An important step in the successful completion of an Applied Doctoral Project/Dissertation in Practice is starting off with an accurate and precise purpose statement.
This document will provide some general ideas or guidelines related to effective purpose statements. Included will be guidance on how to compose them. Finally, you will find some sample purpose statements from the various Schools at NU so that you can see what your effective purpose statement can look like. All this information comes from faculty who want you to succeed in the process.
Keep these in mind as you begin to compose your purpose statement
Creswell (2002) suggested that purpose statements in qualitative projects or studies include deliberate phrasing to alert the reader to the purpose statement. Verbs are key to indicate what will take place in the project or study research and the use of non-directional language that does not suggest an outcome. A purpose statement should focus on a single idea or concept with a broad definition of that idea or concept. How the concept will be investigated should also be included, as well as participants in the study and study locations to give the reader a sense of with whom and where the project or study will occur.
Creswell (2003) advised the following script for purpose statements in qualitative methodology:
“The purpose of this qualitative_________________ (strategy of inquiry, such as ethnography, case study, or other type) study is (was? will be?) to ________________ (understand? describe? develop? discover?) the _________________(central phenomenon being studied) for ______________ (the participants, such as the individual, groups, organization) at __________(site). At this stage in the project, the __________ (central phenomenon being studied) will be generally defined as ___________________ (provide a general definition)” (pg. 90).
Creswell (2003) offers vast differences between the purpose statements written for qualitative methodology and those written for quantitative methodology, particularly with respect to language and the inclusion of variables. The comparison of variables is often a focus of quantitative methodology with the variables distinguishable by either the temporal order or how they are measured. As with qualitative purpose statements, Creswell (2003) recommends the use of deliberate language to alert the reader to the purpose of the project or study, though quantitative purpose statements also include the theory or conceptual framework guiding the project or study, the variables that are being studied, and how those variables are related.
Creswell (2003) suggests the following script for drafting purpose statements in quantitative projects:
“The purpose of this _____________________ (experiment? survey?) project is (was? will be?) to test the theory of _________________that _________________ (compares? relates?) the ___________(independent variable) to _________________________(dependent variable), controlling for _______________________ (control variables) for ___________________ (participants) at _________________________ (site). The independent variable(s) _____________________ will be generally defined as _______________________ (provide a general definition). The dependent variable(s) will be generally defined as _____________________ (provide a general definition), and the control and intervening variables(s), _________________ (identify the control and intervening variables) will be statistically controlled in this project” (pg. 97).
Creswell, J. (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Merrill Prentice Hall. 7.
Creswell, J. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications.
Here are some example purpose statements for your consideration.
The purpose of this qualitative project was to determine how participation in service-learning in an alternative school impacted students academically, civically, and personally. There is ample evidence demonstrating the failure of schools for students at-risk; however, there is still a need to demonstrate why these students are successful in non-traditional educational programs like the service-learning model used at TDS. This study was unique in that it examined one alternative school’s approach to service-learning in a setting where students not only serve, but faculty serve as volunteer teachers. The use of a constructivist approach in service-learning in an alternative school setting was examined in an effort to determine whether service-learning participation contributes positively to academic, personal, and civic gain for students, and to examine student and teacher views regarding the overall outcomes of service-learning. This study was completed using an ethnographic approach that included observations, content analysis, and interviews with teachers at The David School.
The purpose of this quantitative, non-experimental, cross-sectional linear, multiple regression design study was to investigate the relationship among early childhood teachers’ self-reported assessment of multicultural awareness as measured by responses from the Teacher Multicultural Attitude Survey (TMAS) and supervisors’ observed assessment of teachers’ multicultural competency skills as measured by the Multicultural Teaching Competency Scale (MTCS) survey. Demographic data such as number of multicultural training hours, years teaching in Dubai, curriculum program at current school, and age were also examined and their relationship to multicultural teaching competency. The study took place in the emirate of Dubai where there were 14,333 expatriate teachers employed in private schools (KHDA, 2013b).
The purpose of this quantitative, non-experimental project is to examine the degree to which stages of change, gender, acculturation level and trauma types predicts the reluctance of Arab refugees, aged 18 and over, in the Dearborn, MI area, to seek professional help for their mental health needs. This study will utilize four instruments to measure these variables: University of Rhode Island Change Assessment (URICA: DiClemente & Hughes, 1990); Cumulative Trauma Scale (Kira, 2012); Acculturation Rating Scale for Arabic Americans-II Arabic and English (ARSAA-IIA, ARSAA-IIE: Jadalla & Lee, 2013), and a demographic survey. This study will examine 1) the relationship between stages of change, gender, acculturation levels, and trauma types and Arab refugees’ help-seeking behavior, 2) the degree to which any of these variables can predict Arab refugee help-seeking behavior. Additionally, the outcome of this study could provide researchers and clinicians with a stage-based model, TTM, for measuring Arab refugees’ help-seeking behavior and lay a foundation for how TTM can help target the clinical needs of Arab refugees. Lastly, this attempt to apply the TTM model to Arab refugees’ condition could lay the foundation for future research to investigate the application of TTM to clinical work among refugee populations.
The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological project is to describe the lived experiences of LLM for 10 EFL learners in rural Guatemala and to utilize that data to determine how it conforms to, or possibly challenges, current theoretical conceptions of LLM. In accordance with Morse’s (1994) suggestion that a phenomenological study should utilize at least six participants, this study utilized semi-structured interviews with 10 EFL learners to explore why and how they have experienced the motivation to learn English throughout their lives. The methodology of horizontalization was used to break the interview protocols into individual units of meaning before analyzing these units to extract the overarching themes (Moustakas, 1994). These themes were then interpreted into a detailed description of LLM as experienced by EFL students in this context. Finally, the resulting description was analyzed to discover how these learners’ lived experiences with LLM conformed with and/or diverged from current theories of LLM.
The purpose of this qualitative, embedded, multiple case project was to examine how both parent-child attachment relationships are impacted by the quality of the paternal and maternal caregiver-child interactions that occur throughout a maternal deployment, within the context of dual-military couples. In order to examine this phenomenon, an embedded, multiple case study was conducted, utilizing an attachment systems metatheory perspective. The study included four dual-military couples who experienced a maternal deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) when they had at least one child between 8 weeks-old to 5 years-old. Each member of the couple participated in an individual, semi-structured interview with the researcher and completed the Parenting Relationship Questionnaire (PRQ). “The PRQ is designed to capture a parent’s perspective on the parent-child relationship” (Pearson, 2012, para. 1) and was used within the proposed study for this purpose. The PRQ was utilized to triangulate the data (Bekhet & Zauszniewski, 2012) as well as to provide some additional information on the parents’ perspective of the quality of the parent-child attachment relationship in regards to communication, discipline, parenting confidence, relationship satisfaction, and time spent together (Pearson, 2012). The researcher utilized the semi-structured interview to collect information regarding the parents' perspectives of the quality of their parental caregiver behaviors during the deployment cycle, the mother's parent-child interactions while deployed, the behavior of the child or children at time of reunification, and the strategies or behaviors the parents believe may have contributed to their child's behavior at the time of reunification. The results of this project may be utilized by the military, and by civilian providers, to develop proactive and preventive measures that both providers and parents can implement, to address any potential adverse effects on the parent-child attachment relationship, identified through the proposed study. The results of this project may also be utilized to further refine and understand the integration of attachment theory and systems theory, in both clinical and research settings, within the field of marriage and family therapy.
Compiled by Dr. Darren Adamson, Department Chair, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences