This case presents a situation that is quite common in the education field and addresses the responses by institutions to new legislation imposed upon them. As is often the case, the legislators do not address the impacts to organizations, leaving the actual implementation to the end user (i.e., public and private schools). In this particular case, Wittenburg University (WU) is faced with the decision of whether to develop and deliver a Master of Arts degree in classroom leadership. 1.) Build the management-research question hierarchy for this opportunity.
The initial step in the research is the creation of a management-research question hierarchy, to formalize the process. For this case study, the management-research hierarchy is presented in Appendix A. The purpose of this hierarchy is to examine the various stages of the research question and present a logical sequence of increasing focus that will allow the development of a survey instrument that can be delivered to potential program applicants.
The initial stage is to identify and state the management dilemma, which in this case is the impending new legislation.
The State of Ohio intends to require all licenced teachers to have, or complete, a master’s degree before obtaining their second licensure to teach. Given that this is new legislation and WU is not obligated to offer a program, the “management dilemma” actually presents an opportunity for WU to develop a new degree program, thereby increasing revenue for the university. The second stage of the process is to identify the management questions.
In this case, WU needs to decide what purpose would the new program serve?; would this program duplicate teacher development courses?; what format should the new program utilize (e.g., part-time, distance)? The third stage addresses the particular research questions: Does WU have the faculty/administrative capacity to offer the full program?; is there sufficient return on investment to offer the program?; and if all is positive, should WU develop and offer the program.
Investigative questions, as part of a survey instrument should examine the demand for the program, what is the potential market, what other competition exists, and what would the program-costing model look like. One other variable that should be explored is the potential of Ohio teachers moving to another state to avoid the legislation. On a similar scale, movement within the policing industry is often impacted by similar factors, so this question should be examined. The final stage of the process is that actual measurement component, whereby researchers will examine the demographic information, correlate and analyze the data collected from the surveys. In order to increase the confidence level of the analysis, survey questions should utilize appropriate ranking/rating scales, and ensure open-ended questions are avoided. Once the data has been analyzed, researchers will be able to provide WU administrators with sufficient information upon which to base a decision on whether to proceed with the program. 2. Evaluate the appropriateness of the exploratory stage of the research design.
As noted earlier, the new State of Ohio legislation presents an opportunity for WU to implement a new graduate study program, and increase their enrollments. Before proceeding to the program development stage, however, WU needs to conduct exploratory research to guide their decision making process. An initial step in the process is to conduct secondary research, utilizing available resources, to identify similar programs (i.e., competition) and responses to similar legislation in other states. Given that the majority of this secondary data will be discovered via internet searches, the researchers should conduct a source evaluation. The course text identifies five factors to evaluate secondary data: “Purpose – the explicit or hidden agenda of the information source Scope – the breadth and depth of topic coverage, including time period, geographical limitations, and the criteria for information inclusion.
Authority – the level of data (primary, secondary, tertiary) and the credentials of the source author(s) Audience – the characteristics and background of the people or groups for whom the source was created Format – how the information is presented and the degree of ease of locating specific information within the source.” (Cooper & Schindler, 2008, p. 109) Sources of appropriate data could include alumni surveys from WU, State of Ohio statistics related to post secondary institutions, national data bases, and a study of existing Master of Education (MEd) programs. By utilizing the above noted filters to secondary information, the researchers will be able to ensure they have considered all variables and factors in making a decision.
3. Evaluate the sampling strategy. In this case study, WU mailed the survey to all of the 1,600 identified teachers residing in Clark County, which is the home county of WU; essentially this is not a sample, but rather a census. The remaining 400 surveys were then mailed to “systematic sampling” to teachers in the surrounding counties. I see an issue with this, as the parameters of the systematic sampling are not detailed; for example, were teachers who already completed a MEd degree included in the sample? I would suggest that the 400 surveys were mailed to a convenience sampling rather than a proper probability sample.
Factors such as these may have contributed to the low response rate from the survey. Given the implementation time line of the new legislation, it would have been valuable to survey potential teachers (i.e., those currently in an undergraduate program), as they would likely form the WU MEd cohort. This would give a clearer picture of the market potential of the program.
4. Prepare a preliminary analysis plan for this study. Which variables do you want frequencies on? Why? The initial stage of the data correlation and analysis would be the proper coding of the data and entry into an appropriate software database. For this case study, the data was presented as an Excel file, so the exploratory data analysis would include a complete descriptive statistical calculations and frequencies for applicable questions. I would suggest questions that create nominal or ordinal data are the most appropriate for frequency tables, and provide a clearer picture of the survey respondents. The data sets may be utilized to confirm if the teacher sample is representative of the overall population, and cross tabulations conducted to draw correlations between categories. I would suggest that data specifically addressing respondents who require a master’s degree, or those contemplating pursuing higher education would be of particular interest, as they represent the potential student market.
Researchers will also need to account for non-response errors and missing data within the coding and analysis stages 5. Which variables do you want to cross-tabulate? Why? Given the nature of the research questions, it would be beneficial to identity, through crosstabulations, those teachers who have not yet applied for their second licensure to teach and what level of education those teachers currently have. This would clarify the potential market for the WU program.
In addition, cross-tabulations to identify potential teachers relative to their home counties would give a clearer picture of those teachers who could/would realistically attend the WU program over another program closer to their homes. A final cross tabulation that may prove beneficial is the number of teachers who currently are not impacted by the new legislation, but may look to the WU MEd. program for professional development courses. As noted earlier, the new legislation presents an opportunity for to expand upon their graduate level programs, but given the costs to initiate a new program, the decision to proceed must be based upon valid and credible research data. Therefore, the exploratory research undertaken is critical, as it will form the foundation for any decisions made by the university administration.
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2008). Business research methods. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin. Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2010). Practical research planning and design. Upper Saddle River, NY: Pearson Education Inc. 6