Summary of Dissertation
The doctoral dissertation by Tolliver (2018) titled “Factors that contribute to job satisfaction and teacher retention in Title I versus non-Title I elementary schools” aimed at comparing factors that affect turnover among teachers in different types of schools. The author of the dissertation utilized quantitative methods to understand what were the factors that affect turnover among teachers and if these factors were different in Title-I schools (schools in which 40% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch) and non-Title I schools. To answer these questions, the author applied the principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, Self-Determination Theory, and Theory of Planned Behavior to interpret the results of statistical analysis. The results revealed that there was no statistical difference in factors that contribute to teacher retention between the two types of schools.
The literature review section provides an overview of the current body of knowledge concerning the problem addressed in the dissertation. In particular, Tolliver (2018) discusses literature about factors that influence teacher retention, urban residency and preparation programs, teacher induction problem, the role of principals in teacher retention, teacher satisfaction, and working conditions, and teacher incentives. The review of the literature revealed that teacher turnover continues to grow, and it becomes challenging to recruit teachers, especially in Title I and high-poverty schools. Therefore, an improved understanding of factors that contribute to teacher retention is needed. The author identified that information about teacher retention in Title I schools was a considerable gap in the literature, which was addressed in the dissertation. The literature review included over 90 citations of publications on the subjects of interest.
The author utilized quantitative methods to address the identified gap in knowledge. As factors that affect retention among public school teachers are thoroughly discussed in scholarly literature, Tolliver (2018) decided to use two-sample t-tests and chi-square analysis to understand if these factors were statistically different between the two types of schools. To collect the needed data, the author utilized the North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions (NC TWC) Survey, which is a 79-item questionnaire based on a Likert scale. Tolliver (2018) recruited 110 elementary teachers from four different elementary schools using convenience sampling and utilized data of 100 randomly selected teachers to test eight hypotheses. The author tested for differences in the influence of availability of time for collaboration, facilities and resources, teacher leadership, school leadership, professional development, and instructional practice and support. The study also tested for significant differences in overall results of the NC TWC Survey and overall turnover rates. All the data was obtained after IRB approval was granted. The data was collected using online surveys, and the data was stored in a password-protected computer.
The results of the analysis performed using Statistical Package for Social Studies (SPSS) revealed that no evidence supported the rejection of any of the null hypotheses. In other words, there was no significant difference in any of the identified variables, which were the factors that affected retention and turnover rates. Al the results are presented in comprehendible tables and discussed in sentence format to explain the results, which can help an unprepared reader to interpret the results.
Discussion and Conclusion
In the conclusion section, the results of the analysis are revisited, and their implications are explained. Tolliver (2018) concludes that teachers both in Title I and non-Title I schools need more time to collaborate with colleagues and prepare for classes. Moreover, the teachers are dissatisfied with the amount of paperwork they need to complete. If the school administration can address these needs of teachers, the retention rates will improve significantly. In the final chapter, Tolliver (2018) discusses the limitations of the study and provides direction for future research.
In general, the dissertation is well-rounded research that addresses a crucial problem of education in the US. All the structural elements of a scholarly work are present and carefully formatted. The study has a coherent path towards addressing the mentioned problem using applicable theoretical frameworks. Tolliver (2018) identifies a narrow gap in knowledge and addresses it, which makes the research significant. While the choice of the research design is questionable, utilized methods can still be used to answer the research questions. In summary, the dissertation is high-quality research that provides reliable results.
Tolliver (2018) includes a substantial review of literature that adheres to the highest standards of educational research. Even though the author included many publications that were out of date, they were still relevant to answer the research question. The number of sources is appropriate to the level of study and provides a clear understanding of the current body of knowledge concerning the identified problem. While the literature review takes up almost half of the paper’s length, its logical structure and summary provided at the end of the section helps to appreciate the major findings. The section, however, can benefit from a critical appraisal of evidence to understand which results are more trustworthy than others.
