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ESEM5174 Quantitative Research Methods in Education EXERCISE 25% 8 Nov 2016

Assignment Question:
Read and critically analyse the following 5 problem statements in dissertations stated by
researchers from 5 selected universities. Then show patterns of thoughts made by these
researchers. What conclusion can you derive in creating a good problem statement in an
academic research?

1. Title of Dissertation (Author A)


Improving Instructional Leadership Behaviors of School Principals by Means of Implementing Time
Management Training Sessions (2013)

Problem Statement
Statement of the Problem The school principal, as the leader of the building, plays an important
role in promoting student achievement and overall school effectiveness (Glodt, 2006; Crow,
Hausman, & Scribner, 2002; Hallinger & Heck, 1996). Research has repeatedly identified that
instructional leadership is one of the characteristics of effective schools and that the school
principal is one of the few individuals in education who has a strong impact on large numbers of
students. Thus, finding ways to improve the amount of time school principals spend on
instructional leadership activities is imperative to enhance student achievement and school
outcomes. Furthermore, teaching school principals how to effectively manage time helps them
save time and allocate it to instructional leadership. Johnson-Blake (2010) states that people in
leadership positions are struggling with how to deal with time. In the Time Management
Practitioner Consensus Survey, 53% of the 332 leaders surveyed indicated that time management
skills are important to the organization. However, the lack of effective time management strategies
may lead to poor planning, inadequate prioritizing, procrastination, and disorganization. 3
Implementation of time management strategies is a key element to increase productivity and
eliminate the wasting of time. The basis for poor time management may be related to a lack of
knowledge of effective time management strategies of school principals. Because of the positive
relationship between time management training and improvements in student academic
achievement (Crow, Hausman, & Scribner, 2002), it is important to improve the proficiency of
school professionals in their own self-management. The goal of this study was to explore the
effectiveness of existing time management training on improving school principals instructional
leadership behaviors.

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ESEM5174 Quantitative Research Methods in Education EXERCISE 25% 8 Nov 2016

2. Title of Dissertation (Author B)


Principal Instructional Leadership Behavior As Perceived By Teachers And Principals At New York
State Recognized And Non-Recognized Middle Schools (2010)

Statement of the Problem


It would seem that there is currently disagreement regarding school leadership and the
extent of its relationship, or lack thereof, with increased student academic achievement. Some
recent studies have demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between principal
leadership behavior and effective schools (Cotton, 2003; Hallinger & Heck, 1998; Marzano et al.,
2005), while others have shown the effect to be negligible (Witziers, Bosker, & Kruger, 2003).
Nevertheless, the pool of research in this area is not particularly deep. Hallinger and Heck (1996)
were only able to identify 40 studies between 1980 and 1995 that quantitatively addressed the
relationship between school leadership and academic achievement. In conducting their meta-
analysis, Marzano et al. (2005) were only able to identify 69 studies in the last 35 years. Robinson
(2007) discovered in a search of the international literature only 24 studies published between
1985 and 2006. More specifically, the role of the middle school principal is one of the least
researched and detailed aspects of successful middle level schools (Little & Little, 2001). Hallinger
and Heck (1996) found that, during the time period of 1980-1995, there were no studies attempting
to find an association between principal leadership and student achievement that focused solely
on the middle school. Of the 24 studies discovered by Robinson (2007), 7 included a mix of
elementary, middle, and high schools, but none were conducted exclusively at, nor focused on, the
middle level. Cotton's (2003) research also indicated that only 9 of 81 studies between 1985 and
2003 investigated the secondary level, and none of these 9 specifically targeted the middle school.
Considering the current atmosphere of high- stakes accountability, it is vital to identify those
leadership behaviors of middle school principals that are most likely to improve student
achievement levels. By gaining a better understanding of these desired behaviors, principal
preparation programs and principals themselves can focus their training and time on the most
essential activities.

3. Title of Dissertation (Author C)


The Influence of The Instructional Leadership of Principals on Change in Teachers
Instructional Practices (2010)

Context of the Study (Problem Statement)


The context for the study begins with an explanation of why the position of principal was chosen
as a topic for study. This is followed by a definition of changes in teachers instructional practices
and why teachers instructional practices were chosen as a topic for investigation. The last section
is an explanation of the importance of both topics through an exploration of current educational
reforms involving the standards and accountability movement. The Principal The position of
principal has become a popular topic of research. The superintendent was the focus of most
literature on educational administration during the 1960s (Owens & Shakeshaft, 1992). This began
to change in the late 1960s. Ninety-four percent of studies on the topic of educational leadership
from 1967 to 1980 focused on public school administrators (Bridges, 1982). Out of these studies,

