions. Learners might provide the discussion in a narrative way to show the connection between varying types of analysis and each research question, particularly if different techniques are needed for each question.

The process by which the raw data will be prepared for analysis.

If descriptive statistics are used, the language used to describe them will be reported for all research and additional data analysis procedure.

A rationale for and choice of an analytic approach for addressing each of the research questions.

A description of the analytic approach (for example: for thematic analysis, describe all steps in coding, how codes were developed, provide tables showing both initial and secondary coding cycles, show development of codes into themes, provide examples of every code, pertinent clusters of codes, and relationship of those to themes, provide multiple examples from transcript to illustrate codes, code clusters, and themes. Note that some designs, such as phenomenology and narrative analysis, follow a distinctive analytic approach unlike thematic analysis. These approaches must be supported by citations.

For thematic analysis, include codebook for those analyses in which coding is conducted. The codebook should include in each row: the code, a definition of the code, examples of the code from transcripts, and other sources of data.

Provide ample description of the data, including:

Interviews: how the interview questions were developed. If based on literature or existing data source(s), include citations and permissions to use and revise in the appendix. Once reviewed by expert panel or field tested, include initial and revised versions of interview questions in the appendix before peer review submission; revisions would be based on outcomes from field testing or expert panel review. For additional information on field testing and expert panel review see the DC Network>Dissertation Home Page>Dissertation Resources.

Questionnaires: how the questions were developed. If using (and revising) existing questionnaire, include citations and permissions to use and revise in the appendix.

Focus group: identify and describe the type of focus group to be used. Describe how the questions or activities were developed, the way(s) in which the focus group(s) will assist in answering research questions, and how the purpose of the focus group(s) differs from that of the interviews.

Observations: information on how the observation(s) will assist in answering the research questions. Observation protocol must be included in the appendix and should relate to the overall research protocol. Identify the observation form(s) that will be used as a part of the protocol to record the observation data. Observations are not for the purpose of noting participant body language, facial expressions, or other reactions that do not relate to addressing the Problem Space. The data from the observation must address the research questions. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Data Analysis Procedures

(Typically one to three pages)

The learner restates the problem statement or purpose statement, along with the research question(s)

X

Describes how raw data are prepared for analysis (i.e., transcribing interviews, conducting member checking, how all sources of data will be organized. and checking for missing data).

Describes (for both paper-based and electronic data) the data management procedures adopted to maintain data securely, including the length of time data will be kept, where it will be kept, and how it will be destroyed

X

Describe evidence of qualitative analysis approach, such as coding and theming process, which must be completely described and include the analysis /interpretation process. Clear evidence from how codes were combined or synthesized to create the themes must be presented.

X

Provides support that the proposed quantity and quality of data are expected to be sufficient to answer the research questions.

X

The learner provides description of how the results will be reported.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Ethical Considerations

In this section the learner demonstrates adherence to the key principles of the Belmont Report (respect, justice, and beneficence) in the study design, sampling procedures, the research problem, and the research questions. The learners discuss very clearly how data will be stored, safeguarded, and destroyed. Learners are required to securely maintain and have access to raw data/records for a minimum of three years.

If asked by committee chair/members, IRB, peer reviewer, or CDS representative, learner must provide all evidence of collected data including raw survey or source data, Excel files, interview/focus group recordings and transcripts, evidence of coding or data analysis, or survey results, etc. As such, the learners Informed Consent document must state that the dissertation chair, committee members, and College of Doctoral Studies reviewers may be able access to all study data. No dissertation will be allowed to move forward in the review process if data are not produced upon request. In this section, the learner also references IRB approval to conduct the research is required to conduct their research, which includes subject recruiting, the informed consent process, and the voluntary nature of study.

The learner also identifies all the potential risks for harm to participants that may be inherent in the study. For example, some types of testing may stimulate feelings of fear, anger, and/or depression. The learner anticipates this possibility and indicates how this will be addressed. The learner makes a clear distinction between whether participation and participant data will be confidential or anonymous. This distinction will be needed for IRB approval. Refer to the DC Network>IRB Research Center for IRB resources, templates, video instructions, and IRB webinars on preparing your IRB application materials. lopesup

Figure 3 IRB Alert Comment by GCU: Remove this figure and ensure Figure numbers are updated accordingly before submitting to committee and/or peer reviewer for review.

IRB Alert

Please be aware that GCU doctoral learners may not screen, recruit, or collect any data until they receive Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and obtain a signed D-50 form. IRB review occurs after the proposal is approved by peer review and the proposal defense is completed. Learners are responsible for knowing, understanding, and following the IRB submission and review processes. Screening, recruiting participants, and collecting data in advance of IRB approval is a serious research ethical violation, with legal and federal regulatory implications to the University. If a learner chooses to screen, recruit study participants, or collect data in advance of obtaining IRB approval (IRB approval letter and D-50 form), they will be subject to serious academic disciplinary action by the Institutional Review Board and Code of Conduct committee. This may include collecting new data or requiring the learner to start over with a new research study. In addition, the Code of Conduct committee will issue a disciplinary action that may include warning, suspension, or dismissal from the program.

NOTE: Learners should NEVER proceed with any aspect of participant screening, recruiting, interacting with participants, or collecting data in advance of receiving the IRB approval letter and the D-50 form. The chairs and committee members are trained on these requirements; however, the learner is ultimately responsible for understanding and adhering to all IRB requirements as outlined in the University Policy Handbook and Dissertation Milestone Guide.

NOTE: The minimum progression milestone for IRB approval is in dissertation course 970E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 970E is the absolute latest course for IRB approval. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and gain IRB approval in earlier dissertation courses.

lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

(Typically three to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Provides a discussion of ethical issues, per Belmont Report and IRB guidelines, related to the study and the study population of interest. Includes citations.

Explains which principles / issues are relevant to the study.

Identifies the potential risks for harm that are inherent in the study and describes how they will be avoided and/or mitigated.

X

Describes the procedures for obtaining informed consent and for protecting the rights and well-being of the study participants. Includes statement in Informed Consent on who has data access including chair, committee members, IRB and peer reviewers, college representative.

X

Addresses key ethical criteria of anonymity, confidentiality, privacy, strategies to prevent coercion, and any potential conflict of interest.

X

Describes the data management procedures adopted to store and maintain paper and electronic data securely, including the minimum 3-year length of time data will be kept, where it will be kept, and how it will be destroyed.

Explains plan(s) to implement each of the principles/issues that are relevant to the study, data management, data analysis, and publication of findings.

Note: Learners are required to securely maintain and have access to raw data/records for a minimum of three years. If asked by a committee member, IRB reviewer, peer reviewer or CDS representative, learner must provide all evidence of data including source data, Excel files, interview recordings and transcripts, evidence of coding or data analysis, or survey results, etc. No dissertation will be allowed to move forward in the review process if data are not produced upon request.

X

Includes copy of site authorization letter (if appropriate), IRB Informed Consent (Proposal), and IRB Approval letter (Dissertation) in appropriate Appendices.

All approvals, consent forms, recruitment, and data collection materials are mentioned in the Data Collection section and included in appropriate appendices (with appropriate in-text references).

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Assumptions and Delimitations

This section identifies the assumptions and specifies the delimitations of the study. The learner should define the terms using citations from the literature, and then list the assumptions and delimitations. The learner should provide a rationale and appropriate citations for all statements.

Assumptions

An assumption is a self-evident truth. This section lists what is assumed to be true about the information gathered in the study. State the assumptions being accepted for the study which may be methodological, theoretical, or topic specific. Provide a rationale for each assumption. Additionally, identify any potential negative consequences of the assumptions for the study. For example, the following assumptions were present in this study:

It is assumed that survey participants in this study were not deceptive with their interview answers, and that the participants answered questions honestly and to the best of their ability. Provide an explanation to support this assumption.

It is assumed that this study is an accurate representation of the current (health, economic, education) situation in rural southern Arizona. Provide an explanation to support this assumption. lopesup

Delimitations

Delimitations are decisions or choices made by the researcher (or stakeholders) to establish the boundaries (or limits) of the study (e.g., location and duration), which could affect the quality of the research. Identify the delimitations of the research. Provide a rationale for each delimitation and discuss associated consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings. Address delimitations pertaining to different aspects or scope of the study. Note that “Limitations” due to challenges in the conduct of research should be described in Chapters 4 & 5.)

Examples of Delimitations. The following examples illustrate how learners can state delimitations present in their study.

1. Lack of funding delimited the scope of this study. Provide an explanation to support this delimitation.

2. The survey of high school students was delimited to only rural schools in one county within southern Arizona, limiting the demographic sample. Provide an explanation to support this delimitation.

3. Case study design was delimited to one single case instead of multiple cases for comparison.

4. Data collection methods were delimited to interviews, questionnaires, and archival document reviews, excluding classroom observations due to school policy. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Assumptions and Delimitations

(Typically three to four paragraphs)

The learner provides a separate subsection for assumptions and delimitations.

X

The learner states the assumptions being accepted for the study and provides a rationale for making each assumption.

The learner also discusses associated consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings.

X

The learner identifies the methodological delimitations of the study and provides a rationale for each delimitation.

The learner discusses associated consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings.

X

The learner discusses strategies to minimize and/or mitigate the potential negative consequences of methodological assumptions and delimitations.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary

In this section the learner summarizes the key points Chapter 3. The learner demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the overall research design and analysis techniques. The learner concludes the Chapter 3 summary with a discussion that transitions the reader to Chapter 4.

Important Note: the minimum progression milestone for completing the full proposal (Chapters 1,2 and 3), approved by all committee members, and successfully submitted and accepted to Level 2 Peer review is dissertation course 968E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 968E is the absolute latest course for proposal submission and acceptance into Level 2 peer review. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit to Level 2 peer review in earlier dissertation courses with committee approval. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Chapter 3 Summary

(Typically one to two pages)

The learner summarizes key points presented in Chapter 3 using authoritative, empirical sources/citations. Key points include (for example):

· Methodology/design

· Population

· Sample size/selection

· Instrumentation/Sources of Data

· Data collection

· Data analysis

X

The learner concludes Chapter 3 with a transition discussion to focus for Chapter 4.

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Results

Introduction

The minimum progression milestone for draft of Chapter 4 “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist is in dissertation course 971E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 971E is the absolute latest course for Chapter 4 acceptance by chair and submission to methodologist. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit Chapter 4 in earlier dissertation courses.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide the reader with a concise summary of the study and a presentation of the results. In this section of Chapter 4, the learner should briefly restate the research problem, the methodology and design, the research question(s), and phenomena, and then offer a statement about what will be covered in this chapter. Chapter 4 should present the results of the study as clearly as possible, leaving the interpretation of the results for Chapter 5. Make sure this chapter is written in past tense and reflects how the study was actually conducted. Any change to the sampling approach, instrumentation, data collection procedures or data analysis must be noted in this chapter. After the research study is complete, make sure this chapter reflects how the study was actually conducted in comparison to what was proposed in Chapter 3. These changes should also be discussed as limitations of the study (in appropriate sections of Chapters 4 and 5).

This chapter typically contains the analyzed data, often presented in both text and tabular, or figure format. To ensure readability and clarity of findings, structure is of the utmost importance in this chapter. Sufficient guidance in the narrative should be provided to highlight the findings of greatest importance for the reader. Most researchers begin with a description of the sample and the relevant demographic characteristics presented in text or tabular format. Ask the following general questions before starting this chapter:

1. Is there sufficient data to answer each of the research question(s) asked in the study?

2. Is there sufficient data to support the conclusions made in Chapter 5?

3. Is the study written in the third person? Never use the first person.

4. Are the data clearly explained using a table, graph, chart, or text?

5. Visual organizers, including tables and figures, must always be introduced, presented and discussed within the text first. Never insert them without these three steps. It is often best to develop all the tables, graphs, charts, etc. before writing any text to further clarify how to proceed. Point out the salient results and present those results by table, graph, chart, or other form of collected data. lopesup

Important Changes and Updates to Information in Chapters 1-3 Comment by GCU: This is a required section.

In this required section, the learner discusses changes made to the original research plan presented in Chapters 1-3. Furthermore, learner discusses implications of these changes, including changes to the sample, data collection, design, data analysis, etc. For example, if target sample size was not achieved using plans “A”, “B”, and “C”, the learner must address the ramifications on the breadth and depth of the analyses, and study findings. Based on peer review and/or committee recommendations, the learner may choose to update Chapters 1-3 to reflect what actually occurred OR clearly present the important changes that occurred between the original plan and what actually occurred in this section and also in the Study Limitations section of Chapter 4. Changes to the research plan must also be addressed in Chapter 5 under strengths and weaknesses section. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

INTRODUCTION (TO THE CHAPTER)

(Typically two to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Provides a summary of the study including research problem, methodology, design, research questions and phenomena.

X

Provides an orienting statement about what will be covered in the chapter.

X

Learner discusses important changes between original plan presented in the proposal (Chapters 1-3) and what actually occurred.

Learner updated Chapters 1-3 to reflect what actually occurred OR clearly presents the important changes that occurred between the original plan and what actually occurred in this section and in the Study Limitations section of Chapter 4

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Preparation of Raw Data for Analysis and Descriptive Data

Preparation of Raw Data for Analysis

Within this subsection, the learner describes how all raw data were prepared for analysis. This should include transcription process, member checking, and any other preparation activities. Describe how data were prepared for uploading to MAXQDA or other qualitative software program, if relevant. For example:

Define how to organize the data (some options: by participant, by source)

Set up system for pseudonyms (create a table in separate document showing real names and associated pseudonym). We advise names (John, Mary), rather than numbers (P1, P2) in qualitative studies to maintain the sense of personhood and presence in a natural setting (not a lab), which is consistent with a qualitative approach

Organize other sources of data (sociograms, photographs, images, copies of hand coded data, collected documents, etc.)

Transcribe all interview and focus group data

Send copies of transcripts to participants to “member check” (check that the transcript shows what they meant; they can add clarification if so desired)

Upload raw data to MAXQDA or other qualitative software program (Note GCU provides MAXQDA to all learners at no cost)

Upload raw data to a new folder in the LDP (either create a new 07 Data folder or into a new folder in the existing 05 Folder). This is a requirement for L5 Peer Review. [NOTE: GCU faculty are required to maintain all confidentiality pledged by learner per the IRB approved/stamped Informed Consent].

Once the learner has prepared the data, the learner then provides a narrative summary (description per next section) of the population or sample characteristics and demographics of the participants in the study. lopesup

Descriptive Data

This section describes the dataset that was produced from data collection activities. This should include the number of participants and corresponding descriptive information regarding the demographic data (such as gender, age, and ethnicity) and research data. It should also include tables showing each data collection method, which participants joined each, and pertinent information such as duration of interviews or focus groups, and number of pages of transcript, measured as complete single-spaced pages, Times New Roman 12 pt. font (see Table 3. Keep in mind that all descriptive or demographic information must pertain directly to the study and must be included in the informed consent for participants to understand what personal data is being collected about them. Ensure this data cannot lead to anyone identifying individual participants in this section or identifying the data for individual participants in the data summary and data analysis that follows. It is important that key demographic and descriptive data are provided. It is also acceptable to put most of this in the appendix if the chapter becomes too lengthy.

For numbers, equations, and statistics, spell out any number that begins a sentence, title, or heading – or reword the sentence to place the number later in the narrative. In general, use Arabic numerals (10, 11, 12) when referring to whole numbers 10 and above, and spell out whole numbers below 10. There are some exceptions to this rule:

If small numbers are grouped with large numbers in a comparison, use numerals (e.g., 7, 8, 10, and 13 trials); but, do not do this when numbers are used for different purposes (e.g., 10 items on each of four surveys).

Numbers in a measurement with units (e.g., 6 cm, 5-mg dose, 2%).

Numbers that represent time, dates, ages, sample or population size, scores, or exact sums of money.

Numbers that represent a specific item in a numbered series (e.g., Table 1).

A sample table in APA style is presented in all tables in this template, see, for example, Table 6. Be mindful that all tables fit within the required margins, and are clean, easy to read, and formatted properly using the guidelines found in Chapter 5 (Displaying Results) of the APA Publication Manual 7th edition (APA, 2019). lopesup Comment by GCU: Each table must be numbered in sequence throughout the entire dissertation (Table 1, Table 2, etc.), or within chapters (Table 1.1, Table 1.2 for Chapter 1; Table 2.1, Table 2.2 for Chapter 2, etc.).

Table 6 Example of a Clean, Easy-to-Read Table Comment by GCU: Tables cannot be split between two pages and cannot be over one manuscript page in length. To stop a table from splitting between pages, insert a page break above the table. If the table is still too long, it should be placed in an Appendix, where it can break across pages; use a repeating header.

Participant

Setting

Interview

Duration

# Transcript Pages (Time New Roman, Font size 12, single spaced)

Participant 1

Main office

Date

65 minutes

19

Participant 2

Zoom conference

Date

72 minutes

21

Participant 3

Zoom conference

Date

50 minutes

15

etc.

MEAN

N/A

N/A

62.3 minutes

18.3

TOTAL

N/A

N/A

187 minutes

55

Table 7 Example of Clean, Easy-to-Read Table for Focus Group Data

Participant

Group

Participation Length

Contributions

Initial Codes Produced

Participant 1

Group 1

48 min.

7

4

Participant 2

Group 1

48 min.

5

2

etc.

Participant 3

Group 2

67 min.

12

6

Participant 4

Group 2

67 min.

9

5

etc.

TOTAL

N/A

115 minutes

33

17

Table 8 Example of Case Unit Profiling (in Narrative)

Case Unit

Case Description

Case Unit 1

Comprised of state-funded community healthcare programs in rural counties of the southwestern United States that rely on both Medicaid and local non-profit service organizations for their delivery of care. Programs are overseen by either a chief medical officer or nurse-practitioner director, and have the following staff composition as reported by Smith, Smith, and Johnson (2016): 30% community case managers, 20% clinical case managers, 15% medical practitioners, 15% compliance officers, 10% enrollment specialists, and 10% administrative leadership. The annual budget for these programs was reported as $2.2 million from 2015 to 2018 (Williams & Janson, 2019). For this study, the participants identified by the pseudonyms of Michael, Sarah, Erika, and Jane all work for programs in Case Unit-1

Case Unit-2

Comprised of community healthcare programs in urban municipalities of the southwestern United States that rely on Medicaid and federal health programs for their delivery of care. These diverse public-funded programs are overseen jointly by a state-appointed health commissioner and a chief medical officer from the Medicaid division. Their staff composition was reported by Weston and Burke (2015) as being 40% nursing case manager, 20% compliance representative, 15% enrollment specialist, 15% behavioral health counselor, and 10% administrative staff. The annual budget for these programs was reported as 1.8 million from 2014 to 2018 (Weston & Burke, 2015). Study participants identified by the pseudonyms of Ellen, Robert, Thomas, Cassandra, and Jennifer all work for programs in Case Unit-2.

Case Unit 3

Add narrative here regarding Case Unit 3

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

PREPARATION OF RAW DATA AND DESCRIPTIVE DATA

(Number of pages as needed)

Describes how raw data were prepared for analysis.

X

Provides a narrative summary of the population or sample characteristics and demographics.

Presents the "sample (or population) profile," may use descriptive statistics for the demographics collected from or retrieved for the actual sample or population.

X

Includes a narrative summary of data collected (e.g., examples of collected data should be included in an Appendix.)

X

Uses visual graphic organizers, such as tables, histograms, graphs, and/or bar charts, to effectively organize and display coded data and descriptive data. For example:

Discuss and provide a table showing number of interviews conducted, duration of interviews, #pages transcript; #observations conducted, duration; #pages of typed-up field notes; # of occurrences of a code; network diagrams; model created, etc.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Data Analysis Procedures

This section presents a description of the process that was used to analyze the data. Data analysis procedures can be framed relative to each research question. Data can also be organized by chronology of phenomena, by themes and patterns, or by other approaches as deemed appropriate by design and for a qualitative study. This section should specify the procedures that were specifically carried out to ensure the reader understands how the analytic process was conducted. lopesup

Reflexivity Protocol

For learners who implemented some sort of reflexivity protocol (such as bracketing or peer debriefing) to track and manage biases, please be sure to clarify how this protocol fit sequentially with respect to the data analysis strategy. For instance, did you record and organize your bracketing notes before/after each data collection event – and hence before the data analysis process even began – or did you wait to record your bracketing notes before/after each cycle of analytic coding (tracking your bias during the conceptual development of codes, categories, and themes)? What was the logic for your approach? lopesup

Data Analysis Steps

Describe in detail the data analysis procedures. The analytic procedures must be aligned to the design; they are not generic. Start discussion of data analysis procedures by identifying and describing the analytical approach (e.g., thematic analysis, phenomenological analysis, narrative analysis). Describe analytic process. For example: for thematic analysis provide a description of how codes were developed, how clusters of codes or categories were developed, how these are related to themes. Provide examples of codes and themes with corresponding quotations, demonstrating how codes were synthesized or clustered or combined and developed into themes. For phenomenological analysis identify the specific type of phenomenological design and the specific data analysis approach used. That approach might involve providing transformation procedures, the transformation process, how phenomenological constituents were developed, how these are related to the general phenomenological structure of the experience. Provide examples of phenomenological constituents with corresponding quotations, demonstrating how constituents were discovered among phenomenological transformations. Provide evidence of analytic elements in text or an Appendix. Include graphic organizers to demonstrate analytic steps. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURES

(Number of pages as needed)

Describes in detail the data analysis procedures.

Coding procedures must be tailored to the specific analytical approach; they are not generic.

Start discussion of data analysis procedures by identifying and describing the analytical approach (e.g., thematic analysis, type of phenomenological analysis).

Describes coding process, description of how codes were developed, how categories or clusters of codes were developed, how these are related to themes. Provide examples of codes and themes with corresponding quotations, demonstrating how codes were developed or synthesized into themes. Provides evidence of initial and final codes and themes in text or an Appendix.

Detail the specific kinds of analytic units appropriate to the design and analytic approach.

X

Explains and justifies any differences in why data analysis section does not match what was approved in Chapter 3 (if appropriate).

X

Discusses the reflexivity protocols used (such as bracketing and peer debriefing) and how these protocols complement the data analysis strategy.

X

Describes approaches used to ensure trustworthiness for qualitative data including expert panel review of questions, field test(s)/ practice interviews, member checking, and triangulation of data, as appropriate.

X

Justifies how the analysis aligns with the research question(s), and how data and findings were organized by chronology of phenomena, by themes and patterns, or by other approaches as deemed appropriate.

Develops a description of the phenomenon by synthesizing the data across the research questions. The synthesis approach used to develop the description of the phenomenon should be specific to the design used.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Results

Presenting the Results

This section, which is the primary section of this chapter, presents an overview and analysis of the data in a nonevaluative, unbiased, organized manner that relates to the research question(s). List the research question(s) as they are discussed to ensure that the readers see that the question has been addressed. Answer the research question(s) in the order that they are listed by drawing on the thematic results and (if relevant) descriptive statistics. Learners can organize data in several different ways for qualitative studies including by research question, by themes and patterns for thematic analysis, or by other approaches deemed appropriate for the study, such as by the general phenomenological structure with a list of all constituents. The results must be presented without implication, speculation, assessment, evaluation, or interpretation, as the discussion of results and conclusions are left for Chapter 5. Refer to the APA Style Manual (2020) for additional lists and examples.

The results do not merely include using themes to answer research questions, it is important to develop a description of the phenomenon that is specific to the design based on synthesizing the data cross the research questions and data analysis. For a qualitative descriptive design, this involves providing a detailed description of the phenomenon through a narrative and visuals. For a case study, this involves producing a case study summary that can include narrative and visuals. For grounded theory it can include the creation of a theory, visual model, or process flow. For a narrative, depending upon the narrative approach selected it might include developing a single story that synthesizes the stories from all the participants. For phenomenology this final description varies based on the type of phenomenological design selected.

For learners who implemented a reflexivity protocol (such as bracketing or peer debriefing) to track and manage biases, the beginning of this section is an ideal place to synthesize those reflexivity notes into a composite of your preconceptions prior to data collection and analysis, as well as how those preconceptions may have biased your study. This step typically requires the learner to take a step back and think contemplatively about initial expectations for the data and results, and then compare these expectations with the actual perspectives provided by the participants (or the meanings derived from them). The narrative at the beginning of Chapter 4 Results section offers a good place to summarize any major preconceptions that might have colored the data analysis.

For qualitative studies, it is important to provide a complete, that is, holistic, picture of the analysis conducted and of the coding used to arrive at a set of themes or conclusions about the subject. In qualitative studies, if thematic analysis is used, the questions are examples of what to ask, and are not comprehensive:

1. What themes emerged across all data sources and how were those themes identified?

2. Does the learner provide examples that the themes exist from multiple, well-specified and described, sources of data?

3. What topics were mentioned most often?

4. What issues were most important to the people in the study?

5. How do the participants view the topic of research?

6. How can the categories identified in the data be ordered into meaningful, grounded theories?

After completing the first draft of Chapter 4, ask these general questions:

7. Are the findings clearly presented, so any reader could understand them?

8. Are the findings presented with a narrative thread, which provides a “storyline” to coherently connect the data that has been analyzed?

9. Are all the tables, graphics or visual displays well-organized and easy to read?

10. Are the important data described in the text?

11. Is factual data information separate from analysis and evaluation?

12. Are the data organized by research questions or by themes?

Make sure to include appropriate graphics to present the results. Always introduce, present, and discuss the visual organizers in narrative form prior to the visual organizer placement. Never insert a visual organizer without these three steps.

A figure is a graph, chart, map, drawing, or photograph. Do not include a figure unless it adds substantively to the understanding of the results or it duplicates other elements in the narrative. If a figure is used, a label must be placed above the figure. As with tables, refer to the figure by number in the narrative preceding the placement of the figure. Make sure a table or figure is not split between pages. lopesup

Here is an example of how a table might be set up to visually illustrate results:

Table 9 Initial Codes

Code

Column A

Description of Code

Column B

Examples from Transcript

Name of Code 1

Description of code

Provide multiple examples from transcripts

Name of Code 2

Description of code

Provide multiple examples from transcripts

Name of Code 3

Description of code

Provide multiple examples from transcripts

Note . Adapted from: Sampling and Recruitment in Studies of Doctoral Students, by I.M. Researcher, 2010, Journal of Perspicuity, 25, p. 100. Reprinted with permission. Comment by GCU: Permission must be obtained to reprint information that is not in the public domain. Letters of permission are included in the appendix.

Figure 4 Diagram of a Blank Sociogram

Criterion

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RESULTS

(Number of pages as needed)

Data and the analysis of that data are presented in a narrative, non-evaluative, unbiased, organized manner.

In thematic analysis, the researcher should address saturation and the distribution of themes that emerged when themes were not present in all data sets. Qualitative, thematically-analyzed data may be organized by theme, participant and/or research question.

In phenomenology the research should address the stability of the structure based on each constituent being essential, not merely frequent.

Note, this addresses volume and quality of the data collected as germane to the phenomenon under study, not to population representativeness.

Results of analysis are presented in appropriate narrative, tabular, graphical and/or visual format. If using thematic analysis, coding and theming process must be clearly evident in the results presentation. Integration of quotes in the results presentation to substantiate the stated findings and build a narrative picture is required.

For a case study design, include a summary of the case (how did the analysis inform the case?).

Learner describes thematic findings mostly in own words in narrative form as if they are telling their story or summarizing their experiences, and then use selected quotes (ideally one or few sentences, no longer than one paragraph) to illustrate.

X

The outcome of the reflexivity protocol is reported in a way that helps the reader distinguish the learner’s preconceptions from the perspectives (and meanings) shared by participants. This discussion should touch on major preconceptions that may have biased the data analysis and what was done to mitigate these biases.

X

As appropriate, tables are presented for initial codes, themes and theme meanings, along with sample quotes.

X

Sufficient quantity and quality of the data or information appropriate to the research design is presented in the analyses to answer the research question(s). Evidence for this must be clearly presented in this section and in an appendix as appropriate.

Note: peer reviewer may request to review raw data at any time during the peer process. Additional data collection may be required if sufficient data is not present.

X

· Qualitative data analysis is fully described and displayed using techniques specific to the design and analytic method used.

· Data sets are summarized including counts AND examples of participant’s responses for thematic analysis. For other approaches to qualitative analysis, results may be summarized in matrices or visual formats appropriate to the form of analysis.

· Findings may be presented as themes using section titles for thematic analysis, as stories for narrative designs, as models or theories for grounded theory, and as visual models or narrative stories for case studies.

X

Appendices must include qualitative data analysis that supports results in Chapter 4 as appropriate (i.e. source tables for coding and theming process or codebook, if not included directly in Chapter 4).

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Limitations

Limitations are flaws or shortcomings with the study that either the researcher has no control over because they are inherent in the methods selected (e.g., sampling bias), or that are due to mishaps in the conduct of research (e.g., missing data). No study is free of limitations. It is important to acknowledge as many limitations as deemed pertinent in order to reflect integrity and transparency in the conduct of research. This section discusses limitations that emerged based specifically on data collection and data analysis, and how the interpretation of results may be affected by the limitations. State limitations that are inherent in the data sources, instruments, data collection methods, and/or data analysis approach, and address also additional limitations pertaining to shortcomings in how the data was collected, the amount or quality of the data collected, and/or how the data was analyzed. The learner should provide a rationale for each stated limitation and discuss associated consequences for transferability and applicability of the findings. Tie back the limitations to the anticipated limitations discussed in Chapter 1.

For example: The following limitations were present in this study:

The study was limited to 10 teachers and four administrators, thus making the results less transferable;

The study was limited to novice participants whose insights about the organization were partial and restricted. lopesup

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LIMITATIONS

(Typically one or two pages)

Lists limitations that emerged based specifically on data collection and data analysis, and how the interpretation of results may be affected by the limitations.

X

Discuss associated consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings.

X

Discuss the current limitations in relation to the anticipated limitations originally presented in Chapter 1.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary

This section provides a concise summary of what was found in the study. It briefly restates essential data and data analysis presented in this chapter, and it helps the reader see and understand the relevance of the data and analysis to the research question(s). The summary of the data must be logically and clearly presented, with the information separated from interpretation. For qualitative studies, summarize the data and data analysis results in relation to the research question(s). Finally, it provides a lead or transition into Chapter 5, where the implications of the data and data analysis relative to the research question(s) will be discussed. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

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Methodologist Score

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SUMMARY

(Typically one or two pages)

Presents a clear and logical summary of data analysis approach.

X

Summarizes the data and data analysis results in relation to the research questions.

X

Discusses limitations that emerged based on data collection and data analysis and how the interpretation of results may be affected by the limitations.

X

Provides a concluding section and transition to Chapter 5.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations

Introduction and Summary of Study

The minimum progression milestone for a draft of the full dissertation manuscript (Preliminary Pages, Abstract, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and Appendices) “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist and content expert is in dissertation course 972E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 972E is the absolute latest course for full dissertation acceptance by chair and submission to committee members. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit the draft Chapter 5 and full dissertation draft in earlier dissertation courses.

Chapter 5 is perhaps the most important chapter in the dissertation manuscript because it presents the researcher’s contribution to the body of knowledge. For many who read research literature, this may be the only chapter they will read. Chapter 5 typically begins with overview of why the study is important and how the study was designed to contribute to our understanding of the research topic within the context of the problem space identified in Chapter 2. The remainder of the chapter contains a summary of the overall study, a summary of the findings and conclusions, implications derived from the study, and a final section on recommendations for future research and practice.

No new data should be introduced in Chapter 5; however, references should be made to findings or citations presented in earlier chapters. The researcher can articulate new frameworks and new insights derived from the synthesis of study results. The concluding words of Chapter 5 should emphasize both the most important points of the study, study strengths and weaknesses, and directions for future research. This should be presented in the simplest possible form, making sure to preserve the conditional nature of the insights. Study findings should not be misinterpreted, exaggerated, or personalized. lopesup

Criterion

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Chair Score

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INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF STUDY

(Typically two to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Provides an overview of why the study is important and how the study was designed to contribute to understanding the topic and problem space.

X

Provides a transition, explains what will be covered in the chapter and reminds the reader of how the study was conducted.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary of Findings and Conclusion

Overall Organization

This section of Chapter 5 is organized by research question(s), and it conveys the specific findings of the study. The section presents conclusions made based on the data analysis and findings of the study and relates the findings back to the literature in Chapter 2. Significant themes/findings are compared and contrasted, evaluated, and discussed considering the existing body of knowledge. The significance of every finding is analyzed and related back to Chapter 2 discussion of the Problem Space and ties the study together. The findings are also bounded by the research study parameters described in Chapters 1 and 3, are supported by the data and theory, and directly relate to the research question(s). No unrelated or speculative information is presented in this section. Conclusions represent the contribution to knowledge and fill in what still needs to be understood in the knowledge as evidenced in the literature. They should also relate directly to the problem space. The conclusions are major generalizations, and an answer to the research problem developed in Chapters 1 and 2. This is where the study binds together. In this section, personal opinion is permitted, as long as it is backed with the data, grounded in the study results presented in Chapter 4, and synthesized/supported within the existing research literature presented in Chapter 2. lopesup

Reflection on the Dissertation Process

The learner should end this section by discussing what they have learned throughout the dissertation process, specific to designing, conducting, and interpreting findings of their original research. This includes what changed in the learner’s understanding of research and the process. This also includes a thoughtful reflection on what was accomplished and/or a reflection on data collection or data analysis concerns that hindered or supported the intended accomplishment(s).

Reflective practices during the dissertation consist of the researcher thinking about and reflecting on their process (Finlay, 2002). Reflecting is important when there are challenges in the data reporting due to changes from the plan to the execution of the research project. The purpose of this added section is to provide the reader with a clearer understanding of what the researcher learned through the process of conducting this research, specifically with regards to designing, conducting, and interpreting findings. lopesup

Criterion

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Chair Score

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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

(Typically three to five pages)

Organizes Chapter 5 using the same section titles as Chapter 4, by research question(s) or by themes. Significant themes/ findings are compared and contrasted, synthesized and discussed in light of the existing body of knowledge covered in Chapter 2

X

Summarizes study findings. Compares, contrasts and synthesizes study findings in context to prior research on the topic (Chapter 2). Provides a cogent discussion on how the study is aligned to and/or advances the research on the topic.

X

Illustrates that findings are bounded by the research study design described in Chapters 1, 2 and 3.

X

Illustrates how findings are supported by the data and theory, and how the findings directly align to and answer the research question(s).

X

Discusses transferability of findings and relates each of the findings directly to the Background of the Study section of Chapter 1 and Identification of the Problem Space in Chapter 2.

X

Refrains from including unrelated or speculative information in this section.

X

Provides a conclusion to summarize the findings, referring to Chapters 4 and 2, and tying the study together.

