Review of Doctoral Dissertation by Achuff

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Summary of Dissertation

Overview

Doctoral dissertation by Achuff (2018) titled “A phenomenological study on motivational factors toward the longevity of Christian school teachers” aimed at describing factors that influenced the motivation of teachers toward retention in Christian Schools. The dissertation aimed at addressing the problem of teacher attrition in schools by identifying the reasons for turnover intentions among teachers in Christian schools. The problem was determined to be significant as retaining teachers is vital for both public and private schools in the US due to the shortage of educators. The research utilized qualitative methods of a phenomenological study to collect and analyze what Christian School Teachers perceive as motivational factors toward longevity in Christian schools. London’s career motivation theory was used to interpret the results. The information gathered from 12 participants revealed that motivating factors were spiritual impact, calling, love of teaching, student interaction, and school support.

Literature Review

The literature review contains information about the theoretical framework and related literature, including details about Christian schools, teacher motivation, teacher longevity, teacher retention, and organizational commitment. Overall, the section described relevant information from more than 80 sources of various publication dates. The literature review revealed that the motivational theory was utilized primarily to examine occupations other than teaching. Moreover, the questions of retention, longevity and organizational commitment mainly focused on public schools. In other words, all the matters listed above were identified as gaps in current literature, and the doctoral dissertation aimed at closing these gaps.

Methods

To answer the research question, the author needed to gather relevant information using appropriate data collection methods. The study utilized a questionnaire on motivation borrowed from previous research, in-depth individual interviews, and focus-group interviews. The data was collected only after Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval was received. The questionnaire was needed to obtain basic information about the participants, while the interviews aimed at acquiring more in-depth insights. The interview included twenty-three open-ended questions, which were asked during 12 individual interviews. All the collected data was written down in a protocol for future analysis. After the individual interviews were completed, the researcher conducted a one-hour focus group interview that included 3 participants that aimed at answering 12 open-ended questions. The section also included detailed information about the data analysis process for phenomenological qualitative studies, as well as discussions of credibility, reliability, validity, and ethical considerations.

Results

The results section included information about the participants discussed the procedures that lead to the development of themes and answered the research questions based on the acquired results. In this section, Achuff (2018) included an in-depth analysis of all the insightful answers of the participants. The study concluded that motivation theory applied to the motivation of educators to teach in Christian schools for the long term. The results section also included the discussion of results against the current body of knowledge and found the results coherent with previous research.

Conclusion

The conclusion section included a detailed discussion of the results and answers to the research question and all sub-questions. The author concluded that “the participants in this study perceived that having a spiritual impact on students, knowing God’s calling, enjoying the act of teaching, interacting with students, and receiving support from colleagues and administrators increased their motivation to continue long-term in a Christian school” (Achuff, 2018, p. 116). The author also provided three recommendations for Christian schools to improve the longevity and retention of teachers.

Analysis

Overview

Overall, the dissertation is sound research executed by a highly qualified professional, which achieves the planned goals and objectives. All the structural elements of a doctoral thesis are present and properly formatted. The problem of the study is identified and important, as teacher turnover affects the academic achievements of students. The research is guided by a coherent purpose and research questions. Moreover, the significance of the study is discussed, which provides a clear understanding to the reader of how the dissertation is different from all the previous research and how it adds to the body of knowledge. In summary, there are no considerable flaws in the structural aspect of the paper.

Literature Review

The review of literature is extensive and provides sufficient information about the current body of knowledge. The author of the dissertation cites more than 80 sources, the majority of which were up-to-date and relevant to the research problem. The gaps in literature were identified, and the theoretical framework for data collection and analysis was clearly explained. The findings of the literature review were synthesized directly to the problem, which is crucial for the reader to understand why these studies were included in the literature review. The only improvement that can be suggested is to dedicate more attention to the critical appraisal of evidence, as it is vital to understand the credibility of findings before including them in the analysis.

