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MG Scales in a recent yet timeless speech on the dharma of warriors

September 30, 2009 2 comments

Subject: Speech by Major General Robert Scales USA (Ret) at Truman Library, September 12, 2009 

Mr. Skelton, Mr Cleaver, distinguished guests and, most importantly, fellow veterans. What a great thrill it is see my comrades in arms assembled here so many years after we shared our experiences in war. 

Let me give you the bottom line up front: I’m proud I served in Vietnam. Like you I didn’t kill innocents, I killed the enemy; I didn’t fight for big oil or for some lame conspiracy. I fought for a country I believed in and for the buddies who kept me alive. Like you I was troubled that, unlike my father, I didn’t come back to a grateful nation. It took a generation and another war, Desert Storm, for the nation to come back to me. 

Also like you I remember the war being 99 percent boredom and one percent pure abject terror. But not all my memories of Vietnam are terrible. There were times when I enjoyed my service in combat. Such sentiment must seem strange to a society today that has, thanks to our superb volunteer military, been completely insulated from war. If they thought about Vietnam at all our fellow citizens would imagine that fifty years would have been sufficient to erase this unpleasant war from our conscientiousness. Looking over this assembly it’s obvious that the memory lingers, and those of us who fought in that war remember. 

The question is why? If this war was so terrible why are we here? It’s my privilege today to try to answer that question not only for you, brother veterans, but maybe for a wider audience for whom, fifty years on, Vietnam is as strangely distant as World War One was to our generation.

Vietnam is seared in our memory for the same reason that wars have lingered in the minds of soldiers for as long as wars have been fought. From Marathon to Mosul young men and now women have marched off to war to learn that the cold fear of violent death and the prospects of killing another human being heighten the senses and sear these experiences deeply and irrevocably into our souls and linger in the back recesses of our minds.

After Vietnam we may have gone on to thrilling lives or dull; we might have found love or loneliness, success or failure. But our experiences have stayed with us in brilliant Technicolor and with a clarity undiminished by time. For what ever primal reason war heightens the senses. When in combat we see sharper, hear more clearly and develop a sixth sense about everything around us.

Remember the sights? I recall sitting in the jungle one bright moonlit night marveling on the beauty of Vietnam. How lush and green it was; how attractive and gentle the people, how stoic and unmoved they were amid the chaos that surrounded them.

Do you remember the sounds? Where else could you stand outside a bunker and listen to the cacophonous mix of Jimmy Hendrix, Merle Haggard and Jefferson Airplane? Or how about the sounds of incoming? Remember it wasn’t a boom like in the movies but a horrifying noise like a passing train followed by a crack and the whistle of flying fragments.

Remember the smells? The sharpness of cordite, the choking stench of rotting jungle and the tragic sweet smell of enemy dead.

I remember the touch, the wet, sticky sensation when I touched one of my wounded soldiers one last time before the medevac rushed him forever from our presence but not from my memory, and the guilt I felt realizing that his pain was caused by my inattention and my lack of experience. Even taste is a sense that brings back memories. Remember the end of the day after the log bird flew away leaving mail, C rations and warm beer? Only the first sergeant had sufficient gravitas to be allowed to turn the C ration cases over so that all of us could reach in and pull out a box on the unlabeled side hoping that it wasn’t going to be ham and lima beans again.

Look, forty years on I can forgive the guy who put powder in our ammunition so foul that it caused our M-16s to jam. I’m OK with helicopters that arrived late. I’m over artillery landing too close and the occasional canceled air strike. But I will never forgive the Pentagon bureaucrat who in an incredibly lame moment thought that a soldier would open a can of that green, greasy, gelatinous goo called ham and lima beans and actually eat it. 

But to paraphrase that iconic war hero of our generation, Forrest Gump, life is like a case of C Rations, you never know what you’re going to get because for every box of ham and lima beans there was that rapturous moment when you would turn over the box and discover the bacchanalian joy of peaches and pound cake. It’s all a metaphor for the surreal nature of that war and its small pleasures… .those who have never known war cannot believe that anyone can find joy in hot beer and cold pound cake. But we can. 

Another reason why Vietnam remains in our consciousness is that the experience has made us better. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing for war as a self improvement course. And I realize that war’s trauma has damaged many of our fellow veterans physically, psychologically and morally. But recent research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by behavioral scientists has unearthed a phenomenon familiar to most veterans: that the trauma of war strengthens rather than weakens us (They call it Post Traumatic Growth). We know that a near death experience makes us better leaders by increasing our self reliance, resilience, self image, confidence and ability to deal with adversity. Combat veterans tend to approach the future wiser, more spiritual and content with an amplified appreciation for life. We know this is true. It’s nice to see that the human scientists now agree.

I’m proud that our service left a legacy that has made today’s military better. Sadly Americans too often prefer to fight wars with technology. Our experience in Vietnam taught the nation the lesson that war is inherently a human not a technological endeavor. Our experience is a distant whisper in the ear of today’s technology wizards that firepower is not sufficient to win, that the enemy has a vote, that the object of war should not be to kill the enemy but to win the trust and allegiance of the people and that the ultimate weapon in this kind or war is a superbly trained, motivated, and equipped soldier who is tightly bonded to his buddies and who trusts his leaders. 

I’ve visited our young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan several times. On each visit I’ve seen first hand the strong connection between our war and theirs. These are worthy warriors who operate in a manner remarkably reminiscent of the way we fought so many years ago. The similarities are surreal. Close your eyes for a moment and it all comes rushing back. In Afghanistan I watched soldiers from my old unit, the 101st Airborne Division, as they conducted daily patrols from firebases constructed and manned in a manner virtually the same as those we occupied and fought from so many years ago. Every day these sky soldiers trudge outside the wire and climb across impossible terrain with the purpose as one sergeant put it – to kill the bad guys, protect the good guys and bring home as many of my soldiers as I can. Your legacy is alive and well. You should be proud. 

The timeless connection between our generation and theirs can be seen in the unity and fighting spirit of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again and again, I get asked the same old question from folks who watch soldiers in action on television: why is their morale so high? Don’t they know the American people are getting fed up with these wars? Don’t they know Afghanistan is going badly? Often they come to me incredulous about what they perceive as a misspent sense of patriotism and loyalty.

I tell them time and again what every one of you sitting here today, those of you who have seen the face of war, understand: it’s not really about loyalty. It’s not about a belief in some abstract notion concerning war aims or national strategy. It’s not even about winning or losing. On those lonely firebases as we dug through C ration boxes and drank hot beer we didn’t argue the righteousness of our cause or ponder the latest pronouncements from McNamara or Nixon or Ho Chi Minh for that matter. Some of us might have trusted our leaders or maybe not. We might have been well informed and passionate about the protests at home or maybe not. We might have groused about the rich and privileged who found a way to avoid service but we probably didn’t. We might have volunteered for the war to stop the spread of global communism or maybe we just had a failing semester and got swept up in the draft. 

In war young soldiers think about their buddies. They talk about families, wives and girlfriends and relate to each other through very personal confessions. For the most part the military we served with in Vietnam did not come from the social elite. We didn’t have Harvard degrees or the pedigree of political bluebloods. We were in large measure volunteers and draftees from middle and lower class America. Just as in Iraq today we came from every corner of our country to meet in a beautiful yet harsh and forbidding place, a place that we’ve seen and experienced but can never explain adequately to those who were never there. 

Soldiers suffer, fight and occasionally die for each other. It’s as simple as that. What brought us to fight in the jungle was no different than the motive force that compels young soldiers today to kick open a door in Ramadi with the expectation that what lies on the other side is either an innocent huddling with a child in her arms or a fanatic insurgent yearning to buy his ticket to eternity by killing the infidel. No difference. Patriotism and a paycheck may get a soldier into the military but fear of letting his buddies down gets a soldier to do something that might just as well get him killed.

What makes a person successful in America today is a far cry from what would have made him a success in the minds of those assembled here today. Big bucks gained in law or real estate, or big deals closed on the stock market made some of our countrymen rich. But as they have grown older they now realize that they have no buddies. There is no one who they are willing to die for or who is willing to die for them. William Manchester served as a Marine in the Pacific during World War II and put the sentiment precisely right when he wrote: “Any man in combat who lacks comrades who will die for him, or for whom he is willing to die is not a man at all. He is truly damned.” 