X

The learner reflects back on their dissertation process specific to designing, conducting, and interpreting findings of their original research. This includes what changed in the learner’s understanding of research and the process.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Implications

This section should describe what could happen because of this research. It also is an opportunity to inform the reader what the research implies theoretically, practically, and for the future. Additionally, it provides a retrospective examination of the theoretical framework presented in Chapter 2 considering the dissertation’s findings. A critical evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the study and the degree to which the conclusions are credible given the methodology, research design, and data, should also be presented. The section delineates applications of new insights derived from the dissertation to solve real and significant problems. Implications can be grouped into those related to theory or generalization, those related to practice, and those related to future research. Separate sections with corresponding headings provide proper organization. lopesup

Theoretical Implications

Theoretical implications involve interpretation of the dissertation findings in terms of the research question(s) that guided the study. It is appropriate to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the study critically and include the degree to which the conclusions are credible given the method and data. It should also include a critical, retrospective examination of the framework presented in the Chapter 2 Literature Review section considering the dissertation’s new findings. lopesup

Practical Implications

Practical implications should delineate applications of new insights derived from the dissertation to solve real and significant problems. These implications refer to how the results of the study can be applied in professional practice. lopesup

Future Research Implications

Two kinds of implications for future research are possible: one based on what the study did find or do, and the other based on what the study did not find or do. Generally, future research could look at different kinds of subjects in different kinds of settings, interventions with new kinds of protocols or dependent measures, or new theoretical issues that emerge from the study. Recommendations should be included on which of these possibilities are likely to be most fruitful and why. lopesup

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study

This section includes a critical evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Strengths and weaknesses pertain to the how the researcher conducted the study, and which a researcher would want to repeat or avoid in future studies. For example, a strength of the study might be the collection of ample, rich, “thick” data that supported an analysis of data that produced specific insights that contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge. A weakness in a study might be the anticipated sample size was not obtained, the researcher did not provide sufficient probing or follow-up questions, thus limiting depth of query and final dataset. This section is a critical evaluation and reflection on the degree to which the conclusions are credible given the methodology, research design, and data analysis and results. lopesup

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IMPLICATIONS

(Typically one to four pages)

Theoretical implications.

Provides a retrospective examination of the theoretical foundations presented in Chapter 2 considering the dissertation’s findings.

Connects the findings of the study back to the conceptual framework and the study results are discussed in context to how the results advance a practitioner’s knowledge of that theory, model, or concept.

X

Practical Implications and Future Implications. Connects the study findings to the prior research discussed in Chapter 2 and develops practical and future implications for research based on new insights derived from the research and how the results advance practitioners’ knowledge of the topic and how the results may influence future research or practice.

X

Strengths and Weaknesses.

Critically evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the study, and the degree to which the conclusions are credible given the methodology, research design, and data analysis and results.

Learner reflects on the study and discusses what they would have continued or changed should they do this again

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Recommendations

This section allows the learner to add recommendations for future study based on the results of their authentic dissertation research. In this section, summarize the recommendations that result from the study. Each recommendation should be directly linked to a conclusion described in the previous section. lopesup

Recommendations for Future Research

This section should present recommendations for future research, as well as give a full explanation for why each recommendation is being made. Additionally, this section discusses the areas of research that need further examination or addresses what needed to be understood or new research opportunities the study found. The section ends with a discussion of “next steps” in forwarding this line of research. Recommendations relate back to the Problem Space and literature offered in Chapter 2. Lopesup

Criterion

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Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

(Typically one to two pages)

Lists a minimum of four to six recommendations for practitioners and for future research.

X

Identifies and discusses the areas that need further examination, or that will address what needed to be understood, that the study found.

X

Provides recommendations that relate back to the study significance and advancing scientific knowledge sections in Chapter 1 and theoretical foundations section in Chapter 2.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Recommendations for Future Practice

This section outlines recommendations for future practice based on the results and findings of the study, as well as, a full explanation for why each recommendation is being made. It provides a discussion of who will benefit from reading and implementing the results of the study and presents ideas based on the results that practitioners can implement in the work or educational setting. Unrelated or speculative information that is unsupported by data is clearly identified as such. Recommendations should relate back to the study problem space discussion in Chapter 2. lopesup

Criterion

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Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE PRACTICE

(Typically three to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Lists two to five recommendations for future practice.

X

Discusses who will benefit from reading and implementing the results of the study.

X

Discusses ideas based on the results that practitioners can implement in the work or educational setting.

X

Omits unrelated or speculative information that is unsupported by data.

X

Provides recommendations that relate back to Chapter 2.

X

The Chapter is correctly formatted to dissertation template using the Word Style Tool and APA standards. Writing is free of mechanical errors.

X

All research presented in the Chapter is scholarly, topic-related, and obtained from highly respected academic, professional, original sources. In-text citations are accurate, correctly cited and included in the reference page according to APA standards.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Holistic Reflection on the Problem Space

In this section, the learner provides an overview of what the learner drew from the problem space, and how the study was relevant and contributed to what needed to be understood.

Important Note: the minimum progression milestone for completing the full dissertation manuscript (Preliminary Pages, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and Appendices), approved by all committee members, and successfully submitted/accepted to Level 5 Peer review is dissertation course 973E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 973E is the absolute latest course for dissertation manuscript submission and acceptance into Level 5 peer review. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit to Level 5 peer review in earlier dissertation courses with committee approval. Dissertation Course 974E is the minimum progression milestone to obtain the signed D-65 Form and submit dissertation manuscript to Form and Format. lopesup

Criterion

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HOLISTIC REFLECTION ON THE PROBLEM SPACE.

(Typically three to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Provides an overview of what the learner drew from the problem space

X

Discusses how the study was relevant and contributed to what needed to be understood.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

References Comment by GCU: See APA 7.0 Edition for specific reference to formatting instructions. For more information on references or APA Style, consult the APA website: at http://apastyle.org List all authors up to 20 authors (APA 7th Edition) Comment by GCU: This page must be entitled “References.” This title is centered at the top of the page. All text should be in 12-point Times New Roman font and double-spaced. The Reference list should appear as a numbered new page following Chapter 5 and preceding the Appendices. The title of the section “References” should be styled as Heading 1. The Reference list provides necessary information for the reader to locate and retrieve any source cited in the body of the text. Each source mentioned must appear in the Reference list. Likewise, each entry in the Reference list must be cited in the text. The citations in the Reference list should be styled using the “Refs” style. NOTE: The “Refs” style has been set up as a hanging indent of 0.5” and be double-spaced. Examples of common references are provided below.

Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Addison-Wesley. Comment by GCU: After completing the Reference list, it is important to cross-reference the in-text citations with the items in the Reference list to be certain that all in-text citations are in the Reference list and all items in the Reference list have an in-text citation. Using the Ctrl-F function helps to search for references within the dissertation.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

Armstrong, J. (2010). Naturalistic inquiry. In N. J. Salk (Ed .), Encyclopedia of research design (pp. 880–885). SAGE.

Barzun, J., & Graff, H. F. (1992). The modern researcher: A classic work on research and writing completely revised and brought up to date. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Baxter, P. and Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative case study methodology: Study design and implementation for novice researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544–559

Brands, H. W. (2000). The first American: The life and times of Benjamin Franklin. Doubleday.

Brown, P. A. (2008). A review of the literature on case study research. Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education, 1(1).

Calabrese, R. L. (2006). The elements of an effective dissertation & thesis: A step-by-step guide to getting it right the first time. Roman & Littlefield Education.

Chess, P. S. (2017). Chapter 3: Validity and reliability in qualitative research. In Grand Canyon University (Ed.), GCU doctoral research: Advanced qualitative research methods. http://lc.qa.gcumedia.com/res855/gcu-doctoral-research-advanced-qualitative-research-methods/v1.1/#/chapter/3

Colman, A. M. (2015). A dictionary of psychology (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acref/9780199657681.001.0001

Englander, M. (2012). The interview: Data collection in descriptive phenomenological human scientific research. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 43(1) , 13–35.

Englander, M. (2020). Phenomenological psychological interviewing. The Humanistic Psychologist, 48(1), 54–73. https://doi.org/10.1037/hum0000144

Epstein, J. L. (1987). Parent involvement: What research says to administrators. Education and Urban Society, 19(2), 119–136. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013124587019002002

Euchner, J. (2019) Problem framing. Research-Technology Management, 62(2), 11–13. https://doi.org:10.1080/08956308.2019.1563433

Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A.-G., & Buchner, A. (2007). G*Power 3: A flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 175–191.

Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A.-G. (2009). Statistical power analyses using G*Power 3.1: Tests for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 1149–1160.

Finlay, L. (2002). Negotiating the swamp: The opportunity and challenge of reflexivity in research practice. Qualitative Research, 2(2), 209–230. https://doi.org/10.1177/146879410200200205

Grand Canyon University. (Ed.). (2015). GCU doctoral research: Foundations and theories. http://lc.gcumedia.com/res850/gcu-doctoral-research-foundations-and-theories/v1.1/#/home

Grand Canyon University (Ed.). (2016). GCU doctoral research: Quantitative and qualitative research concepts. http://lc.gcumedia.com/res866/gcu-doctoral-research-quantitative-and-qualitative-research-concepts/v1.1/#/home

Grand Canyon University. (2017a). GCU doctoral research: Advanced qualitative research methods. http://lc.qa.gcumedia.com/res855/gcu-doctoral-research-advanced-qualitative-research-methods/v1.1/#/home

Grand Canyon University. (2017b). GCU doctoral research: The dissertation process. http://lc.gcumedia.com/res885/gcu-doctoral-research-the-dissertation-process/v1.1/#/home

Groenewald, T. (2004). A phenomenological research design illustrated. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 3(1). http://www.ualberta.ca/~iiqm/backissues/3_1/pdf/groenewald.pdf

Guba, E. G. (1981). Criteria for assessing the trustworthiness of naturalistic inquiries. Educational Communication and Technology Journal, 29, 75–91.

Guest, G., Bunce, A., Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods 18(1), 59–82

Hacker, D., Somers, N., Jehn, T., & Rosenzweig, J. (2008). Rules for writers. Bedford/St. Martin's.

Hora, M. T. (2016). Navigating the problem space of academic work: How workload and curricular affordances shape STEM faculty decisions about teaching and learning. AERA Open, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/2332858415627612

Jones, M., and Alony, I. (2011). Guiding the use of grounded theory in doctoral studies—an example from the Australian film industry. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 6, 95–114 .

Koivu, K. L., and Damman, E. K. (2015). Qualitative variations: The sources of divergent qualitative methodological approaches. Quality & Quantity, 49, 2617–2632. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-014-0131-7

Krysik, J. L & Flynn, J. (2013). Research for effective social work practice (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Laub, J. (1999). Assessing the servant organization: Development of the servant organizational leadership assessment (SOLA) instrument (Publications No. 9921922) [Doctoral Dissertation, Florida Atlantic University]. ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Database.

Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. SAGE Publications.

Mason, M. (2010). Sample size and saturation in PhD studies using qualitative interviews. Forum: Qualitative Research, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-11.3.1428

Maxwell, J. A. (2017). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Sage Publications.

Merriam-Webster. (2014). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.).

Nock, A. J. (1943). The memoirs of a superfluous man. Harper & Brothers.

Noor, K. B. M. (2008). Case study: A strategic research methodology. American Journal of Applied Sciences, 5(11), 1602–1604.

Norman, D. A. (1986). Cognitive engineering. In D. A. Norman and S. W. Draper (Eds.), User-centered system design: New perspectives on Human-Computer Interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Reissman, C. K. (2005). Narrative analysis. In N. Kelly, C. Horrocks, K. Milnes, B. Roberts, & D. Robinson, (Eds.), Narrative, Memory, and Everyday Life (pp. 1–7). University of Huddersfield.

Rutledge, B. (2015). Leader empowering behavior and burnout in nurses: A quantitative study (Publication No. 3732870) [Doctoral dissertation, Grand Canyon University]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses @ Grand Canyon University.

Shenton, A. K. (2004). Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative research projects. Education for Information, 22, 63–75.

Spradlin, D. (2012). Are you solving the right problem? Harvard Business Review, 90(9).

Squires, D. A., & Kranyik, R. D. (1995). The comer program: Changing school culture. Educational Leadership, 53(4), 29–32.

Strunk, W. I., & White, E. B. (1979). The elements of style. Macmillan Publishing, Inc.

Yoon, Wan C. (2001). Identifying, organising and exploring problem space for interaction design. IFAC Proceedings, 34(16), 69–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1474-6670(17)41503-5

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Quality of Sources & Reference List

For every in-text citation a reference entry exists; conversely, for every reference list entry there is an in-text citation. Uses a range of references including founding theorists, peer-reviewed empirical research studies from scholarly journals, and government/foundation research reports. The majority of all references must be scholarly, topic-related sources. Websites, dictionaries, and publications without dates (n.d.) are not considered scholarly sources and should not be cited or present in the reference list. In-text citations and reference list must comply with APA 7th Ed.

Ensures that for every in-text citation a reference entry exists. Conversely, for every reference list entry there is a corresponding in-text citation. NOTE: The accuracy of citations and quality of sources must be verified by learner, chair and committee members.

X

X

Uses a range of references including founding theorists, peer-reviewed empirical research studies from scholarly journals, and government /foundation research reports.

X

X

Verifies that approximately 75% of all references are scholarly sources within the last 5 years. The 5-year time frame is referenced at the time of the proposal defense date and at the time of the dissertation defense date. This is a recommendation, not a requirement.

Note: Websites, dictionaries, publications without dates (n.d.), are not considered scholarly sources and are not cited or present in reference list.

X

X

Avoids overuse of books and dissertations.

Books: Recommend a maximum of 10 scholarly books that present cutting edge views on a topic, are research based, or are seminal works. Note: when a book is cited this implies the learner has read the entire book.

Dissertations: Recommend a maximum of 5 published dissertations. Note: dissertations are not considered peer -reviewed; and therefore, should be cited judiciously.

X

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Appendix A. Ten Strategic Points Comment by GCU: FORMATTING TIP: after the Appendix Title use SHIFT + RETURN to create a “soft return.” This will ensure the title and subtitle have the same heading style (e.g., Heading 1), and will ensure the subtitle automatically shows up in the TOC. See note below the TOC in this Template. Comment by GCU: The final version of the 10 strategic points should be included here (you can paste in the table that up until now was at the top of this document). You should move the table here just prior to submitting for Form and Format review.

This is a required appendix. The Ten Strategic Points should be moved from the Preliminary Page at beginning of the Dissertation Template to this Appendix A in the final dissertation manuscript before moving into Level 7 Form and Formatting. lopesup

Appendix B. Site Authorization

This is a required appendix. You must have either a preliminary or formal site authorization letter for Level 2 Proposal Review. The formal site authorization letter is required for Level 4 IRB Review and Level 5 Dissertation Review.

If no site authorization is required, provide a statement stating that, and explain why not site authorization was needed.

Preliminary Site Authorization. At the proposal development stage, preliminary site authorization as evidenced by an email from the appropriate organizational personnel is acceptable, until a formal site authorization letter is obtained. Site authorization letters must be on letterhead of the organization providing permission and signed by the individual authorized to grant such permission per requirements below.

Formal Site Authorization. Prior to IRB submission the learner must obtain formal site authorization to include:

Written on organization letterhead.

Dated within the last 12 months.

Signed by an authorized representative of the site and includes the authorizing representative’s contact information.

Clearly indicate activities for which researcher has obtained authorization. This is very important. The authorization should clearly indicate EXACTLY what authorization is being granted. For example: recruiting by email during work hours, interviewing primary teachers during their planning hours, distributing an electronic survey to staff members, granting access to email, etc.

Site authorization information aligns exactly with recruitment materials, informed consent document, and the IRB application.

To review sample site authorization letter template please refer to GCU’s IRB Research Center on the DC Network: ( https://dc.gcu.edu/documents/irb_documents__iris/irb_forms_templates_updated_jan_2018 )

For purposes of confidentiality, site authorization letters will be deleted from this appendix by the Form and Format reviewer (Level 7 Review – just prior to dean’s signature) and the following text will be inserted: Site authorization(s) on file at Grand Canyon University. lopesup

Appendix C. IRB Approval Letter

This is a required appendix. The IRB approval letter is required for Level 5 Review and published in the final dissertation manuscript.

When you receive IRB approval for your study, you will receive a determination (or approval) letter to move forward with data collection.

Download (from iRIS) then copy/paste a copy of the determination (approval) letter you received from the IRB in this appendix prior to submitting for Level 5 peer review. This letter must be the actual copy issued from IRB, not something the learner types up themselves. lopesup

Appendix D. Informed Consent

This is a required appendix.

A draft of the consent form must be included at Level 2 Review.

The IRB approved (stamped) informed consent document is required for Level 5 Review and published in the final dissertation manuscript.

The IRB Research Center contains the most recent Informed Consent Template. It is essential that learners use the current Informed Consent template to comply with new federal regulations. Important Note: IRB applications submitted using older versions of the Informed Consent Template will require revision to the most current template.

The current informed consent form is located on the DC Network ( https://dc.gcu.edu/documents/irb_documents__iris/irb_forms_templates_updated_jan_2018). lopesup

Appendix E. Copy of Instrument(s) and Permission Letters to Use the Instrument(s)

This is a required appendix. Each separate instrument should be located within this Appendix, and should reflect the name of the instrument, protocol or scoring method, along with any letters of permission, if pertinent. Note that many researchers who conduct qualitative studies do not use instruments or protocols from other studies, unless they have been revised to address the indicated Problem Space and research, since qualitative studies are highly contextualized and specific. If instrument authorization is needed for a qualitative study, refer to the following requirements:

Should be from an author or administrator of the organization

A written letter, e-mail, or a screenshot of the email correspondence is sufficient

Instrument authorization should contain the following items:

The specific name of the instrument to be used

For what purpose the instrument will be used

If possible, statement that the person granting authorization owns the copyright (sometimes that is not the author of the instrument, it could be the journal in which the instrument was first published)

Authorization is granted to use the instrument

If an instrument will be published in the dissertation, authorization to reproduce the instrument in the published dissertation must be obtained from the author(s) and included in this appendix.

Authorization is granted to modify the instrument from the author and the CDS associate dean (if applicable, typically this is not advised, as altering surveys can negate the validity)

Evidence you are qualified to administer, score and interpret the data obtained from the instrument. lopesup

Appendix F. Codebook

This is a required appendix. There are many ways to construct a Codebook in qualitative research, and learners can draw from those approaches by citing the relevant research authorities. The most minimal approach, however, should still produce a table of all codes generated from the analysis regardless of their cycle, along with “definitions” for each code. A “definition” entails the interpretive meaning that made a particular code necessary in the mind of the learner and might offer clues on the situational context tied to that meaning. Because the focus is on the codes exclusively, it does not entail the listing of higher categories or themes, or the tracing of codes to those themes (which is really what should be discussed and illustrated in Ch. 4-Data Analysis Procedures and Ch. 4-Results). lopesup

Table F1 Sample Codebook Comment by GCU: All tables (or figure) in Appendices must include the Appendix “Number” (Table F1)

Code

Coding Cycle

Definition of Code

Name the code

xx

Define sufficiently so someone else could follow directions and code your data

xx

xx

xx

xx

xx

xx

Etc.

Appendix G. Transcripts

This is a required appendix. This appendix is added once data are analyzed to assist with the preparation of Chapters 4 and 5 and should include excerpts of de-identified interview transcripts. Learners are also required to upload raw data to a new folder in the LDP (either create a new 07 Data folder or into a new folder in the existing 05 Folder). This is a requirement for L5 Peer Review. [NOTE: GCU faculty are required to maintain all confidentiality pledged by learner per the IRB approved/stamped Informed Consent]. lopesup

The minimum number of pages for a transcript ranges between 8-15 single spaced pages per interview based on design. Transcripts Refer to Appendix K – Sample Frames, Interview Duration, Transcript Expectations. This requirement is to ensure the researcher obtained the breadth and depth of data needed for a robust qualitative study.

Transcripts showing codes (hand coded or codes within qualitative analysis software) and excerpts from coded transcripts or analyzed research materials are encouraged. lopesup

Appendix H. Feasibility and Benefits Checklist

Note: This appendix is for reference only; delete this appendix in the final dissertation manuscript

As you develop your dissertation, please complete this table to help you consider the gatekeepers involved in your study, the possible risks, the benefits of the study, authorizations, and potential challenges. Research should have some benefits to be truly academic. Comment by GCU: Delete this information before you move into dissertation.

In addition, as you are designing your study, reading peer-reviewed journal articles and books, and talking to peers/colleagues, please consider the following:

Is your recruitment plan clear? (How will you access people that you want to talk to?)

How will you obtain the data you want to use?

Will you be able to collect data that you propose?

Are the data analyses well-developed?

Will you be able to accurately portray and understand what your participants/data had to say?

Gatekeepers:

Who are the possible gatekeepers? (i.e., If you are in a school district, have you checked with the principal and the superintendent’s office or their designee to see what the process is for research? Or, if you are at a company, talked with the management, etc.?

If you are planning on collecting data from a college, what is the process? It is preferred that you obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from that institution prior to applying for GCU’s IRB approval).

Gatekeeper Contact:

Who do you need to keep in contact with as you form your research project to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risk and you can conduct your research? How will you initiate and maintain contact with them?

Outside IRB:

If you are planning on recruiting participants or getting data from a college (or other institutions with an IRB), have you talked to their IRB determine the process and what participants/data they will allow you access? Please note, IRB approval typically takes some time.

Study Benefits:

What is the benefit of your research? Who do you need to keep in contact with as you form your research project to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks?

Remember that research should have a benefit; what benefit does your research have to others beside yourself?

Research Activity:

Is your research part of normal every day activities? This is significant because this must be outlined in your site authorization. A preliminary site authorization letter could simply be an email from a school/college/organization that indicates they understand what you want to do and how that benefits the school/college/organization. In some cases this will determine the classification of the study (this is especially important for educational research studies).

***Please see below for information regarding preliminary site authorization

Recruitment:

Please describe your proposed recruitment strategy. How do you plan to involve your participants in the process? What would your flyer/email say?

Data Collection:

What are you asking of participants? Are you asking them personal information (like demographic information such as age, income, relationship status)? Is that personal information necessary? How much time are you asking of participants (for example, if you are asking them to be interviewed, be in a focus group, fill out a questionnaire, fill out a journal/survey, collect artifacts, etc.)? How much time will they have to spend to be in your study? Does each part of your data collection help answer your research question? Participants must be told how long it will take to them to participate in each activity. Are you concerned that the activities will take too long and participants might not finish/drop out?

Can you collect your data in a reasonable amount of time considering the stakeholders and possible challenges of gaining access to participants?

Child Assent:

Studies with children often fall under the regulations for a full board review (full board reviews take significantly longer in IRB). Each child must fill out a child assent AFTER there is parental consent. (It can be very difficult to get parental consent, especially if this is something sent home to parents).

Informed Consent:

Participants must be told how long it will take to participants to participate in each activity. Are you concerned that the activities will take too long and participants might not finish/drop out?

Site Authorization:

Do you have a site authorization letter? How difficult will this be to get from the school/ school district/college/organization? Use the GCU template to ensure the correct information is included.

Can you collect your data in a reasonable amount of time considering the stakeholders and possible challenges of gaining access to participants?

Organizational Benefits:

Have you talked to your principal/supervisor/district/college/boss/ organization about your research? If so, have you asked them what you can do to help the district/organization/school?

What is the overall benefit of your research to participants?

What are the risks of your research? Please note that there are usually some risks (like revealing participant identity) in all research.

Now that you have contemplated the above questions, how long do you imagine it will take you prior to access your participants/data? AND, how much are you asking of your participants?

Based on the information that you have learned, is your study feasible? Why or why not? If not, how can you modify your ideas to make your study manageable?

· Formal Site Authorization Requirements:

Written on organizational letterhead

Dated within the last 12 months

Signed by an authorized representative of the site

Clearly indicate activities for which researcher has obtained authorization – This is very important. The authorization should clearly indicate EXACTLY what authorization is being granted. For example: recruiting by email during work hours, interviewing primary teachers during their planning hours, distributing an electronic survey to staff members, granting access to email, etc.

This information must align with recruitment, informed consent and the IRB application

· Instrument Authorization:

Should be from an author or administrator of the organization

A written letter, e-mail, or a screenshot of the email correspondence is sufficient

Instrument authorization should contain the following items:

The specific name of the instrument to be used

For what purpose the instrument will be used

If possible, statement that the person granting authorization owns the copyright (sometimes that is not the author of the instrument, it could be the journal in which the instrument was first published)

Authorization is granted to use the instrument

Authorization is granted to modify the instrument from the author and the CDS associate dean (if applicable, typically this is not advised, as altering surveys can negate the validity)

Evidence you are qualified to administer, score and interpret the data obtained from the instrument.

· Please see the DC network ( https://dc.gcu.edu/irb) for help with the difference between anonymity and confidentiality, informed consent, site authorization, data use agreements and many other helpful videos and job-aids.

· Something to consider: If you are doing a quantitative study you can consider using a reputable research company, such as Qualtric, SurveyMonkey, Mturk, Prolific, to recruit study participants and collect data on your behalf; this is a VERY quick way to collect your data. Each company has their own requirements and capabilities. Please research to see how they can help you; it will depend on the eligibility criteria you have for your study and if they have access to that participant pool. Please note there are associated costs when using a research company for participant recruitment/data collection. lopesup

·

Appendix I. Strategies to Establish Trustworthiness

Note: This appendix is for reference only; delete this appendix in the final dissertation manuscript

Used with Permission:

Chess, P.S. (2017). Chapter 3, Validity and reliability in qualitative research. In Grand Canyon

University (Ed). (2017). GCU doctoral research: Advanced qualitative research methods.

http://lc.gcumedia.com/res855/gcu-doctoral-research-advanced-qualitative-research-methods/v1.1/

lopesup

Appendix J. Developing Qualitative Interview Questions Systematically

Note: This appendix is for reference only; delete this appendix in the final dissertation manuscript

Luis E. Zayas, PhD

Associate Professor & Peer Reviewer

College of Doctoral Studies

Grand Canyon University

Used with Permission

Qualitative Interviewing

· What is a qualitative interview?

· A conversation with a purpose – data gathering

· Open-ended format using probes

· Ideally with the least interviewer interjection as possible

· Interviewer is an extension of the instrument

· Requires many technical skills to elicit quality data

· Face-to-face vs telephone vs survey interviews

· Individual, in-depth vs. group interviews (small focus groups vs. large town hall meetings)

Dramaturgy and Interviewing

· Symbolic interactionism

· People perceive and interact in reality through the use of symbols

· The meaning of these symbols comes about as a result of a process of social interaction

· Interviewing as social performance

· Drama – a mode of symbolic action in which actors perform symbolically for an audience.

· Involves social actors and audience

· Active interviewing – meaning-making

· Interviewer’s role – actor, director, choreographer

· Interviewee’s role – leading actor in life drama

Types of Qualitative Interviews

· Major difference is degree of rigidity with regards to presentational structure

· Standardized (structured)

· Semi-standardized (semi-structured)

· Unstandardized (unstructured)

Standardized Interviews

· Similar in format to survey, but open-ended

· Use when you have a pretty good idea about the things you want to uncover

· Assumes the meaning of each Q is the same for every subject (positivist / objectivist framework)

· Operate from perspective that one’s thoughts are intricately related to one’s actions

Examples:

· Tell me what you eat for breakfast? (laundry list)? _______

· How many times a week do you eat fruits? _____________

· What kinds of physical activities do you engage in? _______

· Major limitations: short responses; lack of probing; manifest (literal) meaning, lack of context

Semi-Standardized Interviews

· Use when you have a general idea of what you want to elicit but do not want to restrict how it is presented

· Predetermined questions, special topics

· More flexibility in wording of questions and probing

· Assumes that not all subjects will necessarily find equal meaning in like-worded questions (phenomenological / relativistic framework)

· Reflects awareness that individuals understand the world in varying ways

See template and example

Unstandardized Interviews

· Use when you don’t know in advance what questions to ask (e.g. participant observation)

· Completely unstructured, no set order to Qs.

· Total flexibility in wording of questions and probing

· Same epistemological assumptions as semi-standardized (phenomenological / relativistic)

· Reflects awareness that individuals understand the world in varying ways

· Questions and probes appropriate to each given situation & to the purpose of the study

Instrument Development (Brainstorming)

· Determine the nature of the investigation and research objectives (how structured?)

· Develop an outline listing broad categories relevant to the study that are based on the literature or theory.

· Develop set of questions relevant to each of the categories in the outline

· Exercise: develop semi-structured schedule

· Topic: learning to cope with asthma

Template for Instrument Development

· Main Study Question

Topic I:

Q.1:

Q.2:

Q.3:

Topic II:

Q.4:

Q.5:

Q.6:

Topic III:

Q.7:

Q.8:

Q.9:

What else that we’ve not discussed can you tell me…?

Example of Questions Within a Template

· RQ: How do adults w/ asthma living in communities w/ high asthma prevalence can learn to cope w/ the illness?

Theme I: Perceptions of asthma.

Q.1: What do you think asthma is?

Q.2: What do you think gives people asthma?

Q.3: What things worry you more about asthma?

Theme II: Coping with asthma.

Q.4: How can people take care of their asthma?

Q.5: How does your doctor help you with your asthma?

Q.6: What lifestyle changes can help people with asthma?

Theme III: Learning about asthma.

Q.7: How do you get information about asthma?

Q.8: How do you learn to take care of your asthma?

Q.9: How else could people get information about asthma?

Q.10. What could be done to improve asthma education in your community?

Q.11. What else that we’ve not discussed thus far can you tell me about…?

Schedule Development (Sequencing)

· Question order (sequencing)

1. Start with easy, nonthreatening questions

2. Next, more important questions (not sensitive)

3. Then, more sensitive questions

4. Validating questions (pertaining to important or sensitive questions)

5. Next important topic or conceptual area of Qs.

6. Repeat steps 3 and 4, and so on

· Content – level of language, wording

· Styles of Qs – essential, extra, throw-away (general Qs to develop rapport), probing

· Number of Qs based also on interview length and depth (e.g., 8-12 Qs for 60 min interview)

· Problems in question formulation

1. Affectively worded questions

· Try to neutralize the sense of the questions

· “How come?” vs. “why did you do that wrong”?

2. Double-barrel questions

· “How many times have you smoked marijuana, or have you only tried cocaine”?

3. Complex questions

· Keep questions brief and concise

4. Too many questions (long interviews)

· Keep interview between 60-90 mins.

· Telephone interviews 20-30 mins.

Pretesting

· Expert review

· Mock interview

· Assess for:

· Inclusion of all the necessary questions

· Do questions elicit the types of response anticipated?

· Is the language of the research instrument meaningful to the respondents?

· Are there other problems with the questions? (e.g., multiple issues addressed in single Q.)

· Does it motivate and engage respondents?

Interview Training

· Learning to build rapport

· Learn the questions, practice

· Develop listening skills

· Probing skills without leading

· Silence, echoing, follow leads

Probes: repeat question, what, when, where, how, give me an example, tell me a story that illustrates that point, please elaborate on that.

· Issues of power

· Self-reflection

· Professionalism

Focus Groups

· Moderator’s guide similar to individual interview schedule, but must consider group dynamic

· Collective brainstorming, synergistic group effect

· Greater interviewing skill level required in order to moderate effectively

· Guide should be shorter (6-8 Qs) in order to engage as many participants as much as possible.

· Qs should NOT be same as individual interview Qs in studies using multiple sources of data collection

· FG Qs should explore a specific aspect of research problem or of findings from individual interviews. lopesup

References

Padgett, Deborah K. (2008). Qualitative methods in social work research. Sage Publications.

Zayas L.E., McLean D. Asthma patient education opportunities in predominantly minority urban communities. Health Education Research, 2007; 22(6):757-769.

Appendix K. Sample Frames, Interview Duration, Transcript Expectations

Note: This appendix is for reference only; delete this appendix in the final dissertation manuscript

Qualitative Research Design

Reasonable Sample Frame

Minimum Projected

Sample Size

Minimum Achieved Sample Size

Case Study

60+ individuals

20 individuals

10 individuals

Qualitative Descriptive

60+ individuals

20 individuals

10 individuals

Phenomenology

35+ individuals

12 individuals

8 individuals

Narrative Study

35+ individuals

12 individuals

8 individuals

Grounded Theory

60+ individuals

20 individuals (*iterative sampling)

10 individuals

Qualitative Research Design

Minimum

Interview Length Per Person

Corresponding *

Minimum Transcript Length Per Person

Corresponding *

Minimum Transcript Range Per Person

Case Study

45+ minutes

8+ pages single-space typed

8-12 pages single-space typed

Qualitative Descriptive

45+ minutes

8+ pages single-space typed

8-12 pages single-space typed

Phenomenology

60+ minutes

15+ pages single-space typed

15-20 pages single-space typed per person

Narrative Study

60+ minutes

15+ pages single-space typed

15-20 pages single-space typed

Grounded Theory

45+ minutes

8+ pages single-space typed

8-12 pages single-space typed

* “Corresponding” projections above are based on the minimum interview length shown for each core design. Learners can pursue longer interviews, which would increase the corresponding range of transcript pages .

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Appendix L. Minimum Progression Milestones Comment by GCU: The learner will delete this this appendix if it is not used.

Note: This appendix is for reference only; delete this appendix in the final dissertation manuscript

Dissertation Course

Course Length (weeks)

Minimum Progression Requirement

Week of Pass/Fail Assignment Due

955

8

Prospectus “Acceptance” by chair and methodologist

6

960

8

Draft Chapter 2 or 3 “Acceptance” by chair and Submission to content expert or methodologist

6

965

8

Draft Chapter 3 or 2 “Acceptance” by chair and Submission to methodologist or content expert

6

966E

12

Draft Chapter 1 “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist and content expert

10

967E

12

Full Finalized Proposal Submitted to Committee Members *learner may progress forward if this is not achieved, but will be required to meet the minimum requirement in the next course

11

(not pass/fail*)

968E

12

Successful submission and admittance to Level 2 Peer Review

10

969E

12

Level 2 Peer Review Approval (D-35)

10

970E

12

IRB Approval (D-50)

10

971E

12

Draft Chapter 4 “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist

10

972E

12

Full dissertation “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist and content expert

10

973E

12

Successful submission and admittance to Level 5 Peer Review

10

974E

12

D-65 and successful submission and admittance to F&F

11

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Learners should work on their dissertation a minimum of 20 hours per week. Less time spent may hinder successful completion of minimum progression requirements.

Appendix M. Additional Appendices Comment by GCU: The learner will delete this this appendix if it is not used.

Note: This appendix is for reference only; delete this appendix in the final dissertation manuscript if no additional appendices are needed

Additional appendices may include descriptive data, statistical results, raw data (as appropriate), or other critical information pertinent to the dissertation. For the proposal, consider including all recruitment scripts (flyers, email text) and other documents planned for use in the study. Consult with the chair on additional appendices appropriate for the dissertation.

Example:

Copy of the Invitation to Participate (Study Advertisement)

Learners should provide a template of the recruitment materials that will advertise the study to candidates from the target population. For example, this might entail a preview of the email outreach or other forms of communication, such as a traditional letter, a posted flier, a web-forum post, or a full web-page advertisement. Recruitment materials are important in qualitative research because they advertise the inclusion criteria for the study and help enforce the sampling strategy.

Important Note: for learners who plan to use a web-forum or webpage to advertise their study, please be aware that you cannot publish a live post or webpage pertaining to your study until GCU-IRB has completed its review and assigned IRB approval. You can only preview its design in this Appendix as part of the proposal. Lopesup

QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 12.01.21

© College of Doctoral Studies, Grand Canyon University 2005-2021

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,

D’Ainsley,

Thank you for sending the demographic questionnaire and other data collection questions. Note that the first set of questions are not about demographics. Demographics pertain to characteristics of the sample, such as gender, age, racial/ethnic identify group, education level, and other broad parameters.

It is not clear how the first sets of questions that you provided will be used. You have interview and focus group questions in this document, but this does not help understand the first sets of questions.

There are some tips for improving the questionnaire in the bubble comments below for the first set of questions.

