The chosen topic for the current research study deals with the professional field of educational administration and is influenced by the problem observation in the institutional setting and the analysis of literature review concerning educational disparities in contemporary colleges and universities. The developed purpose sentence and purpose statement provide a rationale behind the topic selection and the basis for the choice of appropriate methods and design that would suffice the overall goal of the planned study. The topic has been generally addressed by academics and educators from the administrative perspective (Sintao, 2019). However, a literature gap concerning the lack of case studies exploring the particular effects and issues within the implementation of academic counseling programs has been identified.
As it has been stated, the purpose sentence of the study is related to the ineffectiveness of colleges’ and universities’ academic and counseling program that builds capacity in mentoring and coaching students, offering one-on-one sessions with students, and capitalizing on various effective, essential, and systematic techniques and strategies for college students’ retention rate to increase (Brown et al., 2016). It is assumed that the lack of an effective and meaningful program that capitalizes on the “whole student” by not providing students a mentor, coach, and offering students one-on-one sessions that focuses on essential and purposeful systematic techniques and strategies that enable students’ retention rate has been greatly impacted by economic disparities. That is why the majority of students with low socioeconomic status are not completing their discipline programs of study. The purpose statement for the planned qualitative case study is sufficient and should remain as it has been previously formulated. The purpose sentence and purpose statement comply with the selected method and research approach.
Complete Rationale for the Choice of Method and Design and Their Alignment with the Problem and Purpose Sentence
The choice of a qualitative research design is based on the qualitative nature of the study that aims at exploring and understanding the causes and possible solutions of the disparities in access to and quality of educational counseling programs within a particular case. Since qualitative inquiry has been referred to very frequently in scholarly circles and especially social sciences during the past decades, its value has been steadily growing. The findings have been contributing to the scope of academic research (Bansal et al., 2018). Moreover, complying with the specific features of qualitative research, this design is thought to match the task of the research, which is to apply inductive exploration of the phenomena to the field of educational counseling and counseling program success in meeting the educational needs of students from low-income communities. (Gammelgaard, 2017). Thus, the qualitative design proves to be the best choice for the current study since it is capable of providing the methods, tools, and techniques that will provide necessary data to achieve the research goals.
The lack of case-based research studies within the currently available pool of scholarly publications on the topic encourages the researcher to initiate the case study. The choice is further validated by the multiple benefits this research approach might contribute to the investigation of the problem. The case study provides a solid framework for utilizing multiple data collection and analysis tools that will contribute to the validity and credibility of research findings (Gammelgaard, 2017). Thus, the case-based research will allow for concentrating on a particular institution’s counseling program, engage multiple participants from various domains, and collect various types of data for an in-depth and solution-oriented study. Thus, the complex phenomena of academic counseling, the quality of counseling services provided for low-income students will be appropriately researched in the relevant context.
Supporting the Data Collection Procedure and Measurement Strategies
As implied in the case study method, the data collection and measurement procedures are multifaceted and entail the evaluation of various constructs within their respective contexts. As stated by Harrison et al. (2017), “the use of multiple methods to collect and analyze data are encouraged and found to be mutually informative in case study research where together they provide a more synergistic and comprehensive view of the issue being studied” (para. 31). Since the most common methods for data collection in qualitative case studies are interviews, observations, focus groups and exploring artifacts, some of them, as well as additional ones, will be applied to ensure that multifaceted data sets are included in the analysis process.
Indeed, it is planned that interviews, artifacts and document review, questionnaires, and surveys will be used as the primary tools for the data collection procedure. According to Harrison et al. (2017), multiple evidence sources are used “for comprehensive depth and breadth of inquiry” (para. 38). Therefore, when collecting data from institutional documentation, program records, students, advisors, counselors, and administration, the set of gathered information will ensure that the multiple aspects of the problem are taken into consideration by the researcher. Thus, the multiple sources of evidence that will provide data will amplify the scope of research findings.