The Anglo Saxon heritage of buddy loyalty is long and frightfully won. Almost six hundred years ago the English king, Henry V, waited on a cold and muddy battlefield to face a French army many times his size. Shakespeare captured the ethos of that moment in his play Henry V. To be sure Shakespeare wasn’t there but he was there in spirit because he understood the emotions that gripped and the bonds that brought together both king and soldier. Henry didn’t talk about national strategy. He didn’t try to justify faulty intelligence or ill formed command decisions that put his soldiers at such a terrible disadvantage. Instead, he talked about what made English soldiers fight and what in all probably would allow them to prevail the next day against terrible odds. Remember this is a monarch talking to his men: 

This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. 

You all here assembled inherit the spirit of St Crispin’s day. You know and understand the strength of comfort that those whom you protect, those in America now abed, will never know. You have lived a life of self awareness and personal satisfaction that those who watched you from afar in this country who hold their manhood cheap can only envy.

I don’t care whether America honors or even remembers the good service we performed in Vietnam. It doesn’t bother me that war is an image that America would rather ignore. It’s enough for me to have the privilege to be among you. It’s sufficient to talk to each of you about things we have seen and kinships we have shared in the tough and heartless crucible of war.

Some day we will all join those who are serving so gallantly now and have preceded us on battlefields from Gettysburg to Wanat. We will gather inside a firebase to open a case of C rations with every box peaches and pound cake. We will join with a band of brothers to recount the experience of serving something greater than ourselves. I believe in my very soul that the almightily reserves a corner of heaven, probably around a perpetual campfire where some day we can meet and embrace all of the band of brothers throughout the ages to tell our stories while envious standers-by watch and wonder how horrific and incendiary the crucible of violence must have been to bring such a disparate assemblage so close to the hand of God.

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Taking nominations for the leader of the free world

September 26, 2009 1 comment

A telling compare and contrast moment:

Mr. Obama’s address was the predictable mix of criticism of the past policies of the United States, self-praise for correcting said policies and vague calls to united action on matters of collective interest. It sought to ingratiate rather than offend. But Mr. Netanyahu chastised the United Nations for its “systematic assault on the truth.” He spoke truths that Mr. Obama would never whisper regarding the regime in Iran, which is “fueled by an extreme fundamentalism” and an “unforgiving creed.” Mr. Netanyahu rebuked those members who countenanced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s diatribe before the same world body, rightly calling it a “disgrace.”

Mr. Netanyahu repeatedly paid tribute to the blessings of liberty and “the allure of freedom.” He marveled at the technological advances freedom made possible. He asked if the international community would support the Iranian people “as they bravely stand up for freedom.” He envisioned a future of Israel and Palestine, “two free peoples living in peace, living in prosperity, living in dignity.” Mr. Obama, meanwhile, touted the imperative of responding to global climate change and mentioned as an afterthought that democracy should not be an afterthought.

Categories: education, leadership, politics Tags:

Which one is the adult?

September 26, 2009 1 comment

Obama: “We must never stop until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the earth.”

Sarkozy: “We live in the real world, not the virtual world. And the real world expects us to take decisions.”

The rest of Sarkozy’s remarks:

“President Obama dreams of a world without weapons … but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.

“Iran since 2005 has flouted five security council resolutions. North Korea has been defying council resolutions since 1993.

“I support the extended hand of the Americans, but what good has proposals for dialogue brought the international community? More uranium enrichment and declarations by the leaders of Iran to wipe a UN member state off the map,” he continued, referring to Israel.

The sharp-tongued French leader even implied that Mr Obama’s resolution 1887 had used up valuable diplomatic energy.

“If we have courage to impose sanctions together it will lend viability to our commitment to reduce our own weapons and to making a world without nuke weapons,” he said.

Mr Sarkozy has previously called the US president’s disarmament crusade “naive.”

So, where is the US press on this story?

Categories: leadership, politics Tags:

