EDUS 660 #10: From the First Aid kit to the Tool Box

Now that you’ve explored Community Based Participatory Research (Action Research) and read about an actual example of how this approach was used to bring about change in a community, think about a community problem.  This could be a problem in your home town or one in the City of Richmond or wherever.  Describe the problem and discuss how an Action Research approach might be used to address this problem. Would you be interested in participating in an Action Research initiative like this?  Why or why not?  Tag action.

When I lived in Philadelphia it was common to see individuals who lived on the street.  Shopping carts packed to the brim accompanied an individual from location to location.  These individuals line the walks leading to the subway.  The pace of most commuters, like me, was rather fast paced.  Everyone in a city has someone that they needed to be 10 minutes ago and rarely does one see individuals meandering along the streets interacting with those individuals sleeping on benches or along the base of a building.Panhandler

I’ve lived in Charlottesville since 1996 and saw individuals panhandling on the Downtown Mall, however, I had not seen them on the corner of an intersection until two years ago.  Area residents encounter individuals standing on several key intersections of the city on a daily basis now.The Urban Dictionary defines panhandling as a synonym for begging, sponging and spanging. Aggressive panhandling could engage an individual in soliciting donations in an inappropriate or intimidating manner. While I have never witnessed aggression, that is not to say that it doesn’t happen.

Early in 2015, a judge in Charlottesville ruled that panhandling is protected by the 1st Amendment, which guarantees an individual’s right to free speech.  It seems to me, that there are greater social issues and concerns at stake here that may be masked as Free Speech protection.

Our community probably isn’t any different than others when stating that there are individuals who are genuinely homeless. I am sure that there were students in my school who were homeless.  Guidance Counselors and administration are careful to protect the privacy of students and family members, which is why I can not bring a name to mind.  What I can recall, is a concerted effort on the part of members of the Charlottesville community to provide temporary shelter for such individuals.

Homelessness is a community problem as opposed to an individual problem. Those without the means to shelter themselves or their family members may struggle on many levels. My friend’s son is disabled and unable to work at this time.  He doesn’t panhandle for his support because he has a strong family that embraces him. What happens to those individuals without a safety net?

The issue of homelessness is one that affects many members of this community.  PACEM is the latin word for Peace.  Congregations in the Charlottesville area created “People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry” as a way to provide shelter for homeless individuals during the winter months.  According to their website, there are 80 faith congregations (inclusive of all out there) and 3,000 volunteers who come together each year.  Intervention is a crucial first step when providing assistance to those in need.  Unfortunately, it is often a social band-aid that covers a problem rather than as stepping stone to lead towards prevention. The issue of homelessness, that “may” lead to panhandling would make a suitable topic for a Community Based Participatory-Research program.

The Community Tool Box, organized by Kansas University, suggests that research should “enlist those who are most affected by a community issue-typically in collaboration or partnership with others who have research skills-to conduct research on and analyze that issue….” The checklist provided in the second section of the toolbox is an effective tool for someone who is considering how this social problem could be addressed by the community.

A few of the key components of the check-list that struck me as important to consider beyond the normal scope of planning

Why?  Action research trains citizen researchers who can turn their skills to other problems as well.-

  • transitioning from homeless to resident brings a different set of problems to solve.  Citizens need tools at their disposal to help solve new problems.

Involvement in CBPR changes people’s perceptions of themselves and of what they can do-

  • we all act on our perceptions-those who become empowered to make their own changes change how they view themselves! Individuals who are or were homeless provide a new lens through which to view the issue.

A participatory action research process can help to break down racial, ethnic, and class barriers-

  • barriers are evident in all communities, even those created by homeless individuals

Who should be involved in community-based participatory research?

  • how often are decisions made for individuals affected by an issue rather than including them in the planning?
  • the CITI training opened my eyes to the importance of including academics in the decision planning, someone needs to know what is and is not allowed, someone needs to carry the banner of “Do No Harm!” The training was very specific regarding several subgroups of the population, however, homeless individuals may need consideration as well.
  • the individuals who agree to engage in CBPR are a team. They need a facilitator who is trained to work with them!

The community toolbox was a nice surprise as this social research course nears completion.  I found many useful ideas, such as the Windshield and Walking Surveys section in chapter 3/section 21, that I might suggest that a team use to consider if homelessness is legitimately an issue worth pursuing-

There's much one can learn about a community by simply looking through a windshield.
There’s much one can learn about a community by simply looking through a windshield.

The easiest and quickest way to get an overview of the entire community-what is the nature of the community?

It might help me to get a better of the areas where homeless individuals may congregate, but how would the team do so without being obtrusive? How can a team do this?

Would a team be welcome to observe the communities where homeless individuals live? Is there any value in doing so?

