INTEGRATED STUDIES - 6000 COURSE INTRODUCTION

 

The following is excerpted from the Gray and Titens Manual, "Applied Research at the Graduate Level", 1988, Parkway Press, available through the Webster University Office, Bolling AFB Education Center.

 

The sequence of the Integrated Studies course at Webster University uses this model:

 

1.                  Present a situation analysis of the problem environment and industry. You should include secondary research in constructing your situation analysis.

 

2.                  State the premise.

 

3.                  State disclaimers or study limitations.

 

4.                  Present the applied research work plan - Research Methodology. Present the primary research methodology to be used in developing the applied research project along with a rationale for your choice of methods.

 

5.                  Present the applied research work plan - Core Course Content. Present and discuss the content to be used from each of your core courses in completing the project.

 

6.                  Conduct the primary applied research activity, and analyze the results of the collected data.

 

7.                  Provide an abstract of approximately 3-5 pages which will include a brief overview of the situation analysis, premise, disclaimers, method of research used, core course content used, findings, conclusions, acceptance, rejection or modification of the premise, and recommendations for further study. (Note: The abstract is often actually developed at the conclusion of the project.)

 

8.                  Prepare an analytical report indicating whether you accept or reject the original premise, in part, or in total. You must state and discuss new issues, modification of the premise developed in the research, and include recommendations for future study. Your report must contain at least 20 to 30 pages of original work presented in an acceptable and consistent academic format together with all the preliminary sections (items 1-5), exhibits, charts, and questionnaires.

 

9.                  Include bibliography, footnotes or endnotes in report.

 

10.              Provide research documentation in appendix at end of report.

 

A more detailed explanation of some of the components of the Integrated Studies course follows:

 

 

SITUATION ANALYSIS.

 

The situation analysis is just that, the student's analysis of a given situation which is usually a situation that warrants a change from the student's perspective. The situation analysis should be written succinctly, but still include all salient and relevant data. An example of a portion of a situation analysis follows:

 

"Workers at the office of the XYZ firm are habitually late. Morale is low and productivity is falling off. The company is involved in manufacturing parts for oil rigs, and with the world oil glut spawning oil price drops and production cut backs, it seems that employee insecurity is developing within the company. The noted declines in office commenced at about the same time national attention on the oil situation began. The company has not offered any communications to the work force and this seems to be a factor in fostering rumors, most of which foretell pending cutbacks, layoffs, and other actions deemed detrimental by the office force."

 

PREMISE.

 

A premise is a statement used in applied research stating what is expected to be found in the research or what will result after prescribed action is taken. It is similar to the hypothesis used in other types of research studies. When a formal hypothesis is utilized, you may wish to state a null hypothesis which stipulates that there will be no change from the current situation; then an alternate hypothesis is written wherein possible change, or a new understanding of the variables is stated. For example, if one believes that if people eat a piece of chocolate pie each day for one month they will have significant weight gain, the null hypothesis would state that eating a piece of chocolate pie each day does not result in significant weight gain; the alternative hypothesis or premise would simply state that eating a piece of chocolate pie each day will cause significant weight gain. Examples of acceptable and unacceptable premises are provided later in this manual.

 

When using the applied research process, you generally use a simple premise only. A simple premise will deal with a single concept or proposition. After the premise is stated, disclaimers or study limitations of the study. The purpose of the premise then is to focus and help clarify the nature of the study. Premises should be clearly stated and subject to measurement for verification. An example of a poorly developed premise is: "People should not participate in continuing education. This is not good for them even though it has merit because it generates excessive amounts of stress. People will be questioned who participate in continuing education programs."

 

This is poorly written because many terms are nebulous and subjective. Further, the premise is not presented in a clear, concise statement.

 

A better stated premise is: "Involvement in continuing education programs generates excessive amounts of stress." The student will need to define "involvement" and excessive." Subsequently, this premise can be tested in a variety of ways using the applied research process.

DISCLAIMERS OR STUDY LIMITATIONS.

 

You may be able to identify specific variables in a given situation and still be unaware that other factors exist that could affect the outcome. This failure could result in faulty research. However, if you could identify these other variables or situations that could affect results, exclusive of the variables being studied, you minimize their negative impact on research. Your responsibility is to locate these other variables and to indicate what impact they might have on any results. When thus stated, they are referenced as disclaimers or study limitations. Anyone reading the study then known that you were cognizant of other possibilities, even though such disclaimed variables were not studied. An example would be if you wished to study the relationship between pay and job satisfaction, you should acknowledge other variables or considerations that might account for the results in your study, other than relationships between pay and job satisfaction. For example, the "Hawthorne" effect of anyone being studied, or recent happenings in the work environment may cloud your work. A variety of disclaimers should be developed when contemplating applied research, particularly in a non-controlled multi-variable environment.

 

A CAUTION FOR STUDENTS.

 

When pursuing applied research or pursuing any major academic effort, you can easily go into the project with bias toward what results are expected. This perception may color your results. This problem can be compounded if you also believe that confirming the premise is a "must." Actually most premises may not be proven in total. This condition will give you an opportunity to state a new premise based on your effort. The new premise can then be explored in the future with the added value of the knowledge gained from your initial work. In essence, you have generated new knowledge for future study or consideration.

 

VERIFICATION OF RESULTS.

 

The results of a study should be supported by verifiable or measurable conclusions. Section V of this manual contains a review of commonly used statistical tools with detailed step-by-step, how-to-use explanations for those needing assistance with quantitative measurement. Whether or not you have had a course in research, quantitative methods, or statistics, this section should prove to be helpful.