It is difficult to evaluate the questions as a stand alone document. Note, however, the research questions must align with the problem statement. Without the full proposal, it is difficult to know if the research questions meet this criteria.

The interview and focus group questions require a sample that have experiences that are quite specific. It seems that your inclusion and exclusion criteria for the study will need to include

employers with experience with professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' output, technical knowledge, and capital stock. Otherwise the research questions, interview questions, and focus group questions will not be able to be answered.

Please submit the revised proposal with your next draft of the questions so I may evaluate these and other issues.

Dr. Stanley

Demographic Questionnaire

1. Please describe your current role in your organization

2. How long have you been in a leadership or managerial position within the company?

3. Describe the industry and nature of your organization's business operations. Comment by Laurel Stanley: Do not use double barreled questions, such as Q3, which is two questions and should be separated as such. Avoid yes or no questions, such as Q3, part 2.

Introductory questions for: Do corporate leaders value the use of professional certifications as a perceived profitability to their organization?

1. Provide examples of specific professional certifications that you consider particularly valuable to your organization's success. Comment by Laurel Stanley: Ask for descriptions of the certifications for more detail.

2. How have these certifications positively impacted the performance and profitability of your teams? Comment by Laurel Stanley: Avoid leading questions. Do not assume the certification s made a positive impact. Ask for descriptions about any impact about he certification

3. When making hiring decisions, how do you weigh the possession of professional certifications against other factors such as experience, educational background, and demonstrated skills?

4. Share a recent example of how certifications influenced a candidate's salary negotiation.

5. What are the results on reviews on the return on investment (ROI) associated with employees who have obtained professional certifications? Comment by Laurel Stanley: How do you know they have this information or can share it?

6. State the measured improvements in project completion times, reduced error rates, or increased client satisfaction directly tied to certification-holding employees. Comment by Laurel Stanley: See previous comment

7. How do you communicate the value of professional certifications to your organization's stakeholders, including investors, clients, and employees? Comment by Laurel Stanley: See previous comment

8. Provide instances where the presence of certifications has positively influenced your organization's reputation and subsequently its profitability. Comment by Laurel Stanley: See previous comment

RQ1: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' output?

1. What notable improvements or outcomes have you observed that have directly influenced your employees' work output, productivity, or performance? Comment by Laurel Stanley: Ask for descriptions of any notable improvements or outcomes

2. Provide specific examples of how professional certifications and qualifications have directly influenced your employees' work output, productivity, or performance.

3. How do you communicate the expectations and benefits of obtaining professional certifications or qualifications to your employees? Comment by Laurel Stanley: describe

4. What strategies or approaches do you use to encourage them to pursue these credentials and integrate the knowledge gained into their daily tasks?

5. What are the consistent enhancements in employee output after they have obtained relevant certifications or qualifications you have observed?

6. How would share instances where an employee's work quality or efficiency noticeably improved post-certification?

7. How do you track and measure the impact of professional certifications on key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics related to your employees' output?

8. State the specific benchmarks you use to assess the effectiveness of these certifications in driving better results.

9. Describe a scenario where an employee's utilization of knowledge gained through certifications led to a creative solution, innovation, or process improvement that positively impacted the organization's overall output or competitive position.

RQ2: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' capital stock?

1. From your perspective, how does the acquisition of professional certifications impact employees' overall value to the organization in monetary terms?

2. Share instances where employees with relevant certifications were able to take on more responsibilities or contribute to projects that directly impacted the company's financial performance.

3. How do you evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of funding employees' pursuit of professional certifications in terms of their technical knowledge improvement and subsequent contributions to the organization's success?

4. What are the specific benchmarks or metrics you use to quantify the impact of enhanced technical knowledge through certifications on the organization's financial outcomes?

5. Provide instances where employees' technical knowledge has shown marked improvement because of obtaining relevant professional certifications and qualifications. How have these credentials contributed to enhancing their expertise and abilities?

6. How do you view professional certifications and qualifications as mechanisms for boosting your employees' technical knowledge and keeping them up to date with industry advancements?

7. In what ways do you encourage employees to leverage the technical knowledge gained through certifications to solve complex problems, innovate, and drive process improvements within your organization?

8. How would you describe situations where the application of enhanced technical knowledge gained from certifications has directly led to more efficient workflows, optimized systems, or successful implementation of new technologies within your company?

9. How does the integration of technical knowledge gained from certifications align with your organization's efforts to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving industry?

RQ3: How do employers describe the use of professional certifications and qualifications to improve their employees' technical knowledge?

1. How would you define the term "professional certification" within the context of your organization?

2. In your opinion, how do professional certifications and qualifications contribute to enhancing employees' technical knowledge within your organization?

3. Provide specific examples of instances where employees' technical knowledge significantly improved after obtaining relevant professional certifications. How did these certifications facilitate their skill development?

4. What measures or strategies do you have in place to ensure that employees apply the technical knowledge gained through certifications in their day-to-day tasks?

5. How do you perceive the relationship between technical knowledge enhancement through certifications and employees' ability to tackle complex challenges or drive innovation within the organization?

6. How do you communicate the value of professional certifications and the resulting technical knowledge enhancement to your employees?

7. Please share specific ways in which you promote a culture of continuous learning and the pursuit of certifications within your organization.

8. In what ways does the presence of employees with advanced technical knowledge gained from certifications positively influence your company's reputation in the industry and among clients?

9. What challenges, if any, have you encountered when integrating employees' technical knowledge gained from certifications into the organization's daily operations?

10. How do you envision the role of professional certifications evolving in the coming years, especially in relation to enhancing employees' technical knowledge and contributing to the organization's growth?

Thank you for participating in this research study. Your insights will provide valuable information on how employers perceive the use of professional certifications to enhance employees' technical knowledge and its potential impact on monetary valuation. Your responses will be kept confidential and shall contribute to a better understanding of this topic.

Interview Questions Guide

1. How do you view the monetary value associated with obtaining a professional certification?

2. Please describe obstacles you have encountered in your career development related to professional certifications and how you overcame them.

3. Please connect your career success with your organization's recognition of the value of professional certifications.

4. Please elaborate on how organizations perceive the importance of certifications in advancing employees to top positions.

5. How comfortable do you feel about your career path and position within your organization, given your professional certifications?

6. What is your opinion on the importance of idealized influence in shaping employees' career development, particularly those with professional certifications?

7. How would you describe the ideal form of leadership influence that has shaped your career, considering your certifications?

8. Considering the contributions employees with professional certifications make to organizational development, please elaborate on how mentorship is still essential for their career growth.

9. Please specify the factors that facilitated your transformation as a leader with professional certifications, and how did they contribute to your journey to a top management position in your organization?

10. How do you assess your career success compared to colleagues in similar positions within your organization who also hold professional certifications?

11. Please elaborate on the advice you have for individuals aspiring to advance their careers through professional certifications and achieving monetary success.

12. Based on your experience in the organizational context, what strategies do you think can be effective in expanding programs aimed at enhancing employees' career trajectories through professional certifications?

Probing questions:

1. How?

2. Why?

3. Please elaborate further on that.

4. What is your perspective on that?

5. Please share your opinion on that.

Focus Group Guide

1. Share details about your career progression within your organization before reaching your current position.

2. How would you describe the significance of professional certifications in your employees' career development within your organization?

3. Provide specific achievements or certifications among your employees that have notably contributed to their professional growth.

4. In your opinion, which certifications have played a pivotal role in your employees' advancement within your organization?

5. To what extent do you believe that certifications and skills gained through training influence employee performance and contributions to the organization's success?

6. How would you characterize the impact of employees' certifications on their career choices and their ability to meet the organization's objectives?

7. Discuss any differences you have observed in career advancement opportunities based on employees' certifications and skills.

8. How do you assess the importance of employees seeking validation and recognition for their certifications and skills in the workplace?

9. What strategies or support mechanisms do you believe organizations should implement to assist employees in developing their skills and certifications for the benefit of the organization?

10. From your perspective, how does your organization evaluate the monetary value of employees' certifications in terms of their contributions to the company's success?

11. Research suggests that employees with certain certifications often enhance the organization's performance. What are your thoughts on this assertion and its relevance to your organization?

12. What advice would you offer to organizations seeking to leverage employees' certifications and skills for financial growth and success?

Probing questions:

1. How?

2. Why?

3. Please elaborate further on that.

4. What is your perspective on that?

5. Please share your opinion on that.

,

[Type here]

Hello D’Ainsley,

I am your dissertation committee methodologist. I am looking forward to working with you on the proposal and dissertation. I have reviewed Chapters 1 and 3, as well as some Appendixes. There are some overarching issues in the document that pertain to the feasibility of the study.

Other important overarching considerations are in the bulleted list below. Also, please see all embedded feedback in Chapters 1 and 3. Respond to all feedback. Make revisions or modifications in blue font. Leave my comments intact if possible. Please remove outdated text completely.

· It is not clear if the proposed research is feasible for a dissertation. There is no clear research need for the study as attested to by recent research with citations in Chapter 1. For example, recommendations for research in the topic area or limitations of recent research in the topic area are needed, with citations.

· Some cited sources are not from peer reviewed journals, such as the following example. This was cited as a gap source but is not peer reviewed or relevant to your topic. Some citations were not in the reference list.

Blundell, R et al. (2021).  Inequalities in education, skills, and incomes in the UK: The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. London: IFS. Available at:  https://ifs.org.uk/publications/inequalities-education-skills-and-incomes-uk-implications-covid-19-pandemic

· The problem statement must be supported by the problem space. This was not apparent in Chapter 1.

· There is also no site approval(s) to recruit a sample of participants. Site approvals must be obtained to show the feasibility of the study.

· The document has serious writing issues including writing mechanics, terminology, and lack of clarity. A suggestion is to work with a writing coach/tutor or use an app or program to help with writing on the doctoral level.

· There are issues of misalignment between the problem, purpose, research questions, data collection, and analysis.

· There are also issues of lack of consistency in the document. For example, the same purpose statement must be used throughout the document. You currently have several versions.

· There should be data collection instruments in the appendix that are aligned with the research questions and theoretical foundation.

Please see bubble comments throughout Chapter 1 and 3. Respond to all comments and remember that changes made in one place will require changes throughout the document.

Please work with your chair on revision. I am available for a Zoom call as needed.

Dr. Laurel Stanley, methodologist, September 24, 2023

Ten Strategic Points

Ten Strategic Points

The ten strategic points emerge from researching literature on a topic, which is based on, or aligned with a defined need or problem space within the literature as well as the learner’s personal passion, future career purpose, and degree area. The Ten Strategic Points document includes the following key points that define the research focus and approach:

Strategic Points Descriptor

Learner Strategic Points for Proposed Study

1.

Dissertation Topic– Provides a broad research topic area/title.

“The Monetary Value of Professional Certifications to Corporations”

· A professional certification is becoming more valuable in today’s workplace because employers value a standardized set of skills and qualifications to perform the job – especially in the fields of IT, corporate business, and healthcare.

· In a competitive job market, certifications offer heightened career advancement opportunities for workers. In fact, conservative research shows that employees who hold certifications are more confident and knowledgeable, reach job proficiency quicker, are more reliable and perform at a higher level than those without.

· For continuing education employers, this is an opportunity to meet the demands of their business needs, and employees who want the highest level of knowledge in their industry. When a company offers employee certification preparation it assists employees with advancement of their careers; but is also is a revenue generator for the organization, and the employee.

2.

Literature Review – Lists primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: (a) Background of the problem and the need for the study based on citations from the literature; (b) Theoretical foundations (theories, models, and concepts) and if appropriate the conceptual framework to provide the foundation for study); (c) Review of literature topics with key themes for each one; (d) Summary.

A. Background of the problem/gap:

i. “The majority of information technology (IT) employment literature, as discussed previously, is focused on academic degrees and certification. Little, if any, has looked at the big picture of relative employer valuation of academic degrees, certifications, and work experience. To address this gap, this research focuses on the employer’s relative valuation of academic degrees, certifications, and work experience; this research has failed to acknowledge the curriculum that employers are most (50%) interested in: experience” (Wierschem & Mediavilla, 2018)

ii. Umit, Esra, Kultigin & Serhat (2012) identified there has been limited empirical work to examine the relationship between the elements of career motivation and key employee behavior such as employment and turnover intentions, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and work performance.

b. Theoretical Foundations (models and theories to be foundation for study);

While professional certifications are not a requirement in the corporate setting, they provide an extra credit to those who have them. Candidates put in long hours of study, to achieve the highest level of professional standards. Professional certifications can open many doors throughout an individual’s career, especially when one is searching for the next challenge. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to look at the Certifications section of a resume before anything else. Employers desire candidates with up-to-date knowledge, and professional certifications that displays to them a person’s mastery of a particular technology or practice.

c. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one;

i. Cognitive Development: Empirical research shows that a relationship exists between professional certification development, employer monetary-value, and employee success in areas such as information technology, corporate business, and healthcare.

d. Summary

i. Obtaining professional certifications leads to improved career development and employee performance.

· Gap in terms of additional research needed to examine these findings.

3.

Problem Statement – Describes the problem to address through the study based on defined needs or problem space supported by the literature

· It is not known how corporate leaders value the use of professional certifications as a perceived profitability to their organization

4.

Sample and Location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study phenomenon with small numbers).

· Business professionals and Corporate Leaders located in Northern United States – Executive Management Professionals, Corporate CEO’s

· Interviews of a minimum of 10 to 12 participants or until data saturation is met.

· Surveys

5.

Research Questions – Provides research questions to collect data to address the problem statement.

· RQ1: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' output?

· RQ2: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' capital stock?

· RQ3: How do employers describe the use of professional certifications and qualifications to improve their employees' technical knowledge?

6.

Phenomenon – Describes the phenomenon to be better understood (qualitative).

· Understanding if corporate leaders value the use of professional certifications as a perceived profitability to their organization

7.

Methodology and Design – Describes the selected methodology and specific research design to address the problem statement and research questions.

· Qualitative

· Descriptive – Interviews/Focus Groups/Social Media Outputs/Archival Documentation Analysis

8.

Purpose Statement – Provides one sentence statement of purpose including the problem statement, methodology, design, target population, and location.

· The purpose of this qualitative study is to determine if corporate leaders value the use of professional certifications as a perceived profitability to their Northern United States organization

9.

Data Collection – Describes primary instruments and sources of data to answer research questions.

· Voice interview data will be recorded using an Echo Livescribe pen. Handwritten data will be transcribed using MyScribe. The voice files will be transcribed by a transcription company, which will convert the information into word format.

10.

Data Analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address research questions.

· Data will be organized and prepared for analysis using MAXQDA, Member Checking, and compiled and summarized identifying common themes to address the research questions, and descriptive statistics will summarize the data.

The Monetary Value of Professional Certifications to Corporations

Submitted by

D’Ainsley T. Smith

Equal Spacing

~2.0” – 2.5”

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Business Administration

Equal Spacing~2.0” – 2.5”

Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, Arizona

[Type here]

September 13, 2023

iii

QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 12.01.21

© College of Doctoral Studies, Grand Canyon University 2005-2021

© by D’Ainsley T. Smith, 2023

All rights reserved.

QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 01.24.21

© College of Doctoral Studies, Grand Canyon University 2005-2021

Grand Canyon University

The Monetary Value of Professional Certifications to Corporations

By

D’Ainsley T. Smith

Successfully Defended and Approved by All Dissertation Committee Members

[Insert Date]

DISSERTATION COMMITTEE APPROVAL:

The following committee members certify they have read and approve this dissertation and deem it fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of XXX.

Full Legal Name, EdD, DBA, or PhD, Dissertation Chair

Full Legal Name, EdD, DBA, or PhD, Committee Member

Full Legal Name, EdD, DBA, or PhD, Committee Member

ACCEPTED AND SIGNED:

________________________________________ ____________________

Michael R. Berger, EdD Date

Dean, College of Doctoral Studies

Grand Canyon University

The Monetary Value of Professional Certifications to Corporations

I verify that my dissertation represents original research, is not falsified, or plagiarized, and that I accurately reported, cited, and referenced all sources within this manuscript in strict compliance with APA and Grand Canyon University (GCU) guidelines. I also verify my dissertation complies with the approval(s) granted for this research investigation by GCU Institutional Review Board (IRB).

[Wet Signature Required]

_____________________________________________ ______________________

[Type Doctoral Learner Name Beneath Signature line] Date

Abstract

The abstract is the most important component of your dissertation! It is required for the dissertation manuscript only. The abstract is typically the last item written and should be updated based on final acceptance of manuscript by the dissertation committee members and reviewer(s). The abstract is intended as a precise, non-evaluative, summary of the entire dissertation presenting the major elements and findings of the study in a highly condensed format. Although few people typically read the full dissertation, the abstract will be read by many scholars and researchers. Consequently, great care must be taken in writing this page of the dissertation. The content of the abstract should mirror the structure of the entire dissertation, covering the research problem purpose of the study to solve the problem, theoretical foundation, research questions stated in narrative format, sample, location, methodology, design, data sources, data analysis approach, major findings or trends based on the analysis. The most important finding(s) should state the themes that support the conclusion(s). The abstract should close with a conclusion statement of the study implications and contributions to the field. The abstract does not appear in the table of contents and has no page number. The abstract is double-spaced, fully justified with no indentations or citations, and no longer than one page. Refer to the APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition, for additional guidelines for the development of the dissertation abstract. Make sure to add the keywords at the bottom of the abstract to assist future researchers.

Keywords: Abstract, one-page, vital information lopesup

viii

Dedication

An optional dedication may be included here. While a dissertation is an objective, scientific document, this is the place to use the first person and to be subjective. The dedication page is numbered with a Roman numeral, but the page number does not appear in the Table of Contents. It is only included in the final dissertation and is not part of the proposal. If this page is not to be included, delete the heading, the body text, and the page break below. lopesup

Acknowledgments

An optional acknowledgements page can be included here. This is another place to use the first person. If applicable, acknowledge and identify grants and other means of financial support. Also acknowledge supportive colleagues who rendered assistance. The acknowledgments page is numbered with a Roman numeral, but the page number does not appear in the table of contents. This page provides a formal opportunity to thank family, friends, and faculty members who have been helpful and supportive. The acknowledgements page is only included in the final dissertation and is not part of the proposal. If this page is not to be included, delete the heading, the body text, and the page break below. lopesup

Table of Contents

List of Tables xii List of Figures xiii Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study 1 Introduction 1 Background of the Study 8 Definition of Terms 10 Anticipated Limitations 13 Summary and Organization of the Remainder of the Study 14 Chapter 2: Literature Review 17 Introduction to the Chapter and Background to the Problem 17 Identification of the Problem Space 19 Theoretical Foundations 23 Review of the Literature 28 Problem Statement 34 Summary 36 Chapter 3: Methodology 38 Introduction 38 Purpose of the Study 39 Phenomenon and Research Questions 40 Rationale for a Qualitative Methodology 41 Rationale for Research Design 43 Population and Sample Selection 45 Study Sample and Sampling Strategy 45 Recruiting Plan and Site Authorization 46 Sources of Data 48 Research Data 49 Additional Data 50 Trustworthiness 53 Credibility 54 Dependability 55 Transferability 55 Confirmability 56 Data Collection and Management 58 Data Analysis Procedures 60 Ethical Considerations 63 Assumptions and Delimitations 67 Assumptions 68 Delimitations 68 Summary 70 Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Results 72 Introduction 72 Important Changes and Updates to Information in Chapters 1-3 73 Preparation of Raw Data for Analysis and Descriptive Data 74 Preparation of Raw Data for Analysis 74 Descriptive Data 75 Data Analysis Procedures 79 Reflexivity Protocol 79 Data Analysis Steps 80 Results 82 Presenting the Results 82 Limitations 88 Summary 90 Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations 92 Introduction and Summary of Study 92 Summary of Findings and Conclusion 93 Overall Organization 93 Reflection on the Dissertation Process 94 Implications 96 Theoretical Implications 96 Practical Implications 97 Future Research Implications 97 Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study 97 Recommendations 99 Recommendations for Future Research 99 Recommendations for Future Practice 100 Holistic Reflection on the Problem Space 101 References 103 Appendix A. Ten Strategic Points 109 Appendix B. Site Authorization 110 Appendix C. IRB Approval Letter 111 Appendix D. Informed Consent 112 Appendix E. Copy of Instrument(s) and Permission Letters to Use the Instrument(s) 113 Appendix F. Codebook 114 Appendix G. Transcripts 115 Appendix H. Feasibility and Benefits Checklist 116 Appendix I. Strategies to Establish Trustworthiness 120 Appendix J. Developing Qualitative Interview Questions Systematically 121 Appendix K. Sample Frames, Interview Duration, Transcript Expectations 127 Appendix L. Minimum Progression Milestones 128 Appendix M. Additional Appendices 129

List of Tables

Table 1 Correct Formatting for a Multiple Line Table Title is Single Spaced and Should Look Like this Example xii

Chapter Four of the study deals with analyzing the data collected during the research stage of the proposed study. Chapter Four presents’ answers to the research questions raised in prior sections of the paper. The chapter presents findings on the value of professional certification from both employers' and employees' perspectives. Chapter Five ends the paper by presenting conclusions from the research findings. The final chapter includes recommendations based on the information collected and synthesized. 18

Table 2 Alignment Table 19

Table 6 Example of a Clean, Easy-to-Read Table 125

Table 7 Example of Clean, Easy-to-Read Table for Focus Group Data 125

Table 8 Example of Case Unit Profiling (in Narrative) 126

Table 9 Initial Codes 133

Table F1 Sample Codebook 179

To update the List of Tables: [Place cursor on the page number or title Right click Update Field Update Entire Table], and the table title and subtitle will show up with the in-text formatting. Below is a sample table: lopesup

Table 1 Correct Formatting for a Multiple Line Table Title is Single Spaced and Should Look Like this Example

Participant

Gender

Role

Location

Susan

F

Principal

School A

Mary

F

Teacher

School A

Joseph

M

Principal

School B

Note. Adapted from: I.M. Researcher (2010). Sampling and Recruitment in Studies of Doctoral Students. Journal of Perspicuity, 25, p. 100. Reprinted with permission.

List of Figures

Figure 1 The Relationship of Things xiii

Figure 2 Incorporating Theories and Models of Research 24

Figure 3 IRB Alert 65

Figure 4 Diagram of a Blank Sociogram 86

To update the List of Figures: [Place curser on page number or title Right click Update Field Update Entire Table], and the figure title and subtitle will show up with the in-text formatting. Below is a sample figure: lopesup

Figure 1 The Relationship of Things

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QUALITATIVE GCU Dissertation Template V9.1 01.24.21

© College of Doctoral Studies, Grand Canyon University 2005-2021

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study

Introduction

The growing importance of professional certifications in contemporary work environments can be ascribed to employers understanding the benefits associated with a standardized set of skills and qualifications required for job performance. This research describes professional certification as an organized set of abilities and qualifications necessary for proficient performance, notably in the sectors of Information Technology (IT), corporate business, and healthcare. Professional certificates serve as physical evidence that individuals possess the credentials and competences necessary to fulfill their job obligations effectively and contribute to the achievement of business objectives. Furthermore, the research addresses the assessment of certification value, an issue of great importance for both enterprises and workers (Farashah et al., 2018). This study explores potential discrepancies in performance levels between certified employers and their uncertified counterparts.

The available literature and research connected to the assessment and evaluation of qualifications demonstrate a persistent and enduring presence of this activity. While the literature recognizes the importance and legitimacy of certification value, there are elements within this area that have been overlooked. To substantiate the assessment of employer certification value, it is necessary to establish the reliability of benchmark-based certification valuation (Collins, 2021). Moreover, the collecting of data on certification value should be undertaken systematically to assist future research in this topic. According to Macaro and Han (2020), the value assigned to professional credentials is impacted by institutional renown. The authors recognize that institutional reputation, synonymous with brand value, may affect the learning outcomes of trainees, as trainees typically depend on the reputation of their educational institution rather than solely on the acquisition of skills. The attribution of value to professional qualifications by employers is substantially influenced by the process of individual professionalization. A substantial amount of scholarly study relies on examining empirical data explicitly chosen to depict employment based on credentials (Brown et al., 2021). However, this technique omits employers' opinions on the appraisal of professional credentials.

The primary purpose of this qualitative research is to fill the current gap in knowledge by examining the decision-making mechanisms used by employers in the Northern United States when estimating the financial worth of professional degrees inside their various organizations. The study attempts to obtain insight into the different variables determining the value of certifications, including the reputation of certifying organizations, the perceived relevance of certifications to work performance, and the skills and knowledge held by individuals with certifications.

This research intends to solve the information gap surrounding employer perceptions and the components determining the monetary worth of professional qualifications. It tries to expand our understanding of managers' decision-making processes to get insights into the criteria used for evaluating and assigning value to these certifications. This permits the creation of upgraded and knowledgeable techniques linking certificate programs with the demands of companies. Furthermore, this research contributes to strengthening employer practices by generating strategies to align current IT certification programs with the demands of the business. The perspective of employers offers a knowledge of their perceived requirements, led by the needs of their firm and impacted by broader industrial demands. Hence, this research offers vital insights into the significance of employers' grasp of the prevalent curriculum, facilitating the formation of a competent workforce. This chapter of the study gives a complete assessment of the research by defining the terminology used in the article, as well as delineating the research phenomenon, research methods, and predicted limits. Chapter 1 presents a complete summary of the future portions, notably chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Introduction

(Typically, three to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

The learner introduces the dissertation topic supported by prior research as defined by the problem space (see Chapter 2 for more information regarding problem space).

3

2

1

The learner states the purpose statement.

3

2

1 Comment by Maurice Ahyee: Addressed

The learner provides an overview about how the study advances knowledge and practice.

3

2

1 Comment by Maurice Ahyee: Addressed

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

3

2

1

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

You must show the need for the study with attestations from recent peer reviewed research studies. The section is difficult to read due to poor writing. Please revise for clear and accurate writing.

Background of the Study

The prevalence of unemployment poses a significant societal concern, particularly impacting the job prospects of the younger demographic. Putun's (2017) statistical studies reveal that the present unemployment rate is twice as elevated as the rate reported in prior decades. Harjoto et al. (2019) discovered a significant positive correlation of 0.6 between unemployment rates and wage rates, providing insight into the complex economic effects of unemployment. Nevertheless, comprehending the correlation between unemployment and certification, as emphasized by Indrarini et al. (2019), necessitates a detailed examination of two main factors: occupational concentration and the financial cost of acquiring credentials.

Efforts to tackle unemployment have incorporated tactics that involve issuing certificates to authenticate persons' competence. According to Indrarini et al. (2019), competence certification refers to a methodical and unbiased testing process that evaluates an individual's abilities. In contrast, Albert (2016) suggests an alternative approach that deviates from standard educational credentials, placing reduced importance on formal coursework. Albert states that these certifications necessitate a lesser amount of formal study in comparison to those provided by traditional educational institutions. The differentiation between credentials and competency certificates, as proposed by Albert (2016), offers a chance to examine various employer perspectives on their evaluation, particularly in the context of contemporary job difficulties. Recent peer-reviewed research, such as the one conducted by Harjoto et al. (2019), offer further data that confirms the link between achieving certification, career prospects, and the impact of certification value on recruitment and organizational decisions.

Employers consider the smooth incorporation of persons into the work environment to be of utmost importance during the recruiting process. The process of assimilation requires the incorporation of several sets of skills, such as critical thinking, metacognition, and competency. According to Gauthier (2020), these skill sets are considered as external variables. Concurrently, it is equally crucial for workers to exhibit intrinsic qualities like as motivation and a positive belief in their abilities. Employers evaluate the degree to which job applicants possess these stated characteristics by assessing their career and technical education (CTE).

The research that needs to be better understood is based on criteria employers use to assign value to professional certifications. In a study, Wierschem and Mediavilla (2018) inform that professionally certified employees are more efficient, knowledgeable, and confident, making them reliable in the work environment. Additionally, Linda and Nurnida (2019), concluded that employee training helped improve their performance and productivity by 41.1%. Due to the breadth of the field of study, research is not all-inclusive. Instead, some factors will not be accounted for owing to the study's design. In the following study, the researcher seeks to ascertain the monetary value of professional certifications from employers' points of view. It does so by expounding on the findings of a previous study by Ridoutt et al. (2002), which examined employer opinions on the pursuit of professional certification by employees.

Job seeking after the attainment of academic qualification is a universal occurrence. One reason is based on the need to ensure the investment made in the form of education financing reaps returns. Additionally, literature by Brown (2003), shows that qualifications and certification have been tied to upward mobility in terms of social and economic standing within one’s community. Rois et al. (2019), study shows that the advantage provided by qualifications and certifications are intrinsically tied to the skill synthesis by employers. This means that high qualification within one field cannot yield the same benefits in another requiring lower qualifications. A degree in computer engineering is less valuable in the nursing sector where vocational skills in nursing are highly valued. This raises another issue hitherto unseen, employers’ abilities to cultivate skills. Moll and Yigitbasioglu (2019), define skill cultivation as the daily use of learned and inherent skills by employers.

The current body of research pertaining to the monetary assessment of professional credentials reveals a notable deficiency in comprehension. Yamane (2021) emphasizes the intrinsic significance of credentials within the nursing industry, elucidating the varied duties performed by nurses in various occupational environments. Furthermore, it has been noted that companies are using educational and professional structures, as explained by Wichterich (2020), resulting in a decrease in skill requirements within some work environments. This strategy functions as a quantitative measure for employers to determine the financial worth of certain talents, often resulting in the adoption of methods that contribute to the phenomenon of deskilling. Moreover, the study done by Martin-Oretga et al. (2019) highlights the significance of monetary value as a frame of reference in employment interactions, playing a role as a bargaining instrument within the ecosystem service sector.

Silva et al. (2019), posit that employers are aware of other important incentives to employees other than monetary rewards. The authors iterate that recognition is a keen motivator for employees and helps with the creation of a healthy work environment. Recognition helps with the improvement of employee performance. In their study Lau et al. (2019), write that good customer service is mostly afforded by highly qualified employees and helps increase customer retention rates. However, like many in this area this body of literature does not present employers’ perspectives and criteria for the monetary valuation of professional qualifications.

The World Bank (2023) urges employers to track changes in the curriculum affecting their industries to identify employee skills. While the recommendations by the World Bank are for employees in low-income nations the same idea is viable in developed nations. As such the following study will explore the changes noted by employers in the IT curriculum and obtain their perspective on the value added to potential employees. Additionally, Younaes and Reips (2019), recommend that research be carried out regarding employer preferences on skill definition. Skill definitions by employers is a way of presenting their perspectives.

Thus, it is evident that more research and studies are needed to explore how professional certifications are valued by employers. From the information presented in this section it is essential for future researchers to expand their studies to other areas of employment other than Information Technology (IT). As such, this study contributes to the field of human resource management particularly in talent acquisition and professional certificate evaluation. This study contributes towards the development of evidence-based decision making. The researcher will collect qualitative information from managers in firms located in the Northern United States comprising of executive management professionals, and Corporate Executive Officer’s (CEO’s) on their perspectives on the criteria used in assigning monetary values to professional qualifications.

Criterion

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Background of the Study

(Typically, two to three paragraphs or approximately one page)

The learner provides a brief history of the problem space, and a summary of results from the prior research on the topic.

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The learner identifies what still needs to be understood within the problem space.

The learner provides a clear statement of what still needs to be understood: “The research that needs to be better understood is …”

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The learner builds a justification for the current study, using a logical set of arguments supported by appropriate citations.

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Learner situates what needs to be understood by discussing how the research is applicable to/beyond the local setting and may be contributory to professional or broader societal needs.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments: The need for the research must be shown with citations

Definition of Terms

The objective of this research is to investigate the influence of educational credentials, industry certifications, and skillsets or experience acquired by individuals in their sectors or industries, as viewed by employers and corporate executives. It is worth mentioning that in the year 2020, a significant proportion of the workforce in the United States, namely 59.8%, had professional credentials. This figure corresponds to an estimated 88.4 million workers, as reported by the Department of Professional Employees in 2021. Furthermore, according to the Department of Professional Employees (2021), a significant majority of professionals, namely 79.4%, are provided with a range of job perks by their respective companies. This study aims to investigate additional incentives provided by employers, such as employment perks and promotions, with a particular focus on how companies evaluate the significance of these credentials in relation to their workforce.

The following terms are used in this study and are provided to enhance clarity and understanding throughout the reading.

Academic Certifications: Academic certifications refer to the recognition conferred to an individual upon the completion of scholarly endeavors as proof of undergoing formal training (Mbise, 2021).

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF): is the embodiment Australia’s national regulations overseeing qualifications in the nations’ education and training sector (AQF, 2023).

Certifications. Certifications are designated credentials earned by an individual to verify their legitimacy and competence to perform a job.

Corporations. A Corporation is a legally establish business that can own assets and incur debt. Choosing to incorporate affects your business's operational, accounting, tax and legal requirements (BDC, 2020).

CTE: CTE stands for career and technical education which refers to post-secondary programs offering academic content and technical knowledge (Haviland & Robbins, 2021). CTE programs offer recognized credentials to individuals upon course completion and is usually equated to vocation training.

Deskilling: It is the change in employment forms where non-college educated individuals get employed to perform specialized tasks that were traditionally high paying (Kunst, 2019).

Experience. Experience refers to an encounter, interaction, or skill developed through direct contact with an infrastructure, space, place, person, event, or situation (IGI Global, 2021).

Finance. Finance is defined as the management of money and includes activities such as investing, borrowing, lending, budgeting, saving, and forecasting (Corporate Finance Institute, 2023).

Formal qualifications: Formal qualifications are the result of assessment of education and skills learned by individual attending an accredited and recognized higher education institution and are standardized (Sopa et al,. 2020).

Hard skills: Hard skills are employee capabilities that allow them to undertake specific responsibilities and are acquired as a result of extensive training and education (Sopa et al., 2020).

Informal qualifications: Informal qualifications are those that are particular to an employer and might vary by state and organizational requirements and are thus not conferred by a recognized or formal institution (Guo & Zhang, 2019). They include age, race and experience making them hard to standardize.

Monetary. Monetary is an asset or liability that conveys a right to receive or deliver either a fixed or determinable number of units of currency (Accounting Tools, 2023).

Performance evaluation technique is a formalized approach used by employers to gauge their employees’ work and results based on the work parameters (Glykas, 2011). Performance evaluation techniques help companies to react to turbulent markets by identifying areas in performance in need of swift rectifications.

Professional certification: Professional certification refers to the acknowledgement of a worker’s ability to complete tasks productively and successfully and are provided by professional bodies (Mbise, 2021).

Professionalization: Steinke (2020) defines it as the acquisition of skills in a specialized manner that leads to diversification.

Risk aversion: The American Psychological Association (2023) defines risk aversion as the tendency to avoid choices that entail loss regardless of its size.

Skill matching: Skill matching is the development of policies meant to ensure skills possessed by employees reflect need in the labor market (Chen & Edginton, 2005).

Soft skills: Soft skills are an amalgamation of traits depicted by professionals across multiple disciplines that are similar on a fundamental level facilitating interpersonal interactions in workplaces (Qizi, 2020).

Technology: Technology is the application of scientific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to create, modify, or improve products, processes, or systems for practical purposes (Andressen, 2020).

Valuation. Valuation is a process by which analysts determine the present or expected worth of a  stock, company, or  asset (Tamplin, 2023).

VET: Vocational Education and Training refers to the training provided to learners that ensures they have the necessary skills to get employment (Ridoutt et al., 2005).

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Definitions of Terms

(Each definition may be a few sentences to a paragraph.)