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ESEM5174 Quantitative Research Methods in Education EXERCISE 25% 8 Nov 2016

the high school principal was researched more than the superintendent or the 2 elementary
principal (Bridges). Literature from the 1980s continued to emphasize the principal more than
other school administrators (Camburn, Rowan, and Taylor, 2003; Owens & Shakeshaft, 1992). The
position of principal was chosen for investigation because it has been identified as an important
component of an effective school (Cotton, 2003; Goodwin, Cunningham, & Childress, 2003;
Hallinger & Heck, 1996). Principals in poor, urban schools with high-achieving students have been
found to be stronger instructional leaders than principals in poor, urban schools with low-achieving
students (Edmonds, 1979). The U.S. Department of Education (2000) released a report portraying
the principals importance by listing ineffective principals as one of the barriers to improving
teaching. Change in Teachers Instructional Practices Change in teachers instructional practices
refers to the amount of change in teachers instructional practices over the previous two school
years, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. Changes in teachers instructional practices were
conceptualized as decreasing over the past two school years, increasing over the past two school
years, remaining the same over the past two school years, or teachers did not use the practice
during the last two school years. The importance of teachers instructional practices is
demonstrated by current studies devoted to analyzing the effect of teacher quality on student
achievement. Teacher quality refers to the characteristics and qualifications held by teachers
(Stronge, 2002). Darling-Hammond (2000) found that two teacher quality characteristics,
certification and degree in field to be taught, were significantly and 3 positively correlated with
student achievement on the reading and mathematics portions of the NAEP tests administered in
1990, 1992, 1994, and1996. The strongest negative correlations were between student
achievement and percentage of new teachers who were not certified (r between -.40 and -.63) and
percentage of teachers with less than a minor in the field they taught (r between -.33 and -.56).
Kaplan and Owings (2002a) stated, Staffing schools with highly qualified teachers who have
strong teaching skills has become a national concern (p. 22). They asserted that principals are
responsible for hiring these individuals, further highlighting the need to examine how principals
influence teachers. A report released in 2003 by the Mid-continent Regional Educational
Laboratory (McREL) highlighted the importance of teachers and principals (Waters, Marzano, &
McNulty, 2003). The report was a compilation of 30 years of research on characteristics of
effective schools. Waters et al. conducted three separate metaanalyses. The first two concentrated
on student characteristics and teacher and school practices in effective schools. The third analysis
contained results indicating that leadership was an important component of an effective school
(Waters et al.). In a review of research on leadership, Leithwood, Louis, Anderson, and Wahlstrom
(2004) concluded that the classroom practices of teachers have the most influence on student
achievement. Waters et al. (2003) discovered that schools that concentrated on the most effective
school and classroom practices, including instructional strategies, could improve their passing rate
on a standardized test from 50% to 72%. They concluded that a one standard deviation
improvement in principal leadership behaviors resulted in average student achievement increases
on a 4 standardized, norm-referenced test from the 50th percentile to the 60th percentile. Further
discussion of research findings on how principals influence changes in teachers instructional
practices is presented in the section on the theory of influences on change in teachers
instructional practices.

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4. Title of Dissertation (Author D)


Instructional Coaching in Elementary Schools: Perceptions of Principals, Instructional Coaches,
and Teachers (2011 Georgia Southern University)

Problem Statement (Introduction to the Problem)


The emphasis on accountability has caused schools and districts throughout the nation to
turn to alternative forms of professional development in an effort to impact teacher knowledge and
improve student achievement (Alter, 2007; Ingersoll, 2007). In order to support student
achievement and teacher training, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has significantly impacted
teacher accountability, professional development, and student achievement (Alliance for Excellent
Education, 2003; Peterson & West, 2003). One such support is the emergence of instructional
coaches as an improvement initiative in which the underlying principle is to improve student
achievement through enhancing teacher practice (Driscoll, 2008; Knight, 2006).
Instructional coaching is a form of professional development that merges teachers learning with
their practices, gives teachers ongoing feedback, and involves collegial support. In addition,
instructional coaching is experiencing significant growth relative to the challenges of producing
highly qualified teachers while the implementation of its programs has surpassed research (Black,
Mosleed, & Sayler, 2003; Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995; Knight, 2006; Poglinco & Bach,
2005; Yerkes, 2001; Thompson, 1997). Instructional coaching has become a vital component for
enhancing teacher practices because it strives to combine effective professional development with
school-based and school-specific needs regarding both content and school climate. Many
instructional coaches facilitate professional development for teachers to further their academic
growth (Driscoll, 2008; Knight 2006).
The demand for academic excellence is rapidly increasing while, at the same time, funding
has become limited (Ingersoll, 2007). Due to limited funding and NCLB mandates, principals are
experiencing a great deal of pressure to deliver high quality education and are expected to do
more, with less (Kim & Sunderman, 2004). Many principals are realizing that teacher quality is
positively related to student achievement (Driscoll, 2008; Fullan, 2001; Killion, 2002). What a
teacher knows and does are the strongest factors influencing student success (Killion, 2006, p.
4). Hence, the solution to improving student achievement may lie within professional development
that improves teacher content knowledge and provides research-based instructional strategies to
assist students with meeting academic goals (Killion, 2002; Killion, 2006).
Research is prevalent on instructional coaching as a vehicle for professional development
and enhancing teacher knowledge and skills (Cornett & Knight 2008; Deiger & Hurtig. 2009;
Knight, 2007a; McGatha, 2008; University of Kansas Center for Research, 2004; Vanderburg &
Stephens, 2009; Veenman & Denessen; 2001). However, the research pertaining to the impact on
teacher and student achievement has created a gap in the literature. This study will provide
information pertaining to the lived experiences of principals, instructional coaches, and teachers
who work collaboratively to impact teacher and student achievement. The review of literature for
this study examined the evolution of instructional coaching, instructional coaching as a form of
professional development, characteristics of instructional coaches, effects of instructional
coaching, and principals roles in instructional coaching. The results of this study may provide

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insight into improving teacher professional development as related to student performance


outcomes.

5. Title of Dissertation (Author E)


The Role of Educators in The Management of School Discipline in The Nkangala Region of
Mpumalanga (MEd 2008)

Problem Statement (University of South Africa)


(BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM)
Lack of discipline and safety in schools has been one of the challenges facing South
African education during the past number of years. According to the National Department of
Education (RSA, 2002a:6), despite the commitment of the government to provide resources and
improve school conditions, current reports show that many schools are still not working very well.
Not only are schools themselves finding it difficult to keep order and control, but the delivery of
state services in support of schools, learners and educators has to improve in order to attain the
national vision of equality, quality education and justice in schools. Schools in South Africa are
struggling to provide the quality education required for the holistic and healthy development of the
youth. The Department of Education (RSA, 2002a:6), further states that many schools are unable
to provide a nurturing environment to counteract or deal with violence within the community and
family. Consequently, discipline is crumbling and the relationship between the learners and
educators is deteriorating. Moreover, the learners are losing their respect for and trust of
educators. Such youth behaviour causes the school effectiveness to break down in many schools
and the culture of teaching and learning to collapse. These problems are contributing a lot to the
lack of teaching and learning. Violence is for example prevailing in many schools. In this regard
Mabeba and Prinsloo (2000:34) as well as Van Wyk (2001:196) state that the learners disciplinary
problems in South Africa range from the rejection of reasoning, late coming, truancy, neglecting to
do homework, noisiness, physical violence, theft, threats, graffiti, vandalism, verbal abuse, lack of
concentration, criminality, gangsterism, rape, constant violation of the schools code of conduct
and substance abuse within and around the schools premises. These problems make it difficult
and often impossible for the educators to manage their classes effectively. Ngcayi (1997:17)
corroborates this view by stating that in South African schools many educators find it difficult to
enforce discipline, particularly after the abolishment of corporal punishment (since discipline is
often equated with corporal punishment). A lack of learner discipline in public schools is
experienced throughout the world. The lack of learner discipline in many public schools throughout
the world has been a matter of great concern for school management and educators and to a
lesser extent for learners themselves, parents and the general public (Wayson and Pinnell,
1994:1534). According to Charles (1996:3), numerous studies that were conducted by researchers
in the United States of America in 1992, have listed discipline as a major problem with which
educators must contend and a significant factor in educators leaving the profession. Apparently it
is responsible for 40 percent or more of departures during the educators first three years. Adding
to the problem is the fact that experienced educators try to transfer away from the schools that
have high levels of misbehaviour, leaving such schools in the hands of educators not yet skilled in