Kurt Lewin’s theories of participatory action research is an interesting component of Change Strategies for human resource development.  Lewin suggested that there must be a “felt need” strong enough to propel the group to move forward. In order to analyze an issue correctly, it would be important to include those individuals who are directly involved in or who have knowledge of homelessness. Those involved in the issue have a perspective that’s necessary to drive change.

Considering the skills needed to facilitate a group or team are also components of the Adult Learning program at VCU.  I enjoy the processes that an adult educator would use as a member of a Community Based Participatory Research program.Homelessness as an issue is not one that is pressing concern for me at this stage in my life.  In the event that it does become so, I know that I have the skills necessary to serve as a participant on a team.

As far as the issue of homelessness is concerned, I believe that this type of program would be a suitable step to transition from intervention to prevention.  It’s time to move from the band aide to the toolbox as a way to solve problems.

Something to chew on-

How did you select the “issue” that you wrote about in your blog?

What might you learn about the issue if you conducted a Windshield or Walking survey through your community?

Resource-

Gallos, J. V., & Schein, E. H. (2006). Organization development: a Jossey-Bass reader. Jossey-Bass.

EDUS 660 #9: No time for the Rabbit Hole

Food for Thought blog response.  Remember to think like a researcher and use what you’ve been learning as you respond:

Review all of the blogs to date posted on this classes’ rampages.us course site.  What might you do to analyze these blogs?  What types of things might you want to research and draw conclusions about regarding the types of posts, the students who post, etc?  Tag qualitative.

I have a file of ideas for future blogs.  Would it be nice to highlight the ideas and press the "Blog" button on a keyboard?
I have a file of ideas for future blogs. Would it be nice to highlight the ideas and press the “Blog” button on a keyboard?

There is a sign on a wall in the bottom floor of Oliver Hall which reads,  “Teacher as Reflective Practioner.” Several floors above the lobby is a poster which displays the details of a study regarding the impact of reflection and blogging on the part of the educator.  Blogging was a new concept for me when I entered the MEd program. I heard the word but had neither read nor written a blog.

Reflecting on what I am doing as a student meanings considering myself as central to the learning process. Reflection “in” action on a weekly basis is sometimes very challenging for me.  While writing is rarely a struggle, synthesizing my ideas in a very short period of time as we do for this research design course, makes me feel as though I am racing through a roller coaster of topics with relatively little time to stop and meander through a topic with time to dig a rabbit hole.

When considering what my classmates have written, these consistencies are expected within each-

  • a unique title
  • the question you are responding to
  • a quote or an image from the reading/web
  • a follow-up question at the end
  • a link to another resource outside of the course
  • and the section category and topic tag

The parameters for this component of the class were both comfortable and useful for me.  This is the first course where I have been given a topic for a blog as opposed to creating blogs of my own choice. The common thread throughout the blogs helps to unify reflections while providing, hopefully, a means for a common discussion. What makes the blogs both unique and interesting is how individuals personalize their writing.  Some blogs are very personal and written in a casual manner while others are rather academic in nature.  The inclusion of a question, or “Something to chew on,” should engage the reader in further conversation about the topic.  Reading with a purpose provides a platform to build relationships, further discussion and engage one in reflection

In one of the supplementary video suggestions for this week, Qualitative Research Methods (27:08) by Daniel N Vivo Coding is used to help qualitative researchers to capture and code the essential components of a research story.  This course is my first exposure to N Vivo.  The tutorial in the supplemental video sources section would be a useful tool as a researcher. For the purpose of this assignment,  I might considering using a web tool such as Wordle  or the Tag Cloud generator from the Add-on section of my Google Drive. I could code data by themes, such as the tag for each week, to identify those words or phrases that prevalent in each week’s entry.  I might consider what makes the blog entries similar.  When looking for patterns, I might considering pulling direct quotes or groups of phrases that help to synthesize the ideas expressed by a particular group.

The enrollment of this class, while certainly smaller than a lecture course, is much larger than any of the seminar courses that I have taken as a graduate student.  I might find it more beneficial to consider looking at components within the class, such as the groupings of students by each professor.  As the groups are comprised of individuals from different disciplines and schools within the university, I might cluster those students from the same master’s program together to observe patterns in writing, thought and application of theoretical ideas from core disciplines. I might ask if there are links between theoretical concepts explored through a social research framework.  The lens of the practitioner, for example, social worker, adult educator, or  public administrator, may be a common thread more easily identifiable when students are clustered by graduate discipline.