The learner defines any words that may be unknown to a lay person (words with unusual or ambiguous meanings or technical terms) from the research or literature.

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The learner conceptually defines the phenomena in the study

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The learner supports definitions with citations from scholarly sources, where appropriate.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Anticipated Limitations

In research, limitations encompass the constraints that researchers encounter, often beyond their control, which significantly influence the results and the overall research process. The constraints of the proposed research mostly arise from the selected sampling strategy. The use of a purposive sampling methodology inside a staged scenario may give rise to distinct issues. This approach has the potential to attract a greater number of individuals who are inclined to cooperate, because of social desirability, so introducing a possible bias in their replies. Furthermore, it should be noted that the cross-sectional design used in the research presents a constraint in terms of proving a causal relationship. The primary objective of a cross-sectional research is to gather data at a particular moment, hence posing difficulties in establishing causal links between variables. To address these constraints, future researchers may choose to explore alternate sampling strategies that are more appropriate for qualitative investigations. Although random sampling may not be suitable for qualitative investigations, expanding the participant pool in this suggested study to include a more varied or broader range of individuals might perhaps enhance the breadth of viewpoints and mitigate the influence of cooperative bias in the replies. The expected constraints in this research are categorized into two distinct groups as shown below:

Rationale for the Limitations of Data Sources and Analysis

In this study, several limitations are anticipated, and their rationale is discussed to provide transparency and acknowledge potential influences on the research outcomes.

Self-Reported Data: Participants will be interviewed and complete a survey, both of which fall under the category of "self-reported" data. This type of data is challenging to independently verify, introducing the potential for biases such as selective memory, exaggeration, or attribution. Parry et al. (2021) highlights the limitations of self-reported data, emphasizing the reliance on participants' beliefs rather than their actual actions. This introduces the possibility that the criteria for monetary valuation of professional certifications used by employers may not be reflective of their actual practices but rather their perceptions.

Technological Limitations: The study employs MAXQDA for data analysis, a tool that may have limitations in evaluating audio data, although the study primarily focuses on textual transcripts. Schonfelder (2011) notes the potential constraints of MAXQDA in audio analysis. While this may not directly impact the current research, it is essential to be mindful of the software's limitations to ensure compatibility with the data under analysis.

Time Consumption in Data Analysis: The anticipated time-consuming nature of data analysis may affect the rigor of the research. This limitation is acknowledged, recognizing that extensive time requirements may influence the thoroughness and depth of the analysis.

Researcher Presence during Data Collection: The researcher's presence during data collection may influence participant responses. Dutz et al. (2022) notes the potential impact of the researcher's presence on participants' answers, potentially leading to altered or influenced information. To mitigate this, the study will use non-leading and neutral wording in data collection to obtain unbiased and viable responses.

Limitations of Sampling Strategy

Convenience Sampling: The use of convenience sampling may limit the transferability of results, as replicating the information collected in prior research may be challenging. However, the structured approach in data collection is deemed helpful in guiding future research and expanding knowledge in respective fields.

Purposive Sampling: Purposive sampling, while valuable in qualitative studies, is prone to bias due to the nature of the data used in such a research approach. This limitation is acknowledged, and efforts will be made to mitigate bias through careful consideration of participant selection.

In recognizing these limitations, it is important to discuss their potential consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings. Addressing these limitations transparently enhances the credibility and reliability of the research outcomes.

Research transferability refers to the degree with which a study’s results can be used under a different setting and environment with the subsequent research being based off the previous’ premise. Transferability does not equate to the faithful adaptation of foundational research, rather on adaptability to ensure that some of the elements guide new researchers. The following study provides detailed steps used in data collection from participants which are useful to future researchers’ replication of this one. Decision makers and researchers can build on transferability to ensure the use of evidence-based research approach (Burchett et al., 2013). Therefore, by demonstrating the research can be replicated researchers can demonstrate their credibility since their findings can be proven in varied settings.

The anticipated limitations have a substantial impact on the generalizability and practicality of the conclusions drawn from this research. The use of self-reported data in this research imposes limitations on the generalizability of the results to a broader population outside the unique context in which the data was collected. Moreover, the use of MAXQDA for specific analytical purposes, such as the examination of recordings, may have implications for the reliability and precision of the research outcomes.

According to Sinkovics et al. (2008), the effectiveness of a research is contingent upon its credibility and reliability, which may be compromised when using MAXQDA for some aspects of the analysis. It is crucial to acknowledge that while MAXQDA functions as a tool for certain purposes, the fundamental process of conducting theme analysis is carried out directly by the researcher. The validity and dependability of the conclusions may be impacted by the constraints pertaining to the software's capabilities and the dependence on self-reported data. Hence, it is essential to recognize that within the realm of qualitative research, the notion of 'validity' is primarily associated with credibility and trustworthiness, as opposed to being only determined by quantitative metrics.

The study is primarily dependent on human input at various stages, from the development of research methods to the generation of participant responses. This leads to the inevitable rise of biases in the study despite efforts to minimize them. For instance, the potential non-response bias affects the findings, because there are profound chances that some of the respondents will provide answers, they feel are socially acceptable, which will affect future efforts to replicate this qualitative descriptive study. Finally, the characteristic identified in the sample population might not be prevalent in the wider population and can be offset by ample consideration of this limitation while concluding the study.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

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Chair Score

Methodologist Score

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Anticipated Limitations

(Each limitation may be a few sentences to a paragraph.)

The learner identified anticipated limitations.

3

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Learner provided a rationale for each anticipated limitation.

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Learner discussed consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings based on anticipated limitations.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary and Organization of the Remainder of the Study

Obtaining well-paying employment is the key driver for the attainment of qualification and certifications. Despite the establishment of the economic benefits of getting higher education it is still unclear how employers place value on them monetarily. As a result, there seems to be an arbitrary allocation of financial value to qualifications based on the organization hiring. Technological advancements have led to a rapid change within the job market with new skills being highly valued despite their lack of existence in previous eras. This study focuses to a larger extent on the monetary valuation of qualifications within the IT sector while making brief comparisons to the nursing sector. Overall, the findings made herein are projected to add to the body of academic work on the monetary valuation of qualifications and certifications by employers.

The proposed study comprises five chapters, each presenting an essential portion of the proposed study. Chapter One introduces the topic of the study. Chapter Two of the proposed study reviews literature exploring professional certifications and their valuation. Chapter Two expounds further on the background of the problem while exploring deeper into the reason for the research. Additionally, Chapter Two of the proposed study introduces the theories and concepts of the research's foundation. The final section of Chapter Two is the review of themes in the literature collected and analyzed for the proposed study.

Chapter Three of the study explains the data collection approach employed by the researcher. The proposed study is qualitative research of the monetary value of professional certification as per corporate employers. As such, Chapter Three provides the rationale for employing a qualitative approach in the research. The rationale supports the research design. Finally, Chapter Three provides sources of data used in the proposed study.

Chapter Four of the study deals with analyzing the data collected during the research stage of the proposed study. Chapter Four presents’ answers to the research questions raised in prior sections of the paper. The chapter presents findings on the value of professional certification from both employers' and employees' perspectives. Chapter Five ends the paper by presenting conclusions from the research findings. The final chapter includes recommendations based on the information collected and synthesized.

The study follows the information collected based on the following questions:

RQ 1: How do corporate leaders describe the influence of professional certifications to improve the output of their employees?

RQ 2: How do corporate leaders describe the influence of professional certifications to improve capital stock their employees?

RQ 3: How do corporate leaders describe the influence of professional certifications to improve the technical knowledge of their employees?

Project Timeline Here

· July 26, 2023, to August 22, 2023—Dissertation III-12 weeks

· Submit the Chapters 1-3 draft for Full committee final proposal.

· Submit Manuscript for AQR 2 peer review.

· Working on Proposal Defense

· Working on IRB Packet Approval

· Getting IRB Approval

· October 6, 2023, to November28, 2023—Research Continuation I-10 weeks

· Working on Data Collection

· Data Collection Analysis

· Begin writing of chapter 4

· Submit Chapter 4 Draft for approval.

· December 29, 2023, to February 20, 2024—Research Continuation II-12 weeks

· Begin writing of chapter 5

· Submit Chapter 5 Draft for approval.

· Chair review of chapter 4 & 5

· Final AQR/Submission/Revision/Approval

· Final Defense

· March 5, 2024, to April 10, 2024—Research Continuation III-12 weeks

· Form and Format Revisions/Approval

· Dean’s Signature

· Uploading of Manuscript to ProQuest

· Graduation!

· Receives Diploma.

Table 2 Alignment Table

Alignment Item

Alignment Item Description

Problem Space Need

In today's competitive job market, professional certifications are increasingly valued by employers as they seek standardized skill sets and qualifications, particularly in specialized fields such as Information Technology (IT), corporate business, and healthcare (Collins, 2021). These certifications not only signify expertise but also offer enhanced career advancement opportunities for individuals seeking to distinguish themselves in their respective industries. This growing emphasis on certifications in key sectors underscores the necessity to delve deeper into the monetary and perceived value of these credentials for both employers and employees. According to Wierschem & Mediavilla (2018), conservative research shows that employees who hold certifications are more confident and knowledgeable, they achieve job proficiency sooner, are more reliable, and perform at a higher level than those without certifications.

Problem Statement

The study aims to explore how corporate leaders perceive the impact of professional certifications on enhancing the output, technical expertise, and skill advancement of their employees. This investigation seeks to understand how these certifications contribute to employee performance, skill development, and overall productivity within the organizational framework.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study is to explore how corporate leaders describe the influence of professional certifications to advance the output, capital stock, and technical knowledge of their employees.

Phenomenon

Industry certifications and acquired skills and corporate leaders describe the influence of employees who have obtained a formal degree, industry certifications, and skills or experience in their chosen field or industry.

Research Questions

RQ 1: How do corporate leaders describe the influence of professional certifications to improve the output of their employees.

RQ 2: How do corporate leaders describe the influence of professional certifications to improve capital stock their employees.

RQ 3: How do corporate leaders describe the influence of professional certifications to improve the technical knowledge of their employees.

Methodology/Research Design

Qualitative descriptive design study.

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Chapter 1 Summary and Organization of the remainder of the study

(Typically, one to two pages)

FOR PROPOSAL ONLY: The learner provides a project timeline for completion of the dissertation. [Remove this for the dissertation.]

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The learner provides a summary of feasibility of the study. The learner completes Appendix H (Feasibility and Benefits Checklist).

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The learner completes the alignment table above. Furthermore, the items within the table are aligned.

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The learner describes the remaining Chapters and provides a transition discussion to Chapter 2.

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The learner correctly formats the chapter to the Template using the Word Style Tool and APA standards. Writing is free of mechanical errors.

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All research presented in the chapter is scholarly, topic-related, and obtained from highly respected academic, professional, original sources. In-text citations are accurate, correctly cited, and included in the reference page according to APA standards.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Feasibility Summary:

The research demonstrates feasibility through a well-defined recruitment plan, clear data collection procedures, and robust data analysis methods. The alignment table illustrates a strong connection between the problem space, problem statement, purpose, phenomenon, and research questions. The use of a qualitative descriptive design aligns with the study's exploratory nature. A completed Feasibility and Benefits Checklist in Appendix H ensures adherence to ethical considerations and organizational requirements.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Introduction to the Chapter and Background to the Problem

This component of the study aims to investigate and evaluate literary sources pertaining to the utilization of formal qualifications in the context of employment. The objective is to ascertain the effective communication of the role of qualifications in the process of hiring. The initial stage involves the identification of the problem that certification aims to resolve. Certificates possess a universally recognized norm, rendering them distinct as an evaluative instrument. In contrast, academic achievements such as degrees are often perceived as lacking effectiveness due to their inherent variability. The variety in credentials stems from the heterogeneity of institutions that offer them, particularly in relation to their certification methods, which are not as rigorously standardized as those for certificates. This phenomenon is apparent within the domain of information technology (IT), which is widely recognized as a rapidly evolving sector. Mignano (2022) posits that organizations find talent acquisition more streamlined when dealing with certified customers, as these individuals do not necessitate additional screening assessments throughout the interview process. Furthermore, it has been shown that employers who possess certifications in the IT sector exhibit significantly elevated levels of job satisfaction. The rationale behind both instances is elucidated by conducting a comprehensive analysis of existing scholarly works, aiming to enhance comprehension of the economic significance of the certificate for employers.

This chapter provides an analysis of the theoretical framework used as the foundation for the investigation. In this analysis, many theories are scrutinized, with an emphasis on their respective strengths and weaknesses, whenever feasible. Theoretical frameworks that are studied in this study form an integral element of the literature research. These frameworks are sourced from academic works that are dedicated to reviewing and evaluating them, prior to making judgments regarding their suitability and effectiveness. The literature review section is structured to offer a comprehensive analysis of scholarly sources that integrate the problem mentioned in the preceding sections, as well as relevant theories when applicable. During the employment process, companies actively seek out individuals who possess the ability to contribute value to the firm. The value is acknowledged as being manifested in the form of abilities possessed by employees. Based on the findings of Ridoutt et al. (2002), a limited number of firms exhibit a preference for enterprise training qualifications. Enterprise training refers to the various types of educational activities that employees engage in utilizing the resources provided by their respective organizations. According to the research conducted by Ridoutt et al. (2002), a minority of the organizations examined, namely two out of the twenty-three, expressed a preference for their employees to engage in organizationally sponsored training to obtain qualifications aligned with the Australian Qualifications Framework. The results were unexpected as most companies included in the study implemented employee training initiatives, with six companies forming partnerships with training organizations (Ridoutt et al., 2002). Furthermore, the study highlighted that the recognition of professional competence was contingent upon undergoing a financially burdensome assessment.

The literature review employs a meticulous approach in surveying relevant scholarly sources. The search terms and databases used are transparently presented, allowing readers to evaluate the thoroughness of the review. The focus is on integrating the identified problem related to qualifications in the employment process with pertinent theories whenever applicable.

To contextualize the exploration of formal qualifications, a broad historical overview of the research topic's evolution is provided. This overview sets the stage for understanding the shifts in employer preferences and the changing dynamics of employee training and certification recognition. It helps establish the historical backdrop against which the current study on the economic value of certificates unfolds.

Building on the foundational works of Ridoutt et al. (2002) and Gonczi et al. (1993), the literature review critically assesses the recognition of professional competence and the role of enterprise training qualifications. Key findings from these studies are discussed, emphasizing unexpected results, and shedding light on organizations' risk aversion in the hiring process.

Criterion

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Introduction to the chapter and Background to the problem

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Introduction : The learner provides an orienting paragraph, so the reader knows what the literature review will address.

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Introduction : The learner describes how the chapter is organized (including the specific sections and subsections).

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Introduction: The learner describes how the literature was surveyed so the reader can evaluate thoroughness of the review. This includes search terms and databases used.

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Background: The learner provides a broad overview of how the research topic has evolved historically.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Identification of the Problem Space

Professional certifications play a crucial role in the realm of recruitment, influencing the approaches adopted by individuals seeking employment to augment their attractiveness to potential employers. The authors of a study conducted by McDonald et al. (2018) explore the many strategies employed by individuals seeking employment, with a particular focus on the acquisition of qualifications to enhance their chances in the highly competitive labor market. In addition, Wierschem and Mediavilla (2018) emphasize the significant level of expertise and confidence demonstrated by certified personnel, which allows them to attain job proficiency efficiently and consistently within their respective fields. This discovery highlights the considerable benefit of obtaining professional certifications, as they indicate the successful completion of necessary training, which is crucial for establishing competence and gaining access into the business. Furthermore, it has been highlighted by Linda and Nurnida (2019) that training plays a crucial part in increasing employee productivity. This aligns with the notion that professional certifications provide workers with the essential skills and information needed to improve their performance in their respective positions.

It is postulated that the term human resources (HR) developed after the Second World War in the United Kingdom from personnel management (PM) which was tasked solely with hiring and firing employees (Sadiq et al., 2012). The HR department in many organizations is tasked with ensuring potential employees meet their employers’ criteria by presenting the needed qualification while seeking employment. On the other hand, the use of qualifications has seen tremendous development in the western world staring in Europe during the Middle-Ages. The rise of qualification driven hiring was seen during the Renaissance period due to a rise in demand for highly skilled employees (Gessler, 2019). In the current age of massive technological advancements, professional qualifications provide employers with information on the suitability of the new hires they make. The following descriptive qualitative study explores the development of qualification-based hiring by employers to help the reader understand the current qualification analysis process used by employers as they ascribe professional certification as monetary value within the IT sector in Northern United States.

Experience is another factor that employees take into deep consideration while seeking talent and is discussed in this chapter under upon the description of certification programs. Experience is influenced by the qualifications held by an individual, because they assist job seekers to obtain employment needed to gain experience. Employer and employee motivation vary during the hiring process. Therefore, employers' fixation with experience is driven mainly by the desire to have their organizations have qualified people work for them. In a study by Lisa and Katarina (2019), employers in Slovakia were seen to prefer people with experience over fresh graduates to the point of completely disregarding the latter during the hiring process. The problem with this approach is that it limits the talent exposure for hiring firms, because young people cannot be afforded opportunities to work. Employability denotes the personal qualities and skills needed by job seekers to ensure they obtain employment opportunities.

In relation to employability, classical economic theory posits the assumption of sustained full employment in the long run, while also assuming the absence of inflation, and treating labor as a homogeneous entity. Nevertheless, this assertion is incongruent with the heterogeneous composition of the workforce, as explicated in previous scholarly investigations (Block, Hansen, & Klein, 2007). The presence of diverse individuals in the job market underscores the need of investigating the impact of academic credentials on skill diversity in the context of the hiring process. Companies frequently demonstrate risk-averse inclinations in their employment processes, particularly in their inclination to reduce potential exposure throughout the hiring process. According to the findings of Gonczi et al. (1993), the examination of professional certifications highlights the lack of a universally applicable technique for assessing performance. The assessment process requires a careful equilibrium between conflicting demands and a compromise between maintaining integrity and managing costs. This discovery serves as a fundamental assumption for the forthcoming research.

Criterion

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Introduction to the chapter and Background to the problem

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Introduction : The learner provides an orienting paragraph, so the reader knows what the literature review will address.

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Background: The learner provides a broad overview of how the research topic has evolved historically.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Theoretical Foundations

One of the theories that act as the foundation for this study is the motivation theory which helps understand employees' ambition along with their actions and decisions as they seek jobs. As such, companies are forced by competition to seek out highly skilled and trained employees to stay ahead of their competition (Alniacik et al., 2012). Career motivation theory encompasses three main tenets: the ability to overcome challenges throughout one's career and factors that influence how an employee views factors influencing their career decisions. The career motivation theory is important because it provides insight into the intrinsic drivers that influence employees as they seek work. However, the career motivation theory does not explain employee turnover and retention (Collings & Mellahi, 2009). 

Another influential theory is the resource-based view which has tremendous applications in the human resource sector. The resource-based theory posits that a company has an advantage over its competition when its resources are unique and valuable. The retention of employees, as per the theory, is high when their skills are valued by their employers. Human resource is an intangible resource due to the lack of a universal means for quantifying the expertise and knowledge possessed by an employee. The classical theory of employment is the theoretical framework supporting this study. The theory posits that full employment is typical in capitalistic settings. The theory is made of different schools of thought, with Say's Law of Market being the classical theory chosen for the study which states that supply of creates its own demand (Mohammed & Quartey, 2023). Research for this qualitative descriptive study concentrates partly on the distinction between professional and academic qualifications. As note earlier Say’s Law of market is one of the guiding frameworks used to develop this study. However, there have been Keynesian arguments against the premise by Say’s Law of Market which point to is oversimplification of market dynamics making it prone to erroneous representation of the supply-demand phenomenon (Sharma & Jain, 2022). Thus, the theory does not guarantee an equal valuation of certifications by employers. The distinction between professional and academic qualifications offers insight on how employee skills are gauged by employers and how the latter values them on paper and offsets all potential failing arising from Say’s Law of Market. Additionally, the exploration of certifications delves into the development of the standardized approach of training. This takes the form of a historical examination of the development of certification and qualifications usage. The historical information in this study contributes to the deeper understanding on how the current labor market landscape came to be and the key elements that have survived along with their evolution over centuries.

Using the theories listed above, it is possible to arrive at a theory that helps understand the monetary value held by employee qualifications in organizations. The theory in question is the human capital theory. According to Goldin and Katz (2020), the human capital theory states that investment in human beings in the present helps the investor reap benefits in the future. Since education leads to certification and qualification, it can be argued that job seekers have invested in training with the hopes of reaping dividends in the future. The impact of this realization is by treating education qualifications as collateral. Employers can use it effectively by leveraging it for their organization's benefit. The theory assists with understanding of earnings variance across professions. In a competitive job market, certifications offer heightened career advancement opportunities for workers. The following qualitative descriptive study focuses on certification and academic degree programs as it relates to the importance of corporate institutions and their return on investments made by employers in the form of employee training.

This analysis delves into the importance of qualifications, as mentioned in this context, by examining the incentives offered to employees, in accordance with the principles of human capital theory. The primary objective of this qualitative descriptive study is to examine the interrelationship between employers' utilization and portrayal of professional certificates and qualifications throughout the recruitment process, and the fundamental principles of the human capital theory. The study primarily examines the methods employed by employers to evaluate and assign significance to certificates within the ever-evolving IT sector. Due to the dynamic character of the industry, employers' evaluation of credentials is subject to ongoing changes. However, certain essential criteria, such as employee compensation and the anticipation of returns, continuously get high priority. A significant obstacle encountered in this study stems from the intricate demarcation between employer and employee responsibilities, as noted by Schadewijk (2021). Therefore, it is crucial to have a thorough comprehension of the responsibilities undertaken by employers and employees, as well as the impact of qualifications in efficiently fulfilling these responsibilities. This awareness is essential in differentiating the many methods used to evaluate credentials within work environments.

Understanding how employers value credentials helps with ensuring that trainees are provided with the needed skills to improve their employability, reducing the issue of unemployment. Credential valuation is to an extent driven by employer perceptions on the quality of training job seekers have. Pang, et al., (2019), conducted a study in Hong Kong to determine employers’ perceptions of new graduate competencies that contribute to job success. The study revealed that competencies, such as self-control, cooperation, teamwork, and analytical thinking were ranked in high regard. The study recommended that universities should develop-work oriented programs. Additionally, Sanjeev and Santhi (2019), conducted a quantitative study to determine the relationship between employee’s tenure and performance. The findings showed that organizational tenure was related to employee performance. The following study assesses the extent to which employee’s tenure affects their productivity. Moreover, Sanjeev and Santhi (2019), recommended that organizations should allow employees to remain in the organization an extended amount of time. The study explores this while examining how training sponsored by employers and their organizations helps with the valuation of qualification.

The rationale for employing a descriptive qualitative technique in this study stems from the pressing necessity to provide a full synthesis of employers' encounters with professional qualifications. The research in question is grounded on the theoretical framework of Say's Law of Market, which is a fundamental principle within classical economic theory. Moreover, the incorporation of motivation theory plays a substantial role in creating the perspectives within the context of this study. According to the research conducted by Alniacik et al. (2012), motivation theory offers valuable insights into employees' capacity to effectively handle obstacles in the workplace and the factors that shape their career choices. The data obtained from the participants in this research study contributes to the formulation of findings that provide a deeper understanding of the internal factors that motivate persons in their professional endeavors. Nevertheless, Collings and Mellahi (2009) highlight a drawback in the motivation theory since it does not comprehensively explain employee turnover, regardless of their level of professional credentials. Therefore, to address this disparity, it is necessary to employ a descriptive qualitative methodology.

The examination of different research procedures, including quantitative and mixed research approaches, was deliberated upon. Quantitative research approaches demonstrate proficiency in managing quantitative and statistical data. However, given the intricacy of information in this qualitative descriptive study, an alternative analytical model is required. Additionally, the decision to not pursue a mixed research design was influenced by the limitations imposed on the availability of research consultation time. The primary objective of this study is to determine if there is a universally applicable method for employers to assess the value of qualifications and talents. 

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Theoretical Foundations

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The learner includes a cogent discussion/synthesis of the theories, models and concepts, and justifies the theoretical foundation/framework as relevant to the problem statement for the study. The learner connects the study directly to the theory and describes how the study adds or extends the theory, model, or concept.

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The learner’s discussion reflects understanding of the foundational and historical research relevant to the theoretical foundation.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Review of the Literature

Review of Literature

Academic literature on the valuation and quantification of qualifications by employers is an ever-changing area of study. Various frameworks are used by employers as they seek clarity on the best manner to incentivize qualifications presented by prospective employees. Vocational training and university qualification are the main qualifications considered by employers as they hire. Valuation of qualifications is predicated on the trade-off between production and organizational goals (Azadi et al., 2021). While cited material emphasizes on ecological conservation the same principles are applicable in the job market because of the need for productivity in the face of investment made by way of remuneration. Other than the economic aspect of qualification valuation employers explores the social value graduates’ qualification have (Castro et al., 2020). In their study Castro et al. (2020) state that education assists in the fight against one’s social situation determined by birth. By evaluating the value of higher education employers can help alleviate social and economic injustices people have by virtue of being born in unstable socio-economic situation beyond their control.

Vocational education and training (VET) sectors play a significant role in the acquisition of qualifications, making them a crucial area of interest. Ridoutt et al. (2005) argue that a country's competitiveness in the global economy can be measured by the quantity and types of certifications held by its workforce. Therefore, it is essential to examine the impact of academic certifications and qualifications on employment outcomes. Understanding the monetary value of qualifications requires an exploration of the historical development of the education system, as it has shaped the perception and valuation of qualifications today. The historical development of the education system has influenced the way qualifications are perceived and valued in the present day. In the past, educational opportunities were often limited, and formal certifications were primarily associated with elite educational institutions or specific professions. Obtaining a formal qualification was considered a privilege, reserved for a select few. This historical context has created a perception that formal qualifications hold significant value and are associated with higher social status and employment prospects. As educational systems evolved, there has been a shift towards mass education and the democratization of access to qualifications. The expansion of educational opportunities and the emphasis on acquiring formal certifications have led to a broader recognition of the importance of qualifications in the labor market. Employers now place greater value on certifications as indicators of knowledge, skills, and competencies. Formal qualifications have become a prerequisite for many job positions, and individuals without these credentials may face barriers to entry and limited career progression. Furthermore, the labor market has become increasingly competitive, with a larger pool of qualified individuals vying for limited job opportunities. In such a scenario, employers rely on certifications as a way to differentiate among candidates and assess their suitability for specific roles. Formal qualifications serve as a signal of an individual's capabilities and commitment to professional development, providing employers with a reliable means of evaluating potential hires.

The value of qualifications extends beyond their role in employment. Certifications also have implications for income levels and earning potential. Studies have shown that individuals with higher levels of education and relevant certifications tend to earn higher wages and have greater access to employment benefits (Ridoutt et al., 2005). This wage premium associated with qualifications serves as an incentive for individuals to pursue further education and training, creating a cycle of continuous skill development and career advancement.

Vocational education and training sectors play a crucial role in the acquisition of qualifications, which have significant implications for employment and competitiveness in the global economy. The historical development of the education system has shaped the perception and valuation of qualifications, with formal certifications being increasingly valued in the labor market. The democratization of access to education and the competitive nature of the job market have heightened the importance of qualifications as a means of differentiation and assessment for employers. Additionally, certifications have a positive impact on income levels and earning potential. Understanding the monetary value of qualifications requires considering the historical context and recognizing the evolving significance of certifications in today's labor market (Ridoutt et al., 2005).

The historical development of standardized education assessment

Emancipation is the underscored purpose of education in modern western society. This is largely to the fact that education was a reserve of white males leaving out women and people of color. In past ages education catered for the elite by allowing them the opportunity to be effective rulers. As such, qualifications during this period were not monetized but rather seen as a way of ensuring the development of an effective leader. According to Heng (2011), during the Middle Ages education in Europe, the birthplace of Western society, was under the church’s purview. Due to this the type of education provided during this period was in theology and law. The qualifications conferred by the church were not recognized elsewhere other within the ruling class. However, people in other facets of life had an informal form of education relevant to their way of life. According to Gessler (2019) during the Middle Age learning was undertaken in form of apprenticeship. During this period learning was formalized by way of time-served apprenticeships where learners got formalized education from craft masters. Time-served apprenticeships are one of the earliest versions of qualification monetarization. However, rather than the confirmation of qualifications falling under universal industrial regulators, time-served apprenticeships were recognized by city guilds meaning standards varied across cities.

Additionally, time-served apprenticeships worked to restrict the movement of male youths. The advantage of this scenario ensured that each city had the needed human capital to serve its populace (Gessler, 2019). Apprenticeship was rewarded by freedom trainees upon the completion of their studies in form of free movement between cities, a factor leveraged by the requirement that they serve their cities by offering their services to their people. The Renaissance period followed medieval times and there were changes in formal and informal education. Formal education was highly appreciated by the period’s elite class, and it involved an in-depth training in matters focused on philosophy, language, law, theology, and literature. Formal education during this period was limited to males and was predominantly carried out in the Latin language. It was during this period that the first Western universities emerged specifically in Italy. The monetarization of formal education in the West begun during the Renaissance period where learning materials were sold to students. As such it was necessary to have return on the investment made during the training period. Graduates from early universities went on to secure well-paying jobs due to the disciplines they had studied. At this juncture formalized education begun being equated with the promise of a better life due to the earnings made. Still, employment during the Renaissance period was heavily reliant on social class and gender meaning people from lower economic and political classes were barred from receiving formal education. Moreover, due to the gender constrains of the time women could not secure employment even if they gained a formal education. Overall, the monetization of formal education during the Renaissance period meant they could secure prestigious positions later in their lives after undergoing training.

The Renaissance period was followed by the early Modern Age. During this time multiple inventions were made ushering in the Industrial Age where machines became a predominant form of employment for their creators, managers, and workers. The Industrial Age was defined by rapid changes which made education adaptive to accommodate developments of that time. It was during this period the current distinction between formal and informal training arose. The delineation was due to the increasing need for workers with technical knowledge to man the factories they manned. As such, there was a shift in the subjects thought to be important from theology, literature, law and language to mathematics and science. Learners begun being separated by age rather than class and were under the tutelage of one teacher. The aim of this form of education was to provide specialized education that served to ensure leaners were equipped to work in the common sectors of the time.

Additionally, the Industrial Age saw the rise of vocational training aimed at providing technical and practical skills. Vocational training saw the rise of enrolment from people from previously ignored social classes. Furthermore, the varied industrial requirements of this period meant that people were not restricted to their cities, rather they could move to new areas and seek employment. At this juncture, it was imperative for the development of a central governing body to ensure the training offered was standardized. The Industrial Age is thus the first instance where standardized testing was employed as a way of assessing the knowledge and skills of new and potential employees.

The standardization of testing and education subjects helped start the monetization of formal and informal qualifications. Students had to pay fees and purchase learning materials. According to Guo and Zhang (2019), investment in education foster the need for economic returns upon completion. Additionally, the returns made on investments made for education provide graduates with social rewards by boosting their status in society. Therefore, the standardization of education during the Industrial Age meant that employers were aware of the need for investors in learners’ education sought better incentives in the form of income and prestige. Human capital during this period was centered on the quality of education future employees received. Thus, vocational training institutions and universities thought to provide high quality education saw a high number of graduate’s absorbed by the labor market. Standardization allows continuous evolution of human capital due to its production of skilled labor in a highly controlled pedagogical setting (Bahrin et al., 2020).

The 20th century saw an increase of female enrollment into institutions of higher learning. Women had more opportunities to obtain higher education than in previous eras because of increased social movements advocating for the same (Schofer and Meyer, 2005). Most of the social movements came after the wars fought in the 20th century along with other movements such as the movement for racial equality during this period (Fisk & Reddy, 2020). Labor unions, which had an increased number of educated individuals also contributed to the gender inclusivity in higher education and subsequently in opening the job market to women and people of color (Fisk & Reddy, 2020). Finally, the need for men to fight during World War II saw a change in the prevailing attitude that women were not suitable for employment (Marshall, 2018). The 20th century provided a culmination in the journey for the development of education, which in turn influenced the current employment environment. Undemanding the journey made in the monetization of formal qualifications helps with the understanding of how the current scenario work and allows current scholars to gauge how employers place value to certifications.

Higher education saw many changes brought by the major events occurring during the 20th century namely the First World War and the Second World War. Stanley (2003) writes, the introduction of the World War II and Korean War GI Bill during the 20th century allowed millions of people to get higher education. This was due to the subsidization of education by the United States (US) government that saw people that had no access during previous historic periods have a way of getting to classrooms (Stanley, 2003). For instance, war veterans were given priority regardless of their economic standing by virtue of serving in the military. At this juncture there was a need for regulations and policies governing qualifications and certifications.

The 20th Century witnessed significant changes in higher education, largely influenced by major events like the First World War and the Second World War. One of the transformative developments during this period was the introduction of the World War II and Korean War GI Bill, which had a profound impact on access to higher education. As Stanley (2003) notes, these bills subsidized education and enabled millions of individuals to pursue higher education who otherwise would not have had the opportunity.

The implementation of the GI Bills resulted in the United States government providing financial assistance to war veterans, regardless of their economic background, as a recognition of their military service. This prioritization of veterans in higher education admissions was a crucial step in expanding access to education for individuals who may not have had previous opportunities. The GI Bills played a pivotal role in enabling war veterans to enter the classroom and obtain higher education degrees, thus opening up new avenues for their personal and professional growth. However, with the influx of students entering higher education institutions, there was a need for regulations and policies to govern qualifications and certifications. The government and educational institutions recognized the importance of establishing standards to ensure the quality and credibility of degrees earned by students. Qualifications and certifications became vital tools in assessing individuals' knowledge and skills, enabling employers and other educational institutions to gauge their competency. By implementing regulations and policies governing qualifications and certifications, higher education institutions aimed to maintain academic integrity and ensure that graduates possessed the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in their chosen fields. These standards helped establish a framework for evaluating the qualifications of individuals and provided a level playing field for all students, irrespective of their backgrounds.

What are professional certifications?

Professional certifications are documents issued to individuals upon the successful completion of regulated certifiable training (Mbise, 2021). Potential employers use professional certifications to gauge applicants' expertise in their respective fields. Additionally, certifications are helpful as they serve as an alternative to diplomas, increasing employment chances for college graduates and offering those without tertiary education employment opportunities. In the latter's case, professional certifications demonstrate to potential employers that candidates have essential industry skills during employment.

Professional certifications demonstrate a job seeker's commitment, passion, and proficiency in their fields of interest. The requirement for obtaining professional certification is for a potential job seeker to invest money and time toward their training. For instance, certain accreditation bodies require trainees to have undergone a certain number of hours before recognizing their accomplishment. Furthermore, other bodies require years of experience in skill, knowledge, or job function accumulation before issuing a professional certificate. One question on the importance of professional certification is whether they are better than college degrees and diplomas.

Professional certification often becomes preferable to degrees variably. Due to their required standard updates and enforcement, professional certificates tend to be a better show of quality than collegiate degrees. Qualifications need to keep up with the industry for relevance in sectors like Information Technology (IT), which experience exponential changes. The main reason is that certifications have a universal standard that trainees need to meet. On the other hand, degrees depend on the institution offering them in terms of quality. The main reason is the lack of additional courses in professional certification training, unlike degree programs that require the same. As such, trainees become equipped with the skills they need without distraction. The lack of distortion also allows trainees to save time and money on training while cementing their status as experts in their field because of the knowledge they possess.