A reflection on mixed methods research in adult education

September 21, 2009 4 comments

Introduction

The Research Problem

The purpose of this paper is to offer one vision of developing a methodological theory of mixed methods research co-equal with that of quantitative and qualitative research. I use a case study of the US Army Command & General Staff College engaged in a redesign of its curriculum, its teaching practices and its design process itself in a period of revolutionary change while supporting a nation at war. I describe circumstances and worldviews in which I argue that only mixed methods research may be employed to simultaneously develop a deep appreciation of uncertainty, improve decision making through an appropriate gathering, mixing and analyzing of quantitative and qualitative data, and applying “learning in action” as a strategy to manage success.  I contrast the view of research  as a process of increasing knowledge for control  with a worldview of research as a learning-in-action that allows for deep appreciation of complexity but without the assertion that appreciation and research can lead to prescriptive measures of control.  I examine the merging feedback system of the CGSC curriculum redesign as a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data. The concept of “Voice” that emerges from the CGSC action research process will be described, along with a multi-phased, multi-year research plan that demonstrates the practical development of an interactive dynamic research plan that is also adaptive to interim and periodic results. The paper  reflects a pragmatic worldview as it focuses on practical outcomes inside an organization concerned with real-world results, but acknowledges the importance and utility of the other 3 worldviews described by Creswell (2007, p.6), namely advocacy/participatory, post-positivist and constructivist.

Waldrop (1992, 2008) described the emerging science of complexity in a rich description of the inter-disciplinary work developing at The Sante Fe Institute. Sixteen years later (Waldrop, 2008) he found that the pioneer days of complexity research had evolved into a rich diversity of programs in major and minor universities worldwide, with lines of business and cognitive domains each finding ways to apply the ideas of emergence, uncertainty and complexity in new and profound ways. What remained unchanged from the origins of the research were the questions of what next and so what and how much more is there and what does it mean to apply an appreciation of complexity to everyday problems and opportunities.  The field of education is only beginning to appreciate how complexity and uncertainty may change the dynamics, structure, content and practice of adult education (Siemens, 2004). Professions in particular will be challenged by educating for complexity, since deep, profound, and reliable bodies of knowledge are at the center of professional practice. Educators, themselves members of a profession, are examining what it means to educate, teach and instruct in light of an emerging awareness of complexity.

The US Army Command & General Staff College (CGSC) is a self-described “learning organization” (Senge, 2000), engaged in a revolutionary re-design of curriculum and teaching practice, with a mission to educate 1500 US Army Majors for uncertainty and complexity, while engaged in a global war on terror and in direct combat in Iraq and Afghanistan (Long, 2009). This provides an opportunity to examine reflective learners and practitioners in action (Schon, 1987) using mixed methods research and using multiple worldviews (Creswell, 2009; Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007).

Past Research on the Problem

Edmondson and McManus (2003) propose a structured approach to selecting research methods that fit the state of theory in a given field. Their 3 archetypes of the state of theory: nascent, intermediate and mature  are connected to qualitative, mixed methods, and quantitative research methods, resulting in an appropriate methodological fit that aims to meet the needs of researchers worldwide. Creswell(2009) offers a systematic approach to analyzing: researcher worldview, research purpose,  research questions, the state of theory, data collection, populations and situations to be studied, and data analysis in order to further refine the methodological fit  and better connect purpose with practice across all 3 methods. Creswell and Plano Clark (2007, p.8) offers a functional working description of the state of mixed methods research, which proceeds from a deep review of current field practice, establishes a superb framework for classifying current choices of mixed methods research design and the means by which methodological fit may be refined, but stops at the boundary of developing a deep theory of mixed methods of research.

Deficiencies in past research and Need for Mixed Methodology

Conventional professional education processes have been adapting at an increasingly frequent rate as a consequence of Army senior leader directives and direct field feedback. The adaptive processes and decisions to date have been single issue, single iteration problem solving exercises inherited from an environment in which incremental change was the norm and most appropriate. These processes are less and less suitable as rates of required change increase and the relevance of existing processes and curriculum are increasingly called into question (Long, 2009)

Audience

The audience for this research include: staff, faculty and students of CGSC; educators of military professional schools; curriculum developers in graduate schools and organizations engaged in preparing leaders for uncertainty; scholar-practitioners of mixed methods looking to adapt practical field methods of for mixing qualitative and quantitative data; scholars examining the deep theory of the methodology of mixed methods.

Purpose

Purpose of the study, and reasons for a mixed methods study

The purpose of this study is to examine the CGSC curriculum redesign project and the emerging feedback system that guides design decisionmaking, which incorporates both quantitative and qualitative data. The project can be described as intermediate theory in the Edmondson  and McManus ontology, and therefore suitable for mixed methods research since I am introducing an emerging concept (“Voice”), focusing on the exploration of theoretical propositions (the theory of mixed methods), the availability of sets of rich theory that inform the research (adult learning, decisionmaking, complexity, design, learning organizations, narrative inquiry and action research), and incorporating multiple data types and analysis (Edmondson& McManus, 2007, p.1165).

