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Archive for November, 2009

RSH9102B-10: Mixed Methods Research & activity outcomes

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I finished Activity #10 on Sunday; in the syllabus it states, “Based on your readings, describe the context of when mixed methods research is appropriate.” However, just as I started to write (after reading the appropriate chapters), I looked at the activity outcomes, which state:

  • Justify quantitative research designs when appropriate.
  • Justify qualitative designs when appropriate.
  • Examine the role of mixed methods research in formal inquiry.
  • Assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of each research methodology.

These outcomes are certainly more than just describing “when the context of mixed methods research is appropriate” (as the syllabus states in the directions)! So I included the activity outcomes in the paper, using them as a kind of outline, with the overarching theme of “when” mixed methods is appropriate.  

I have done a little bit of syllabi and curriculum design, and this divergence between the assignment and the activity outcomes is not a good idea. What often happens is the instructor ends up not grading to the activity outcomes so if a student includes them, they are marked down, if they do not, they do not receive the benefit of learning the full coursework. A paper that explains only when mixed methods is appropriate is very different than one that justifies mixed methods, quantitative, and qualitative, and assesses strengths and weaknesses of each. 

My new mentor has been traveling and he admitted he will catch up on grading soon. He has had to jump in pretty fast and I am sure he has many papers to grade. I turned in #7 and am waiting for a grade, then #8, #9, and #10 ready to go. I have one month left in this course so it looks like I will start RSH9103B around Christmas time.

But this is a special week as our son is visiting from out of town, so I doubt if I will get any work done on #11 at all this week!

How to search thinkPhD.com

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Are you looking for posts referencing a certain class at NCU or a certain subject like “education”? Here are THREE quick ways to find what you are looking for.

Use the white search box in the right column. Type in your search term and press enter.

OR…. 

Click on archives in the menu bar. You can find posts by month or by subject/category this way.

OR….

In the address bar, type category/coursename after the domain and press enter. So if you are looking for posts regarding RSH9102B, type this:

http://thinkphd.com/category/rsh9102b/

Taking MGT5031?

http://thinkphd.com/category/mgt5031/

Looking for posts about education?

http://thinkphd.com/category/education/

New mentor Dr. S + making progress

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Midstream in RSH9102B, I have been assigned a new mentor. All of a sudden, Dr. M is not listed as my professor – now I have Dr. S. I was given no explanation as to the reason for the change.  I had turned in assignment #6 and waited patiently for six days for it to be graded. I checked on Friday, and saw it posted as graded under Dr. M, but Dr. S was listed as my professor on my learner page. I checked my regular email and found a note from the registrar advising me of the change. I found Dr. S’s published dissertation, which I downloaded and will add to my reading list.

I turned in the 7th assignment “Design a Research Study Plan” early this morning after final proofreading. I worked on and finished activity #8 Experimental Research, as well as activity #9 Exploratory Research. The 10th paper is Mixed Methods Research, which departs from the read-and-answer-questions format of #8 and #9. My mind is pretty tired right now so I won’t start on #10, which involves discussing the context of when mixed methods research is appropriate.  Right now, the only thing I can see that is appropriate is a cold beer.

Or two.

Coronas

Babbie’s Survey Research Methods

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

I picked up a used copy of Earl Babbie’s Survey Research Methods (1997) to help me understand surveys more completely and I almost fell out of my chair when I saw page 204. At the bottom of the page, Figure 11-1 it says “Standard Punch Card for Recording Data.” My oh my I had not seen a punch card since my undergrad days at Troy State! I took a Fortran course (which was considered to be “the” language for science – I was an environmental science major) and those cards were my worst nightmare. You had to sit at a punch machine and punch out hundreds, no thousands, of those cards to run a program. Then you would stack up your cards in order – mind you – and take them to the window of the computer room – and turn them in. And then pray that your program did not fail and you would be able to set up statistical analyses for your experiments.

On page 204 and following there is a whole discussion on using punch cards and the “entrance of computers.” For all you young folks, here is a punch card and a card sorter:

Punch card punch card sorter

Weekend Update: Turned in #6 working on #7

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

I completed the ethics paper which was activity #6 in RSH9102B yesterday. It actually took me longer than I thought it would take to finish it up. I ended up with 7 pages in which I discussed the Belmont Report and the Common Rule, and applied those principles to my study. I covered what I believed to be the major risks of conflict of interest and informed consent/privacy protection.

Today, I started on activity #7, which is Design a Research Survey Plan. The syllabus directions are not very clear once you get to reading them: “Using the checklist displayed on page 156 of the Creswell text, design a plan for the procedures to be used in a survey study.”

First of all, the checklist is not on page 156, its on page 147. Secondly, it was unclear if I am to develop a survey based on my proposed topic or make one up. I sent a note to Dr. M, and got some guidance. I ended up writing as though the study would be used in my own qualitative research. There are 20 questions in the Creswell checklist. I created a short introduction and then typed the 20 questions, and started writing at least a paragraph after each one. I have completed through question 11, and hope to pick back up and complete this paper tomorrow evening (although it may take me two evenings because I have to deliver some Avon to my customers tomorrow after work).