The shift in necessary skills at work is one of the main reasons for the high preference for professional certification over graduate school degrees. As per Zahidi (2020) research by the World Economic Forum indicated that by 2022, 42% of essential skills needed for task execution would have changed. As such, employees must return to school to update their skillsets for their current job or if they desire a promotion. Recognizing this, colleges have begun offering certificates that match student needs, albeit with the accreditation provided not being traditional. An example is the offer of online courses to employed individuals’ intent on providing them chances to improve their skills to keep their current jobs or to help with a career change.

What are certificate programs?

Certificate programs provide training specific to a job market to increase or impart the needed skills. Training in such programs entails the infusion of new and emerging skills relevant to individuals' fields of interest at a quicker pace than a degree program. According to Pearson Education (2021), sixty percent of businesses consider hiring employees without degree credentials which is a twenty percent increase from 2019. In such cases, the business's hiring criteria favor professional certification over degrees. A possible reason for this is the deduction by potential employees that a candidate with professional certification is more likely to remain in their field of choice while improving their skills to be more productive than college degree holders.

Certificate programs are cheaper with a lot of time flexibility compared to bachelor's and master's degree programs. The flexibility stems from a lack of requirements for completing college programs to undertake professional certificate programs. Moreover, some certificate programs offer trainees an opportunity to pursue bachelor's or master's degrees. However, it is essential to differentiate between licenses and professional certificates. Industry regulators issue permits. Professional certifications have several advantages, as presented in the following section.

Advantages of Information Technology Certification

Updated certifications in the IT sector demonstrate new developments in the field and presents the certificate holders skillset in the areas of interest. The IT sector certification process is essential, given the rapid results of the industry. Employers are predisposed to hire job seekers with professional certification in new technologies and innovation in IT compared to a degree acquired further back. However, a job seeker with a bachelor's degree and a professional certification has an added advantage over their compatriots with one of either. In the fast-paced and rapidly evolving field of Information Technology (IT), staying updated with the latest developments and technologies is crucial. Certifications in the IT sector play a significant role in demonstrating an individual's skillset and expertise in specific areas of interest. These updated certifications serve as tangible proof of an individual's dedication to continuous learning and professional growth.

The IT sector certification process is essential because it provides a standardized and recognized validation of an individual's knowledge and skills in a particular technology or field. Certification programs are often designed and administered by industry-leading organizations, such as Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, and many others, which ensures that the certifications are up-to-date and aligned with the industry's best practices and advancements. Employers in the IT industry are increasingly predisposed to hire job seekers who possess professional certifications in new technologies and innovations. This is because certifications demonstrate that the individual has acquired the latest knowledge and practical skills in specific areas of IT. With technology rapidly advancing, employers seek candidates who can immediately contribute to their organizations' goals and adapt to the changing landscape of the industry. Professional certifications serve as a reliable indicator that the job seeker has the necessary expertise and can hit the ground running.

While certifications hold significant value in the IT sector, it is important to note that having a bachelor's degree alongside professional certifications can provide an added advantage for job seekers. A bachelor's degree often provides a comprehensive understanding of fundamental concepts and principles in computer science or related disciplines. It equips individuals with a broad knowledge base that can be applied across various domains within the IT industry. When a job seeker holds both a bachelor's degree and professional certifications, they possess a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. This makes them well-rounded candidates who can not only understand the underlying principles but also apply them effectively in real-world scenarios. Such individuals demonstrate a strong commitment to their professional development and are likely to be sought after by employers who value a balanced mix of academic knowledge and industry-specific expertise.

Advantages of Nursing Certification

Nursing is a specialized field due to the varied needs of patients requiring medical care. As such, nurses pursue professional certification to equip themselves with specialized skills. For instance, a nurse holding a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can pursue certification for specialization in adult-gerontology care, allowing them to work in that area of the industry.

Policies governing certifications and qualifications.

In the United States, qualification valuation starts at the rudimentary stage of education. According to Reed (2020), policy directives on qualification valuations are enshrined in the, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and like policies. However, the governmental department posits that the federal government has limited say on the provision of education. The reason provided is the existence of the Tenth Amendment. As such, control over education and all related processes, such as qualification evaluation fall under the purview of state and local government entities. The separation of duties as seen in the United States system highlights the complexity of education as presented by UNESCO (n.d). The international organization states that policymakers and stakeholders in the education sector are driven by the need for coherence in the education sector as they create governing policies.

Accreditation policies in the United States operate at multiple levels and often overlap, providing a comprehensive framework for evaluating individuals' skills and knowledge. These policies are crucial for employers as they seek to enhance the labor capital within their organizations. There are four primary sources of accreditation policies in the United States that employers rely on: the United States Department of Education, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and professional licensing bodies (Olivas, 2017). The United States Department of Education plays a vital role in accrediting educational institutions, ensuring that they meet specific standards and deliver quality education. This accreditation ensures that individuals who have obtained degrees or certifications from accredited institutions have met the necessary educational requirements. Employers can trust the legitimacy and credibility of educational qualifications acquired from accredited institutions.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) establishes policies that promote equal employment opportunities and prevent discrimination in the workplace. These policies ensure that individuals are evaluated based on their skills, qualifications, and abilities rather than their background characteristics. Accreditation policies aligned with EEOC guidelines guarantee that employers consider all candidates fairly and without bias. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets accreditation policies related to immigration and work authorization. These policies ensure that individuals from different backgrounds have equal opportunities to contribute to the labor market. Employers must adhere to these policies when considering candidates for employment to ensure compliance with immigration laws and regulations. Professional licensing bodies establish accreditation policies for specific professions and occupations. These policies outline the educational requirements, training, and examinations necessary for individuals to obtain professional licenses. Employers often value candidates who hold professional licenses as it demonstrates their specialized knowledge and competency in their respective fields. The existence of accreditation policies is essential as they provide a fair and standardized evaluation of individuals' skills and knowledge, regardless of their background. These policies ensure that all candidates are given equal opportunities to showcase their abilities and qualifications. By relying on accreditation policies, employers can make informed decisions about hiring, promotions, and professional development, ensuring that individuals meet the necessary standards for their roles.

Employers rely on the perceived relationship between education and employability as they place value on presented accreditation documents. In most cases and places people holding higher education qualifications have better economic and social prospects. In cases where holding a certain type or form of qualification is critical to a firm’s success, employers offer additional benefits like sponsored training. Such learning opportunities as offered by organizations fall under three main categories: social learning, experience, and formal education (Reilly, 1998). Organization sponsored training is usually one that utilizes a firm’s resources to ensure improvement in its labor capital through training. Employer and peer interaction in organizations spur and facilitate learning through experience. Under this form of organization sanction form of education, exposure to challenging and complex work conditions allows the recognition of suitable candidates by identifying those that are innovative and adaptive. (Yarberry & Sims, 2021) inform that social learning at the workplace occurs from interaction between peers and management. Feedback and mentoring ensure effective social learning in organizations.

Benefits of Qualification Valuation

Individuals, businesses, training institutions, and governments benefit from training qualifications. Organizations place a lot of value on completing a training program by individuals they employ. A certificate provides evidence of training program completion from the training institution the individual attended. However, stakeholders may appreciate part-completed courses (Ridoutt et al., 2005). According to Gallagher (2019), businesses reward highly educated individuals with better income opportunity. This shows that organizations have placed huge value on higher education and the subsequent evidence in the current setting. One reason for the high regard for certification is it provides evidence of an individual's skills. Therefore, people with lower skillsets and those lacking documentation of completion of training needed to gain valuable skills end up marginalized in the labor market (Heisig, Gesthuizen, and Solga, 2008).

Economic Development due to Higher Education

Higher education has been credited with the increased economic growth among individuals and their society. Higher education has incredible effects on the economic situation of people by elevating their cognitive skills which are fostered by a strong institutional presence (Hanushek & Woessmann, 2020). The skills possessed by people with higher education ensure they can perform tasks allocated to them efficiently and productively making it necessary to differentiate them from those without the educational credentials. As per Hanushek and Woessmann (2010), the impact of higher education on economic growth and wellbeing is attributed to three main factors. First, is the potential for education to increase the amount of human labor to serve the capital market thereby increasing the integral productivity levels for employers. Second is the fact that highly trained employees have a higher level of innovative thinking than those without higher education qualifications. The increased level of innovative people in the job market ensures overall economic growth as it stimulates economic problem solving in key sectors. Finally, higher education stimulates economic growth by allowing people to share their novel ideas and knowledge. In this case education allows people to have a chance at incorporating new technologies they have not developed into their work boosting their productivity and their employers’ revenue.

Currently, the job market has attained unprecedented levels of globalization. International migration which ensures the globalization of formally and informally trained employees has seen a rise in the number of qualified migrants. Oliinyk et al (2019) note that 35% of international migrants have higher education qualifications with the number driven by people’s desire to further their financial well-being. Migrants with higher education are favored by employees because they have a diversified arsenal of skills from their homeland and the nation they have settled. In such a scenario, highly qualified migrants obtain lucrative incentives as organizations seek to outperform each other in the global market. Employers tend to increase wages when there is increased competition (Pardos-Prado & Xena, 2019). A standardized assessment of qualifications ensures that employers can gauge whether potential employees meet the requisite requirements for a position in their organization regardless of their point of origin. This supported by the fact that wages are high in a setting where employees are derived from different countries as shown in a study by Pardos-Prado and Xena (2019). In such an instance, one can see the direct correlation between the valuation of qualification by an employer and the lee of education attained by an employee since highly qualified ones can attain higher economic benefits.

In the globalized market, uniformity in all aspects of production is essential. According to Boni and Gasper (2012), evaluating and defining skills is vital in the global market to have uniformity in terms of quality. The harmonization of definition and evaluation involves the mutual recognition of knowledge and skills across vast regional, jurisdictional, and international borders. This is facilitated by contrasting the provided qualifications against an explicit framework of standards. This, at least in principle, enhances labor mobility across company, industry, and geographic barriers by providing widely acknowledged evidence of ability. The harmonization of skill evaluation needs to be considered an instrument for improving skills rather than a purpose of the same (Singh and Duvekot, 2013). As such, qualifications are frequently used as the currency for international comparisons, following the same logic. The reason for this is based on a standardized evaluation framework. Some jurisdictions emerge as having a better quality of qualified people.

Evidence emerges that credentials are seen differently across countries, cultures, and settings. For example, Diessner, Durazzi, and Hope (2022) suggest that in high-skilled countries like Germany, employers demand their employees have earned qualifications and a high level of trust in such qualifications. This confidence is attributed to institutional connections between business, vocational school systems, and a larger national culture of high trust (Jarvenpaa & Keating, 2012). Denmark also retains a high level of interconnection, but emphasizes a more extensive definition of social collaboration, which is more diffused and localized (Lam, 2002).

In the Netherlands, organizational flexibility also allows for specialized regional ties between businesses and education and training providers (Colardyn & Bjornavold, 2004). More broadly, some civilizations, such as Japan, may have a high degree of trust, considered a general cultural quality. This can lead to high levels of trust displayed in specific institutional forms, such as credentials. Qualifications are founded on a 'community of trust' (Tuck, 2007). As a result, qualifications that are regulated or authorized by small groups of people have a high level of confidence. The degree of trust may fall if the communities are widened and their control over credentials and training evaluation is weakened.

Training evacuation provides the effect employee training has on an organization's output. Several approaches to training evaluation have been suggested. However, Phillips and Phillips (2016) iterate that effective training evaluation focuses on a results-based approach. This approach is predicated on identifying an issue within an organization and having employees provide potential solutions. The solutions offered are evaluated on their performance. As such, an organization gets returns on investment from using its employees' qualifications.

Academic qualifications are important, as they show a job seeker's affinity to the vacancy, they seek to fill in an organization. According to Cloutier et al. (2015), the experiences and skills highlighted by an individual's certification and qualifications, along with their quality, prove to an organization whether the individual is a "best fit" for the company. The best fit is used to communicate the compatibility that might arise between the hiring company and its employees.

Formal qualifications allow people to structure their occupational choices based on their individual accomplishments. As such, accreditation serves as a way of employee selection, which is ineffective under alternative review. As per Brown (2003), the ineffectiveness arises from the relativity of judging which credentials are important. Under this view, the effectiveness of qualifications as a mode of screening potential employees is conducive if the qualities sought are selective. Following this, using qualifications is not wise because it continues the inequality trend in terms of income and quality of life. As noted in the study, those lacking qualifications tend to be secluded in the labor market. This is rife while examining societies based on their technological capabilities. Brown (2003) notes that technological advancement brought by education help in upward mobility through the supply of educated talent, which is essential. Thus, to ensure the problem of exclusion, people need to gain skills through education to diminish instances of marginalization.

In the Information Technology (IT) sector, certification follows intensive training to equip learners with the required skills that make them marketable and employable. However, due to the fast changes in the sector, the certification acquired is seen as obsolete in a short period. According to Randall and Zirkle (2005), the advantage of certification in the IT sector depends largely on its nature and its demand in the job market. As such, employees need to continue improving their skills and acquiring the requisite certification for their career advancement. On the other hand, employers have been documented to require updates in employee skills to ensure their organizations are competitive.

Certification encompasses hard and soft skills acquired after the training. Hard skills produce visible and direct results that are technical in nature which is essential in the IT sector (Sopa et al., 2020). Conversely, soft skills arise from the personal knowledge possessed by an individual, making them hard to quantify (Sopa et al., 2020). As such, the certifications under discussion are used to evaluate the hard skill acquired by employees and jobseekers. However, soft skills are essential since they equip employees to tackle new challenges as they work. Additionally, employees use soft skills as a means of increasing their employability chances by supplementing their hard skills (Qizi, 2020). Soft skills tend to be academic in nature and are provided by higher education institutions.

Skillset evaluation is majorly in the domain of hiring entities and they need varied strategies to effectively ensure they do so effectively. There are various frameworks guiding the evaluation of soft or hard skills. According to David et al. (2021) employers can employ Porter’s Five Forces and examine the value chains of their potential hires. Additionally, they can use a SWOT analysis which examines individual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats prior to taking in an employee. Most of the information provided by employees that is helpful for a SWOT analysis is self-reported. Another evaluation strategy is the VRIO which examines the value of a potential hire along with their rarity. Under the VRIO examination of eligibility an employer explores how imitable the skill and knowledge a potential employer hold is to ascertain their suitability. Finally, the VRIO analysis examines the organization carrying out hiring to see whether the job seekers’ skills match with their future employer’s needs.

Strategic management allows a definitive assessment of soft and hard skills. As per David et al. (2021) strategic management is effective upon the acknowledgement that firms differ in based on their needs and goals. Furthermore, employers can effectively measure the effectiveness of the presented qualifications by gauging the degree of development in jobseekers’ critical thinking. During the research for the proposed study critical thinking was a recurrent theme which employers sought while selecting potential employees for their organization. It is defined as the measure of cognitive skills held by an individual while solving a problem and is tied to their rational and logical examination of the issue at hand to help with the development of viable solutions (Shaw et al. 2019). The assessment of critical thinking relies on psychometric approaches where an interviewer presents a problem to their respondents and measures how well they solve the conundrum (Shaw et al. 2019). The evaluation of critical thinking takes place during the interview phase of the hiring process with employers operating off an informed list of desirable qualities to identify suitable candidates.

Critical thinking assessment entails one’s ability to solve workplace problems and make decision to attain the goal. As such employers explore the analysis capacities of their employees and their sped in analyzing the problems presented to them (Shaw et al., 2020). The following are an integral part of critical thinking valued by employers:

1. Problem identification where employees can identify existing problems and their causes.

1. Information analysis is essential where an individual presented with a problem can evaluate them and their sources thus making informed choices.

1. Decision making is crucial parameter as it supports the analysis made by an individual before taking suited action.

1. Innovation is crucial part of critical thinking since problems might be unprecedented and the application of novel ideas towards the solution of an issue is essential.

Employers value the above qualities in their employees and work tirelessly to ensure they acquire said skills. The quality of education informs the degree to which one can be a critical thinker. While Dicker et al. (2019) note that education quality is hard to define they offer a way of ascertaining it in the real-world. Education quality is determined by pedagogical entities reliant on oversight institutions to define quality learning. Employees with a high capacity for critical thinking tend experience high job satisfaction. Job satisfaction arises when there is an overlap between three key things within an enterprise and they are individual and collective motivation, work coordination and leadership (Paais & Pattiruhu, 2020). Employers should evaluate how the exhibited critical thinking and job satisfaction relate during their hiring process. The association created helps effective allocation of incentives to varied posts within an organization. Since most of the incentive in workplaces are monetary, employers leverage the expressed levels of critical thinking by potential employees and tie them to the certifications presented.

Job satisfaction is high among certified employees. According to Mignano (2022), high job satisfaction arises from the benefits of certification in the form of long-term employment. Employers in the IT sector benefit from employee job satisfaction since it reduces security instances in the workplace. This does not mean those already employed but lacking certification need to be terminated. Rather, they need to be allowed to gain certification to increase their satisfaction at work since it comes with a pay increase. For instance, research into the satisfaction levels among Certified Registered Nurses (CRN) shows that nurses who have higher dissatisfaction with their work might present a higher frequency of burnout reports (Mahoney et al., 2020). The phenomenon of burnout is nothing new but was witnessed greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic where essential service workers worked round the clock to help control the spread of the pandemic. Employers recognize the potential for burn out and react to this by incentivizing overwork through rewards, such as compensation of overtime.

Overtime compensation is provided when workers go beyond their daily working hours. Theriault et al, (2018) writes, understaffed workplaces provide overtime payment to their employees to compensate for the increased workload. Employers explore the costs remitted in overtime and compare them to costs of hiring new employees to gauge fiscal balance. In a scenario where an organization is understaffed employers might opt for lower qualified employees since their pay is low. As such, it is essential to understand what makes an employee with low qualifications earn low income compared to their highly qualified counterparts. One recurrent theme is that qualifications serve as a way for people to improve their social standing.

The possession of formal qualifications has been linked to an elevated social standing which employers leverage as they seek new workers for their organizations. Social mobility is the change of one’s socio-economic situation in an ever-evolving occurrence (Zimmerman, 2019). As seen earlier higher education presents graduates with the opportunity to improve their economic wellbeing and employers are aware of the opportunities their organizations offer. Zimmerman (2019) further hypothesizes, education equips people with the skills and technological advantage needed to ensure economic and social mobility. Employers leverage this phenomenon by incentivizing output which is tied to qualification. For instance, an experienced worker can get promoted provided they have the qualification for their new post. This presents an opportunity for educational advancement which can be personally sponsored or catered for by the employer. Under this paradigm it is possible to argue that employers place value on qualifications by recognizing advances in education even as their employees are under their watch (Theriault et al, 2018: Zimmerman, 2019).

The possession of formal qualifications has long been associated with elevated social standing and is a factor that employers leverage when seeking new workers for their organizations. Formal education plays a crucial role in social mobility, which refers to the ability of individuals to improve their socio-economic situation over time (Zimmerman, 2019). Higher education offers graduates the opportunity to enhance their economic wellbeing, and employers are aware of the potential benefits that individuals with higher qualifications can bring to their organizations. Zimmerman (2019) suggests that education equips individuals with the necessary skills and technological advantage required to ensure economic and social mobility. By acquiring formal qualifications, individuals gain a broader knowledge base, critical thinking abilities, and specialized expertise that can set them apart in the job market. Employers recognize the value of these skills and the potential for individuals to contribute to their organizations' growth and success. Employers often incentivize output that is tied to qualifications, further highlighting the importance they place on formal education. For instance, experienced workers who possess the qualifications required for a higher-level position may be eligible for promotion within the organization. This presents an opportunity for educational advancement, which can be personally sponsored by the individual or facilitated by the employer. By recognizing and supporting employees' educational pursuits, employers demonstrate their recognition of the value of qualifications and the benefits they bring to both individuals and the organization (Theriault et al., 2018; Zimmerman, 2019).

Under this paradigm, employers not only value qualifications during the hiring process but also continue to place importance on educational advancements while employees are under their watch. By encouraging and supporting ongoing education and professional development, employers acknowledge the need to adapt to changing technological advancements and industry trends. This ensures that their workforce remains competitive and equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet evolving demands.

Employers monetize and quantify academic qualifications based on tax guidelines governing income levels. According to Trostel (2010), federal taxation on income highly differs from state taxation on the same with holders of higher qualifications and certification attracting increased taxes. Employers must factor the elevated taxes in their remuneration to ensure they attract more graduates. Additionally, the amount of tax levied to an employer informs the way they quantify qualifications. A study by Giegerich (2012) shows there are instances of organizational taxation by governments stretching a long period. Under these circumstances employers must factor in the amount of revenue lost to taxation and seek ways to recoups their losses. Thus, an employer in the stated scenario allocates a certain value to the qualifications and certifications presented by their employees. Tax guidelines are an example of policies that influence how employers value and quantify employee qualifications. Giumaraes and Mikulec (2021) posit that some employers do not give much significance to adult learner qualifications. Adult learners’ empowerment is a sociological endeavor that seeks to uplift adults who decide to acquire education past their childhood. The lack of proper documentation on the valuation of academic and professional qualifications presented by adult learners comes from the low awareness by employers (Giumaraes & Mikulec, 2021).

Certification and qualification valuation by employers is attainable through the exploitation of skill matching. Employers identify their employees’ skills by examining their qualification documents and allocate duties (Chen & Edginton, 2005). Enterprise sponsored training helps with the creation of the skill matching by increasing the skills employees possess and their chances of completing tasks. Based on this notion, employers can increase task complexity levels and ensure their organizations are more productive. The increasing use of information technology has made qualification evaluation easier for employers. Online skill evaluation has increased scrutiny levels along with their accuracy. In their research paper Orlikowski et al. (2014) posit, the increased accuracy has chiefly been aided by the standardization of assessment metrics and criteria. The reason for the postulated success comes from the simplification of assessment criteria since online means summarize information. However, as the amount of information online grows reliance on information, and criteria online becomes increasingly complex due to information multiplicity brought by personalization. Thus, employers keen on using online sources as a means of skill evaluation and its subsequent matching to employees should come from verifiable sources rather than anonymous ones increasing credibility.

Skill assessment is informed by their acquisition approach and success. Higher education varies between vocational training and university learning. Powel et al. (2012) state that the main difference arises from the difference in teaching approaches, governance, and labor market needs. University trained teachers facilitate learning in vocational schools as seen in a research paper by Delcker and Ifenthaler (2021). The authors note that pedagogy in German vocational schools focuses on specific disciplines to ensure workplace related learning. As such an employee with vocational certification have specific skills that can only be expend through additional training. University education on the hand bears a multidisciplinary approach where students get to partake in training in varied field (Singh et al., 2013). Under this learning approach students gain knowledge across various disciplines other than the one their course. This makes the versatile and adaptable to new tasks that might traditionally be out of their purview. However, this versatility limits learners from having specialized skills, which is essential in the real-world job market. Thus, like vocationally trained students, university graduates need extra training to make them skilled in a single discipline.

Impact of technology on qualifications

The 21st Century is characterized by rapid technological advancements, particularly in the information sector, that have permeated all fields and industries. These emerging technologies have significantly influenced the professionalism levels in the labor market, as highlighted by Sparsam and Pahl (2021). The adoption of new technologies impacts individuals' ability to rationalize and make informed decisions while utilizing these tools.

Employers recognize the importance of information technology in assessing the suitability of potential hires. They leverage technology to evaluate candidates' skills, knowledge, and expertise in specific areas. Through online platforms, digital assessments, and technological proficiency tests, employers can gauge the competency of job seekers and make informed hiring decisions. This reliance on information technology in the recruitment process emphasizes the need for individuals to possess up-to-date technological skills and stay abreast of the latest developments in their respective fields.

The current labor market is highly competitive, with an abundance of highly skilled individuals vying for limited job opportunities. As a result, firms face intense competition in attracting and retaining the best talent available. Companies strive to have the most competent and qualified professionals working for them to gain a competitive edge in the market. The widespread availability of skilled individuals raises the bar for professionalism and expertise, compelling organizations to continually upgrade their workforce to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st-century labor market.

The introduction of technologies, such as automation and robots has changed the work environment. Loow et al (2019) posit that the introduction of technology in the workplace has led to increased productivity in task completion. Technological; shifts in workplaces contribute to improved safety especially in technical fields where the risk of accidents is high. Employers value technology in work environments, because they allow a shift from the reliance on skill-based qualification to technical ones (Loow et al. 2019). The automation of tasks in work environments leads to operators of manuals means to operators of the new systems. Thus, from an employee perceptive technological advancement in their work settings comes with much needed promotion in terms of status and incomes. The presented gains show that adaptability is highly valued by employers serving to boost the quality of qualifications held by employees. Understanding and operating technological aspects at work comes after meeting training requirements. Most of the existing training takes a rigorous approach meaning that trainees require to commit ample time and resources to meet the needed training threshold limits. According to Loow et al. (2019), during the vigorous and demanding training for the use of modern technology students can acquire co-credits.

The capital market is defined by an investor’s ability to leverage their monetary input to reap profit. Regardless of an organizations goal whether it is profit making or philanthropy the labor involved assures them of a sustainable use of financial resources. Therefore, employers desire employees who are qualified to meet their goals. Goal alignment is a fundamental attribute employers seek in their new employees. One-way employers ensure goal alignment is through branding. Employer branding is the presentation of benefits an employee gets from their workplace (Itam et al., 2020). Employer branding helps applicants recognize an overlap in their goals and those of their employers. Employers can proceed by identifying people with a high likelihood of helping them realize what they want.

Workplace wage inequality has become a pressing concern, largely driven by demographic changes and globalization. Globalization has led to increased immigration as individuals seek opportunities to fill labor gaps in international job markets. According to Abdurakhmanova and Abdurakhmanov (2019), labor exchange between nations benefits both the sending and receiving countries. The receiving nation gains in terms of human capital, as immigrants bring valuable skills and contribute to income growth. Employers also benefit from a diverse workforce within their organizations, as highlighted by Dilli (2021), who emphasizes that diversity promotes entrepreneurial activities.

The presence of a diverse workforce in an organization fosters entrepreneurial activities due to several factors. One key factor is the regulation of the labor market. When employers have a standardized method of recognizing and incentivizing certifications and qualifications, labor market regulation becomes possible (Dilli, 2021). By valuing and leveraging the diverse skills and experiences brought by employees from different backgrounds, organizations can tap into a wider range of innovative ideas and perspectives. This not only enhances creativity and problem-solving but also drives entrepreneurial initiatives within the company. Migration plays a significant role in shaping the quality of the labor force by influencing the demand and supply of skills. As immigrants bring their unique skill sets to new countries, they contribute to the diversification of the labor market. This influx of diverse skills can lead to a more dynamic and competitive labor market, benefiting both employers and the economy. By expanding the pool of available talent, migration helps address labor shortages, fill skill gaps, and boost productivity.

However, it is important to recognize that wage inequality can also be perpetuated within diverse workforces. Discrimination, biases, and unequal opportunities can persist, leading to disparities in wages and career progression. Efforts must be made by employers and policymakers to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all employees, regardless of their background or immigration status. This can be achieved through implementing anti-discrimination policies, promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, and providing equal access to opportunities for career advancement and skill development. Thus, wage inequality in workplaces is influenced by demographic changes and globalization. The exchange of labor between nations benefits both sending and receiving countries, providing valuable human capital and economic growth. Diverse workforces contribute to entrepreneurial activities, driven by the regulation of the labor market and the recognition of certifications and qualifications. Migration influences the quality of the labor force by impacting the supply and demand of skills. While diversity can enhance innovation and productivity, efforts must be made to address wage inequality and ensure equal opportunities for all employees. By fostering inclusive and equitable workplaces, organizations can harness the benefits of a diverse workforce while promoting fairness and social progress (Abdurakhmanova & Abdurakhmanov, 2019; Dilli, 2021).

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

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Review of the Literature

(Approximately 30 pages)

The learner assures that this section of Chapter 2 should be approximately 30 pages. (Thirty pages reflects a typical literature review length and is  a recommendation, not a rule). The purpose of the minimum number of pages is to ensure that the overall literature review reflects a foundational understanding of the theory or theories, literature and research studies related to the topic. A well-written comprehensive literature review that reflects the current state of research and literature on the topic is expected and will likely exceed 30 pages. Literature reviews are updated continuously. This is an ongoing process to dissertation completion.

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The learner describes the phenomena being explored in the study discussing the prior research that has been done on the phenomena.

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Themes or Topics: The learner discusses and synthesizes studies related to the dissertation topic. May include (1) studies focused on the problem from a societal perspective, (2) studies describing and/or relating the exploring related phenomena (qualitative), (3) studies on related research such as factors associated with the themes, (4) studies on the methodological approach and instruments used to collect data, (5) studies on the broad population for the study, and/or (6) studies similar to the study. The themes presented, and research studies discussed and synthesized in the Review of the Literature demonstrates understanding of all aspects of the research topic, the research methodology, and sources of data.

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The learner structures the literature review in a logical order, including actual data and accurate synthesis of results from reviewed studies as related to the learner’s own topic. The learner provides synthesis of the information, not just a summary of the findings or annotation of articles.

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The learner includes in each major section (theme or topic) within the Review of the Literature an introductory paragraph that explains why the topic or theme was explored relative to the overall dissertation topic.

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The learner includes in each section within the Review of the Literature a summary paragraph(s) that (1) compares and contrasts alternative perspectives on the topic and (2) provides a synthesis of the themes relative to the research topic discussed that emerged from the literature, and (3) identifies how themes are relevant to the dissertation topic and research methodology.

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The learner provides additional arguments for the need for the study that was defined in the Background of the Study section.

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The learner ensures that for every in-text citation a reference entry exists. Conversely, for every reference list entry there is a corresponding in-text citation. Note: The accuracy of citations and quality of sources is verified by learner, chair, and content expert.

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The learner uses a range of references including founding theorists, peer-reviewed empirical research studies from scholarly journals, and governmental/foundation research reports.

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The learner verifies that all references are scholarly sources. NOTE: Websites, dictionaries, publications without dates (n.d.), are not considered scholarly sources and are not cited or present in the reference list.

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The learner avoids overuse of books and dissertations.

Books: Recommendation: No more than 10 scholarly books that present cutting edge views on a topic, are research based, or are seminal works.

Dissertations: Recommendation: No more than five published dissertations should be cited as sources in the manuscript. (This is  a recommendation, not a rule).

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Problem Statement

It is not known how corporate leaders value the use of professional certifications as a perceived profitability to their organization. What weight do employers place on qualifications? This qualitative research examines the overall value employers place on their employees' qualifications. Whether employers value certifications differently for new versus existing employees by occupation classification and type of business, the types of competence for which employers demand formal recognition, and the decision-making processes employers use when assigning value to qualifications. 

It is important to note, the value of a qualification in the job market is influenced by a range of factors. They include specific skills and knowledge acquired through acquired qualifications, the reputation of the educational institution or training provider, and the demand for workers with skillsets in the labor market. Hence, this qualitative descriptive study focuses on views held by employers. Employers in this regard refer to individuals tasked with ensuring their respective organizations have the requisite labor needed to meet their firm’s goals. Employers confer value to qualifications based on the skills they declare their holders possess. As such, Rois et al. (2019) note, the monetary value of qualifications may vary across different industries and job roles due to the varying extent of skill synthesis by employers. For instance, a degree in computer science may be highly valued in the technology sector but may not be as valuable in other fields, as they all have varying skill cultivating criteria (Moll & Yigitbasioglu, 2019). Employers in the IT sector operating within Northern United states are the focus for the following qualitative descriptive study. IT organizations rely on human representation through titles for people involved in the hiring process most of whom are found in the human resources departments. Sadiq et al. (2012) state that the role of human resources department has grown from simply hiring and firing employees to creating remuneration frameworks for their organization in consultation with other key stakeholders. Human resources department are becoming more administrative while retaining their strategic identity within organizations.

The lack of comprehensive data regarding the monetary worth of different qualifications hinders individuals and businesses in making well-informed judgments regarding the financial benefits associated with various qualifications. The absence of clear information may potentially contribute to inequalities in educational opportunities, notably affecting those from socioeconomically disadvantaged families who may be reluctant to pursue higher education due to doubts over the financial returns (Blundell et al., 2021; Rusilowati & Wahyudi, 2020). Accurate and open information regarding the financial returns associated with various qualifications is essential for job searchers, educational institutions, policymakers, and employers to make informed decisions. The varied methodologies employed by companies in the Northern United States for monetary appraisal have substantial ramifications for both employers and employees. Employers possess a propensity to attract and keep highly skilled personnel, whereas employees strive for equitable remuneration that aligns with their aptitude and prior professional engagements.

Insufficient recognition of professional credentials can contribute to the devaluation and under compensation of employees, ultimately resulting in heightened rates of employee attrition within firms. It is imperative to acknowledge and tackle these difficulties. Gaining a thorough comprehension of the most effective method for assessing the value of employees' professional skills has the potential to greatly enhance retention rates, hence resulting in a reduction in turnover. Moreover, this comprehension has the potential to bolster workplace morale, so cultivating heightened levels of productivity and enhanced financial gains for companies. The demographic under consideration includes individuals seeking employment, educational institutions, policymakers, and employers, with a specific focus on those located in the Northern United States. This group is particularly relevant as they are directly impacted by the matter of assessing the value of qualifications.

This qualitative study aims to analyze if business executives regard professional qualifications as a source of perceived profit for their companies. In the study, the verification of certificates by employees is reviewed along with the knowledge employers possess in identifying authentic certificates. Furthermore, the production of certificates gets reviewed to understand how the process ensures authenticity during the review process. After reviewing the authenticity of certificates and ways to leverage them, the study seeks to illuminate how employers value them. The value of certificates will be established after examining the wages paid to certified and non-certified employees since this provides an exemplar that ties certification to monetary value. 

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

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Content Expert Score

Problem Statement

(Typically three or four paragraphs or approximately one page)

The learner states the specific problem for research with a clear declarative statement.

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The learner describes the population of interest. The population of interest includes all individuals that could be affected by the study problem.

EXAMPLE: The population of interest might be all adults in the United States who are 65 or older. The target population is a more specific subpopulation from the population of interest, such as low-income older adults ( ≥ 65) in AZ. Thus, the sample is selected from the target population, not from the population of interest.

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The learner discusses the scope and importance of addressing the problem.

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The learner develops the Problem Statement based on what needs to be understood as defined in the Problem Space and the Review of the Literature.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary

In summary, the use of certification during employment is a sure way of ensuring that employees have a standard appraisal of their skills and knowledge as they seek employment. The theoretical frameworks examined show that certifications and formal qualifications play a major role in the job market. Evidence of this is evident in the conclusions drawn from the information showing that people without the required certifications needed for a particular job end up being marginalized and excluded from lucrative jobs.

Employers have been shown to rely on certification to assess potential workers since they are highly standardized. This leads to them having a monetary value tied to qualifications under promotions opportunities and increased earning capacities for the qualified. Interestingly, allocating a monetary value to certificates is not a universal occurrence. Therefore, the value of certification is considered internally by employers, who then communicate this to job seekers. Following this, it is credible to conclude that the monetary value of certificates by employers follows their value as conceived by the hiring organization.

The value of qualifications may change over time as new technologies and industries emerge (Brunetti et al., 2020). While Brunetti et al.’s analysis comes from the examination stakeholders the emergence of new technology in the labor market makes it difficult for individuals and organizations to stay up to date with the most valuable qualifications. As a result, there is a need for ongoing research to assess the monetary value of qualifications and identify trends and patterns in the job market that may affect their worth.