Research Questions and Hypotheses

Quantitative Questions

H1: Student satisfaction measured on the Noel-Levin Adult Learner Satisfaction Survey is not different than their reported overall satisfaction

H2: Student education priorities measured on the Noel-Levin Adult Learner Satisfaction Survey are not different than those of faculty and college leadership as measured on the same instruments

H3: Student education priorities measured on the Noel-Levin Adult Learner Satisfaction Survey do not vary through time in the course of the academic year

H4: Student education priorities measured on the Noel-Levin Adult Learner Satisfaction Survey do not vary after graduation and reassignment to field units

H5: Student satisfaction measured on the Noel-Levin Adult Learner Satisfaction Survey do not vary from satisfaction as measured by existing CGSC Quality Assurance  surveys

Qualitative Questions

What are the dominant and subordinate narratives that emerge from focus group discussions on educational priorities and practice and environment within CGSC?

How does the curriculum design decisionmaking process respond to similarities and differences in narratives that emerge from groups of students, faculty and senior leaders?

Describe the development, emergence of the construct of “Voice” from the CGSC PAR cycles, and how this prototype construct is evolving and being applied by various sub-groups within and associated with CGSC, by applying various interpretive methods of the narrative inquiry tradition.

Mixed Methods Questions

1. To what extent are qualitative insights generated from PAR cycles, focus groups, and individual interviews supported by quantitative data generated from surveys and actual use data of digital communication and collaboration mediums?

2. How are various organizational narratives constructed by sub-groups within the CGSC curriculum design process in order to make sense of quantitative data?

3.  What insights are offered by the application of  various narrative inquiry traditions? Which traditions are favored or overlooked or rejected by curriculum design decisionmakers?

4. What happens within CGSC when students and faculty are given opportunities to exercise “Voice”?

Philosophical Foundations for Mixed Methods Research

Quantitative research literature review

Student satisfaction surveys built on consumer theory (Watkins, 2009) are broadly applied in colleges and universities, and  treat students as  free-willed individuals that choose between alternatives for an educational institution and particular fields of study. They are seen as rational actors with definite expectations about what they want in their educational experience, and that satisfaction occurs when their expectations are met or exceeded. Smart, Feldman and Ethington (2006) note a decline in the attention being paid to the attitudes and behaviors of faculties, administrators, and the college and university environments as contributors to student success.(p.2.). These insights are related to the “college impact” model of student success. Applying the Noel-Levitz  Adult Student Priorities Survey leverages a robust, nationally recognized, validated research instrument whose dimensions reflect the areas of importance emerging from the CGSC Participatory action research  (PAT) study (Long, 2009) and enables  quantitative research into the existing database of historical satisfaction measures currently applied in the college’s curriculum design process.

Qualitative research literature review

The James, Milenkiewicz and Buchnam (2008) application of Participatory Action Research (PAR) develops measureable action steps that can lead to  revolutionary transformations within educational institutions.  The use of measureable qualitative and quantitative data gives power and legitimacy to the insights it generates inside an organization that values rigor and validity, while respecting the intuitive insights of qualitative research.  Prasad describes many techniques of Narrative Inquiry that offer many techniques for interpreting and making sense of qualitative and quantitative data.  Reason & Bradbury, (2008) and Clandinin, (2007), describe these disciplines and crafts of action research and narrative inquiry as having a relatively mature foundation of theory and best practices, with enough variation between sub-disciplines as to create real and significant choices for researchers . Various methodologies in each discipline can be characterized according to their own logic that connects their particular world view (Creswell, 2009), ontology, research technique, data requirements, classification and analysis protocols, and strategies for sense-making of the results of inquiry. The combination of PAR  and narrative inquiry offer a robust set of strategies for generating insightful qualitative data with connections to quantitative data sets, which make them especially useful and practical to mixed methods researchers.

Mixed methods research literature review

Creswell and Plano Clark (2007) provide a broad yet detailed overview of the current state of the art of mixed methods research. They offer a working definition of the field derived from a survey of practice which proceeds from a deep understanding of high quality methods of practice, through choices of design and point to potentials  for the development of deep methodological theory. They offer mixed methods as an appropriate research strategy as a way to improve on the use of either qualitative or quantitative research alone.  In their view, mixed methods are more comprehensive, can answer more  types questions, encourages collaboration  and the deliberate incorporation of more than 1 worldview and is especially well suited for situations where practicality and pragmatism are prized (Creswell & Plano Clark 2007, p8-11).