Conducting a study of blogging as a form of reflective practice could lend itself to an interesting research study. In keeping with the expectation of “do no harm,” support of some students in an experimental group might consider which variables, beyond the initial parameters stated above, develop more reflective practitioners.  In this course, the type of post is determined by the professor.  The student is expected to respond appropriately to each post by meeting the expectations presented in the course site. If posting was optional, or if there was greater flexibility or choice of topic/method then one might find more variance in topic selection and participation. This variance might then be considered by graduate discipline, academic background, ethnicity and gender, for example.  A twelve-week course may not be a sufficient amount of time in which to conduct a study, however, it may provide the impetus for further study.

Dr. Terry Carter, the former chair of the Adult Learning program at VCU, published a collection of slides last week that summarize the concepts behind experiential learning, reflective practice and blogging as a strategy to engage students in their learning.

If conducting research regarding the types of posts and the students who post might make an interesting Blogging as a form of reflective practice may have been a very new idea to many of the students in the course. Blogging is an essential component of the Adult Learning student’s e-portfolio.   A survey before this course began as well as one at the conclusion of the course may help to understand the ways in which blogging may affect student researchers.  I can conclude from my own experience as a blogger, that the measure of the structure expected by the course has helped me to focus my engagement with topics that are relevant to educational research.

For more ideas about Reflective Practice, consider Argyris and Schon, two heroes of the Adult Learning world!

Something to chew on…

  How have you transitioned as a reflective practitioner through the blog prompts in this course?  In what way have the parameters been useful to you?  Is there one specific blog topic that was challenging for you in terms of theory, philosophy or concept?  Is there one topic that really resonated with you?

Blog Cartoon

EDUS 660 #8: The Magic 8 Ball

Consider the eight sources of internal invalidity discussed. Make up an example (not in the chapter) to illustrate at least 4 of these sources of internal invalidity. Tag experimental.

ask-magic-8-ball-fortune-teller-yes-no-question-predictionGrowing up in the 1960’s, the old black and white movies were shown on the smaller networks.  The Three Stooges always provided me with an afternoon of old fashion entertainment. Their ridiculous slapstick comedy infused political satire during World War II.  I recognized the”Magic 8 Ball” in their film, You Nazty Spy, as a gadget young people enjoyed using for fun. The 3 Stooges call in Mattie Herring in to help them to understand the future.  When Mo cracks the ball on Curly’s head, a message falls out of it. Imagine that, the viewers say.

The Magic Ball, as a form of entertainment, answers questions with twenty possible choices with 10 positive, 10 negative and 5 that are neutral. There are stages within research when it would be helpful to have a tool, such as a magic ball, that would easily provide research groups with the correct method and course to choose. In my first blog, I recall stating that while I had some familiarity with research methods, I was certain that there was much that I didn’t know.

The sources of internal invalidity discussed in this podcast is an “8 Ball” for those engaged in experimental design.  

Prior to WWII, some Americans were considered Isolationists.  It may have been very difficult to imagine pursuing another war when remembering the results of “The Great War.” Using film as a device to sway public opinion is not a new tool to push a social action or agenda.  The Interview movie (2014) and Je Suis Charlie (2014) exemplify the desire to use the media to engage individuals in conversation regarding social action and concerns.  Babbie suggests that pretesting and post testing is a device used in even the simplest of designs.(2015:226). Exposing Americans to a Three Stooges film in 1940 could be a possible stimulus representing the independent variable attitudes toward intervention.  A test to measure the attitudes and beliefs of citizens prior to and after watching a satirical movie might reveal that opinions can change when viewing a film.                   (Ball #4: Pre and Post testing)

Participating in a university setting, I am made aware of research projects with regularity.  One such project was made known to me on several occasions this spring in VCU’s Daily Ram.  An investigator sought to enroll participants who were interested in mindfulness and yoga.  The stipulation for participation was that the individual needed to be involved in a romantic relationship.  Who can tell how long a romantic relationship can last?  What happens if a participant’s partner leaves the relationship voluntarily or involuntarily? Will that change affect the outcome of the research?  Will the participant be asked to cease their involvement in the study?) Good question.  (Ball #3: Maturation, an endogenous change)

Educators in public school settings know that one component of the week of work before school begins is the visitation of the previous test scores.  Ideology regarding student placement changes frequently.  Top tier, bottom tier, heterogeneous group and homogeneous grouping for content area instruction ride the wagon of schedule design. While teachers and students are unsure of where the chips will fall, what is often certain is that everyone is expected to make improvements.  When scores plateau, how does this affect the measurement tool selected by state organizations? (Okay, this isn’t an original idea on my part, however, read further Ball #4: Statistical Regression, an endogenous change). 