Therefore, there is a need for further research to assess the monetary value of qualifications and the factors that influence their worth in the job market. This research informs policies that promote equitable access to education and training, and help individuals make informed decisions about their career paths and investments in education. Overall, research on the monetary valuation of qualifications is important for addressing economic inequalities and promoting equitable access to education and training. By providing accurate information about the financial returns associated with different types of qualifications, this research can help individuals and organizations make informed decisions about their investments in education and training and inform policies that promote a more equitable and prosperous society.

The motivation theory states that employees perform better when incentivized by their organizations and employers where they are forced to look for highly skilled individuals through the examination of the qualification documents they present. The theory informs the research question seeking to bring an understanding of how employers value the use of professional certification and their subsequent profitability. The motivation theory correlates with the resource-based view in the postulated line of inquiry. The Say’s law of market and its tying critiques help with an understanding of on the descriptions offered by employers regarding the influence certifications have on capital stock improvement. Thus, the presented theoretical frameworks work to ensure that this qualitative descriptive study provides employers’ views on the influence certifications have on the improvement of the technical knowledge held by their employees. The research carried out for this qualitative descriptive was undertaken within the confines of the regulations set by the oversight body for the doctoral program at Grand Canyon University (GCU). The information collected was ethically sourced with participants being informed of the expectations by the researcher prior to inform their consent.

Subsequent sections of the study will seek to determine whether there is a baseline that helps guide employers as they seek talent for their organizations. Chapter Three describes the research methodology for this qualitative descriptive study. The chapter delves into the study’s phenomenon and research questions by detailing the volume and quality of data collected during the research phase. The underpinned research questions help with the foundation of the line of inquiry needed for this qualitative descriptive study. Chapter Three provides the rationale for the study’s research methodology. Within the chapter are the sample size and sampling methods with justifications for each choice. Finally, Chapter Three provides readers with the approach employed in ensuring data security.

Chapter Four deals with data analysis and the subsequent result from the endeavor. The chapter contains a presentation of all relevant dataset in explicit forms, meaning that the information shown in this chapter is tabulated. The data is examined to ensure it answers all the research questions in manner readers understand. Any changes made in the subsequent chapters of this qualitative descriptive study, Chapters One to Three, are presented in this section to alleviate potential confusion. Finally, Chapter Five of this qualitative descriptive study presents the conclusions drawn while presenting recommendations arising from analyzing the data collected during the research of the paper. The chapter presents a summary of the paper in a concise manner.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Chapter 2 Summary

(Typically one or two pages)

The learner synthesizes the information from all prior sections in the Literature Review using it to define the key strategic points for the research.

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The learner summarizes the problem space, what still needs to be understood, and how it informs the problem statement.

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The learner identifies the theory(ies) or model(s) describing how they inform the research questions.

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The learner builds a case (argument) for the study in terms of the value of the research and how the problem statement emerged from the identification of the problem space and review of literature.

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The content of this section reflects that learners have done their “due diligence” in synthesizing the existing empirical research and writing a comprehensive literature review on the research topic.

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The learner summarizes key points in Chapter 2 and transitions into Chapter 3.

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The chapter is correctly formatted to dissertation template using the Word Style Tool and APA standards. Writing is free of mechanical errors.

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All research presented in the chapter is scholarly, topic-related, and obtained from highly respected, academic, professional, original sources. In-text citations are accurate, correctly cited and included in the reference page according to APA standards.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Chapter 3: Methodology

Introduction

This chapter explores the fundamental methodological principles necessary for understanding the viewpoints of corporate executives on professional certifications inside their organizations. To rephrase the issue statement, the main goal is to clarify the purpose of the study, providing a thorough explanation of the selected research approach and design, and explaining the reasons behind these choices.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide the reader with a clear understanding of data collection procedures, with a particular focus on the ethical considerations involved in handling collected information. Key themes encompass the utmost significance of data security and the safeguarding of participant privacy. In addition, the part thoroughly explains the extent of the investigation, offering clear and detailed explanations of the decisions made throughout the research process.

This methodology section provides a detailed explanation of the strategy used to gather information from employers regarding the importance of academic degrees and professional certifications in today's work climate. This chapter builds upon the research emphasis described in Chapter 2 and provides an overview of the systematic approach used to collect and analyze data.

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Chapter 3 Introduction

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The learner begins by restating the Problem Statement for the study.

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The learner provides a re-orienting summary of the research focus from Chapter 2 and outlines the expectations for this chapter.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

See comments

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study is to employ an in-depth investigation to comprehend the significance of professional certifications and qualifications when presented by job seekers and employees in enhancing a company's output, organizational capital stock, and technical knowledge. This research is focused on employers situated in the Northern United States, encompassing diverse samples from various corporations.

The study employs a qualitative approach to provide a nuanced understanding of how professional certifications and qualifications impact organizational outcomes, with a specific focus on the perspectives of employers within fifty companies across the United States. This investigation aims to uncover valuable insights into the intricate dynamics between employee credentials and the enhancement of a company's overall performance.

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Purpose of the Study

(Typically, one or two paragraphs)

This section begins with one sentence that identifies the research methodology, design, problem statement, target population, and geographic location. This is presented as a declarative statement: "The purpose of this qualitative [ design] study is to … [ include the Problem Statement] at a [setting/geographic location]." Comment by Maurice Ahyee: missing Comment by D'Ainsley Smith: Addressed

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The learner introduces how the study will be carried out. Comment by Maurice Ahyee: please review all the sample I have sent you

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Continue to develop

Phenomenon and Research Questions

In the pursuit of employment, job seekers navigate areas they perceive to yield maximum returns, strategically positioning themselves to secure desired jobs. Constrained by financial and time considerations, employees often focus on key areas within their respective fields, seeking assistance to enhance their marketability. This decision-making process involves a crucial choice between formal education leading to industrial certification upon program completion or the pursuit of technical skills and field-relevant experience. Both approaches present employees with dilemmas when determining the most effective strategy for securing employment. Employers face similar challenges in selecting the best employment criteria to ensure the ongoing success of their organizations.

The study's line of inquiry is guided by the following research questions, aiming to develop sustainable evidence:

RQ1: How do employers describe the impact of professional certifications and qualifications on their employees' performance and productivity?

RQ2: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' capital stock?

RQ3: How do employers describe the use of professional certifications and qualifications to improve their employees' technical knowledge?

This descriptive qualitative study utilizes questionnaires and semi-structured interviews as data sources. Questionnaires serve as the foundational data collection tool, offering insights into the monetary valuation of employees' professional and academic qualifications by employers in the IT sector in the Northern United States. These questionnaires address the first research question (RQ1) by seeking employer descriptions of professional qualifications and their impact on employees' output. Furthermore, the questionnaires collect employer descriptions of how professional and academic qualifications contribute to improving employees' capital stock, addressing the second research question (RQ2). Finally, respondents can articulate how they enhance their employees' technical knowledge using professional qualifications, addressing the third research question (RQ3).

The open-ended nature of the questionnaires allows respondents to freely express their experiences and opinions. To complement and enrich the data obtained from the questionnaires, the study employs semi-structured interviews lasting approximately 60 minutes. This approach aims to address any limitations in the conclusiveness of the questionnaire responses and further explore and elucidate insights from the participants.

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Phenomenon and Research Questions

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The learner establishes the research questions, and defines the phenomenon/a

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The learner describes the nature and sources of necessary data to answer the research questions (primary versus secondary data, specific people, institutional archives, Internet open sources, etc.).

The learner describes the data collection methods, instrument(s) or data source(s) to collect the data for each research question.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments: see comments

Rationale for a Qualitative Methodology

This study utilizes a qualitative research style to thoroughly examine and comprehend the inquiries regarding the importance that employers place on paraprofessional certification and qualifications. The choice to use a qualitative method is based on the requirement to accurately capture the unique characteristics and variety of the sample during the process of analyzing and combining the data. Koivu and Damman (2015) highlight the existence of four main theoretical approaches in qualitative research, among which the empirical interpretivist approach is included. This study is epistemologically aligned with an interpretivist stance, which emphasizes the interpretation and comprehension of meaning (Ahmed, 2008). The main objective is to analyze the relationship between the monetary value given to professional degrees and its impact on employers and employees. This will be done by using an intersubjective technique to understand the issue.

Although professional degrees have a factual basis and rationale for their monetary value, it is important to clarify that this study does not present a grounded theory. Instead, the goal is to determine if companies assign economic worth to professional degrees. Furthermore, this study relies on the actions of employers about their assessments of professional qualifications and the accompanying financial value. The underlying premise is the dependence on employer viewpoints, classifying the inquiry as a descriptive qualitative endeavor. The descriptive qualitative methodology is selected to address the current lack of knowledge, undertaking a comprehensive study guided by the human capital theory. This hypothesis suggests that investment in human capital can lead to future benefits (Goldin and Katz, 2020). The evaluation of this expenditure is connected to the inherent value of the professional qualifications held by the staff.

The selected methodology employs a systematic approach that involves the use of questionnaires including both closed-ended and open-ended questions, together with semi-structured interviews. The administration of questionnaires occurs before the semi-structured interviews, as explained in the following sections of this chapter. The use of qualitative technique is warranted due to the distinctive characteristics of the research inquiries, with the objective of capturing in-depth, contextual understandings of the intricate dynamics between professional qualifications, their financial worth, and the viewpoints of employers and employees.

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Rationale for a Qualitative Methodology

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The learner defines and describes the chosen methodology.

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The learner provides a rationale for choosing a qualitative methodology, based on what still needs to be understood from the problem space, problem statement, and research questions.

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The learner provides a rationale for the selected methodology based on empirical studies on the topic.

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The learner justifies why the methodology was selected as opposed to alternative methodologies.

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The learner uses authoritative source(s) to justify the selected methodology. Note: Do not use introductory research textbooks (such as Creswell or internal GCU research course e-books) to justify the research design and data analysis approach.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments: see comments

Rationale for Research Design

This descriptive qualitative study employs a research design centered on two primary methods of data collection: interviews and questionnaires administered to employers in the IT sector in the Northern United States. According to Stewart and Cash (2017), qualitative research involves gathering and examining subjective information, encompassing the perceptions and observations of individuals, and often employs techniques such as oral interviews. The purpose of these data collection procedures is to obtain information regarding employers' methods of assessing value and how these methods impact employee retention.

The choice of research design has been influenced by the qualitative research approach, prioritizing the extraction and synthesis of information from ideas and opinions rather than measurable factors. To accommodate time constraints, the study avoids a design heavily reliant on statistical data and instead opts for a qualitative approach, given the inherent subjectivity of the research topic related to the assessment of qualifications by employers. This approach is deemed more appropriate to gather diverse perspectives and facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental factors impacting current values.

In evaluating various qualitative designs at Grand Canyon University (GCU), such as phenomenology, case study, and ethnography, it was determined that a comprehensive qualitative study would be most suitable for investigating employer attitudes and the assessment of professional qualifications. Phenomenology, focusing on individual experiences and perceptions, case studies involving comprehensive investigations of specific cases, and ethnography studying cultures and behaviors within distinct groups were considered. However, the chosen design aligns effectively with the subjective nature of the research problem, emphasizing the imperative to understand varied attitudes and valuation methodologies employed by employers regarding professional qualifications within the IT industry.

The qualitative design selected is deemed most appropriate, aligning well with the subjective nature of the research problem. According to Creswell (2013), this qualitative methodology provides the necessary flexibility to effectively capture the intricate and multifaceted nature of individual perceptions, essential for gaining a comprehensive grasp of employers' nuanced perspectives on professional qualifications. The chosen design is considered superior to alternative designs, ensuring the study's success in gathering diverse perspectives and understanding the complexities of employer attitudes in the IT industry.

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Research Design

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The learner identifies the research design for the study. The learner provides the rationale for selecting the research design supported by empirical and methodological references.

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The learner justifies why the design was selected as the best approach to collect the needed data, as opposed to alternative designs. Comment by Maurice Ahyee: This section should discuss the design as the best approach to collect your data.

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The learner uses authoritative source(s) to justify the design. Note: Do not use introductory research textbooks (such as Creswell) to justify the research design and data analysis approach.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments: continue to develop this section

Population and Sample Selection

The targeted population for this qualitative descriptive study consists of corporate managers from the Northern United States. Corporate managers in this context refer to individuals overseeing employee performance in accordance with organizational norms. The insights contributed by the participants will serve as the foundation for the analysis and findings of this qualitative research. The study aimed to recruit a sample size of approximately 50 participants, intending to facilitate a thorough examination of data aligned with the study's concept. Invitations were extended to company managers responsible for supervising employee performance, ensuring that the selected participants would provide valuable perspectives on the assessment of qualifications.

The selected sample size is designed to enable a comprehensive understanding of the fluctuations in the assessment of qualifications over time. It is crucial to note that qualitative research often prioritizes depth and contextual understanding over statistical representativeness. As of March 31, 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the United States has around eight million corporate managers. To address qualitative aspects and resource limitations, the study aimed to include a total of 50 participants. This number was chosen considering practical constraints inherent in qualitative inquiries. About 250 invitations were dispatched, accounting for potential non-responses and inadequate data, to achieve the desired sample size. These modifications were implemented to align with the distinctive demands of qualitative research and the available resources.

Study Sample and Sampling Strategy

The sample size of a study refers to the number of persons on whom the research will be done and from whom conclusions will be collected (Dahabreh & Hernán, 2019). The research focuses on a diverse group of corporate managers and staff supervisors from various industries around the United States. inside this framework, a corporate manager has a position of authority and responsibility inside an organization, whereas a staff supervisor is responsible for overseeing and evaluating employee performance according to the established standards of the State of Texas. The study will consist of a sample size of 50 individuals that meet the criteria of being corporate management experts. Prior to reaching out to the chosen firms, it is imperative to acquire approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Reaching out to 250 individuals by contacting the human resource departments of different firms poses a substantial problem given the limited time available for the study. Contacting a significant number of potential responses through written communication, such as email or physical mail, requires substantial and diligent efforts. The anticipated response times may vary, with the possibility of certain participants abstaining from replying entirely. Furthermore, the act of disseminating the research inquiries following communication with these persons and subsequently scrutinizing each reply may significantly impede the efficacy of the research methodology.

Total population sampling involves gathering study samples that adhere to predetermined criteria. The research criteria encompassed professionals with administrative prowess who serve as employers within a certain organization, specifically corporate managers. Non-probability sampling is constrained by its subjective nature, yet it proves to be advantageous over randomization when dealing with a significantly large target population (Etikan et al., 2015). The extensive size of the target population poses challenges for employing probability sampling techniques in data collection. Therefore, researchers are compelled to utilize non-probability methods, which are in line with the qualitative descriptive approach of the study. This enables the researchers to obtain perspectives from the participants more effectively.

The study's target demographic consists of corporate managers from various firms in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the information technology (IT) industry. IT corporate managers have a crucial role in making investment decisions, notably in hiring. Hiring is seen as a type of investment because it helps to diversify the resources of the organization. Qualifications, particularly professional certificates, are seen as instruments for human resource management rather than a direct gauge of the talents possessed by prospective employees. Gaining insight into the perspectives of the target demographic on compensation and its relationship to professional qualifications is crucial. Employers, including corporate managers, depend on the options available in the human resource docket, both from external and internal sources, to make hiring decisions.

Recruiting Plan and Site Authorization

In this descriptive study, the aim was to target employers within the IT industry, specifically in the Northern United States. The study focused on respondents with significant experience in the field, aligning with the understanding of their perceptions, as emphasized by Archibald and Ambagtsheer (2019) in qualitative research. This specific area in the Northern US, hosting major companies like Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Accenture, Cisco Systems, Dell Technologies, Oracle, and SAP, represents a thriving IT sector. While not exhaustive, this list provides an overview of the prominent IT companies in the region.

To accommodate the busy schedules of the target respondents, a flexible data collection schedule was adopted. Email was the primary method used to invite participation, followed by detailed information provided regarding consent for data collection, storage, processing, and destruction after the study's publication.

The recruitment strategy involved identifying key players in the IT and economic sectors. Establishing communication channels between the researcher and the respondents was key. Online means were preferred to ensure flexibility, considering the scope of the targeted region. Respondents were encouraged to participate by highlighting the potential benefits the study offers to the IT sector and addressing limitations in the current valuation processes.

Contingency plans were also in place. Plan B involved physically reaching out to respondents at their work addresses in case of internet-related challenges. Meanwhile, Plan C aimed to extract information from repositories such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the National Association of College and Employers, and the Dice Salary report, which contains crucial data about professional qualifications and salary trends in the IT sector. However, since Plan C lacks the employer perspective crucial to this study, the researcher proposed to conduct interviews to fill this gap and address the research questions.

Plan B for the study included the researcher employing a physical approach to getting respondent active in the study. this plan involves the researcher being available at the respondents’ physical addresses, their work addresses. The plan involves scouring the internet for the potential addresses of possible respondents in Northern US. Request will be sent via postal mail with copies of communiques being kept for future reference. While Plan B is aimed to ensure the research continues in case of internet failure it works to supplement the attainment of the needed sample size in case of a shortcoming in the area.

Plan C involves the collection of data from repositories with information on the current professional qualification valuation and related data. The repositories were identified after the researcher undertook an intensive internet search on the matter. The identified repositories were s follows:

1. The Society for Human Resource Management abbreviated as SHRM which collect information on the value ascribed to certifications in various industrial sectors.

1. The National Association of College and employers which has a similar role as the SHRM. The organization has annual reports on the needed data which the researcher will explore to get the needed datasets.

1. The Dice Salary report is the final repository to be identified as it deals specifically with data pertinent to the IT sector specifically salary increments based on presented qualifications.

Plan C does not have the required employer perspective important for this qualitative descriptive study. this will be mitigated by the sourcing of interviews by researcher into the phenomenon. The interviews will help with the collection of data answering the identified research questions.

To commence the process of acquiring site authorization and gaining access to the target demographic and study sample, the research team will initiate an initial contact and introduction. This entails contacting prospective participating locations, with a specific emphasis on enterprises operating in the IT industry in the Northern region of the United States. In this initial message, the team will present a concise summary of the research, highlighting its significance in the IT industry.

Prior to initiating direct communication with the participating sites, the study team will get Institutional Review Board (IRB) authorization. This phase guarantees that the research design and procedures strictly comply with ethical guidelines and safeguards for participants. The IRB approval process functions as a means of validating the study's ethical context. Upon obtaining the required clearances, comprehensive project information will be conveyed to prospective participating sites. This documentation will provide a thorough explanation of the research's objectives, methodology, and importance. In addition, it will emphasize the optional nature of participation, the precautions taken to ensure confidentiality, and the ethical issues of the study.

An essential component of the communication will involve elucidating the protocols and procedures for the protection of sensitive information. The study team shall explicitly delineate the measures implemented to ensure the confidentiality of collaborating organizations and individuals. This encompasses guarantees that all gathered data will undergo anonymization and aggregation processes to ensure the prevention of identifying individual participants.

The statement shall additionally delineate the parameters of research participation, clearly defining the anticipated extent of engagement from the participating organizations. This may encompass specific information such as the anticipated number of employees who will take part, the duration of their engagement, and any potential effects on their usual job responsibilities. The message will give detailed geographical information to ensure that potential participating sites in the Northern United States have a clear understanding of the study's regional focus. Organizations must have this information to evaluate their suitability and pertinence to the research.

The introduction of the informed consent process is an essential component of communication. The communication will explicitly state that participation is optional and will ensure that individuals in the participating organizations can give their explicit consent before participating in any data collection activities. To enhance communication and handle any questions or issues, the communication will include the name and contact details of a selected representative from the study team. This guarantees that potential participating venues have a dependable point of contact to request additional information or clarification. The study team intends to secure site authorization in an ethical manner by following a comprehensive and transparent process. This approach aims to build a collaborative and informed collaboration with the participating organizations.

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Population and Sample Selection

(Typically, one or two pages)

The learner defines and describes the population of interest (the group to which the results of the study would be generalized or applicable) (such as police officers in AZ).

The learner defines and describes the target population from which the sample ultimately is selected (such as number of police officers in AZ who belong to the police fraternal association).

The learner defines and describes the study sample, who are the individuals who will volunteer or be selected from the target population and are the final source of data, and the final group from whom complete data will be collected.

NOTE: There is no such thing as a sample population, there is only a “sample” that is taken from the target population of the population.

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The learner describes the required sample size to secure adequate qualitative data as based on the literature related to the design indicated in the previous section and provides the rationale for how this size was derived. Comment by Maurice Ahyee: Please review your data

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The learner defines and describes the sampling procedures (such as convenience, purposive, snowball, etc.) supported by scholarly research sources.

For a purposive sample, the learner identifies the screening criteria (“purposes”) and how the participants will be screened (e.g., demographic questionnaire, expert knowledge of topic, screening questions such as years of experience in a position).

The learner defines and describes the sampling strategy and the process for recruiting individuals to comprise the sample. The learner provides a compelling argument that the target population is large enough to meet the target sample size by defining the “sample frame” (the subset of the target population from which the sample will be drawn).

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The learner discusses the primary plan to obtain the sample (plan “A”) as well as two back up plans to use if plan “A” does not provide the minimum target sample size.

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The learner describes the process used to obtain site authorization to access the target population and study sample. This includes the information required to obtain this authorization, such as a description of confidentiality measures, the limits of study participation requirements, and geographic specifics, for example.

The learner includes evidence of site authorization in Appendix B prior to submission for peer review.

If public data sources or social media are used to collect data, and no site permission is required, the learner provides a rationale and evidence for why these sources can be used without this permission.

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The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

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*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Sources of Data

In this descriptive qualitative study, two primary sources of data will be employed: questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. These sources are designed to collect data that will effectively address the research questions and contribute to understanding how employers assign a monetary value to their employees' professional qualifications.

Questionnaires: The development of the questionnaires involves a meticulous process focused on achieving clarity and authenticity in responses. The instruments are constructed to gather information rather than relying on multiple-choice items. The questionnaire development process initiates with a clear identification of the study's primary goals. Goal orientation, as emphasized by Kalu (2019), guides the formulation of fact-based questions intended to uncover underlying relationships and patterns in the research. The questionnaires include an informed consent section on the first page, and participants are given the option to participate in subsequent semi-structured interviews.

Semi-Structured Interviews: The construction of the semi-structured interviews is aligned with the qualitative nature of the study, aiming to explore participants' perspectives in-depth. The interview questions are thoughtfully developed to address the research questions and align with the research design and problem statement. The questions are open-ended, allowing for flexibility and exploration of unanticipated insights. The interview process, whether conducted in person with printed questionnaires or remotely with electronic copies, is designed to provide a richer understanding of the phenomenon under investigation.

Research Data

During the data collection phase, the researcher employed a descriptive qualitative method involving various sources. According to Hammer (2017), research data for qualitative analysis requires understanding of the research parameters through the employment of questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and engagement with the population identified pertinent to the study. The oral interviews were essential in guiding this study’s line of inquiry while providing instances of gaps in the existing research.

Semi-structured Interviews

Semi-structured interviews provide the basic source of information for the research. The semi-structured interviews used in this study were face–to–face in form for data collection. They are created to collect subjective answers from a respondent to help ascertain their views on the phenomenon under review (McIntosh & Morse, 2015). They vary from unstructured interviews since they give researchers control over interviewees' responses. For effectiveness, questions are presented in an ordered manner that allows the review of responses in the same fashion (McIntosh & Morse, 2015). Semi-structured interviews offer researchers a chance for clarity on responses during data collection. Therefore, the use of questionnaires traditionally precedes semi-structured interviews during data collection. Morse and McIntosh (2015) write that semi-structured interviews can take four main forms: "descriptive/confirmative, descriptive/corrective, descriptive/interpretative, and descriptive/divergent." The four groupings have varied purposes, and the semi-structured interviews were descriptive /confirmative for the study. Descriptive/confirmative semi-structured interviews help expand the respondent's answers. Normally the descriptive/confirmative typology of semi-structured interviews confirms the researcher's knowledge and, in this study, elaborates on the questionnaires' responses. Time allocation for the semi-structured was sixty minutes per interview with a thirty-minute allowance provided to collect further information from respondents.

Additional Data

Additional Data Source #1: Online job postings and Employer surveys

Online job postings provide useful information about the monetary valuation of certifications by employers. By examining job postings for specific positions, the learner gathered information on the certifications required or preferred by employers, as well as the salaries offered for those positions based on certification level. This data provided insight into the perceived value of certifications by employers in different industries and geographic locations. Job posting sites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed were used to collect this data.

Surveys of employers were conducted to provide valuable information about the monetary valuation of certifications. Surveys were conducted through online platforms such as SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics, or through direct contact with employers via email or phone. The survey asked questions such as which certifications were preferred or required for certain positions, how much more salary was offered for certified individuals, and how often employers were willing to pay for their employees to obtain certifications. The data collected was used to identify trends in the perceived value of certifications by employers and to provide insights into how employers view the monetary benefits of certifications.

Additional Data Source #3: Industry reports

Industry reports are used to provide information on the monetary valuation of certifications in specific industries. These reports were typically compiled by research firms or industry associations and could be purchased or accessed through subscription. The reports provided data on the demand for certifications in different industries, the salaries offered to individuals with certifications, and the perceived value of certifications by employers. This data was used to supplement the information gathered from other sources and to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the monetary valuation of certifications.

In this descriptive qualitative study, the instruments and research materials utilized for data collection extend beyond the primary sources of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Additional instruments are employed for participant screening/selection and demographic data collection to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the sample and to facilitate participant inclusion based on specific criteria.

Screening/Selection Instruments: The screening and selection process is crucial for ensuring that participants meet the predefined criteria essential for the study. The screening instruments work by evaluating key parameters that align with the study's objectives. Specifically, participants are selected based on the following screening criteria:

Occupational Role: Participants must hold corporate managerial positions or staff supervisor roles.

Industry: Participants must work in the information technology (IT) sector.

Geographic Location: Participants must be situated in the Northern United States.

These criteria are operationalized through targeted questions within the screening instruments. Individuals who meet these criteria are considered eligible for inclusion in the study, ensuring that the sample represents corporate managers and staff supervisors within the IT sector in the specified geographic region.

2. Demographic Data Collection: Demographic data are collected to provide a comprehensive profile of the sample and to enhance the understanding of the context in which the study is conducted. The demographic information collected includes:

· Occupational Role: Participants' specific roles within their organizations.

· Industry Experience: The number of years’ participants have worked in the IT sector.

· Geographic Location: The precise location of participants within the Northern United States.

This demographic data serves the purpose of contextualizing the insights gathered from participants, allowing for a nuanced analysis of the relationship between professional qualifications and monetary valuation within the IT sector. By collecting such demographic details, the study aims to uncover patterns and variations in participants' perspectives based on their roles, experience, and geographic context.

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Sources of Data

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The learner provides a detailed discussion of the sources to be used to collect the research data that will be used to address the research questions. The required details include: Comment by Maurice Ahyee: See my comment

1. How the instrument was developed and constructed.

2. Interview questions must be aligned with the research design and collect the information to address the research questions and problem statement.

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If the learner’s research data will come from an electronic database (archival, or secondary data), they provide the following information: Comment by Maurice Ahyee: Several missing data. Please review the samples I sent you

1. Identify the database and indicate exactly how the data will be obtained or accessed.

2. Confirm that the database actually contains data on the phenomenon or case that are needed to address the research questions.

3. Identify the source of the data (e.g., agency, website, etc.), and indicate how the data will physically be obtained and in what format.

The learner includes an outline of the structure of the database in Appendix E, e.g., labels for the rows and columns.

If permission to use the database is required, evidence of this permission also is included in Appendix E.

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The learner provides a detailed discussion of the instrumentation and/or research materials to be used to collect any additional data, such as data to be used for participant screening/selection and/or demographic data. Comment by Maurice Ahyee: Many data are missing Comment by D'Ainsley Smith: Addressed

For screening/selection instruments, the learner explains how the instruments work, and exactly how the information obtained relates to participant selection.

For demographic data, the learner describes why it is necessary and how it will be used. The main use of demographic data is to provide a profile of the sample, and the specific demographic information collected will be relevant to the proposal topic.

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.5

X

The learner includes a copy of all instruments, questionnaires, surveys, interview protocols, observation protocols, focus group protocols, or other research materials in Appendix E. For any instruments or research materials that require “permission to use,” Appendix E includes evidence of having obtained such permission. A protocol for data collection such as an interview or focus group or observation is more than a set of interview questions, It should provide the detailed process the learner will use to collect the data including their introduction and description of the process, the location, the physical set-up, the technologies to be used for holding and recording the meeting, the interview questions, additional probing questions, and/or facilitation and data collection techniques used in these approaches. A detailed protocol enhances the learner’s ability to defend the study.

3

1

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

3

1

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Continue to develop

Trustworthiness

Trustworthiness in research is established through four core attributes. The first attribute, dependability, is cultivated by building a foundation of trust between researchers and participants (Stahl & King, 2020). Trustworthiness is further reinforced by offering comprehensive and detailed descriptions of the essential elements within the research. Trustworthiness in qualitative research is ensured through key attributes: Credibility, Dependability, Transferability, and Confirmability. These components define the robustness of the study and its potential impact on policy, practice, and future research endeavors.

Credibility:

Credibility is the bedrock of qualitative research, emphasizing the alignment between the study's findings and participants' experiences. In this study, credibility is cultivated through triangulation methods, combining various data sources and techniques to establish congruence with real-life situations. The replication of previous research steps and the integration of diverse data collection methods contribute to the study's credibility, assuring readers of the faithful representation of participants' experiences.

Dependability:

Dependability underscores the reliability of qualitative research, allowing peers to scrutinize the study before publication. To enhance dependability, the study meticulously documents research procedures, providing detailed protocols for each stage of the research process. Peer scrutiny during the audit of the research is facilitated by this comprehensive documentation, ensuring the study adheres to stipulated parameters.

Transferability:

Transferability, a key element of trustworthiness in qualitative studies, presents challenges due to the non-replicability of such research endeavors. According to Lincoln and Guba (1985), in qualitative studies, transferability relies on the possibility that the procedures implemented in one study can be reproduced. Transferability addresses the generalizability of study findings to diverse contexts, policies, practices, and future research. In this study, transferability is ensured by defining clear scope and boundaries, offering a flexible framework for readers to adapt. The elucidation of procedures utilized enhances the potential for methodological reproduction by future researchers, contributing to the broader applicability of the study's findings.

Confirmability: Presenting an Objective Reality within the Study

Confirmability is the culmination of trustworthiness, presenting an objective reality within the study. In this research, confirmability is established through researcher involvement and precision during data collection. Peer scrutiny, through auditing and external confirmation, ensures the exhaustive nature of the data collected. This process minimizes the potential for fraudulent results, internally confirming the study's formulation and providing external reassurance to readers.

To maintain trustworthiness, threats to credibility, dependability, transferability, and confirmability inherent in study design, sampling strategy, data collection methods, and analysis are acknowledged. These threats will be minimized through rigorous adherence to research protocols, continuous peer engagement, and transparent documentation. These strategies reinforce the study's robustness and contribute to the overall trustworthiness of the qualitative research.

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

TRUSTWORTHINESS

(Typically two to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

1. Defines the concepts of credibility, transferability.

2. Credibility: discusses how the study represents the participants’ experiences

3. Transferability: discusses how the study’s findings may be applicable to policy, practice, future research

3

1

X

1. Describes the threats to the credibility and transferability of the study inherent in the study design, sampling strategy, data collection method/instruments, and data analysis

2. Addresses how these threats will be minimized

3

0

X

Defines concepts of dependability and confirmability

3

1

X

Dependability: discusses how the study documents research procedures. Provides detailed research protocols.

3

1

X

Confirmability: discusses how the study could be confirmed or findings corroborated by others.

3

1

X

Describes the threats to dependability and confirmability of the study inherent in the study design, sampling strategy, data collection method/instruments, and data analysis.

Addresses how these threats will be minimized.

3

0

X

Appendices must include copies of instruments, materials, qualitative data collection protocols, codebook(s), and permission letters from instrument authors (for validated instruments, surveys, interview guides, etc.)

3

0

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, correct punctuation, and APA format.

3

1

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Data Collection and Management

Before commencing data collecting, a methodical strategy will be employed to guarantee accuracy, clarity, and ethical behavior throughout the procedure. The provided techniques are meticulously defined to facilitate smooth execution by another researcher. To initiate the process, it is necessary to contact the human resources department of the chosen organization and formally request permission to engage potential participants. After receiving authorization, the researcher will collect informed consent from the chosen individuals. The primary function of informed consent is to cultivate trust and guarantee that participants possess a comprehensive comprehension, autonomy, and the freedom to decline involvement (Mandal & Parija, 2014).

Participants will receive comprehensive information regarding data management during the process of obtaining informed consent. The electronic questionnaire replies will be securely held on the servers of Grand Canyon University (GCU) for a period of three years, in accordance with the criteria of the program. The paper questionnaires will be stored in the archives for a period of up to three years. The audio recordings from semi-structured interviews will adhere to a secure storage policy, incorporating non-accessible control settings to ensure the privacy of the participants.

The procedure of collecting data will be carried out in a methodical manner to ensure coherence and efficiency. The series of steps involves requesting permission for the location, gaining clearance from the Institutional Review Board (IRB), obtaining informed consent, conducting interviews and surveys, and securely managing the data. The purpose of this systematic protocol is to ensure lucidity and facilitate duplication by another researcher.

To ensure the availability of full data, numerous sources will be simultaneously used. For example, simultaneous paper-and-pen surveys may be conducted for employees while semi-structured interviews are conducted for managers. This concurrent methodology guarantees that there is an adequate amount of data collected both in terms of scope and detail, which is in line with the research inquiries and overall objectives.

Explicit protocols for data management are established to ensure the security and privacy of the gathered data. Stringent security protocols are employed to safeguard both electronic and paper-based data, assuring adherence to ethical norms. The data destruction process will be executed meticulously, ensuring that questionnaires' materials are shredded, and electronic data is wiped within the specified timescales.

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Data Collection and Management

(Typically one to three pages)

The learner describes the procedures for the actual data collection at a level of detail that would allow execution of the study by another researcher. This will include (but not be limited to) how each instrument, measurement technique, or data source will be used, how and where data will be collected, and how data will be recorded.

The learner includes a sequence of actions or step-by-step procedures to be used to carry out all the major steps for data collection. This includes a workflow and corresponding timeline, presenting a logical, sequential, and transparent protocol for data collection that would allow another researcher to conduct the study.

Data from different sources may have to be collected in parallel (e.g., paper-and-pen surveys for teachers, corresponding students, and their parents AND retrieval of archival data from the school district). Provides detailed description of data collection process, including all sources of data, such as interviews, observations, surveys; and methods used such as field tests, expert panel review, and member checking. Note: The collected data must be sufficient in breadth and depth to answer the research question(s) and interpreted and presented correctly, by theme, research question and/or instrument.

3

0

X

The steps include acquisition of site authorization documents, IRB approval, and the procedures for obtaining participant informed consent and protecting the rights and well-being of the participants.

The learner includes copies of the relevant site authorizations, participant informed consent forms, recruitment announcements/materials (e.g., posters, e-mails, etc.) in appropriate appendices.

3

0

X

The learner describes the data management procedures for paper-based and/or electronic data. This includes, for example, data security procedures and how and when data will be destroyed.

3

1

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

3

1

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Data Analysis Procedures

Data analysis was thematic in nature. It relies on the six-phase approach to thematic analysis as provided by Braun and Clarke (2022). The choice for thematic analysis was arrived at because of the flexibility offered. Braun et al. (2022) state, flexibility is theoretical and encompasses data collection and analysis. Patterns were established based on respondents' answers to ensure the themes were identified. The six phases of thematic data analysis are as follows. The following research questions will guide the proposed study’s line of inquiry:

RQ1: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' output?

RQ2: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' capital stock?

RQ3: How do employers describe the use of professional certifications and qualifications to improve their employees' technical knowledge?

Preparing Raw Data for Analysis:

The preparation of raw data is a crucial step in ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the subsequent analysis. For interviews, transcription services will be employed to convert spoken words into written text, facilitating easier coding and thematic analysis. Member checking, a process where participants review and verify the accuracy of their contributions, will be carried out to enhance the credibility and trustworthiness of the data. All data sources, including questionnaires and interview transcripts, will be meticulously organized into a coherent and accessible system. An initial check for missing data will be conducted to address any gaps and ensure the completeness of the dataset.

Data Management Procedures:

For both paper-based and electronic data, stringent data management procedures will be implemented. Paper questionnaires will be securely stored, and electronic copies will be housed on Grand Canyon University (GCU) servers, adhering to the institution's data storage requirements. Paper questionnaires will be archived for a maximum of three years, while electronic data will be retained for the same duration. To maintain participant privacy, data will be secured using non-accessible control settings. The ultimate destruction of paper-based data will involve secure shredding, while electronic data will be permanently deleted from GCU servers.

Qualitative Analysis Approach:

The qualitative analysis will follow a rigorous coding and theming process. Initially, researchers will immerse themselves in the collected data, identifying key concepts and common ideas. A systematic coding framework will be developed, labeling, and categorizing segments of information. Thematic patterns will be systematically searched, and relationships between coded segments will be scrutinized to unveil overarching themes. The identified themes will undergo a thorough review for richness, depth, and alignment with the study's objectives. Clear evidence of how codes were synthesized to create these themes will be presented, ensuring transparency in the analytical process.

Ensuring Data Sufficiency:

The proposed quantity and quality of data are expected to be sufficient to comprehensively address the research questions. By employing diverse data sources, including questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, and employing triangulation methods, the study aims to enhance the richness and depth of the dataset. The inclusion of a diverse participant pool within the corporate IT sector in the Northern United States further ensures the variety of perspectives needed to robustly answer the research questions.

Data analysis followed the following procedures:

Familiarization with Collected Data:

The initial stage of data analysis involved thorough familiarization with all data gathered during the research phase. Researchers immersed themselves in the collected materials, repeatedly reading through the information obtained from various sources, such as questionnaires and interviews. Through this process, they made detailed notes, initial observations, and recorded any emerging patterns or recurring elements present in the data.

Development of Data Coding Frameworks:

Following familiarization, researchers started organizing and coding the data. Key concepts, common ideas, or phrases within the dataset were identified and initially coded. These coding structures functioned as labels, categorizing different segments of information. Creating these initial codes aided in sorting and organizing the data, laying the foundation for further in-depth analysis.

Search for Themes:

In a methodical manner, researchers began the systematic search for prevalent themes within the coded data. They examined patterns, recurrent topics, and overarching concepts. Relationships between coded segments were scrutinized to discern connections or similarities, helping to identify themes that recurred throughout the dataset.

Reviewing Themes:

Identified themes were meticulously reviewed for their richness, depth, and alignment with the study's objectives. Researchers concentrated on ensuring the quality of themes over sheer quantity. The focus was on obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the implications and insights derived from the data rather than simply identifying many themes.

Defining and Naming Themes:

Grouping the identified patterns and themes into coherent categories was the next step. This categorization helped to organize the themes systematically. Each theme was defined and named clearly, enabling consistent and straightforward understanding throughout the research process. Titles were derived to accurately reflect the content and significance of each theme.

Producing the Report:

During the last stage of the research process, the focus switched towards creating a thorough and logical report that captured the fundamental aspects of the study. The purpose of this crucial phase was to provide a polished amalgamation of the identified themes, researchers' interpretations, and the entire process of data analysis. The report underwent rigorous revision to ensure it met the highest standards of accuracy, quality, and conformity with the study's broader goals.

An exhaustive examination of the entire process was carried out to verify the precision and pertinence of the discovered topics. This evaluation played a vital role in verifying the strength and significance of the study's findings and their valuable contributions. The researchers tackled the final stage with a strong dedication to maintaining the integrity and importance of the identified themes. They made sure that these themes appropriately represented the subtle details and intricacies that were discovered during the data analysis.

During the last stage, researchers consistently emphasized the significance of validity, precision, and consistency in the themes obtained from the data, while also adopting a critical and reflective approach. This method was crucial in ensuring that the themes not only corresponded with the data but also stayed consistent with the overall research objectives. The adoption of a critical and reflective approach at this phase significantly contributed to increasing the credibility and trustworthiness of the final report, hence improving the overall quality of the study outputs.

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Data Analysis Procedures

(Typically one to three pages)

The learner restates the problem statement or purpose statement, along with the research question(s)

3

1

X

Describes how raw data are prepared for analysis (i.e., transcribing interviews, conducting member checking, how all sources of data will be organized. and checking for missing data).

Describes (for both paper-based and electronic data) the data management procedures adopted to maintain data securely, including the length of time data will be kept, where it will be kept, and how it will be destroyed.

3

0

X

Describe evidence of qualitative analysis approach, such as coding and theming process, which must be completely described and include the analysis /interpretation process. Clear evidence from how codes were combined or synthesized to create the themes must be presented.

3

0

X

Provides support that the proposed quantity and quality of data are expected to be sufficient to answer the research questions.

3

0

X

The learner provides description of how the results will be reported.

3

0

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

3

1

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Ethical Considerations

This proposed research project prioritizes the concepts of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice, in accordance with the ethical principles described in the Belmont Report and IRB rules. Acquiring necessary authorizations, such as those from the Institutional Review Board (IRB), displays a dedication to ethical supervision. The implementation of informed consent processes, in accordance with ethical standards, has been carried out with great care, placing emphasis on the participants' autonomy, and understanding of the nature of the study. Strict confidentiality protocols have been rigorously upheld to ensure the secure management of participants' sensitive information. This study uses a purposeful sample technique, which ensures that vulnerable people are not specifically targeted, thereby adhering to the ethical concept of justice.

The study emphasizes the pertinent ethical standards. Ensuring the well-being and rights of participants is of utmost importance, including the implementation of measures such as confidentiality protocols and processes for obtaining informed permission. The Informed Consent, which has been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), clearly specifies the permissions for accessing data. These permissions are granted to the chair, committee members, IRB, and peer reviewers. This ensures transparency and safeguards the rights of the participants.

It is crucial to address the potential risks for harm that are inherent in the investigation. The project aims to prevent and reduce hazards, namely by using protective measures to ensure participant autonomy and privacy. Within the realm of certification valuation, the need of fairness and impartiality is highlighted, and precautions are taken to ensure the confidentiality and security of data. The process of weighing potential risks and rewards is openly stated to participants, guaranteeing fair allocation among the intended population.

The study places significant emphasis on the ethical principles of anonymity, confidentiality, and privacy. Measures are implemented to prevent the use of force, and any potential conflicts of interest are openly acknowledged and dealt with. The data management plan delineates the protocols for securely storing both physical and digital data, including the stipulated minimum retention duration of three years, designated storage sites, and the secure disposal procedure upon the expiration of the retention period.

Proactive measures are taken to ensure the implementation of ethical principles in data analysis and the reporting of findings. The researcher pledges to consistently evaluate ethical considerations, guaranteeing the continual adherence to ethical principles throughout the duration of the research endeavor. The researcher's dedication to conducting a study that adheres to the highest ethical standards and prioritizes the welfare and rights of the study participants is emphasized by the extensive ethical considerations.

Figure 3 IRB Alert

IRB Alert

Please be aware that GCU doctoral learners may not screen, recruit, or collect any data until they receive Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and obtain a signed D-50 form. IRB review occurs after the proposal is approved by peer review and the proposal defense is completed. Learners are responsible for knowing, understanding, and following the IRB submission and review processes. Screening, recruiting participants, and collecting data in advance of IRB approval is a serious research ethical violation, with legal and federal regulatory implications to the University. If a learner chooses to screen, recruit study participants, or collect data in advance of obtaining IRB approval (IRB approval letter and D-50 form), they will be subject to serious academic disciplinary action by the Institutional Review Board and Code of Conduct committee. This may include collecting new data or requiring the learner to start over with a new research study. In addition, the Code of Conduct committee will issue a disciplinary action that may include warning, suspension, or dismissal from the program.

NOTE: Learners should NEVER proceed with any aspect of participant screening, recruiting, interacting with participants, or collecting data in advance of receiving the IRB approval letter and the D-50 form. The chairs and committee members are trained on these requirements; however, the learner is ultimately responsible for understanding and adhering to all IRB requirements as outlined in the University Policy Handbook and Dissertation Milestone Guide.

NOTE: The minimum progression milestone for IRB approval is in dissertation course 970E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 970E is the absolute latest course for IRB approval. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and gain IRB approval in earlier dissertation courses.

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

(Typically three to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Provides a discussion of ethical issues, per Belmont Report and IRB guidelines, related to the study and the study population of interest. Includes citations.

Explains which principles / issues are relevant to the study.

Identifies the potential risks for harm that are inherent in the study and describes how they will be avoided and/or mitigated.

3

1

X

Describes the procedures for obtaining informed consent and for protecting the rights and well-being of the study participants. Includes statement in Informed Consent on who has data access including chair, committee members, IRB and peer reviewers, college representative.

3

0

X

Addresses key ethical criteria of anonymity, confidentiality, privacy, strategies to prevent coercion, and any potential conflict of interest.

3

1

X

Describes the data management procedures adopted to store and maintain paper and electronic data securely, including the minimum 3-year length of time data will be kept, where it will be kept, and how it will be destroyed.

Explains plan(s) to implement each of the principles/issues that are relevant to the study, data management, data analysis, and publication of findings.

Note: Learners are required to securely maintain and have access to raw data/records for a minimum of three years. If asked by a committee member, IRB reviewer, peer reviewer or CDS representative, learner must provide all evidence of data including source data, Excel files, interview recordings and transcripts, evidence of coding or data analysis, or survey results, etc. No dissertation will be allowed to move forward in the review process if data are not produced upon request.

3

0

X

Includes copy of site authorization letter (if appropriate), IRB Informed Consent (Proposal), and IRB Approval letter (Dissertation) in appropriate Appendices.

All approvals, consent forms, recruitment, and data collection materials are mentioned in the Data Collection section and included in appropriate appendices (with appropriate in-text references).

3

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

3

1

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Assumptions and Delimitations

This section identifies the assumptions and specifies the delimitations of the study. The learner should define the terms using citations from the literature, and then list the assumptions and delimitations. The learner should provide a rationale and appropriate citations for all statements.

Assumptions

In this study, certain assumptions underpin the research endeavor. Firstly, it is assumed that participants provide truthful and honest responses during interviews and surveys. This assumption is grounded in ethical and social norms, with the belief that respondents recognize the significance of their input to the study's integrity. While this assumption enhances reliability and credibility, the potential negative consequence is a deviation from complete truthfulness, introducing bias or inaccuracies that may impact the validity of the study's findings.

Secondly, the study assumes to be an accurate representation of the current situation in rural southern Arizona. This assumption relies on the study's methods, sampled data, and thorough sampling strategy. However, potential negative consequences arise if the sample isn't appropriately representative, leading to gaps or biases in the data and an inaccurate portrayal of the actual situation. Unforeseen changes in the region might also affect the study's accuracy in capturing the current situation.

Delimitations

Delimitations are intentional restrictions that guide the study. Geographical limitations confine the research to rural areas in Southern Arizona, excluding urban or international locations. Time constraints focus the study on the past five years, ensuring relevance. Population limitations include adults aged 18-65, excluding minors and the elderly. Methodological boundaries involve using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, excluding other methods like focus groups.

Additionally, the study is delimited in its exploration of the impact of educational qualifications on employment within a specific income bracket or educational level, excluding broader cultural and socioeconomic factors. Organizational exclusion is present, focusing on specific industries or organizations in Southern Arizona. While delimitations offer clarity and context, they may constrain generalizability. However, strategic measures will be employed to mitigate these constraints and enhance the study's robustness and applicability.

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Assumptions and Delimitations

(Typically three to four paragraphs)

The learner provides a separate subsection for assumptions and delimitations.

3

.5

X

The learner states the assumptions being accepted for the study and provides a rationale for making each assumption.

The learner also discusses associated consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings.

3

.5

X

The learner identifies the methodological delimitations of the study and provides a rationale for each delimitation.

The learner discusses associated consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings.

3

0

X

The learner discusses strategies to minimize and/or mitigate the potential negative consequences of methodological assumptions and delimitations.

3

0

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

3

1

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary

Chapter Three of the dissertation presents a descriptive qualitative technique that aims to examine the relationship between professional qualifications, their monetary value, and their impact on employees in the IT sector in the Northern United States. The study deliberately chooses a sample size of 50 participants who are business leaders participating in the hiring process in this region. The selection is based on their responsibilities and experiences within their different organisations. The research utilises a comprehensive technique that includes questionnaires and semi-structured interviews as the main tools for collecting data.

The selected methodology revolves around the use of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, with each having specific purposes. Questionnaires are designed in a systematic way to collect numerical data, which allows for a wide variety of responses. This enables the evaluation of the relationship between professional qualifications and how employers value them. In addition, semi-structured interviews provide a qualitative dimension to the study, allowing for a thorough investigation and a nuanced examination of the found link.

The researcher establishes effective communication with company leaders by initiating email correspondence, with the aim of securing active involvement and approval for the study. Participants are given the choice between paper or computerised questionnaires, depending on the practicality of the logistics. The approach consists of six essential phases in the process of data analysis: data familiarisation, coding, topic identification, review, definition, and final report generation. The utilisation of thematic analysis involves carefully revealing recurring patterns and topics within the collected data.

This chapter presents a thorough examination of the selected technique and strategy for qualitative research, specifically focusing on a particular geographical area and a target audience consisting of executives in the IT business. The systematic tools used in gathering data, along with thematic analysis, are strategically designed to provide deep understanding of the complex relationship between professional qualifications, their perceived worth, and their resulting influence on the job opportunities of IT sector employees. As we move on to Chapter Four, the combination of these findings will lead to a thorough comprehension of the research questions and contribute to the wider discussion in the field.

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Chapter 3 Summary

(Typically one to two pages)

The learner summarizes key points presented in Chapter 3 using authoritative, empirical sources/citations. Key points include (for example):

· Methodology/design

· Population

· Sample size/selection

· Instrumentation/Sources of Data

· Data collection

· Data analysis

3

X

The learner concludes Chapter 3 with a transition discussion to focus for Chapter 4.

3

X

The learner writes this section in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Results

Introduction

The minimum progression milestone for draft of Chapter 4 “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist is in dissertation course 971E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 971E is the absolute latest course for Chapter 4 acceptance by chair and submission to methodologist. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit Chapter 4 in earlier dissertation courses.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide the reader with a concise summary of the study and a presentation of the results. In this section of Chapter 4, the learner should briefly restate the research problem, the methodology and design, the research question(s), and phenomena, and then offer a statement about what will be covered in this chapter. Chapter 4 should present the results of the study as clearly as possible, leaving the interpretation of the results for Chapter 5. Make sure this chapter is written in past tense and reflects how the study was actually conducted. Any change to the sampling approach, instrumentation, data collection procedures or data analysis must be noted in this chapter. After the research study is complete, make sure this chapter reflects how the study was actually conducted in comparison to what was proposed in Chapter 3. These changes should also be discussed as limitations of the study (in appropriate sections of Chapters 4 and 5).

This chapter typically contains the analyzed data, often presented in both text and tabular, or figure format. To ensure readability and clarity of findings, structure is of the utmost importance in this chapter. Sufficient guidance in the narrative should be provided to highlight the findings of greatest importance for the reader. Most researchers begin with a description of the sample and the relevant demographic characteristics presented in text or tabular format. Ask the following general questions before starting this chapter:

1. Is there sufficient data to answer each of the research question(s) asked in the study?

2. Is there sufficient data to support the conclusions made in Chapter 5?

3. Is the study written in the third person? Never use the first person.

4. Are the data clearly explained using a table, graph, chart, or text?

5. Visual organizers, including tables and figures, must always be introduced, presented and discussed within the text first. Never insert them without these three steps. It is often best to develop all the tables, graphs, charts, etc. before writing any text to further clarify how to proceed. Point out the salient results and present those results by table, graph, chart, or other form of collected data. lopesup

Important Changes and Updates to Information in Chapters 1-3

In this required section, the learner discusses changes made to the original research plan presented in Chapters 1-3. Furthermore, learner discusses implications of these changes, including changes to the sample, data collection, design, data analysis, etc. For example, if target sample size was not achieved using plans “A”, “B”, and “C”, the learner must address the ramifications on the breadth and depth of the analyses, and study findings. Based on peer review and/or committee recommendations, the learner may choose to update Chapters 1-3 to reflect what actually occurred OR clearly present the important changes that occurred between the original plan and what actually occurred in this section and also in the Study Limitations section of Chapter 4. Changes to the research plan must also be addressed in Chapter 5 under strengths and weaknesses section. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

INTRODUCTION (TO THE CHAPTER)

(Typically two to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Provides a summary of the study including research problem, methodology, design, research questions and phenomena.

X

Provides an orienting statement about what will be covered in the chapter.

X

Learner discusses important changes between original plan presented in the proposal (Chapters 1-3) and what actually occurred.

Learner updated Chapters 1-3 to reflect what actually occurred OR clearly presents the important changes that occurred between the original plan and what actually occurred in this section and in the Study Limitations section of Chapter 4

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Preparation of Raw Data for Analysis and Descriptive Data

Preparation of Raw Data for Analysis

Within this subsection, the learner describes how all raw data were prepared for analysis. This should include transcription process, member checking, and any other preparation activities. Describe how data were prepared for uploading to MAXQDA or other qualitative software program, if relevant. For example:

Define how to organize the data (some options: by participant, by source)

Set up system for pseudonyms (create a table in separate document showing real names and associated pseudonym). We advise names (John, Mary), rather than numbers (P1, P2) in qualitative studies to maintain the sense of personhood and presence in a natural setting (not a lab), which is consistent with a qualitative approach

Organize other sources of data (sociograms, photographs, images, copies of hand coded data, collected documents, etc.)

Transcribe all interview and focus group data

Send copies of transcripts to participants to “member check” (check that the transcript shows what they meant; they can add clarification if so desired)

Upload raw data to MAXQDA or other qualitative software program (Note GCU provides MAXQDA to all learners at no cost)

Upload raw data to a new folder in the LDP (either create a new 07 Data folder or into a new folder in the existing 05 Folder). This is a requirement for L5 Peer Review. [NOTE: GCU faculty are required to maintain all confidentiality pledged by learner per the IRB approved/stamped Informed Consent].

Once the learner has prepared the data, the learner then provides a narrative summary (description per next section) of the population or sample characteristics and demographics of the participants in the study. lopesup

Descriptive Data

This section describes the dataset that was produced from data collection activities. This should include the number of participants and corresponding descriptive information regarding the demographic data (such as gender, age, and ethnicity) and research data. It should also include tables showing each data collection method, which participants joined each, and pertinent information such as duration of interviews or focus groups, and number of pages of transcript, measured as complete single-spaced pages, Times New Roman 12 pt. font (see Table 3. Keep in mind that all descriptive or demographic information must pertain directly to the study and must be included in the informed consent for participants to understand what personal data is being collected about them. Ensure this data cannot lead to anyone identifying individual participants in this section or identifying the data for individual participants in the data summary and data analysis that follows. It is important that key demographic and descriptive data are provided. It is also acceptable to put most of this in the appendix if the chapter becomes too lengthy.

For numbers, equations, and statistics, spell out any number that begins a sentence, title, or heading – or reword the sentence to place the number later in the narrative. In general, use Arabic numerals (10, 11, 12) when referring to whole numbers 10 and above, and spell out whole numbers below 10. There are some exceptions to this rule:

If small numbers are grouped with large numbers in a comparison, use numerals (e.g., 7, 8, 10, and 13 trials); but, do not do this when numbers are used for different purposes (e.g., 10 items on each of four surveys).

Numbers in a measurement with units (e.g., 6 cm, 5-mg dose, 2%).

Numbers that represent time, dates, ages, sample or population size, scores, or exact sums of money.

Numbers that represent a specific item in a numbered series (e.g., Table 1).

A sample table in APA style is presented in all tables in this template, see, for example, Table 6. Be mindful that all tables fit within the required margins, and are clean, easy to read, and formatted properly using the guidelines found in Chapter 5 (Displaying Results) of the APA Publication Manual 7th edition (APA, 2019). lopesup

Table 6 Example of a Clean, Easy-to-Read Table

Participant

Setting

Interview

Duration

# Transcript Pages (Time New Roman, Font size 12, single spaced)

Participant 1

Main office

Date

65 minutes

19

Participant 2

Zoom conference

Date

72 minutes

21

Participant 3

Zoom conference

Date

50 minutes

15

etc.

MEAN

N/A

N/A

62.3 minutes

18.3

TOTAL

N/A

N/A

187 minutes

55

Table 7 Example of Clean, Easy-to-Read Table for Focus Group Data

Participant

Group

Participation Length

Contributions

Initial Codes Produced

Participant 1

Group 1

48 min.

7

4

Participant 2

Group 1

48 min.

5

2

etc.

Participant 3

Group 2

67 min.

12

6

Participant 4

Group 2

67 min.

9

5

etc.

TOTAL

N/A

115 minutes

33

17

Table 8 Example of Case Unit Profiling (in Narrative)

Case Unit

Case Description

Case Unit 1

Comprised of state-funded community healthcare programs in rural counties of the southwestern United States that rely on both Medicaid and local non-profit service organizations for their delivery of care. Programs are overseen by either a chief medical officer or nurse-practitioner director, and have the following staff composition as reported by Smith, Smith, and Johnson (2016): 30% community case managers, 20% clinical case managers, 15% medical practitioners, 15% compliance officers, 10% enrollment specialists, and 10% administrative leadership. The annual budget for these programs was reported as $2.2 million from 2015 to 2018 (Williams & Janson, 2019). For this study, the participants identified by the pseudonyms of Michael, Sarah, Erika, and Jane all work for programs in Case Unit-1

Case Unit-2

Comprised of community healthcare programs in urban municipalities of the southwestern United States that rely on Medicaid and federal health programs for their delivery of care. These diverse public-funded programs are overseen jointly by a state-appointed health commissioner and a chief medical officer from the Medicaid division. Their staff composition was reported by Weston and Burke (2015) as being 40% nursing case manager, 20% compliance representative, 15% enrollment specialist, 15% behavioral health counselor, and 10% administrative staff. The annual budget for these programs was reported as 1.8 million from 2014 to 2018 (Weston & Burke, 2015). Study participants identified by the pseudonyms of Ellen, Robert, Thomas, Cassandra, and Jennifer all work for programs in Case Unit-2.

Case Unit 3

Add narrative here regarding Case Unit 3

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

PREPARATION OF RAW DATA AND DESCRIPTIVE DATA

(Number of pages as needed)

Describes how raw data were prepared for analysis.

X

Provides a narrative summary of the population or sample characteristics and demographics.

Presents the "sample (or population) profile," may use descriptive statistics for the demographics collected from or retrieved for the actual sample or population.

X

Includes a narrative summary of data collected (e.g., examples of collected data should be included in an Appendix.)

X

Uses visual graphic organizers, such as tables, histograms, graphs, and/or bar charts, to effectively organize and display coded data and descriptive data. For example:

Discuss and provide a table showing number of interviews conducted, duration of interviews, #pages transcript; #observations conducted, duration; #pages of typed-up field notes; # of occurrences of a code; network diagrams; model created, etc.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Data Analysis Procedures

This section presents a description of the process that was used to analyze the data. Data analysis procedures can be framed relative to each research question. Data can also be organized by chronology of phenomena, by themes and patterns, or by other approaches as deemed appropriate by design and for a qualitative study. This section should specify the procedures that were specifically carried out to ensure the reader understands how the analytic process was conducted. lopesup

Reflexivity Protocol

For learners who implemented some sort of reflexivity protocol (such as bracketing or peer debriefing) to track and manage biases, please be sure to clarify how this protocol fit sequentially with respect to the data analysis strategy. For instance, did you record and organize your bracketing notes before/after each data collection event – and hence before the data analysis process even began – or did you wait to record your bracketing notes before/after each cycle of analytic coding (tracking your bias during the conceptual development of codes, categories, and themes)? What was the logic for your approach? lopesup

Data Analysis Steps

Describe in detail the data analysis procedures. The analytic procedures must be aligned to the design; they are not generic. Start discussion of data analysis procedures by identifying and describing the analytical approach (e.g., thematic analysis, phenomenological analysis, narrative analysis). Describe analytic process. For example: for thematic analysis provide a description of how codes were developed, how clusters of codes or categories were developed, how these are related to themes. Provide examples of codes and themes with corresponding quotations, demonstrating how codes were synthesized or clustered or combined and developed into themes. For phenomenological analysis identify the specific type of phenomenological design and the specific data analysis approach used. That approach might involve providing transformation procedures, the transformation process, how phenomenological constituents were developed, how these are related to the general phenomenological structure of the experience. Provide examples of phenomenological constituents with corresponding quotations, demonstrating how constituents were discovered among phenomenological transformations. Provide evidence of analytic elements in text or an Appendix. Include graphic organizers to demonstrate analytic steps. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURES

(Number of pages as needed)

Describes in detail the data analysis procedures.

Coding procedures must be tailored to the specific analytical approach; they are not generic.

Start discussion of data analysis procedures by identifying and describing the analytical approach (e.g., thematic analysis, type of phenomenological analysis).

Describes coding process, description of how codes were developed, how categories or clusters of codes were developed, how these are related to themes. Provide examples of codes and themes with corresponding quotations, demonstrating how codes were developed or synthesized into themes. Provides evidence of initial and final codes and themes in text or an Appendix.

Detail the specific kinds of analytic units appropriate to the design and analytic approach.

X

Explains and justifies any differences in why data analysis section does not match what was approved in Chapter 3 (if appropriate).

X

Discusses the reflexivity protocols used (such as bracketing and peer debriefing) and how these protocols complement the data analysis strategy.

X

Describes approaches used to ensure trustworthiness for qualitative data including expert panel review of questions, field test(s)/ practice interviews, member checking, and triangulation of data, as appropriate.

X

Justifies how the analysis aligns with the research question(s), and how data and findings were organized by chronology of phenomena, by themes and patterns, or by other approaches as deemed appropriate.

Develops a description of the phenomenon by synthesizing the data across the research questions. The synthesis approach used to develop the description of the phenomenon should be specific to the design used.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Results

Presenting the Results

This section, which is the primary section of this chapter, presents an overview and analysis of the data in a nonevaluative, unbiased, organized manner that relates to the research question(s). List the research question(s) as they are discussed to ensure that the readers see that the question has been addressed. Answer the research question(s) in the order that they are listed by drawing on the thematic results and (if relevant) descriptive statistics. Learners can organize data in several different ways for qualitative studies including by research question, by themes and patterns for thematic analysis, or by other approaches deemed appropriate for the study, such as by the general phenomenological structure with a list of all constituents. The results must be presented without implication, speculation, assessment, evaluation, or interpretation, as the discussion of results and conclusions are left for Chapter 5. Refer to the APA Style Manual (2020) for additional lists and examples.

The results do not merely include using themes to answer research questions, it is important to develop a description of the phenomenon that is specific to the design based on synthesizing the data cross the research questions and data analysis. For a qualitative descriptive design, this involves providing a detailed description of the phenomenon through a narrative and visuals. For a case study, this involves producing a case study summary that can include narrative and visuals. For grounded theory it can include the creation of a theory, visual model, or process flow. For a narrative, depending upon the narrative approach selected it might include developing a single story that synthesizes the stories from all the participants. For phenomenology this final description varies based on the type of phenomenological design selected.

For learners who implemented a reflexivity protocol (such as bracketing or peer debriefing) to track and manage biases, the beginning of this section is an ideal place to synthesize those reflexivity notes into a composite of your preconceptions prior to data collection and analysis, as well as how those preconceptions may have biased your study. This step typically requires the learner to take a step back and think contemplatively about initial expectations for the data and results, and then compare these expectations with the actual perspectives provided by the participants (or the meanings derived from them). The narrative at the beginning of Chapter 4 Results section offers a good place to summarize any major preconceptions that might have colored the data analysis.

For qualitative studies, it is important to provide a complete, that is, holistic, picture of the analysis conducted and of the coding used to arrive at a set of themes or conclusions about the subject. In qualitative studies, if thematic analysis is used, the questions are examples of what to ask, and are not comprehensive:

1. What themes emerged across all data sources and how were those themes identified?

2. Does the learner provide examples that the themes exist from multiple, well-specified and described, sources of data?

3. What topics were mentioned most often?

4. What issues were most important to the people in the study?

5. How do the participants view the topic of research?

6. How can the categories identified in the data be ordered into meaningful, grounded theories?

After completing the first draft of Chapter 4, ask these general questions:

7. Are the findings clearly presented, so any reader could understand them?

8. Are the findings presented with a narrative thread, which provides a “storyline” to coherently connect the data that has been analyzed?

9. Are all the tables, graphics or visual displays well-organized and easy to read?

10. Are the important data described in the text?

11. Is factual data information separate from analysis and evaluation?

12. Are the data organized by research questions or by themes?

Make sure to include appropriate graphics to present the results. Always introduce, present, and discuss the visual organizers in narrative form prior to the visual organizer placement. Never insert a visual organizer without these three steps.

A figure is a graph, chart, map, drawing, or photograph. Do not include a figure unless it adds substantively to the understanding of the results or it duplicates other elements in the narrative. If a figure is used, a label must be placed above the figure. As with tables, refer to the figure by number in the narrative preceding the placement of the figure. Make sure a table or figure is not split between pages. lopesup

Here is an example of how a table might be set up to visually illustrate results:

Table 9 Initial Codes

Code

Column A

Description of Code

Column B

Examples from Transcript

Name of Code 1

Description of code

Provide multiple examples from transcripts

Name of Code 2

Description of code

Provide multiple examples from transcripts

Name of Code 3

Description of code

Provide multiple examples from transcripts

Note. Adapted from: Sampling and Recruitment in Studies of Doctoral Students, by I.M. Researcher, 2010, Journal of Perspicuity, 25, p. 100. Reprinted with permission.

Figure 4 Diagram of a Blank Sociogram

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

RESULTS

(Number of pages as needed)

Data and the analysis of that data are presented in a narrative, non-evaluative, unbiased, organized manner.

In thematic analysis, the researcher should address saturation and the distribution of themes that emerged when themes were not present in all data sets. Qualitative, thematically-analyzed data may be organized by theme, participant and/or research question.

In phenomenology the research should address the stability of the structure based on each constituent being essential, not merely frequent.

Note, this addresses volume and quality of the data collected as germane to the phenomenon under study, not to population representativeness.

Results of analysis are presented in appropriate narrative, tabular, graphical and/or visual format. If using thematic analysis, coding and theming process must be clearly evident in the results presentation. Integration of quotes in the results presentation to substantiate the stated findings and build a narrative picture is required.

For a case study design, include a summary of the case (how did the analysis inform the case?).

Learner describes thematic findings mostly in own words in narrative form as if they are telling their story or summarizing their experiences, and then use selected quotes (ideally one or few sentences, no longer than one paragraph) to illustrate.

X

The outcome of the reflexivity protocol is reported in a way that helps the reader distinguish the learner’s preconceptions from the perspectives (and meanings) shared by participants. This discussion should touch on major preconceptions that may have biased the data analysis and what was done to mitigate these biases.

X

As appropriate, tables are presented for initial codes, themes and theme meanings, along with sample quotes.

X

Sufficient quantity and quality of the data or information appropriate to the research design is presented in the analyses to answer the research question(s). Evidence for this must be clearly presented in this section and in an appendix as appropriate.

Note: peer reviewer may request to review raw data at any time during the peer process. Additional data collection may be required if sufficient data is not present.

X

· Qualitative data analysis is fully described and displayed using techniques specific to the design and analytic method used.

· Data sets are summarized including counts AND examples of participant’s responses for thematic analysis. For other approaches to qualitative analysis, results may be summarized in matrices or visual formats appropriate to the form of analysis.

· Findings may be presented as themes using section titles for thematic analysis, as stories for narrative designs, as models or theories for grounded theory, and as visual models or narrative stories for case studies.

X

Appendices must include qualitative data analysis that supports results in Chapter 4 as appropriate (i.e. source tables for coding and theming process or codebook, if not included directly in Chapter 4).

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Limitations

Limitations are flaws or shortcomings with the study that either the researcher has no control over because they are inherent in the methods selected (e.g., sampling bias), or that are due to mishaps in the conduct of research (e.g., missing data). No study is free of limitations. It is important to acknowledge as many limitations as deemed pertinent in order to reflect integrity and transparency in the conduct of research. This section discusses limitations that emerged based specifically on data collection and data analysis, and how the interpretation of results may be affected by the limitations. State limitations that are inherent in the data sources, instruments, data collection methods, and/or data analysis approach, and address also additional limitations pertaining to shortcomings in how the data was collected, the amount or quality of the data collected, and/or how the data was analyzed. The learner should provide a rationale for each stated limitation and discuss associated consequences for transferability and applicability of the findings. Tie back the limitations to the anticipated limitations discussed in Chapter 1.

For example: The following limitations were present in this study:

The study was limited to 10 teachers and four administrators, thus making the results less transferable;

The study was limited to novice participants whose insights about the organization were partial and restricted. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

LIMITATIONS

(Typically one or two pages)

Lists limitations that emerged based specifically on data collection and data analysis, and how the interpretation of results may be affected by the limitations.

X

Discuss associated consequences for the transferability and applicability of the findings.

X

Discuss the current limitations in relation to the anticipated limitations originally presented in Chapter 1.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary

This section provides a concise summary of what was found in the study. It briefly restates essential data and data analysis presented in this chapter, and it helps the reader see and understand the relevance of the data and analysis to the research question(s). The summary of the data must be logically and clearly presented, with the information separated from interpretation. For qualitative studies, summarize the data and data analysis results in relation to the research question(s). Finally, it provides a lead or transition into Chapter 5, where the implications of the data and data analysis relative to the research question(s) will be discussed. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

SUMMARY

(Typically one or two pages)

Presents a clear and logical summary of data analysis approach.

X

Summarizes the data and data analysis results in relation to the research questions.

X

Discusses limitations that emerged based on data collection and data analysis and how the interpretation of results may be affected by the limitations.

X

Provides a concluding section and transition to Chapter 5.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations

Introduction and Summary of Study

The minimum progression milestone for a draft of the full dissertation manuscript (Preliminary Pages, Abstract, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and Appendices) “Acceptance” by chair and submission to methodologist and content expert is in dissertation course 972E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 972E is the absolute latest course for full dissertation acceptance by chair and submission to committee members. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit the draft Chapter 5 and full dissertation draft in earlier dissertation courses.

Chapter 5 is perhaps the most important chapter in the dissertation manuscript because it presents the researcher’s contribution to the body of knowledge. For many who read research literature, this may be the only chapter they will read. Chapter 5 typically begins with overview of why the study is important and how the study was designed to contribute to our understanding of the research topic within the context of the problem space identified in Chapter 2. The remainder of the chapter contains a summary of the overall study, a summary of the findings and conclusions, implications derived from the study, and a final section on recommendations for future research and practice.

