When selecting a research focus for the investigation, personal observation of the educational setting and the analysis of academic literature were applied. Due to my professional interests and the area of occupation, I have been observing practical and organizational inconsistencies between the needs of students from low-income families concerning counseling for academic performance and the services educational institutions have to propose to those students. This observation was then formulated into several questions, which are the following: How can higher level education students from low socioeconomic status receive a conferred degree without proper guidance from an academic counselor? Why are low socioeconomic status students’ drop-out rate increases significantly? Using these ideas, I initiated a literature search to understand whether this problem has been addressed in scholarly circles and how much evidence is available.
Upon completing the search of scholarly literature, I realized that although much was published concerning the issue, there was little evidence as per the most appropriate solution, as well as a limited number of case studies that would research a particular program’s capabilities to meet the needs of students of low socioeconomic status. Some sources emphasized the impact of disparities in access to education and their particular burden on students from low-income communities (Brown et al., 2016). Although the literature showed general attention to the problem, most studies were exploratory or observational, aimed at collecting students’ opinions about programs or theorizing about the causes and possible solutions for the problem. However, only a few studies initiated an inquiry to investigate a particular case. Therefore, since the gap in the literature was identified, the decision was made to approach the selected research focus from a perspective that would be capable of filling the identified gap.
Based on the literature findings and formulated questions, a research topic was developed to narrow down the investigation’s scope and identify the possible approaches and designs capable of contributing to the understanding of the causes of the problem under investigation and its possible solution. A proper choice of methods and design is crucial for an in-depth examination of the issue of the lack of one-on-one counseling and proper advising programs within colleges and universities for students with low socioeconomic status. Since the task of the research is related to the inductive exploration of the phenomena of educational counseling and counseling program success, the utilization of qualitative design was chosen (Gammelgaard, 2017). After that, case-based research was identified as the most applicable form of inquiry due to its most evident potential to fill the identified literature gap. The selection of cases for the study would be based on the criteria of inclusion of educational counseling programs serving low-socioeconomic status students (Gammelgaard, 2017). The benefits of the case study, including the availability of multiple methods of data collection and the variety of data types that can be retrieved from study participants, were identified as the validation of design selection.
Therefore, my professional area of interest, experience-related observations, and scholarly literature review became the basis for topic formulation. The methodology for the inquiry is based on the qualitative nature of the purpose 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. The choice of qualitative case study allows for utilizing multiple data collection and analysis tools that will contribute to the validity and credibility of research findings.
Brown, M. G., Wohn, D. Y., & Ellison, N. (2016). Without a map: College access and the online practices of youth from low-income communities. Computers & Education, 92, 104-116. Web.
Gammelgaard, B. (2017). The qualitative case study. The International Journal of Logistics Management, 28(4), 910-913. Web.