When the going gets tough, the game is changed.  I know of one school system where lines are redrawn, changing the composition of the school community.  In this same system, each time a school was closed for renovation, it would reopen as a themed school with a new community. Some students in this system receive a special curriculum, themed units of study, teachers who are all trained to implement special programs.  With these initiatives in place, students are still expected to complete the same standardized test procedures mandated by the state.  Where one group does well as a result of preselection, another may fail to thrive academically. Everyone is held to the same standard in the end (Ball #2: Selection of subjects, selection bias).

Many public classrooms have relented in terms of the use of social media during the school day.  It’s nearly impossible to keep some students from interacting with others during instructional time.  We had a joke in my classroom that when someone felt a buzz in their pants, they would suddenly need to use the restroom–real bad!  Translated this means that a student would head to the restroom to read and respond to a text.  While I could assume that the text was in regards to a social issue, how could I know that it was not to reveal the contents of an assessment given that day? If students share content information, do well on the assessment then it can be assumed that all is well.  There is no need to revisit this topic with the same intensity as a strand that is weak. Providing the same assessment to all students allows the administration to prepare for year-end state testing.  If students speak with each other during a state test, the test results are contaminated and the entire class may be required to retake the test. (Ball #7: Design Contamination).

Babbie reminds me that I use experiments in non-scientific inquiry every day.  Whether it is to try a new recipe, assembling a small appliance or attempting to generalize what is happening it the world around me I engage in experimentation (2015: 225). There is no “magic” method guaranteed to produce a flawless social experiment, the design method does provide the “magic” 8 concepts to consider in order to validate my work.

The Magic
The Magic “8” of Experimental Design:
1. History
2. Selection of Subjects
3. Maturation
4. Statistical Regression
5. Testing Effects
6. Experimental
Mortality
7. Design
Contamination
8. Instrumentation
Attrition

Something to Chew on- a little bit of humor goes a long way, and travels in both negative and positive directions. At what point could it could it become be detrimental to an experiment and at which stage?  Can you recall a time when a social experiment in the real world may have failed as described by one of the “Magic Eight?

Reference-

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

EDUS 660#7: Survey Says…

Food for Thought-Survey

Pay attention to the news on TV, radio, news magazines and/or newspapers and online.  What types of surveys or polls made the news this past week?  What do you know about the sample used in these surveys or polls (e.g., sample size, sampling frame, target population, etc)?  What is your opinion of the sample that was used? 

June is the month for high school graduations in the US.  While my graduation was many (cough) years ago, a high school English teacher made one key point that I have never forgotten.  She said that no one would care what I thought until I attended graduate school. This remark is a rather sad and sobering thought to consider as I embarked upon my college career. Interestingly enough, an organization did exist during that time frame that wished to know what seniors thought, how they felt and what was of importance to them.

monitoring the futureMonitoring the Future, a national study of American youth seeks to understand a population in secondary and college settings as well as those considered young adults.  Since its inception in 1975 surveying 8th-grade students, it has grown to encompass those at the end of high school as well as to  conduct follow-up surveys with respondents who participated in previous studies. The end of high school represents an important milestone in development for students. The research team selected this age as it is a logical place in which to consider how the influence of public education along with living in a parental setting may affect the attitudes and behaviors of students.

Content Areas and Questionnaire Design-A significant portion of the survey focuses on substance use. Respondents do not view the questionnaire, according to the report, as being a “drug use study.”  Different questionnaires are distributed to the participants.  The sequence is ordered which produces subsamples that are virtually identical.  The core or common variables for each of the six forms comprises one-third of the questionnaire. Researchers are able to link the core set of measures with the demographic measures statistically to all of the other measures.  Representativeness and Validity-The samples for this study should represent high school students in the 48 coterminous states.  Those students who drop out before the end of the senior year are missing from the cohort. The research team identified four (4) ways in which the survey data may not be fully accurate.  Some schools refused to participate. 100 % participation was not fully achieved of students sampled which may cause bias.  The validity of the survey could be questioned if participants made conscious and unconscious distortions when responding to a question. The accuracy of estimates could possibly mean that there are limitations in sample size and or design.  When schools refused to participate, a replacement school was located. Replacement schools were selected to match geographic area, urbanicity etc. This is a two-year study with two data collections. (2012:23)

Measurement-attitudes regarding those that one would expect to find in a survey of high school seniors: drug use, alcohol consumption, cigarette usage are surveyed.There are twenty different categories in all. Included within the twenty is “Happiness!”

Closed-ended questions varied in format. For example,

Imagine being asked to consider how happy you are as a senior?  Is the rest of the world as interested or consummed by the notion of happiness?
Imagine being asked to consider how happy you are as a senior? Is the rest of the world as interested or consumed by the notion of happiness?

