Thesis: Hypothetical Designs

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Hypothetical Designs

Three hypothetical study designs: Post-tenure review

Quantitative hypothetical design

To assess the ability of the post-tenure review process to enhance student learning, a quantitative study could compare students' satisfaction levels with professors at institutions that used post-tenure review with students' levels of satisfaction at institutions that did not utilize the post-tenure review process. Surveys of students of tenured professors at institutions that used the post-tenure review process could be compared with the results of student satisfaction surveys at other institutions where post-tenure reviews were not deployed. The professors of the students being surveyed in the control group should be demographically similar to those in the experimental group. For example, if at the institution with post-tenure review, students of history, chemistry, and English professors were surveyed, the control group should consist of students with the same type of professors from an institution without post-tenure review.

Quantitative designs are problematic for this subject, given that the study is trying to measure something subjective, namely the effects of post-tenure review on teaching quality and student satisfaction. Also, post-tenure review processes will likely differ widely between departments, thus categorizing the experimental group as the 'post-tenure review' grouping might conceal important differences that make one department's review process more effective than the other department's proceedings. Student's commitment to their academics and ability to objectively measure their professor's competency would also likewise vary and affect the students' levels of satisfaction with teaching quality.

Qualitative research design

In a qualitative design, the researcher could observe faculty meetings at a department implementing a post-tenure review process. This could present some ethical problems, regarding consent. All faculty members would have to consent to the observation for this type of case study format to be feasible. The case study would also have to be supplemented with individual interviews of the faculty members, and ideally of students who had the professors under review. These interviews should be structured rather than unstructured, to allow for an easier comparison of results of different student groupings and demographics. For example one question might be if female students more satisfied than male students, after the professor's classroom management regarding calling on students of both genders was assessed?

Problems with type of qualitative research might arise when selecting a department willing to allow such access to a researcher. Faculty members given a poor post- tenure review might be embarrassed, if their identity was discovered. Students might also be less than candid when interviewed, for fear of getting a bad grade, if they criticized the department. By necessity, only a few researchers could be present at the post-tenure review meetings: otherwise the level of candor of faculty members in the observed discussions would be low and participant reactivity is always a concern in any observation (Eysenck, 2004, p.19). Of course, transcripts of department meetings could be used, as in past studies, but their use would limit the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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