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Edpa 792 dissertation analysis

Alicia Lindheim

EDPA 792

7/11/04

An Analysis of the Dissertation Entitled, "Correlates Influencing Job Satisfaction"

The purpose of this paper is to discuss and analyze the components of a dissertation with specific emphasis on Rita Spanier Wolenik’s paper entitled, "Correlates Influencing Job Satisfaction." Her dissertation is written in the traditional five-chapter style and includes an introduction, a literature review, a section on methodology, results, and a concluding discussion chapter. The content of the paper is book-ended by an abstract at the beginning and appendices at the end. Also, a table of contents at the front of the paper allows the reader to logically and methodically peruse through the work, thus being able to understand how the author constructed his/her research in order to prepare the results and discussion sections.

In the Introduction, Ms. Wolenik seeks present a problem in education as well as a larger justification for her study. The chapter opens with an almost anecdotal account of the problem of teacher shortage in America. Though some statistics are included, the somewhat informal nature of this beginning piece tells a bold story of inequality in terms of both funding and teacher satisfaction as if the reader were looking at the landscape of the teaching profession through the eyes of a teacher. This initially loose style immediately tightens with the focused and academic tone of the "Statement of the Problem" section. Rather than storytelling, the tone of this section foreshadows the serious research and findings that will be produced around the problem that, "Working conditions, including influence over professional decisions, play an important role in determining who stays in teaching." (p. 3) In the Purpose of the Study and Importance of the Study sections, the author justifies the research study by stating in various forms that if one assumes that teacher quality is an essential component of successful schools, then it is critical that educational leaders understand what it takes to recruit, prepare, and retain quality professionals. More specifically, it is here that the author makes the first link between teacher quality and job satisfaction, suggesting that teachers who are unhappy are less likely to stay in the profession. Thus the chapter ends with the three research questions that the author believes must be answered in order to illuminate the internal and external issues for teachers surrounding job satisfaction, highlighting individual attitudes, personal characteristics, and school characteristics.

The purpose of Chapter 2, the Literature Review, is to construct a thorough picture of all of the research that has been done on the topic and/or related topics thus far, with the intention that the author’s dissertation will be the next addition to the existing body of research. Because the research questions speak to individual characteristics and attitudes of teachers as well as contextual characteristics of the workplace, Ms. Wolenik’s literature review pulls together research in each of these areas. In the first section entitled, "Personal Characteristics of Teachers," she presents research around topics such as: self-efficacy, teacher morale, and personality characteristics. Similarly, in the "Contextual Characteristics" section, the author examines research in areas like shared decision-making, teacher-administrator relationships, levels of teacher autonomy.

Unlike the other chapters, the Methodology section, a chapter dedicated to discussing how the research study presented in this paper was conducted, is far more compact. For instrumentation, Ms. Wolenik created a series of surveys for a sample of 300 elementary school teachers working in the Long Beach Unified School District. The surveys were then linked to personal characteristic scales created by Baker, Grayson, and Colyar and school effectiveness scales developed by Baker and Matakovich. Another component of this section was the author description of the statistical tests used to determine reliability and statistical significance. For this research, Ms. Wolenik relied on Analysis of Variance, regression, and intercorrelation procedures.

The Results chapter is the part of the dissertation where the outcomes of the research are presented. With this particular dissertation being highly quantitative in nature, Chapter 4 is very numerical, with the author presenting the statistical outcomes of each statistical procedure utilized. Ironically, despite the fact that Chapter 4 does allow the author to present the findings of the research, it does not afford him/her the opportunity to comment on the results. For example, Ms. Wolenik does include short a "Summary of Findings" section at the end in which she gives a brief synopsis of what pieces of the research proved to be statistically significant (e.g. teachers who perceived their schools as effective were satisfied with their jobs and tended to stay in the profession, etc.). However, it is not until Chapter 5 that the author may comment on the findings and make recommendations.

The author uses the Discussion section to elaborate on the findings of Chapter 4:

  • Teachers who perceived their schools as effective were satisfied with their jobs and tended to stay in the profession.
  • Teachers who left the profession after two years were younger teachers who were not satisfied with teaching and did not fit the personality characteristics that were studied in this research: collaborative and supportive, conscientious and responsible, and efficacious and confident.
  • Teachers going into administration were generally between the ages of 21 to 30, tended to be more efficacious and confident, were more critical of their schools’ effectiveness factors, and sought opportunities to be leaders among their peers.

This then provides Ms. Wolenik the opportunity to make recommendations and suggest implications based on her findings. For example, since the findings suggest that young teachers are most vulnerable for leaving the profession either for administration or out of education altogether, the author believes that it is incumbent upon support personnel to facilitate self-evaluations of those young professional in order to provide them the support they may need in order to commit to successful teaching long-term. She also goes on to discuss similar implications for teacher induction programs, teacher selection, school culture and climate, and professional development.

In a sense, the traditional format of a dissertation such as Ms. Wolenik’s is to methodically move a reader from the identification of a serious academic problem to a series of research-based solutions that may help to either clarify the causes of the problem and/or present possible answers, all with opportunities for further study. The writing style is expository, thus suggesting that the focus of the completed work will be both serious and regarded highly enough by scholars of the profession to be added to the already existing body of research developed within the discipline.



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