Happiness: Taking all things together, how would you say things are these days-would you say you’re very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy these days? (Bachman, Johnston, and O’Malley, 2012:

3. Very happy  2.  Pretty happy  1.  Not too happy

Babbie suggests that survey questions be clear for the respondent (2013: 250). The question written above is one that I would expect a high school respondent able and willing to answer. The verbiage reflects the manner in which students would speak to each other.

Finding purpose and meaning in my life

1.  Not important  2.  Somewhat important  3.  Quite important  4.  Extremely important.

This is an example of a question that should be relevant to a student concluding high school.  The results of this type of question are useful for social scientists when contemplating the values of future generations (Babbie 2013:252).

Contingency Questions provided written suggestions.  For example,

Have you ever smoked cigarettes?    1.  Never-GO TO Q B006.

Procedures for Protecting Confidentiality: The theme of confidentiality and voluntary participation is described to participants in a descriptive flyer. At the start of the questionnaire, the administrator reinforces this component as many of the questions, particularly in the section concerning drug use are very personal. Teachers are discouraged from walking around the classroom while the survey is being completed. Participants are told to leave blanks where there may be a question that is objectionable for any reason. Names and addresses or respondents, while coded, are not able to be traced to the participant.  Of interest is the fact that the research team indicates where the data is stored (University of Michigan) and that a summary of the findings is mailed to the participants.  Wow!  I’ve participated in numerous studies and have yet to receive a summary of the findings even after requesting one.  Some students receive follow-up questionnaires in the future.

While the study that I located doesn’t fully fit the suggestion for this week’s food for thought, I did find it extremely useful to me. My task is to complete the Sampling Worksheet for my research group’s project. One component of our sampling is to collect data from preteen students.  The Monitoring the Future Survey provides several formats to consider when constructing the questionnaire for Group 13’s research project. In my opinion, the instance to survey high school students certainly provides social scientists with data that has a far-reaching impact for society.

Something to Chew on-

  • As a high school senior, how candid would you be when responding to questions about drug and alcohol usage?
  • This questionnaire is administered during school hours.  If given the chance to complete this survey in private, would your responses be different than those completed during the school day?
  • How influential were your friends at this time in determining your beliefs and attitudes?

Sources:

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

 Monitoring the Future Publications

Johnston, L. D., Bachman, J. G., O’Malley, P. M., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2012). Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (12th-Grade Survey), ICPSR34409-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 11-20.

EDUS: 660 #6 Trust–sucking gravel for the organization

I imagine that the ability to master this maneuver requires trust and flexibility!
I imagine that the ability to master this maneuver requires trust and flexibility!

This week’s “Food for Thought”

What does trust mean to you? Explain your concept of trust and then try to operationalize it in some way that would allow it to be measured. What types of questions might you ask?

“Being thrown under the bus” is a phrase voiced by employees who seem to be disgruntled.  Consider those individuals who were former employees of the Enron corporation. Not only did they lose their jobs, but their financial investments as well.  Grammarist contends that the idiom, “Being thrown under the bus” is widely overused by the media.  I hear it expressed frequently by individuals who either find their trust to be broken or who are hurt deeply by an organization that they have trusted. To those individuals who placed their faith and trust in this corporation, the emotions experienced when the corporation and their investments collapsed may have felt an overwhelming sense of betrayal.

David Williams takes a light-hearted view of what happens when one’s trust in a coworker or organization dissolves. His article “How to Survive Getting Thrown

Under the Bus at Work” is full of analogies.  The reader to led to believe that simply shrugging off such situations is the  responsibility of the individual who has been hurt.  One of his lines, “…sucking gravel for the organization” enraged me.   Individuals who have placed an extraordinary amount of trust in an organization suffer the disheartening blow of being betrayed. Now they are being admonished in a national business periodical to shoulder the responsibility for being an effective member of the organization themselves.

Babbie reminds me that social scientists prefer to consider one of the pillars of research to be measurement (124). When considering the idea of trust for observation, or measurement, my observations must be deliberate and careful.  Observations of trust need to emanate from the real world.

So what causes an individual to find themselves in such a situation? Does it happen overnight or does the corroding of trust happen over a period of time?  What happens when one’s trust in an organization is betrayed?

I can joke about this now, however, I've been thrown under the bus several times.
I can joke about this now, however, I’ve been thrown under the bus several times.

A logical progression for measurement includes four components, Conceptualization, Nominal definition, operational definition and measurement in the real world.

So moving the bus forward:

Conceptualization:  What does trust mean? Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as the belief that someone or something is reliable good, honest, effective.(Webster.com/dictionary/trust).

Nominal Definition: For my study, I would find Webster’s definition suitable for individual trust.  When considering trust within an organization, I would state that the “something” was a specific organization. The organization would define what trust means in a specific setting.