Methods

The methods of the studies are appropriate for answering the research question; however, I would utilize another approach to addressing the identified problem. Phenomenological research design focuses on the lived experiences of a particular group to construct the universal meaning of a phenomenon (Creswell, 2012). Even though the method is associated with relatively high reliability and validity, the utilization of a mixed-method approach would improve these parameters. Achuff (2018) notes that reasons for public school teacher longevity are well understood; however, there is a gap concerning private school teachers and particularly Christian school teachers. It would be appropriate to hypothesize that the reasons for teacher longevity and retention are similar between Christian and public schools and test the hypothesis using rigorous quantitative methods. If the findings revealed a significant difference in motivation, the research could have then applied the principles of phenomenological study to understand what the differences were. In other words, instead of testing the differences in the motivation of teachers from different types of schools, the author of the dissertation assumes these gaps exist. In short, I would utilize a mixed-method approach to improve the reliability and validity of findings.

Results

The results section provides clear statements of analysis outcomes and answers the research questions. However, it is still difficult to acquire a clear picture of the results, as the section is long, and there is too much information present. Even though the chapter includes an overview and a summary, the included information is not specific enough to understand what the findings were. I believe that the section can benefit from a chart of results by the interviewee that synthesizes the findings.

Conclusion

The discussion of results is included in the conclusion section, which is unusual. However, the chapter still adheres to high standards of scientific research. In particular, it discusses all the themes, describes theoretical, empirical, and practical implications, acknowledges the limitations of the study, and provides recommendations for future research. All the conclusions are concise and comprehendible for readers with various educational backgrounds.

Personal Reflection

Lessons

The first lesson learned from the dissertation is the motivation of teachers to stay in one education facility for a long time. Longevity and retention motivation are well described in the literature review of the dissertation. The literature review confirms my belief that teacher retention is longevity is mostly motivated by environmental factors, such as communication with peers, positive workplace culture, and sharing knowledge with students. However, compensation is also a vital aspect of teacher retention, especially for male teachers. As the dissertation by Achuff (2018) focused on Christian schools, I learned that the motivation of teachers in such schools was slightly different from their colleagues in public schools. In particular, teachers from Christian schools valued the spiritual impact they had on students, which was not mentioned in the previous studies. I also learned that reminding teachers of their calling and commitment to teach and trust in God to fulfill their calling is a viable recommendation for creating a retention strategy in a spiritual environment.

The dissertation was also helpful for improving my knowledge of qualitative research methods. I developed my understanding of the purpose of the phenomenological study design and learned new data collection and analysis techniques. In particular, I boosted my knowledge about how interview questions should be formulated and recorded. Moreover, I also got an excellent example of how phenomenological reduction is used in educational studies, which will be helpful for me in my future research. The dissertation is an excellent example of how a research paper should be structured and what language the author should use. Therefore, I will be able to use the paper as a model I would like to mimic if I choose the phenomenological design for my research.

Relevance

The topic of my research is the impact of workplace spirituality on teacher retention rates. My primary hypothesis is that workplace spirituality is positively associated to stay at work. Even though the dissertation by Achuff (2018) does not provide direct evidence to support the hypothesis, there is some indirect evidence that can be traced. It can be assumed that workplace spirituality is common in Christian schools, as Christian education is based upon the principles of the Holy Bible and serving God. Achuff’s (2018) dissertation provides evidence that having a spiritual impact on students is a motivation for teachers to continue teaching. Therefore, the promotion of spirituality can be regarded as a factor that positively affects retention intentions.

Apart from supporting the primary hypothesis of my research, the information included in the dissertation’s literature review section is also relevant for my research. In particular, the findings of the literature review concerning teacher longevity, teacher retention, and organizational commitment can be used in my research. In other words, I can use the literature overviewed by Achuff (2018) and add information from recent research to acquire a holistic picture of these matters. However, I will still need to add information on workplace spirituality. Moreover, I can use the recommendations for future research provided by Achuff (2018) to plan my study. In general, the dissertation by Achuff (2018) is relevant for my future research, as they both aim at addressing the problem of teacher retention.

Reference

Achuff, R.A. (2018). A phenomenological study on motivational factors toward the longevity of Christian school teachers [Doctoral dissertation]. Liberty University. Web.

Creswell, J.W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Pearson.

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ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Review of Doctoral Dissertation by Achuff." July 15, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/review-of-doctoral-dissertation-by-achuff/.

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ChalkyPapers. "Review of Doctoral Dissertation by Achuff." July 15, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/review-of-doctoral-dissertation-by-achuff/.