I know that some people can pump out these assignments quickly, but I read all of the chapters first (8 chapters in this assignment crossing 4 texts) and then brainstorm the topic. I come up with a general outline and then flesh it out as I write. I suppose my method is working because I am carrying a 4.0 GPA. However, there just never seems to enough hours in the day to get all this work done!

Noobie is giving away a free Kindle!

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

I just entered a contest to win a free Kindle from Noobie (worth $259!) and I wanted you to have a chance to win one too! All you need to do to enter is to click the link below or copy and paste it into your favorite Internet browser:

http://www.noobie.com/kindle-giveaway?ref=15682172

Be sure to read the email you get from Noobie after you register. You’ll get your own unique link that you can use to earn even more entries in the drawing!

CITI CourseCollaborative Institutional Training Initiative

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Yesterday afternoon and today I worked on the CITI course as required in Activity 6 in RSH9102B. CITI stands for Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative and the course is the Course in the Protection of Human Research Subjects. The syllabus states that this course requires 4-6 hours to complete – and it took me about 4 hours of concentrated work to finish it up. I started out just reading and answering the quizzes, but found out pretty quick that my recall was not what I had expected (especially with the really boring reading that was required). So I started printing out the reading and quizzes and did much better. I could take over any of the quizzes I wanted to and found out then that some of the quizzes will change questions or the answer selections will show up in subsequent quizzes mixed up.

I finished up today and have my certificate of completion. The next step in this assignment is to write a “scholarly paper” in which “any ethical concerns for the human subjects in the intended study are discussed.” I am not sure how many pages or how in depth this paper should be because the syllabus does not tell me that. Most of my research will focus on facts rather than human subjects, but I can certainly write a paper referencing the Belmont Report and other ethical concerns.

HOWEVER, today is an absolutely gorgeous autumn day and OUTSIDE is calling me…..

Autumn in VA

Paper 5: Measurement and Scaling Concepts

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Ugh. Another read-and-answer the question paper today. In all, there are 15 questions to answer, with a minium of 125 words per response…and the paper is to be 1-2 pages in length. What? Are you kidding me? The average word count of a 12pt TNR font double-spaced paper is 250-300 words per page. So we are talking about 600 words. Now if we do the math…15 questions x 125 words = 1,875 words….or 7-8 pages. Either NCU can’t count or there is a major typo in the syllabus. You know, it is these kinds of things that DRIVE ME CRAZY. We are expected to be detailed, accurate, and right 100% of the time in our assignments, yet a syllabus can have nutty errors in it? Now don’t get me started talking about the fact that the syllabus contains references to page numbers that are in previous editions of the texts…..

Free Resources for Program Evaluation and Social Research Methods

Friday, November 6th, 2009

I found a website that provides free information for the dissertation student. Free Resources for Program Evaluation and Social Research Methods is a list of links to websites with a home site of the International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication or ICAAP. Some of the resources explain what evaluation is and how it is used in social research. I found some useful information under the Methods – Qualitative link. My proposed topic is based on qualitative methods, and now that I am in RSH9102B, I am trying to find as much information that I can about this method. There are some links to free statistical software, training courses, and some related to sampling a population. Check out some of the study notes and links to tutorials, too.

RSH9102B-4 External, Internal, and Construct Validity

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

I took a little different approach to collecting research and pulling together my 4th paper in NCU’s RSH9102B. I recently downloaded MS Office 2007, and one of the programs in the suite is OneNote. OneNote is essentially an electronic notebook that you can use to copy/paste/collect info in one place. It took a few minutes to figure out how to set up my notebook, but essentially I created a tab for this activity, and divided it up into sections (External Validity, Internal Validity, Construct Validity, Syllabus info).

My standard method of working through these types of assignments is reading the book and collecting notes, quotes, and critical info in a paper notebook. It is a lot of writing but I am so used to writing and learning at the same time that it comes as second nature. I really like the way I can copy and paste into OneNote, instead of recreating diagrams in my paper notebook. I especially like the search function. For example, in this activity, there was a good bit of defining the terms, and each author (Creswell, Trochim & Donnelly, Zikmund, and Cozby) defined the terms a little differently. They all also identified shades of threats to validity. I was able to type all this info into the tabs and then search for the terms when I was ready to put them in the paper.

Based on this experience with OneNote, I think I will use it again for future essays. I did not use any of the templates, but I think I might try one of the academic templates or create my own. MS Office online even has a Cornell Note Taking template!

Oh, and I did turn in Activity 4 tonight. I am looking ahead to Activity 5, which is another read-and-answer-the-questions thing. I am to read Zikmund chapter 13 and answer questions 1-6, then Zikmund chapter 14 and answer questions 1-8, and 13.