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exerting or maintaining discipline (Charles 1996:3). From personal observation and informal
interviews with educators, the researcher, as a secondary school principal, has concluded that ill-
discipline is rife in secondary schools in the Nkangala region of the Mpumalanga Province. The
majority of educators seem to believe that learners should be left to their own devices without
being controlled and supervised. These learners are left to behave in whatever way they wish. The
educators in this area are complaining over and over again that they are forced to do more
policing work than teaching in the classroom situation. They are spending a disproportionate
amount of time dealing with the disruptive behaviour of learners and the consequences of their
actions. Unacceptable behaviour, like laughing at the educators, acts of violence against the
educators authority and discipline are prevailing.
According to the Mpumalanga Department of Education (2005:12) disruptions by ill-
disciplined learners, such as late coming in the morning and during the school day, truancy, refusal
to attend certain lessons, failure to do homework, failure to adhere to the school policies and the
flouting of authority are some of the unacceptable forms of behaviour of the learners that are cited
by educators. These types of behaviour seem to have a negative effect on educators maintenance
of discipline. The Mpumalanga Department of Education (2005:12-14) further states that bullying
and arguing with the educators as well as drug and alcohol abuse are detrimental to the
upbringing of learners in the KwaNdebele enclave of the Nkangala region. It has been found that a
large number of learners are abusing alcohol during school hours and weekends. This does not
influence them alone but it affects the whole school population. These learners do not have proper
role models as some parents are reported to share this life style with their children. The challenge
lies upon educators and parents to equip learners with a positive view on education. They need
guidance to channel their perceptions in such a way that they look positively towards the benefits
of education. Proper guidance will assist the learners to see the need to establish or re-establish
good rapport with educators and parents. It is the responsibility of educators to maintain a culture
of teaching and learning in schools. But, it is not possible to do this if discipline and safety are not
considered in the school environment. Disintegrated discipline causes difficulty in the attainment of
school objectives. Schools become dysfunctional because both educators and learners cannot
work effectively and efficiently under unconducive conditions. Learners cannot learn and educators
cannot teach in an unsafe environment. A safe and orderly school environment is a prerequisite for
learning and teaching to take place. Thus educators can only perform their professional duties if
there is order and discipline in both the classroom and the school as a whole (Freiberg & Driscoll,
1992:24, Mtshali, 1993:2, Squelch & Lemmer, 1994:61, Mokwana, 1994:17, Tauber, 1995:259,
Watson, 1996:1). Digulio (2000:5) also supports this view by stating that learners learn more
efficiently in smooth running classrooms. According to Section 4(6) of the Guidelines (RSA,
1996b:6), the learners have a right to a clean and safe environment that is conducive to education.
Security of property, well-cared for school facilities, school furniture and equipment, a lack of
harassment when attending classes or writing examinations, all create an atmosphere which is
conducive to education and training. Similarly, educators cannot provide an effective and rigorous
education for all the learners if they are not secured and safe. Educators are also in dire need of
safe and conducive school conditions for them to be able to perform their professional duties.
From personal observation, the researcher has learnt that educators seem to be reluctant
to co-operate with the school managers in disciplining learners. Many seem to have shed their
obligations and let the school managers handle all the disciplinary problems affecting the learners.

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The issue of discipline in schools has required urgent attention to the extent that the previous
Minister of Education, Professor Kader Asmal, has called for a joint activity and attempt entitled
Tirisano 2002, to establish a safe and secure school environment and to resuscitate a culture of
teaching and learning (RSA, 2002a:i). Tirisano means working together (RSA, 2002b:126). This
denotes that the parents, educators, the community and the learners are called upon to involve
themselves in the day-to-day issues that relate to keeping order in schools. The educators and
parents are responsible to make every attempt to see that the schools are safe and attractive
places for learners to learn and educators to complete their duties effectively (Decker 1997:85,
Savage, 1991:6). The educators and parents are challenged to help the learners to focus their
perceptions on the educational benefits of schooling rather than on deviant behaviour that might
ruin their whole educational and social life. According to DiGiulio (2005:5) a chaotic classroom
distracts the learners, preventing them from attending, focusing and concentrating, wastes time
and hinders the learners from achieving their educational potential. In the disruptive classroom
environment, it is unlikely that the learners can learn much about how to treat others respectfully.
DiGiulio (2005:5) argues that educators are also responsible for the establishment of discipline in
schools rather than being reluctant to co-operate with school managers in disciplining the learners.
Having provided the background to the problem of the research, it is now important to state the
problem in a more accurate way by outlining the research question as well as the aims of the
study.

--END

EXERCISE: 25% (25 Marks)


From 10 Problem Statements given here answer the following questions:

1. Critically analyse the given 5 problem statements in dissertations stated by


researchers from 5 selected universities.
2. Can you see any pattern of thoughts from the stated statements of research
problems. Show the pattern of thoughts made by these researchers.
3. Any classification into theme or sub-themes in writing a good statement of research
problem?
4. What differences are there in stating quantitative and qualitative research problem
statements?
5. Conclusion. What is the conclusion in creating or writing a good research problem
statement?
6. Read 5 Research Methods books on Problem Statement apply criticism
accordingly.