The choice of measurement strategies is as important as any other aspect of qualitative inquiry. According to Mohajan (2018), qualitative research is the one “that collects and works with non-numerical data that seeks to interpret meaning from these data that help us to understand social life through the study of targeted populations or places” (p. 24). Therefore, the qualitative data retrieved from interviews, questionnaires, surveys, and documentation analysis will be analyzed using systematic and rigorous strategies (Harrison et al., 2017). Checklists for interviews will be used as procedural documentation. Overall, all data collected from multiple participants will be analyzed using excel spreadsheets. The responses and other inputs gathered from the participants will be structured according to the specifics of the identified research questions. It will allow for structure and well-organized data measurement procedures.
Selection and Description of Constructs
The constructs that are going to be targeted as the necessary data for the qualitative case study will deal with the experiences of the multiple stakeholders that will include administrative staff, stakeholders, and counselors from a college or university that students have previously attended prior to the degree conferred, as well as the students. Policies and program documentation about students’ and counselors’ performance during the academic counseling program participation will be retrieved. Also, students’ answers to the questionnaires and surveys will be treated as constructs that contribute to the understanding of students with low socioeconomic status experience at college and institution concerning educational disparities. Counselors’ and advisors’ responses to the interview and survey questions will be documented to measure the efficacy or inefficacy of such programs that college or university students need as another support system. Thus, the collected data will be interpreted and evaluated as per its ability to contribute to the answers to research questions. The findings will help identify students’ perception of academic counseling programs, low-income students’ experiences in academic performance upon program attendance, counselor’s perception of the efficacy and inefficacy of the programs, and the administration’s solution ideas.
Ensuring Research Findings’ Trustworthiness and its Internal Alignment with the Overall Research Design
The trustworthiness of the study will be ensured through addressing key quality criteria through the application of corresponding procedures. The essential quality criteria for the qualitative case study that is being planned include credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability (Korstjens & Moser, 2018). To ensure that the study findings are credible, the procedures of method triangulation, data triangulation, and persistent observation will be used. Method triangulation will be conducted by using multiple methods, including documentation and artifact analysis, interviews, questionnaires, and surveys. The variety of methods will ensure that the problem is tackled from various angles and its findings, therefore, are credible (Korstjens & Moser, 2018). Data triangulation will be approached from the perspective of including data retrieved from the students, counselors, administration, and formal documentation, which will allow for reaching the credibility of data.
The study findings’ transferability will be approached with a thick description strategy. It will entail “describing not just the behavior and experiences, but their context as well, so that the behavior and experiences become meaningful to an outsider” (Korstjens & Moser, 2018, p. 121). Finally, the trustworthiness of the study findings will be ensured by using the dependability and confirmability techniques. All the steps taken during the research process will be properly documented and transparently described to ensure that the “records of the research path are kept throughout the study” (Korstjens & Moser, 2018, p. 121). The utilization of these procedures will provide a solid basis for the research findings’ trustworthiness.
Strategies for Participant Selection and Ethical Treatment
Number of Participants and Sampling Method
The number of participants will be accurately defined during the study once the case is identified, and the number of participants complying with the requirements of the study is clear based on the population studying and working at a given college/university. A non-randomized sampling method will be used within the study procedures to ensure that the population participating in the study complies with the purpose, design specifications, and overall goals of the qualitative case study (Mohakab, 2018). Therefore, students from low socioeconomic communities will be engaged in the study. Also, professionals with expertise in working with such students will be recruited.
Type of Participants
The type of participants who are considered to be valuable sources of data for the currently proposed qualitative case study includes the individuals within the educational setting who are primarily exposed to the influence of academic counseling on academic performance. Thus, the participants that are planned to be sampled and recruited for the case study include college or university advisors, counselors, administrative staff, and students and transfer students from low socioeconomic status communities.
Ethical Treatment of the Participants
Since the current qualitative case study entails close cooperation with and predominant reliance on the contribution of participants, it is essential to ensure that all ethical considerations are validated. Firstly, informed consent will be signed by all participants to ensure that they are familiar with the study nature and goals and that they agree to participate. The principles of honesty confidentiality will be applied to ensure that no personal information is disclosed within the study and that all the findings are accurately documented (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2020). Finally, the researcher will ensure that no discrimination or bias is imposed on the participants to guarantee respectful treatment.
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