The selection of methods is questionable but still appropriate for answering the research question. The central research question is to understand what factors contribute to teacher retention in Title I and non-Title I elementary schools. In other words, the primary objective was to identify what factors are correlated with teacher retention in Title I and non-Title I elementary schools. According to Creswell (2012), correlational studies usually utilize regression analysis and Pearson’s R coefficient to quantify relationships between entities. Therefore, to answer the research question, I would use teacher retention rate as a dependent variable and use the time for collaboration, facilities and resources, teacher leadership, school leadership, professional development, and instructional practice and support as independent variables. After collecting the appropriate data, I would create several regression models and choose the one that has the best predictive ability.
However, the methods utilized by Tolliver (2018) are justifiable and appropriate. Moreover, the author of the dissertation uses highly reliable tools to measure the variables (Cronbach’s alpha between 0.86 to 0.96). The sample size meets the minimal requirements of 100 for a medium effect size, a statistical power of 0.7, and an alpha level of 0.05 (Tolliver, 2018). Therefore, even though the choice of methods seems counter-intuitive, it is still appropriate to answer the research question.
Results, Discussion, and Conclusion
The results section includes all the relevant data that supports the answer to the research question. The only improvement I can suggest is to add p-values to all the tables, where appropriate to understand how close it was to reach the significance level. Moreover, it could still benefit from including a summary of all the answers for quick reference. The discussion section answers all the research questions in a comprehendible and concise manner. All the results are discussed against the findings of previous research, which helps to identify the place of the dissertation in the current body of knowledge. However, the section seems to shift towards discussing the differences between Title I and non-Title I schools, instead of discussing the effect size of factors on the retention of teachers. In general, the last section of the paper adheres to high standards of doctoral dissertations as it includes all the needed parts adequately phrased and formatted.
The central lesson learned from the analysis of the dissertation by Tolliver (2018) is that the researcher can be creative in the choice of methods if she or he can justify the choice. When analyzing the methods for the dissertation, it was clear that correlational design would be more appropriate. Regression and correlation analyses would be more appropriate to answer the research question. However, Tolliver (2018) identified factors that affect non-Title I school through a literature review and then juxtaposed the attitudes towards different matters and retention rates to show that Title I school teachers have the same problems as all the other teachers. Such research design does not require as much time and resources to complete and still provides reliable results that can be used in practice and for future research. Therefore, in my research project, I will try to think about approaching the problem from different angles before deciding which methods I should use.
I also learned about different factors that may contribute to teacher turnover, which I have not thought about before. In particular, I did not realize that time designated to collaborate with other teachers can be a significant predictor of retention intentions. I realized that I needed to review more literature and look at the problem from a broader angle to make a valuable contribution to the current body of knowledge. Additionally, I learned that turnover rates in Title I schools are similar to all other public schools. Before reading the dissertation, I was sure that teachers working in high-poverty schools have less satisfaction with their jobs and are more likely to have turnover intentions. However, my belief turned out to be biased because a highly reliable method proved otherwise. This taught me a lesson that research should make minimum assumptions and be aware of biases that can affect the quality of work.
I plan my research to focus on identifying the impact of workplace spirituality on retention rates in public and private schools. I believe that workplace spirituality is strongly correlated with the retention intentions among schoolteachers. While the dissertation does not directly support or contradict my claim, it is still relevant for my future research. In particular, it provides background information about other factors that may affect teacher retention. If I decide to utilize regression analysis to test my hypothesis, I can use the factors described in the dissertation as control variables to understand if workplace spirituality has a direct impact on retention intentions.
The research design utilized by Tolliver (2018) is also relevant to my future research. My intentions are similar to that of Tolliver (2018), as I plan to identify a factor that contributes to teacher retention intentions. Therefore, I can utilize the methods for data collection and analysis described in the dissertation. In particular, I can use the proposed instrument for collecting primary data and consider using the same theoretical framework to interpret the results. I also can use the recommendations for future research provided by the author of the dissertation to make my study fit in the current body of knowledge.
Creswell, J.W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Pearson.
Tolliver, J.L. (2018). Factors that contribute to job satisfaction and teacher retention in Title I versus non-Title I elementary schools. Liberty University. Web.