 

Integrated Studies - 6000: Applied Research At The Graduate Level

 

       Section 1          Situation Analysis (S.A.).

                         Section 2          Premise.

                         Section 3          Disclaimers.

                         Section 4          Work Plan - Research Methodology.

                         Section 5          Work Plan - Core Course Content.

                         Section 6          Project Development.

                         Section 7          Abstract.

                         Section 8          Body of Paper.

                         Section 9          Bibliography, Footnotes.

                         Section 10        Research Documentation.

                  

The student's final work product will consist of the following sections, many of which are to be developed and discussed in class sessions conducted during the course. It is expected that this development schedule will serve the student as a structure to master the requirement of the integrated studies course.

 

Due by Week

Section

Description

3

Section 1

Situation Analysis: Describe the situation your project will explore. Note: Your completed situation analysis will include a description of the industry, the organization involved, its culture and the competitive environment together with the issue to be explored in your project. (Example: A description of a workplace with declining productivity.) Also, include those factors that caused you to select your particular subject.

3

Section 2

Premise: Present a concise positive statement of what the student proposes to substantiate by the completion of the primary research project. Qualitative terms must be defined, and the premise should be measurable (Example: That productivity has been improved by Human Relations training.) In the example premise, the following terms would be defined in a presentation entitled "Definitions" immediately following the premise statements: a)Productivity, b) Improved, & c) Human Relations Training

3

Section 3

Disclaimers or Study Limitations: Because the student realistically can deal only with limited variables, there should be statements of other variables not entertained in the study which could distort results or findings. (Example: The impact of unexpected massive layoffs.)

3

Section 4

Work Plan - Applied Research Methodology: This section tells what primary and secondary research methodology will be used in the paper.

 

3

Section 5

Work Plan - Core Course Content: The work plan should also contain a discussion of which components from each core course will be used and integrated into the project. It is expected that the student will use this section to carefully detail the subject matter which will be used in each core course to accomplish the project. It is recognized that the student may utilize only limited portions of content from various courses. While this is acceptable, it is expected that the student will focus on several of the core courses and will be able to demonstrate an ability to synthesize and apply knowledge gained from all the core courses in successfully completing this project. A significant focus of the student's evaluation will be the demonstrated ability to synthesize, apply and integrate the learning experienced in the core courses of the Webster program.

NOTE: Situation analysis, premise, disclaimers, and work plan must all be approved by completion of Session 3

6

Section 6

Project Development: The student is expected to report on progress and problems encountered in weekly sessions with peer students and the instructor. The survey instrument or questionnaire in applied research should be completed and available by Session 4 for review and approval

6

Section 7

Abstract of 3 to 5 pages: The abstract to be presented will be a brief synopsis and will include a summary of the project, the situation analysis, premise, study limitations, work plan, key findings, conclusions, acceptance, rejection or modification of the premise, and recommendations. (Two copies to be given to instructor at time student presents oral report.) The abstract is to be presented and defended by the student in a 10-15 minute presentation and defense.

9

Section 8

Actual Paper: The body of the paper will be 20-30 pages of original work. Use appropriate academic or business style.

9

Section 9

Bibliography/Footn0te5 or Endnotes: Any presentation style is acceptable as long as it is consistently applied

9

Section 10

Research Documentation: Questionnaires, tables, exhibits, charts and other inclusions must be provided as part of the project paper and may be placed in an appendix to your paper.

 

PROTOCOLS.

 

While any appropriate academic writing style and format will be accepted, the Webster University - Bolling AFB Campus recommends that "A Manual for Writers", by Kate L. Turabian be used as a style guide.  In any event, the student should take care to:

 

  1. Include a Table of Contents.
  2. Clearly label each section and topic.
  3. Start each new topic on a separate sheet.
  4. Number the pages.
  5. Provide the footnotes and bibliography in a consistent fashion.
  6. Pay particular attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  7. Give appropriate recognition to any quotations or content presented which may not be the student's own original work product.
  8. Make all submissions in typewritten format, double spaced on 8.5" x 11" paper in a suitable binder.
  9. Understand that the original work and abstracts will remain in the possession of Webster University.   
  10. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you wish the project paper comments returned.
  11. The key to successful applied research is your ability to demonstrate understanding of the findings as evidenced by your conclusions, reassessment of the premise, and recommendations. You should assess your findings in relationship to the literature, but more importantly, to your own original premise. Recommendations for further study are based on your findings and what logically next needs to be researched by future researchers   
  12. It is courtesy to offer a copy of your work to any company which offers their resources to you in doing your research
     
  13. You should honor requests by any person or company that desires their identity to remain anonymous by referring to them in terms such as, "a Midwest manufacturing company," or "an official spokesperson," etc.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

EXAMPLES OF ACCEPTABLE PREMISES:

 

1.      Implementation of Electronic Purchasing through the currently available Federal Acquisition by Computer Network (FACNET) at the XYZ AFB Contracting Office has increased purchasing efficiency and produced operational savings over the previously used, manual purchasing systems.

 

2.      The OMB A-76 Commercial Activities Program has enabled Camp Swampy to reduce the cost of it's Family Housing Maintenance operations by 25%.

 

3.      Just-in-Time materials management in a medium sized machine paced line-flow manufacturing environment such as the XYZ Generator Plant in Fair Oaks, California produces significant savings in raw materials inventory investment while improving the overall quality of purchased goods due to increased cooperation with major suppliers.

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