Methods

A definition of mixed methods research

Creswell and Plano Clark (2007, p.5) define mixed methods research in the following way:

“As a method, it focuses on collecting, analyzing and mixing both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study or series of studies. Its central premise is that the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in combination provides a better understanding of research problems than either approach alone”.

The type of design used and its definition

In this section I will briefly describe the theoretical shortcoming of treating mixed methods merely as a practical solution to improving upon either the qualitative or quantitative approach alone, and why a broader and deeper theory of mixed methods is appropriate for developing deep appreciation of complexity and uncertainty. I will briefly describe two different designs that would pass the test of the Creswell and Plano Clark ontology of mixed methods designs. With appropriate development, either would be approved for research within CGSC.

Comparison table  (adapted from Creswell & Plano Clark (2007)

Design 1 Design 2
Choices Explanatory Exploratory
Theoretical Description A 2 phase  design, where qual helps explain or build upon initial quan results (p.71) 2 phase design where qual results help develop or inform 2d phase quan inquiry
Description of application to CGSC Round 1: the Noel-Levitz Adult Learner Satisfaction Survey is applied to a population, and results are tabulated, analyzed, compared against national  graduate student norms and in  a time series from the beginning, midpoint and endpoint of the academic year. Insights are developed

 

Round 2:  A series of focus groups and individual interviews are used to develop qualitatitive insights to  make sense of the quantitative findings

Round 1: a  set of participatory action research cycles identify areas of pressing concern to leaders, faculty and students within the college. A grounded theory is developed and constructs are defined by the community of practice, informed by theory from PAR outsiders.

 

Round 2: A quant survey is developed to explore deeply into issues and constructs developed by the PAR teams to cross check for validity, to confirm or deny, to support or modify the emerging grounded theory and provide the basis for future inquiries as selected by PAR teams. (Note: this is s summary of the actual process used at CGSC as the basis for this case study. The various tangents deriving from the initial rounds of inquiry generated my epistemological concerns with the pragmatic assumptions of mixed emthods)

Design notation QUAN->QUAL QUAL->QUAN
Justification Needs qual to help explain significant, , non-significant, outlier or surprising quant results Exploration is needed because:

 

1. no existing instrument

2. unknown variables

3. immature theory or framework

Well suited for exploring a phenomenon or when researcher wants to generalize to other populations, test emerging theory or classifications (p. 75)

Variants 1. Follow-up explanations (quan results, insights need additional explanation)

 

2. Participant selection  (where a sampling of representative outliers are selected for follow-on inquiry)

1. instrument development model

 

2. taxonomy development model

Strengths Straightforward implementation

 

Feasible for single researcher

2 section report of results

Supports both single and multiple phase studies

Appealing to quan researchers

1. easy to design, describe, implement and report

 

2. although initial emphasis is on qual, the quan phase makes it easier to appeal to quan audience

3. both variants supports multiphase studies well

Challenges 1. Time consuming

 

2. Decisions on which individuals to use by phase w/justification

3. Difficulties with IRBs

4. Deciding which results to explore

5. Specifying criteria for follow-on inquiry (before or after results?)

1. time consuming

 

2. difficult to specify phase 2 construct for IRB prior to phase 1 results

3. deciding up front which individuals to use in phase 2

4. which data to use in phase 2 instrument

5. deciding relevancy of phase 1 results for phase 2 taxonomy

Timing 2 phase sequential model 2 phase sequential model
Weighting I think the QUAL(quan) model is more likely. This design relies on at least a mature enough state of theory to allow for initial quan inquiry, but we are more concerned with the interpretation and application of insights than in model or theoretical validation the equal weighted choice is more logical; the desired outcome is an improvement to state of theory (quan) by either a better instrument or by an improved taxonomy (ontology). Yet the reliance on initial qual inquiry as a guide makes it at least co-equal to quan.
Mixing the data Either Merging or Connecting is more likely than embedding.  Embedding implies a single phase, whereas this is defined as a 2phase design.  The improved explanation of initial quan findings is how the design could be “connected”. If the interpretation or meaning making is intended to create “rich description” then either variant of merging is logical Connecting is by far the most logical design choice, as the 2 phases are explicitly linked; quan follows qual and the connection is either an instrument or a taxonomy.

