choosing a research topic 1

Throughout the next six weeks, you will plan and propose a qualitative research design of your choice, which may (or may not) involve an area of interest for your doctoral dissertation. You will select a research topic, generate researchable questions, review relevant literature, describe participant selection procedures, identify data collection methods, address potential ethical problems, and describe limitations of your research proposal.

This assignment is the first step toward completing your Final Research Proposal in Week 6. Every research project begins with a well-understood topic.

After thinking about a topic area you are interested in researching, conduct a preliminary literature search on that topic using ProQuest, EBSCOhost, or another library search engine. ProQuest has a database called “Dissertations & Theses” that will be especially useful for finding dissertations that have been written on your topic.

Find the results of at least five studies (including at least two dissertations) related to your topic. Create a table that lists key aspects of those studies, including: author, date, methodology, methods used, and key findings. You may want to include the full APA formatted reference entry in your table, or you may put your full reference list in a page following the table. See sample table below for the topic of “student-faculty conflict.

Turn in the following to this assignment by Day 7:

  • A few paragraphs describing what your topic area is. Tell why this topic is important to you.
  • Your table of at least five studies, listing authors, date, methodology (fieldwork approach), methods used, and key findings.
  • An APA formatted reference list of the studies in the compiled table.

Keep adding to your table throughout this course as you will need to use it to write a literature review on your topic in Week 6.

Sample Literature Review Table

[Example Topic: Student-Faculty Conflict]

List all the related studies and how they were conducted, and the key findings:



Fieldwork Approach

Description of method


Chory-Assad & Paulsel



Surveyed 154 undergraduates in communication courses at mid-Atlantic university. Participation was voluntary and took place during class time.

College students’ perceptions of procedural justice in a course predicted the likelihood of indirectly aggressing against and expressing hostility towards an instructor.

Dunn & Gokee


Quantitative & Qualitative

Surveyed 122 undergraduates in psychology classes at a large university in the Southeast. Used a Faculty-Student Questionnaire to gain insight on conflicts with 8 open ended questions asking for specific instances of faculty-student conflict.

Surveys showed that professors may prevent the majority of classroom conflicts by implementing strategies that enhance students’ ideas of “fairness”, such as carefully explaining policies early in a course to prevent misunderstanding later.




Office hour appointments at two German universities were video-recorded and then written into transcripts. Further examination of the transcript followed.

The significance of office hours in academics needs to be rethought since time spent during these hours are often not used to discuss a student academic career. A learner-centered atmosphere has to be created that helps them become socialized in the academic community.



Quantitative & Qualitative

Observation and Surveying of 104 undergraduate students who agreed to be placed into a mock classroom where new forms of teaching were demonstrated in attempt to assist in student note taking.

Students recorded more details and points of a lecture when listen to lectures with lower levels of immediacy. The number of details and points recorded in notes were strongly related to a student’s outcome.

Banfield, Richmond & McCroskey



Surveying of 288 undergraduate students including an Affect Toward Teacher Scale and a Source Credibility Scale after being placed in one of four experimental learning conditions.

Negative teacher behaviors do impact the student’s affect for the teacher; they impacted each person in different degrees. These misbehaviors had the backlash of students no long wanting to take that teacher’s classes in the future.

Miller & Harris



Study examined semester long observation, three focus groups of white students from the class, and student documents.

Although students in the class made up a total of six ethnicities, over the semester there were only three distinct groups: Black, White, and Jewish students. Three themes of student communication emerged about whiteness: white privilege, how to live anti-racist lives, and how to talk about race.



Qualitative & Quantitative

Data collection included interviews with role groups, observation of classes, questionnaires, plus documents and records from 21 schools across the United States.

Outcomes varied in the 21 schools, however, Henze focused on Cornell, who has made efforts to improve ethnic relations, and through use of multiple programs improving these relations with its students.

Glascock & Ruggiero



Surveying of 486 students at a public university, including questionnaires based on instructors behavior in the class they had most recently attended.

Multiple variables came into play on perceptions of ethnic teachers, with Caucasian instructors rated higher than Hispanic Instructors. Nonverbal immediacy made up a larger difference in student perceptions on teacher credibility.

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