Blog Assignment #3

The research problem I would like to explore is, “what can universities do to encourage faculty members to create a successful online program?”

I would like to exclusively work with university faculty members in this study. How I was thinking about narrowing it down is interviewing faculty at large publicly funded universities in Virginia (maybe give a minimum student population of 10K). VCU and GMU are both very diverse, and I’m pretty familiar with ODU and Tech students, as they frequently take summer classes at VCU so there must be some similarities in programs.

I think I would like to do a qualitative study, which would not generally use probability sampling procedures. But if I did, I would work with Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) and university contacts to get faculty names and EEO information. I would randomly select faculty that would be a representation of the EEO data I got. I think this data would be interesting to analyze by department, so I might split the faculty lists by department before randomly selecting a number of instructors—this would be a cluster probability sampling, since I’m choosing from naturally occurring groups (in this case, academic specialty).

However, because I plan to do a qualitative project, I would like to interview faculty members who care about online education and are very vocal. From my experience at VCU, many of these faculty come through the Center for Teaching Excellence, the department that instructors use to become better facilitators, mentors, etc. Most universities have departments like this, so I would contact each department have them create focus groups with faculty members who have experience with teaching online and who are most interested in pursuing online education in the future. This would be a non-probability method of purposive sampling, as I am selecting people to study who are useful to my research problem.


One thought on “Blog Assignment #3

  1. Melissa, you are right on target. Your research problem is well-stated, and I think you have identified a viable option for obtaining a good purposive sample. You have also grasped the concepts that you would need to address if you were doing a quantitative study and wanted a probability sample. The only suggestion I would make is to wait and decide how to collect your data until we cover quantitative methods in more detail. You may discover some strategies in addition to focus groups. I hope you are beginning to have some confidence that you could actually undertake this study yourself!

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