 

There is a distinct “manufacturing or processing” aspect to this design, which does not seek to produce a rich description that is a blend, but rather produces a better quan framework as guided by the initial qual inquiry

Diagrams:

Research model 1: Explanatory:

Research model 2: Exploratory:

Analyzing the data:

In both models of mixed methods design the quantitative data would be subjected to power analysis, tests for relationship and causality.  The quantitative hypotheses are framed in the form of null hypotheses in order to determine if there were differences that could be attributed to a difference in instruments and what they are measuring (existing survey vs the Noel-Levitz survey); through time series tests to see if there is a treatment effect, and with the samples subjected to control variables to examine the effects of demographic, career experience, educational goals and faculty specific effects on the measures of satisfaction and importance.

Qualitative data would be subjected to thematic analysis according to the practices of the grounded theory, narrative inquiry and PAR traditions/  Narrative inquiry traditions are especially important here as outlined in Boje (2001).

Analyzing the mixed data would be drivcefn by the specific design selected as noted above.

Theoretical analysis of the consequences of choice in mixed methods design

Both designs would be interpretable as providing a deeper insight and understanding than a study restricted  to either of their individual qualitative or quantitative components. The functional definition of mixed methods (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007, p.5) would lead decisionmakers, particularly of the pragmatic worldview, to ‘receive the wisdom of experts” and seek to straightforwardly apply the insights based on a justifiable belief that they now knew more about what was going on, and had in some fashion reduced the amount of uncertainty about the world around them. My central argument is that there are situations so complex and uncertain that no amount of research and conclusions drawn from best practices of the traditions of both quantitative and qualitative inquiry, and the best practices emerging from mixed methods as described by Creswell and Plano Clark. In fact my use of the word “situation” in the preceding sentence, is an implied assumption that there is such a thing in the real world as a definable “situation” or problem set  which may be bounded and contained by a problem solving, decisionmaking entity. While this construct is the basis for the post positivist tradition, which has endlessly proven its utility in countless settings, it is normal for pragmatists to conflate utility with reality.

It can be argued that there is could be a tacit agreement between constructionists and post-positivists to allow each other the primacy of method and interpretation based on typical problems, and indeed much work is being done to increase cross-discipline understanding, cooperation and integration. The common assumption between these two worldviews is that the end product of such effort is a measureable increase in our knowledge of the world as it is, from which we may exert more control and prediction by having reduced the amount of uncertainty by some amount. This tacit shared assumption I submit is expressed through the research practice of pragmatists who are “naturally” drawn to the mixed methods designs and practices described so well by Creswell and Plano Clark. Given the fertile and as yet only partially explored areas best suited for mixed method research it would be natural for the deeper philosophical theory or theories of mixed methods to be postponed, much as Smart, Feldman and Ethington (2006) found a willingness for researchers to revert to their preferred and more easily measured  research domains and begin to neglect the messy and challenging issues of environmental factors affecting student success. One is reminded of the story of the man who’d lost his key in a dark alley but was searching for it under the streetlight because the light was better there.

I am arguing that there are situations where even mixed methods are properly and rigorously applied, and interpreted in best professional practice, that the insights may serve only to help decision-makers appreciate the vastness of what they do not understand, and better act within an uncertain environment, humble in their ignorance, yet moved to action from values and on the basis of principles informed by the best practice of inquiry.

It is my contention that in those situations described so aptly as “wicked problems” by Rittel & Webber, (1973) that a  deep theory of mixed methods may be developed that is co-equal to that of qualitative and quantitative methods. I argue that mixed methods not only are useful in solving less-than-wicked problems, as described by Creswell and Plano Clark,  but most appropriate to engage with uncertainty and complexity for the express purpose of appreciating deeply the current situation. The deep theory of mixed methods I anticipate would require explicit inclusion of all 4 world views, since there is no a priori basis for excluding any of the 4. I thinkit quite likely that a reasonable assumption of a deep theory of mixed methods in fact could require an explicit inclusion of the best practices of each world view in some fashion, details to be determined, of course.

The shift in epistemological  perspective seems important to me,  and which should be developed in tandem to the directions for improvements in design and pure method described by Creswell and Plano Clark.  Checkland’s application of soft systems methodology,  artfully describes  “learning towards success” in a satisfying way (Checkland & Poulter, 2006).