No new data should be introduced in Chapter 5; however, references should be made to findings or citations presented in earlier chapters. The researcher can articulate new frameworks and new insights derived from the synthesis of study results. The concluding words of Chapter 5 should emphasize both the most important points of the study, study strengths and weaknesses, and directions for future research. This should be presented in the simplest possible form, making sure to preserve the conditional nature of the insights. Study findings should not be misinterpreted, exaggerated, or personalized. lo

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF STUDY

(Typically two to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Provides an overview of why the study is important and how the study was designed to contribute to understanding the topic and problem space.

X

Provides a transition, explains what will be covered in the chapter and reminds the reader of how the study was conducted.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Summary of Findings and Conclusion

Overall Organization

This section of Chapter 5 is organized by research question(s), and it conveys the specific findings of the study. The section presents conclusions made based on the data analysis and findings of the study and relates the findings back to the literature in Chapter 2. Significant themes/findings are compared and contrasted, evaluated, and discussed considering the existing body of knowledge. The significance of every finding is analyzed and related back to Chapter 2 discussion of the Problem Space and ties the study together. The findings are also bounded by the research study parameters described in Chapters 1 and 3, are supported by the data and theory, and directly relate to the research question(s). No unrelated or speculative information is presented in this section. Conclusions represent the contribution to knowledge and fill in what still needs to be understood in the knowledge as evidenced in the literature. They should also relate directly to the problem space. The conclusions are major generalizations, and an answer to the research problem developed in Chapters 1 and 2. This is where the study binds together. In this section, personal opinion is permitted, as long as it is backed with the data, grounded in the study results presented in Chapter 4, and synthesized/supported within the existing research literature presented in Chapter 2. lopesup

Reflection on the Dissertation Process

The learner should end this section by discussing what they have learned throughout the dissertation process, specific to designing, conducting, and interpreting findings of their original research. This includes what changed in the learner’s understanding of research and the process. This also includes a thoughtful reflection on what was accomplished and/or a reflection on data collection or data analysis concerns that hindered or supported the intended accomplishment(s).

Reflective practices during the dissertation consist of the researcher thinking about and reflecting on their process (Finlay, 2002). Reflecting is important when there are challenges in the data reporting due to changes from the plan to the execution of the research project. The purpose of this added section is to provide the reader with a clearer understanding of what the researcher learned through the process of conducting this research, specifically with regards to designing, conducting, and interpreting findings. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

(Typically three to five pages)

Organizes Chapter 5 using the same section titles as Chapter 4, by research question(s) or by themes. Significant themes/ findings are compared and contrasted, synthesized and discussed in light of the existing body of knowledge covered in Chapter 2

X

Summarizes study findings. Compares, contrasts and synthesizes study findings in context to prior research on the topic (Chapter 2). Provides a cogent discussion on how the study is aligned to and/or advances the research on the topic.

X

Illustrates that findings are bounded by the research study design described in Chapters 1, 2 and 3.

X

Illustrates how findings are supported by the data and theory, and how the findings directly align to and answer the research question(s).

X

Discusses transferability of findings and relates each of the findings directly to the Background of the Study section of Chapter 1 and Identification of the Problem Space in Chapter 2.

X

Refrains from including unrelated or speculative information in this section.

X

Provides a conclusion to summarize the findings, referring to Chapters 4 and 2, and tying the study together.

X

The learner reflects back on their dissertation process specific to designing, conducting, and interpreting findings of their original research. This includes what changed in the learner’s understanding of research and the process.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Implications

This section should describe what could happen because of this research. It also is an opportunity to inform the reader what the research implies theoretically, practically, and for the future. Additionally, it provides a retrospective examination of the theoretical framework presented in Chapter 2 considering the dissertation’s findings. A critical evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the study and the degree to which the conclusions are credible given the methodology, research design, and data, should also be presented. The section delineates applications of new insights derived from the dissertation to solve real and significant problems. Implications can be grouped into those related to theory or generalization, those related to practice, and those related to future research. Separate sections with corresponding headings provide proper organization. lopesup

Theoretical Implications

Theoretical implications involve interpretation of the dissertation findings in terms of the research question(s) that guided the study. It is appropriate to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the study critically and include the degree to which the conclusions are credible given the method and data. It should also include a critical, retrospective examination of the framework presented in the Chapter 2 Literature Review section considering the dissertation’s new findings. lopesup

Practical Implications

Practical implications should delineate applications of new insights derived from the dissertation to solve real and significant problems. These implications refer to how the results of the study can be applied in professional practice. lopesup

Future Research Implications

Two kinds of implications for future research are possible: one based on what the study did find or do, and the other based on what the study did not find or do. Generally, future research could look at different kinds of subjects in different kinds of settings, interventions with new kinds of protocols or dependent measures, or new theoretical issues that emerge from the study. Recommendations should be included on which of these possibilities are likely to be most fruitful and why. lopesup

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study

This section includes a critical evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Strengths and weaknesses pertain to the how the researcher conducted the study, and which a researcher would want to repeat or avoid in future studies. For example, a strength of the study might be the collection of ample, rich, “thick” data that supported an analysis of data that produced specific insights that contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge. A weakness in a study might be the anticipated sample size was not obtained, the researcher did not provide sufficient probing or follow-up questions, thus limiting depth of query and final dataset. This section is a critical evaluation and reflection on the degree to which the conclusions are credible given the methodology, research design, and data analysis and results. lopesup

Criterion

*(Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

IMPLICATIONS

(Typically one to four pages)

Theoretical implications.

Provides a retrospective examination of the theoretical foundations presented in Chapter 2 considering the dissertation’s findings.

Connects the findings of the study back to the conceptual framework and the study results are discussed in context to how the results advance a practitioner’s knowledge of that theory, model, or concept.

X

Practical Implications and Future Implications. Connects the study findings to the prior research discussed in Chapter 2 and develops practical and future implications for research based on new insights derived from the research and how the results advance practitioners’ knowledge of the topic and how the results may influence future research or practice.

X

Strengths and Weaknesses.

Critically evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the study, and the degree to which the conclusions are credible given the methodology, research design, and data analysis and results.

Learner reflects on the study and discusses what they would have continued or changed should they do this again

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format.

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Recommendations

This section allows the learner to add recommendations for future study based on the results of their authentic dissertation research. In this section, summarize the recommendations that result from the study. Each recommendation should be directly linked to a conclusion described in the previous section. lopesup

Recommendations for Future Research

This section should present recommendations for future research, as well as give a full explanation for why each recommendation is being made. Additionally, this section discusses the areas of research that need further examination or addresses what needed to be understood or new research opportunities the study found. The section ends with a discussion of “next steps” in forwarding this line of research. Recommendations relate back to the Problem Space and literature offered in Chapter 2. Lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

(Typically one to two pages)

Lists a minimum of four to six recommendations for practitioners and for future research.

X

Identifies and discusses the areas that need further examination, or that will address what needed to be understood, that the study found.

X

Provides recommendations that relate back to the study significance and advancing scientific knowledge sections in Chapter 1 and theoretical foundations section in Chapter 2.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Recommendations for Future Practice

This section outlines recommendations for future practice based on the results and findings of the study, as well as, a full explanation for why each recommendation is being made. It provides a discussion of who will benefit from reading and implementing the results of the study and presents ideas based on the results that practitioners can implement in the work or educational setting. Unrelated or speculative information that is unsupported by data is clearly identified as such. Recommendations should relate back to the study problem space discussion in Chapter 2. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE PRACTICE

(Typically three to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Lists two to five recommendations for future practice.

X

Discusses who will benefit from reading and implementing the results of the study.

X

Discusses ideas based on the results that practitioners can implement in the work or educational setting.

X

Omits unrelated or speculative information that is unsupported by data.

X

Provides recommendations that relate back to Chapter 2.

X

The Chapter is correctly formatted to dissertation template using the Word Style Tool and APA standards. Writing is free of mechanical errors.

X

All research presented in the Chapter is scholarly, topic-related, and obtained from highly respected academic, professional, original sources. In-text citations are accurate, correctly cited and included in the reference page according to APA standards.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Holistic Reflection on the Problem Space

In this section, the learner provides an overview of what the learner drew from the problem space, and how the study was relevant and contributed to what needed to be understood.

Important Note: the minimum progression milestone for completing the full dissertation manuscript (Preliminary Pages, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and Appendices), approved by all committee members, and successfully submitted/accepted to Level 5 Peer review is dissertation course 973E. Refer to Appendix L Minimum Progression Milestone Table and the most recent Dissertation Milestone Guide for additional details. Dissertation course 973E is the absolute latest course for dissertation manuscript submission and acceptance into Level 5 peer review. Learners are highly encouraged to work ahead and submit to Level 5 peer review in earlier dissertation courses with committee approval. Dissertation Course 974E is the minimum progression milestone to obtain the signed D-65 Form and submit dissertation manuscript to Form and Format. lopesup

Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

HOLISTIC REFLECTION ON THE PROBLEM SPACE.

(Typically three to four paragraphs or approximately one page)

Provides an overview of what the learner drew from the problem space

X

Discusses how the study was relevant and contributed to what needed to be understood.

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

References

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Criterion

* (Score = 0, 1, 2, or 3)

Learner Score

Chair Score

Methodologist Score

Content Expert Score

Quality of Sources & Reference List

For every in-text citation a reference entry exists; conversely, for every reference list entry there is an in-text citation. Uses a range of references including founding theorists, peer-reviewed empirical research studies from scholarly journals, and government/foundation research reports. The majority of all references must be scholarly, topic-related sources. Websites, dictionaries, and publications without dates (n.d.) are not considered scholarly sources and should not be cited or present in the reference list. In-text citations and reference list must comply with APA 7th Ed.

Ensures that for every in-text citation a reference entry exists. Conversely, for every reference list entry there is a corresponding in-text citation. NOTE: The accuracy of citations and quality of sources must be verified by learner, chair and committee members.

3

X

X

Uses a range of references including founding theorists, peer-reviewed empirical research studies from scholarly journals, and government /foundation research reports.

3

X

X

Verifies that approximately 75% of all references are scholarly sources within the last 5 years. The 5-year time frame is referenced at the time of the proposal defense date and at the time of the dissertation defense date. This is a recommendation, not a requirement.

Note: Websites, dictionaries, publications without dates (n.d.), are not considered scholarly sources and are not cited or present in reference list.

3

X

X

Avoids overuse of books and dissertations.

Books: Recommend a maximum of 10 scholarly books that present cutting edge views on a topic, are research based, or are seminal works. Note: when a book is cited this implies the learner has read the entire book.

Dissertations: Recommend a maximum of 5 published dissertations. Note: dissertations are not considered peer -reviewed; and therefore, should be cited judiciously.

3

X

X

Section is written in a way that is well structured, has a logical flow, uses correct paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation, and APA format

3

X

X

*Score each requirement listed in the criteria table using the following scale:

0 = Item Not Present or Unacceptable. Substantial Revisions are Required.

1 = Item is Present. Does Not Meet Expectations. Revisions are Required.

2 = Item is Acceptable. Meets Expectations. Some Revisions May be Suggested or Required.

3 = Item Exceeds Expectations. No Revisions are Required.

Reviewer Comments:

Appendix A. Ten Strategic Points

Ten Strategic Points

The ten strategic points emerge from researching literature on a topic, which is based on, or aligned with a defined need or problem space within the literature as well as the learner’s personal passion, future career purpose, and degree area. The Ten Strategic Points document includes the following key points that define the research focus and approach:

Strategic Points Descriptor

Learner Strategic Points for Proposed Study

1.

Dissertation Topic– Provides a broad research topic area/title.

“The Monetary Value of Professional Certifications to Corporations”

· A professional certification is becoming more valuable in today’s workplace because employers value a standardized set of skills and qualifications to perform the job – especially in the fields of IT, corporate business, and healthcare.

· In a competitive job market, certifications offer heightened career advancement opportunities for workers. In fact, conservative research shows that employees who hold certifications are more confident and knowledgeable, reach job proficiency quicker, are more reliable and perform at a higher level than those without.

· For continuing education employers, this is an opportunity to meet the demands of their business needs, and employees who want the highest level of knowledge in their industry. When a company offers employee certification preparation it assists employees with advancement of their careers; but is also is a revenue generator for the organization, and the employee.

2.

Literature Review – Lists primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: (a) Background of the problem and the need for the study based on citations from the literature; (b) Theoretical foundations (theories, models, and concepts) and if appropriate the conceptual framework to provide the foundation for study); (c) Review of literature topics with key themes for each one; (d) Summary.

A. Background of the problem/gap:

iii. “The majority of information technology (IT) employment literature, as discussed previously, is focused on academic degrees and certification. Little, if any, has looked at the big picture of relative employer valuation of academic degrees, certifications, and work experience. To address this gap, this research focuses on the employer’s relative valuation of academic degrees, certifications, and work experience; this research has failed to acknowledge the curriculum that employers are most (50%) interested in: experience” (Wierschem & Mediavilla, 2018)

iv. Umit, Esra, Kultigin & Serhat (2012) identified there has been limited empirical work to examine the relationship between the elements of career motivation and key employee behavior such as employment and turnover intentions, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and work performance.

e. Theoretical Foundations (models and theories to be foundation for study);

While professional certifications are not a requirement in the corporate setting, they provide an extra credit to those who have them. Candidates put in long hours of study, to achieve the highest level of professional standards. Professional certifications can open many doors throughout an individual’s career, especially when one is searching for the next challenge. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to look at the Certifications section of a resume before anything else. Employers desire candidates with up-to-date knowledge, and professional certifications that displays to them a person’s mastery of a particular technology or practice.

f. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one;

j. Cognitive Development: Empirical research shows that a relationship exists between professional certification development, employer monetary-value, and employee success in areas such as information technology, corporate business, and healthcare.

g. Summary

ii. Obtaining professional certifications leads to improved career development and employee performance.

· Gap in terms of additional research needed to examine these findings.

3.

Problem Statement – Describes the problem to address through the study based on defined needs or problem space supported by the literature

· It is not known how corporate leaders value the use of professional certifications as a perceived profitability to their organization

4.

Sample and Location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study phenomenon with small numbers).

· Business professionals and Corporate Leaders located in Northern United States – Executive Management Professionals, Corporate CEO’s

· Interviews of a minimum of 10 to 12 participants or until data saturation is met.

· Surveys

5.

Research Questions – Provides research questions to collect data to address the problem statement.

· RQ1: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' output?

· RQ2: How do employers describe the use of professional certification and qualifications to improve their employees' capital stock?

· RQ3: How do employers describe the use of professional certifications and qualifications to improve their employees' technical knowledge?

6.

Phenomenon – Describes the phenomenon to be better understood (qualitative).

· Understanding if corporate leaders value the use of professional certifications as a perceived profitability to their organization

7.

Methodology and Design – Describes the selected methodology and specific research design to address the problem statement and research questions.

· Qualitative

· Descriptive – Interviews/Focus Groups/Social Media Outputs/Archival Documentation Analysis

8.

Purpose Statement – Provides one sentence statement of purpose including the problem statement, methodology, design, target population, and location.

· The purpose of this qualitative study is to determine if corporate leaders value the use of professional certifications as a perceived profitability to their Northern United States organization

9.

Data Collection – Describes primary instruments and sources of data to answer research questions.

· Voice interview data will be recorded using an Echo Livescribe pen. Handwritten data will be transcribed using MyScribe. The voice files will be transcribed by a transcription company, which will convert the information into word format.

10.

Data Analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address research questions.

· Data will be organized and prepared for analysis using MAXQDA, Member Checking, and compiled and summarized identifying common themes to address the research questions, and descriptive statistics will summarize the data.

Appendix B. Site Authorization Comment by Maurice Ahyee: Any site authorization?

This is a required appendix. You must have either a preliminary or formal site authorization letter for Level 2 Proposal Review. The formal site authorization letter is required for Level 4 IRB Review and Level 5 Dissertation Review.

If no site authorization is required, provide a statement stating that, and explain why not site authorization was needed.

Preliminary Site Authorization. At the proposal development stage, preliminary site authorization as evidenced by an email from the appropriate organizational personnel is acceptable, until a formal site authorization letter is obtained. Site authorization letters must be on letterhead of the organization providing permission and signed by the individual authorized to grant such permission per requirements below.

Formal Site Authorization. Prior to IRB submission the learner must obtain formal site authorization to include:

Written on organization letterhead.

Dated within the last 12 months.

Signed by an authorized representative of the site and includes the authorizing representative’s contact information.

Clearly indicate activities for which researcher has obtained authorization. This is very important. The authorization should clearly indicate EXACTLY what authorization is being granted. For example: recruiting by email during work hours, interviewing primary teachers during their planning hours, distributing an electronic survey to staff members, granting access to email, etc.

Site authorization information aligns exactly with recruitment materials, informed consent document, and the IRB application.

To review sample site authorization letter template please refer to GCU’s IRB Research Center on the DC Network: ( https://dc.gcu.edu/documents/irb_documents__iris/irb_forms_templates_updated_jan_2018 )

For purposes of confidentiality, site authorization letters will be deleted from this appendix by the Form and Format reviewer (Level 7 Review – just prior to dean’s signature) and the following text will be inserted: Site authorization(s) on file at Grand Canyon University. lopesup

Appendix C. IRB Approval Letter

This is a required appendix. The IRB approval letter is required for Level 5 Review and published in the final dissertation manuscript.

When you receive IRB approval for your study, you will receive a determination (or approval) letter to move forward with data collection.

Download (from iRIS) then copy/paste a copy of the determination (approval) letter you received from the IRB in this appendix prior to submitting for Level 5 peer review. This letter must be the actual copy issued from IRB, not something the learner types up themselves. lopesup

Appendix D. Informed Consent

Informed Consent Form

Introduction

The title of this research study is The Monetary Value of Professional Certifications to Corporations.”

I am D'Ainsley Smith, a doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Adamavi Ahyee in the College of Doctoral Studies at Grand Canyon University.

The purpose of this study is to explore how employers ascribe a monetary value to their employees’ professional qualifications. The study seeks to collect opinions from employers on their valuation criteria along with their use of the professional qualifications presented by their employees to learn how they impact productivity, increases in knowledge and their overall value to respondent’s organizations. This study focuses in the IT sector in Northern United States.

Key Information

This document defines the terms and conditions for consenting to participate in this research study.

How do I know if I can be in this study?

Bullet eligibility criteria (inclusion and exclusion) exactly as stated in the IRB application and your recruitment materials. ALL screening criteria are a part of the inclusion and exclusion. Screening questions are NOT separate from inclusion/exclusion criteria.

· You can participate in this study if you:

· Are an employer.

· If you are located in Northern United States.

· Have over five years’ experience as head of your organization’s Human Resources department.

· Agree to a recorded Zoom meeting.

· Can answer all the questions in the questionnaire provided.

· You cannot participate in this study if you:

· Are not an employer in the Northern United States IT sector.

· At least 30 years old.

· Cannot agree to a recorded Zoom meeting.

· Are an administrator at this school.

Research Activities: What am I being asked to do?

If you agree to be in this study, you will be asked to

· What?

Your participation in my study helps with data gathering on the criteria used by employers in the IT sector within Northern United States to monetarily value professional qualifications as presented by their employees. To this end you will participate in the following activities as a means of data collection:

· Complete a documenting how you define professional certifications presented to you by job seekers and define how they help improve their work output, capital stock and improve their technical knowledge (10-15 minutes).

· Participate in a semi-structured interview to help expound on matters in need of clarifying based off your answers in the questionnaires (30-45 minutes).

· When?

The Researcher will notify you directly to schedule a date and time for the focus groups or the interview.

· Where?

Prior to your participation, it is necessary to sign the Informed Consent Form. Additionally, the interview will be conducted via a Zoom meeting.

· How?

· The questionnaires will take approximately 10-15 minutes to fill within the timeframe described by the researcher upon contact.

· The semi-structured interviews will take 30-45 minutes on Zoom to allow the researcher to record tour responses on follow-up questions at a communicate time.

· Audio Recording:

I will use an audio recorder or the audio recording feature of the online conferencing platform Zoom to record your responses. You cannot participate if you do not wish to be recorded.

Who will have access to my data/information?

I will have access to all of your data and information. In addition, my dissertation chair, committee members, and all College of Doctoral Studies Reviewers may view your information and your answers as part of the dissertation review process.

Am I required to participate in this study?

Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. After reading this informed consent, you can decide whether to participate in this study or not. Also, if you choose to participate and then change your mind, you can leave the study at any time, even if you have not finished, without any penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. If you decide to stop participation, you may do so by contacting with the researcher through the provided email. There will be no negative consequences for withdrawing from the study and you do not need to provide any further explanation for your decision. If so, I will not use the information that I collected from you before you chose to stop.

Any possible risks or discomforts?

There are no foreseeable risks or discomforts associated with this study.

Any direct benefits for me?

No.

Any paid compensation or incentives for my time?

Participants will not get paid for their participation.

Presentation of Information Collected

The research data will be presented by the researcher a dissertation publication. Data will be grouped into themes, and coded analysis results will be included as part of the study.

Privacy and Data Security

Will other researchers ever be able to link my data/responses back to me?

The data collected will be presented as a dissertation publication. Data will be grouped into themes, and coded analysis results will be included as part of the study.

Will my initial data include information that can identify me (names, addresses, or other identifying material, such as audio, specific demographics, etc.)

N/A

Will researchers assign my data/responses a research ID code to use instead of my name?

Yes.

If yes, how will researchers create a list to link names with their research ID codes?

The ID code given to the participants will be utilized.

If yes, how will researchers secure the link of names and research ID codes? How long will the link be kept? Who has access? What is the approximate destruction date?

The information gathered will remain confidential, and participants will be given a code name known only to the researcher during data analysis. Your personal identity information will not be used by the researcher. The data will be stored electronically with password protection for a period of three years. Only the researcher will and can access the data.

How and where will my data be protected (electronic and hardcopy)?

The collected data will be securely stored by the researcher, both in physical form within a secure safe and digitally on a hard drive, for a duration of three years including consent forms and questionnaire responses. Voice recording from the semi-structured interviews will be stored on the same hard-drive without other physical copies being made available. The researcher will be the sole person with authorized access to all the data that has been collected.

How long will the data be kept in the protected space?

Three years

Who will have access to the protected data?

I will have access to all of your data and information. In addition, my dissertation chair, committee members, and all College of Doctoral Studies Reviewers may view your information and your answers as part of the dissertation review process.

What is the privacy policy for survey platforms (Survey Monkey, Qualtrics, mTurks, Google, etc) , any recording software (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.), interview software, survey software, or transcription software companies?

https://explore.zoom.us/en/privacy/

https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/legal/privacy/

Where and how will the signed informed consent forms be secured?

All electronic data will undergo a rigorous encryption process and will be stored on both a thumb drive and a hard drive, both of which will be securely locked inside a protected cabinet. Additionally, the researcher will ensure that participants' consent forms are securely locked in a safe using a unique security key.

Future Research

Once identifiers name, address, etc. are removed from the data collected for this study, the identifiable information could be used for future research studies or distributed to other investigators for future research studies without additional informed consent from you or your legally authorized representative.

Study Contacts

Any questions you have concerning the research study or your participation in the study, before or after your informed consent, will be answered by, For any inquiries regarding the research study or your involvement in it, both prior to and after giving your consent, the researcher can be reached ().

If you have questions about your rights as a subject/participant in this research, or if you feel you have been placed at risk, you can contact the Chair of the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board through the College of Doctoral Studies at [email protected] ; (602) 639-7804.

Voluntary Consent

Participant Rights

· You have been given an opportunity to read and discuss the informed consent and ask questions about this study;

· You have been given enough time to consider whether or not you want to participate;

· You have read and understand the terms and conditions and agree to take part in this research study;

· You understand your participation is voluntary and that you may stop participation at any time without penalty.

Your signature means that you understand your rights listed above and agree to participate in this study.

____________________________________________________ ___________________

Signature of Participant or Legally Authorized Representative Date

Your signature means that you understand your rights listed above and agree to participate in this study.

___________________________________________________ __________________

Signature of Participant or Legally Authorized Representative Date

Appendix E. Codebook

Categories, Category Meanings and Aligned Codes

Code

Sample Quote

Code Description

1. Uniformed Morphological Instruction

“Classes are pretty homogenous”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described morphological instruction as uniformed among students because classes were alike academically.

2. Morphological Instruction Based on Grade-Level

“…each grade level has their own list of words and their own activities.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described morphological instruction unique to specific grade-levels, because curriculum is set for grade levels.

3. Teacher Adapted Morphological Instruction

“The SPED teacher and I talk in advance to come up with modification.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described morphological instruction modified by teacher based on student’s academic needs.

4. Individualized Morphological Instruction Based on NWEA

“We create a personalized learning for each of our students.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described morphological instruction based on NWEA test results.

5. Inadequate Student Morphological Knowledge at the Beginning of the School Year

“They don’t have any knowledge of it at all.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students having very little morphological knowledge at the beginning of the year.

6. Basic Level of Morphological Instruction Received in Past Years

“They kind of introduced what it is, but not meanings.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described morphological instruction students received in past years.

7. No Morphological Instruction Received in Past Years

“…it is not directly testable.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as not receiving morphological instruction in years past.

8. Students had Improved Morphological Knowledge After Receiving Morphological Instruction

“I hope they leave with new skill- break words apart.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students having better morphological knowledge after receiving morphological instruction.

9. Application of Morphological Awareness Contributed to Increased Morphological Knowledge

“Kind of think, okay, there’s poly I might not know what poly means in this word, but I’ll look at some other words, okay.

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described a contribution to students’ growth in morphological knowledge.

10. Worksheets Were Used During Morphological Instruction

“The work is done independently.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described worksheets as being used during morphological instruction.

11. Flash Cards Were Used During Morphological Instruction

“I give them Quizlet; we make flashcards. It’s all just their own practicing.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described flashcards as being used during morphological instruction.

12. Graphic Organizers Were Used During Morphological Instruction

“Tree idea of, you know, here’s the root and what words, you know are the leaves.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described graphic organizers as being used during morphological instruction.

13. Word Analysis Was Used During Morphological Instruction

“I want you to look at this root. Now look at the rest of the word and use context clues to try and figure it out.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described word analysis as being used during morphological instruction.

14. Teacher Lead Discussions Were Used During Morphological Instruction

“The first day I kind of teach the root and what it means.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described teacher lead discussions as being used during morphological instruction.

15. Collaborative Groups Were Used During Morphological Instruction

“I have them work in groups and they will list as many words as they can think of that use the prefix or suffix.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described collaborative groups as being used during morphological instruction.

16. Real-World Examples Were Used During Morphological Instruction

“We fill in the definition and then I give an example word. Then they have to find their own two examples.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described real-world examples as being used during morphological instruction.

17. Locating Morphological Words in Text Was Used During Morphological Instruction

“I have students look for words in the text that we are reading.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how students located morphological words in text during morphological instruction.

18. Morphological Words from Given Lists Were Used in Sentences During Morphological Instruction

“They need to use in their everyday writing. This allows the kids to use the words in content.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how students used a given lists of morphological words in sentences during morphological instruction.

19. Teacher Created Morphological Lists Were Used in Morphological Instruction

“I did a lot of research just finding lists, picking them, and I tried to categorize them.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how morphological lists were created by teachers for morphological instruction.

20. Purchased Programs with Morphological Lists Were Used in Morphological Instruction

“We use a book someone found…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described morphological lists being created by publishers used during morphological instruction.

21. State Provided Morphological Lists were Used in Morphological Instruction

“My state gives us a list to teach for each grade level.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described morphological lists being created by the state used during instruction.

22. Focused Time Spent on Morphological Instruction

“I’d like to at least cover two to three roots a week and then have time to practice them you know.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described time spent implementing morphological instruction.

23. Assessments Were Used to Measure Morphological Knowledge Growth in Students

“I try and do mastery grading. I give students multiple opportunities to show mastery- to show me that they’re learning…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how they knew students mastered morphological lists.

24. Students Had Ineffective Writing at the Beginning of the School Year

“I am getting sentences that are not even close to correctly written.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students’ beginning of the year writing quality as ineffective.

25. Students Had Improved Writing at the End of the Year

“…definitely better. I always see growth, even in my lowest writers.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students’ end of the year writing quality as improved.

26. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Were Using Better Word Choices in Their Writing

“I think that has a lot to do with the stems because they’re learning more words and are more aware of words.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as having better word choice in their writing after morphological instruction.

27. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Learned How Words Had Power in Writing

“…more aware of words and just the power of words.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as having learned word selection is important in writing after morphological instruction.

28. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Were More Aware of Words and How They Can Improve Writing

“…opens up so many more words for them.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as being more aware of the words they chose to use in their writing after morphological instruction.

29. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Wrote Better Sentences

“…no longer have these simple sentences that are second grade quality…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as having better sentences after morphological instruction.

30. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Had a Larger Word Bank to Pull Words from for Their Writing

“…given them more vocabulary to use in their writing.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as having a larger word bank to help choose appropriate words to convey meaning in their writing after morphological instruction.

31. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Became Better Spellers

“I can see that their spelling is even better because spelling was atrocious.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as being better spellers after morphological instruction.

32. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Used More Elaboration Win Their Writing

“…they have a little more depth…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as providing better elaboration after morphological instruction.

33. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Were More Confident in Their Writing Ability

“I think it’s because of that confidence has been built from having a strong vocabulary through roots.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as being more confident in their writing ability.

34. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Combined Sentences Together Better in Their Writing

“The paragraphs may only be 3-4 sentences, but it is a paragraph.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as having better sentence structure.

35. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Had Better Organized Paragraphs

“… able to write an organized paragraph.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as having better organized paragraphs.

36. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Took More Risks in Their Writing

“…they’re taking more risks with their writing…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as tasking risks in their writing.

37. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Made a Reading, and Writing Connection

“…so many avenues to what they’re able to read and what they’re able to write.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described students as making a connection between reading and writing.

38. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Used Correct Usage of Subject/Predicates-

Nouns/Verbs in Their Writing

“The more they kind of look at the suffix of a word, the more they might use it correctly…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how morphological instruction influenced students’ syntax.

39. Difficulty in Describing Influence Morphological Instruction had on Grammar

“I can’t think of specifically how it would.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how they were unsure how morphological instruction improved grammar.

40. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Were Better at Identifying Parts of Speech of Words

“It helps that they have a better understanding of parts of speech.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how students were better able to identify parts of speech of morphologically complex words.

41. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Were Able to Use a Variety of Words and Word Forms in Their Writing

“They learn how to use what forms of words are going to work better together.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how students used a variety of words and word forms in their writing correctly.

42. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Punctuated Sentences Better

“Helps also with maybe some of their punctuation.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how students used correct punctuation in their sentences.

43. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Had an Increase in Word Exposure

“I’m introducing them to a lot harder words that they might not see.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how morphological instruction influenced word choice.

44. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Improved Their Word Choice in Writing

“I do think that they actually have understood them, and they know how to use them, and they’ll put them in their writing for that purpose.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how morphological instruction influenced students’ overall writing quality through word choice.

45. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Increased the Academic Quality of Their Writing Through Their Word Choice

“I have given them an essay prompt about like degradation in the Holocaust. They know that word we broken it apart that word. It’s going to appear in their essay.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how students used academic words in their writing.

46. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Had Better Sentence Structure in Their Writing

“They’re doing more compound sentences, more complex things.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how students formed better sentences.

47. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Improved Their Information Writing

“…. more expository nonfiction type. You see us they see us as social studies; they see these words come up in science, a lot.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described informational writing improved after morphological instruction.

48. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Students Improved Their Writing in All Genres

“All writing genres benefit.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described all writing genres as improving after morphological instruction.

49. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, English Language Learners Improved in Writing

“They are aware of many cognates from Spanish to Greek and Latin roots.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how English Language Learners improved their writing after morphological instruction.

50. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Low Performing Student Improved in Writing

“The lower students want to practice what they have learned.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how low performing students improved their writing after morphological instruction.

51. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Gifted/Higher Level Performing Students Improved in Writing

“Those higher levels that are you know it’s clicking for and they understand it. I do think that they try to use that and put those in because they know that those dollar words are words in their writing.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how gifted/ higher level students improved their writing after morphological instruction.

52. As a Result of Morphological Instruction, Regular Education Student Improved in Writings

“I will have to agree that that's straight across the board. It is something that could be useful for all learners including ourselves, we learn from that.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how regular students improved their writing after morphological instruction.

53. Teachers Attended Workshops

“… there was a literacy workshop…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described workshops they attended on morphological instruction and writing.

54. Teachers Attended State Level Workshops

“… at the state level where they are offering specific training at the secondary level…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described state provided professional development they attended on morphological instruction and writing.

55. Teachers Took Linguistic Courses

“I took a couple of linguistic courses… just for my general English degree.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described linguistic courses they attended on morphological instruction and writing.

56. Teachers Attended District Workshops

“… few years ago, one of the things that they were bringing in for writing…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described district provided professional development they attended on morphological instruction and writing.

57. Teachers are Comfortable Teaching Morphological instruction and Writing

“… so, I am comfortable teaching words because I’m a wordsmith…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how comfortable they felt teaching morphological instruction and writing.

58. Teachers Need Training in Morphological Instruction and Writing

“I feel that are too many young teachers who have no clue…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how uncomfortable other teachers they know felt teaching morphological instruction and writing.

59. Teachers are Unfamiliar with Morphological and Writing Instructional Strategies

“… we know (roots) doesn’t just exist in language arts but getting those other teachers on board and in terms of their roots. You know (roots) are in the sixth-grade science curriculum…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how unfamiliar many teachers are at teaching morphological instruction and writing.

60. Teachers Need Ideas to Implement Instruction in Morphology and Writing

“… PDFs that are morphological specific.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how professional development should provide teachers with ideas to implement morphological instruction and writing.

61. Teachers Need Suggested Word Lists for Morphological Instruction

“… came up over the summer was the conversation about why a specific list of words… there’s not a specific list of words that live in sixth grade.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how professional development should provide teachers with grade appropriate morphological lists.

62. Develop Teachers as Writers

“… find programs to develop teachers as writers.”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how professional development should help teachers realize they are writers.

63. Teachers Need to Practice Writing

“… more training, just for the teachers to sit and practice writing and build confidence in ourselves. I think that’s key…”

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described how professional development should provide teachers with the opportunity to develop their writing skills.

Appendix F. Categories, Category Meanings and Aligned Codes

Category

Category Meaning

Aligned Codes

Delivery of Morphological Instruction-Instructional Level of Student

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described the delivery of morphological instruction in the classroom.

Uniformed Morphological Instruction

Morphological instruction Based on Grade-Level

Teacher Adapted Morphological Instruction

Individualized Morphological Instruction Based on NWEA

Lack of Morphological Knowledge at the Beginning of the School Year

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described beginning of year morphological awareness.

Inadequate Student Morphological Knowledge at the Beginning of the School Year

Morphological Instruction Students Received in Past Grades Levels

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described what contributed to poor morphological knowledge at the beginning of the school year.

Basic Level of Morphological Instruction Received in Past Years

No Morphological Instruction Received in Past Years

Student Morphological Knowledge Improved by the End of the Year

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described end of year morphological awareness.

Students Had Improved Morphological Knowledge After Receiving Morphological Instruction

Increased Morphological Awareness Because Students Applied What They Learned

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described why students had better morphological awareness at the end of the year.

Application of Morphological Awareness Contributed to Increased Morphological Knowledge

Morphological Instruction Activities

Urban middle school writing/language arts teachers described activities used during morphological instruction.</