Operational Definition: I would measure individual levels of trust by posing survey questions that would ask create a trust inventory using a Likert Scale  for questions such as the following;

Trust of Individuals-

  • The individual(s) in my department are competent in the necessary skills for his or her job.
  • My supervisor makes decisions about his or her job that are thoughtful.
  • My supervisor makes decisions that impact those in the department with thought and consideration.
  • The individual(s) in my charge will follow through on assignments.
  • I can rely on what my coworkers tell me as factual.

Trust in an Organization-

  • I feel confident that this organization will treat me with respect.
  • The supervisor and co-workers in my department trust each other.
  • I can depend on the management of this organization to make solid business decisions.

Measurements in the Real World-

In an interview setting, I would ask individuals an established set of questions about their experiences with individuals in an organization and the organization itself.

Kramer and Tyler (1996:303) add an additional component to the layers of trust between individuals.  Taking advantage of one’s coworkers, even when the opportunity is available, can constitute a breach of trust. Trust is socially embedded, subjective and optimistic.  The health and well-being of an organization is found in the level of trust between and among its individual workers.

Since the concept of “Ethics” is still fresh on our minds-

Trust Building Cartoon

Something to chew on-

If you have a moment, read the article from the Forbes Magazine.  Which operations would you focus on if considering a research project about trust and organizations?  What is the level of trust like in your place of employment?  Does the HR department provide instruction that helps individuals to understand the organization’s stance on trust?  Is trust understood in the way in which Kramer and Tyler define it? How does trust occur between individuals in your organization?

 References

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.

Cummings, L. L., & Bromiley, P. (1996). The organizational trust inventory (OTI). Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research, 302, 330.

Kramer, R. M., & Tyler, T. R. (Eds.). (1995). Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research. Sage Publications.

EDUS 660 #5: The Power of Transformational Leaders

Leadership that Transforms
 Leadership that Transforms

Food for Thought-Search online journals to find a research project involving a panel study. Describe the nature of the study design and its primary findings. Include a link to the article.

Transformation is such a powerful word.  When joined with leadership the idea of empowerment and change surface as a reminder of the past semester studying organizational change and change strategies.  The longitudinal panel study that I considered for this week’s “Food for Thought” is Toward Understanding the direct and Indirect Effects of Transformation Leadership on Well-being: A Longitudinal Study. (The full text is located through the VCU library.)

Background:  The researchers are associated with Umea University and Umea Social Services, Sweeden. Their interest in pursuing this line of study stems from the absences of research in the possible effects that transformation leadership may have on the well-being of employees, primarily in the field of social services. While most studies, in their experience, employed cross-sectional designs, little work surrounds long-term transformation. Researchers contend that studies of leadership in the field of social service is a national dilemma.  The problems of burnout and stress are well documented in the Swedish social service field.

Transformation Cartoon

Purpose for the research-The team chose to further the understanding of the possible effects of transformation leadership on the well-being of employees over time. The researchers suggest that “Climate for innovation” has proven to influence well-being, framing  the conceptualization for this study. The researchers use the describe innovation as an intentional process. This process engages the application of ideas, and products.  Procedures that are unique are of interest to them when designed to yield favorable outcomes. They suggest that the perception of “climate,” in relation to organizational literature, is receiving considerable attention. It is used to predict both individual and organizational outcome variables.

Understanding Transformation Leaders-Emotional contagion suggests that transformation leaders who experience optimism, happiness and enthusiasm throughout the day are better able to influence group performance and affect. The importance of collective action may occur through idealized influence.  Leaders who replace feelings of isolation are able to transform employee well-being.  When lowering the levels of burnout and reducing stress, affective well-being is increased.

The Present Study-Researchers decided to conduct the research over a 12 month period of time.  Two hypothesis were formulated:

Hypothesis 1: TL is positively associated with affective well-being, both cross-sectionally and 1 year later.

Hypothesis 2:  the positive relationship between TL and affective well-being is mediated by perceptions of an innovative      climate, both cross-sectionally and 1 year later.

Method: Participants and Procedure-This research project engaged a longitudinal panel design. The sample was comprised of 2,700 social service employees from a large Swedish municipality. Questionnaires were distributed on two occasions.

Time I:

  • 342 employees who were randomly selected from staff records.
  • 158 individuals participated.
  • Questionnaires were mailed to the participants.
  • 79% female/11.5 years avg. employment/51% university degree/43.2 years avg.age
  • care assistants, social workers, nurses
  • Representative in comparison to population of organization

Time II:

  • Panel Mortality-22 respondents
  • 101 of 136 remaining returned 2nd questionnaire
  • 745 response rate
  • 81% female/13.0 years avg. employment/46% university degree/44.6 years avg. age
  • **81% of participants had same supervisor as time I

Measures: Research employed these measurement tools-

Transformation Leadership:  The most common measure of transformation leadership was used. Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Bass and Avolio, 1995). It operationalizes four theoretically identified dimensions of transformation leaders: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation ,and individualized consideration.

A 5-point scale ranging from 0 (not at all) to 4(often, if not always).

Reliability: Time 1: . 94, Time 2: . 96

Climate for innovation: The questionnaire, QPS Nordic, used to measure innovation, using a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree/never) to 5 (strongly agree/always). Three items measured the degree of possibility to take initiative at work.

Reliability: Time 1:.80  Time 2:  .77

Affective well-being: The Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ, 1993) was selected because it was context-free. The eight positively worded items on the test asked participants to report how well they felt the week of the test. The response scale, ranging from 1 (almost never) to 4 (most of the time) posed statements such as, “I am happy with my life,” or “I am filled with energy.”

Reliability:  Time 1: .85   Time 2:  .86

  • Results and Discussion: Researchers report the following positive correlation for both Time 1 and Time 2 for transformation leadership with climate for innovation and well-being. when testing for stability, they were confirmed using a stability model. The researchers came to three main conclusions when discussing the results of direct and indirect effects of transformational leadership on employee well-being over time: No direct effect of TL on well=being over time.
  • Differences in the level of well-being in employees can be explained, in part, by the level of innovation created by the TL.
  • TL has a direct and positive association with well-being.  It needs to be measured at the same time.

Theoretical and Practical Implications: The researchers contend that their findings contribute to the literature that exists. Overtime, Transformational Leaders have an effect of the well-being of employees over time and cross-sectionally. Because the subscales for transformational behavior were highly correlated, they cannot pinpoint which transformation behavior explains the effect on climate for innovation and well-being. They could not tell which specific behavior led to the outcome that they sought to explore.

Limitations and Future Discussion:  The researchers felt that the main weakness in their study was the use of the questionnaires.  The data was self-reported, which they felt could lead to problems with common method bias. The size of the sample was small.  The researchers felt that a larger sample might strengthen the study.  A stronger study would allow for more concrete conclusions to be drawn. The lack of variables concerned the researchers. The study was conducted in an organization comprised almost entirely of females. Could the result generalize to other settings or types of organizations? Sources of spurious dependency could be ruled out as a result of the stability coefficients that were built into the study.

Strengths: Occasional factors and biographical factors he testing of models to make sure that the scales used in the study were distinctively different. They used several procedural design remedies discovered during the literature review phase of their research.

I found the overall premise behind this study interesting to me to consider after organizational change and development. One of the key components of change is understanding that buy-in must be from those in a leadership position.  What I would have enjoyed learning more about would be the organizational learning that occurred through the design and development phase of transformational leadership. An added bonus was all of the vocabulary words that I didn’t need to look up as they were a part of last week’s reading! Yeah!

Dr. Richard Boyatzis has several wonderful videos that he’s created about leadership.  One that I found particularly interesting to me discusses the concept of brain development and leadership:

Something to chew on-

What are the qualities in a leader that encourage you to pursue innovative ideas?

Which qualities in a leader make for a climate of well-being in your organization?

How often does the leader in your department or organization participate in training for the expressed purpose of transforming his/her skills?

EDUS 660 #4: “You Don’t Know Until You Look”

This week’s Food for Thought:

Ethical Issues in Social Research should be the focus of our thought.
Ethical Issues in Social Research should be the focus of our thought.

After playing several characters in the Lab and Clinic, and reviewing the Milgram and Stanford Prison videos, describe and compare your reaction to the decisions you made as different characters and explain how you intend to avoid research misconduct.

Growing up outside of New York City, virtually nothing on television was censored during the 1970’s. Over several afternoons, Leon Uris’ novel QBVII was aired on television.  As a twelve-year-old, I sat mesmerized as the libel trial of Adam Kelno unfolded in the Queen’s Bench, courtroom seven. I had no context with which to place the events detailing medical experiments conducted on those in concentrations camps during World War II.  History for me typically recycled the main events from Columbus to the Civil War, with rarely any reference to harm, risk or justice for individuals who lived through such atrocities. While young, I knew that what I was watching was unethical, even if I didn’t have the correct vernacular with which to describe what I saw.

The Nuremberg Trials, as discussed by Babbie when introducing the concept of  “No Harm to the Participants,” was referenced several times in last week’s  CITI training. Understanding the historical basis for the Belmont Report, helps me to better understand the basis for creating standard protocols for conducting research with humans.  Part of being a member of a society, he contends “…is knowing what that society considers ethical and unethical” (Babbie, 2015:62).Understanding what the social research community considers ethical means that each member who participates in research must adhere to the principles of the social research community.

So how should one act in a social research setting when acting as our best selves? In “The Lab” simulation, I decided to play the Research Integrity Officer, Dr. Beth Ridgely and the graduate student, Kim Park.  I found that the full version of the movie, along with the lab guide to be useful tools to better understand both the role and the responsibilities of my two characters.  The background of Kim Park helped to provide a clearer understanding of the relationship between the RIO and the student researcher. Working through the “Ethical Decision-Making Model” helped me to make sure that I didn’t skip from one step over another step.  Bypassing a step, such as “I ask” to “I act”  may mean that I miss “Moral Action.”  In the simulation “The Research Clinic,” I chose to play two different characters from the first simulation, Dr. Richard Sowers, the Principle Investigator and Jan Klein, RN the Clinical Research Coordinator.

The model from the guide doesn’t copy and paste well, however, the ideas are important to understand.

Ethical Decision-Making Model

Moral AwarenessI feel

The Lab-Kim felt that something wrong was going on when reading a study that named her as co-author. Her gut was answering the question, “Is there something wrong here?”The social group in her lab gave her cause to be concerned.  After all, Greg was the “Rock Star” of the Lab.

The Clinic-I feel overwhelmed by the number of research programs that I am expected to coordinate as Jan, the CRC.  I feel both frustration and empathy when trying to explain the research proposal to the cancer patient and her son. I chose to be morally aware when deciding that my character would take the time necessary to work through the informed consent process.  It is important to ask the participant to use her own words to explain her role in the trials.  In doing so, the act of beneficence was evident.The participant was not harmed and was able to articulate how she might benefit from it.

I askMoral Judgment

The Lab-Beth raised several important questions when wondering if she would violate her judgment if she did not investigate the allegation brought forth by the complainant. Asking what would happen to the university if the Research Investigating Officer did nothing is an extremely important question to ask. How does one complete between competing loyalties? Deviation found during an audit could show evidence of research misconduct.  She was in charge of a lab at one time.  She remembers the importance of protocol.

The Clinic-Distinguishing right from wrong transitions to distinguishing better from worse. The PI needs to have enough participants to do the study.  He feels that his patients need the medication, however, the IRB has not given approval.  I forced my character to challenge the PI. I know that the PI has a relationship with the sponsor.  However, the protocol is very specific. My character, Jan, finally makes the right choice by contacting her supervisor.

Moral Intention-I think I will

It takes courage to act in the face of opposition.  In both The Clinic and The Lab, I selected the wrong choice for Beth, the RIO and Jan the CRC.  I am so conditioned to going to my supervisor or administrator first, that I failed to consider what would happen to the integrity of the project.  The presence of three individuals who followed behind a supervisor really impressed upon me the idea that the integrity of the research could be tampered with if the PI is given ample opportunity to cover his tracks.  The legal action that could have ensued in The Lab is a very real scenario.

Benefience:How in the world could the PI think that this research would benefit the participants?
Beneficence: How in the world could the PI think that this research would benefit the participants?

I actMoral Action

Sometimes people who recognize an ethical dilemma know what the right thing is to do, consider acting, but do not do so.  The power of other people can present either the motivation to take moral action or not. When considering the Stanford Prison Study, the Principle Investigator, Philip Zimbardo, could not see what was happening to the participants in his study until his girlfriend expresses shock over the treatment that she sees in the experiment.

The informed consent, which was crucial to The Clinic study simulation appeared to be lacking in both the Stanford Prison Study, 1971,  and the Milgram Experiment, 1963. When an individual who is conducting research is able to watch as harm is being inflicted upon a participant, he most certainly appears to be lacking moral action. Zimbardo and other participants who discuss this project in the video clip recognized that the student prisoners were beginning to suffer psychological distress. When considering the frequency of pain to be administered for a poor memory, this participant in The Milgram Experiment asks several times to stop.

The key principles of  The Belmont Report focus on respect for persons, beneficence and justice. The modules of theCITI training really instilled in me an appreciation for living, working and studying after the creation of this report.  While I am not so naive as to believe that instance of ethical misconduct was the norm prior to the Belmont Report, I also know that misconduct can and still does occur after the publication of the report. Understanding the role that following protocol plays in any research study after 1971, gives me greater confidence when considering my role in any past or future research projects.

Something to chew on-

Ethics: The most important piece of the research puzzle.
Ethics: The most important piece of the research puzzle.
  • Ideally, participants should benefit from any research study.Who will benefit from the study that your small group will conduct?
  • In what way will the benefits of your research be shared fairly with your participants?

Reference-

Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research. Cengage Learning.