The best expression of the theoretical stance towards irreducible complexity intersecting the human need for the state of nature or through any objective criteria (Boje, 2001) and in the work of Hayden White (1987) concerning the relationship between narrative discourse and the historical representation. These insights are causing me to reflect deeply on my own essentially pragmatic worldview and its underlying assumptions, and lead me inevitably back to the proposition that we need the methodological theory of mixed methods developed simultaneously with that of its design choices and specific methods.

References

Argyris, C.  (2008). Teaching smart people how to learn. Boston, Harvard Business Press.

Astin, A. (1999) Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher  education.  Journal of College Student Development (Sep/Oct, 19990 (Vol 40, No 5)

Beltyukova, S. & Fox, C. (2002) Student satisfaction as a measure of student development: Towards a universal metric.  Journal of College Student  Development (Mar/Apr 2002)

Checkland, P. & Poulter, J. (2006). Learning for action: A short definitive account of soft systems methodology and its use for practitioners, teachers, and students. West Sussex, England,  John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Clark, M. & Rossiter, M.  (2008). Narrative learning in adulthood.  In S. Merriam (Ed) Third Update On Adult Learning Theory (pp 61-70). San Francisco,  Josey-Bass.

Creswell, J. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (Third ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Dorner, D. (1996). The logic of failure: Recognizing and avoiding error in complex situations. New York, Metropolitan Books.

Edmondson, A., and McManus, S. (2007). Methodological fit in management field research. Academy of Management review 32: 1159-1176

Fenwick, T.  (2008). Workplace learning: Emerging trends and new perspectives.  In S. Merriam (Ed) Third Update On Adult Learning Theory (pp 17-28). San Francisco,  Josey-Bass.

James, E. A., Milenkiewicz, M., Buchnam, A., (2008).  Participatory action research: Data driven decision making for school leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Kearsley, G. (1997). The Virtual Professor: A Personal Case Study. Retrieved from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/virtual.htm

Lincoln, Y. (1983) Expectancy theory as a predictor of grade-point averages, satisfaction and participation in the college environment.  Annual meeting paper, Association for the Study of Higher Education, 1983.

Long, K. (2009). Participatory Action Research pilot study notes. Ft Leavenworth, KS: CGSC (unpublished).

March, J. (1994). A primer on decision making: How decisions happen. New York, The Free Press (Simon & Schuster Inc).

Prasad, P. (2005). Crafting qualitative research: Working in the postpositivist traditions. Armonk, New York, M. E. Sharpe.

Rittel, H., and M. Webber (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning.   Policy Sciences, Vol. 4, pp 155-169.

Schon, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Senge, P., McCabe,N., Lucas, T., & Kleiner, A. (2000). Schools that learn: A fifth discipline fieldbook for eductaors, parents and everyone who cares about education. New York, Doubleday.

Siemens, G., (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.  International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 2 (10), 2005.

Smart, J., Feldman, K., & Ethington, C. (2006). Holland’s theory and patterns of college student success. Commissioned report for the national symposium on postsecondary student success: Spearheading a dialog on student success

Taylor, K. & Lamoreaux, A.  (2008). Teaching with the brain in mind.  In S. Merriam (Ed) Third Update On Adult Learning Theory (pp 49-60). San Francisco,  Josey-Bass.

TRADOC Pam 525-5-500. (2008).  Commander’s Appreciation and Campaign Design.

Trochim, W. Research methods knowledge base (2006). Types of designs.  Retrieved from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/desdes.php

Waldrop, M. (1992,2008). Complexity: The emerging science at the edge of order and chaos. New York, Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Watkins, T, (2009). Consumer theory in economics. San Jose State University Economics Department website. Retrieved from http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/constheo.htm.

White, H.  (1987). The content of the form: narrative discourse and historical representation. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press.

The power of projection

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

by uttering a single word “liar” at an inopportune moment, first Maureen Dowd, the well known mind reader, and now Jimmy Carter (who’s anti-Semitism has been well documented by Christopher Hitchens) have authoritatively detected racism in Joe Wilson.

As if it is inconceivable for opposition to the Dear Leader could possibly be on policy grounds.

I guess you see and hear what you insist on hearing and seeing. i think it says everything about Dowd and Carter and nothing about Joe Wilson

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Bush speechwriter insights to the world of strategic policymaking

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Republican loyalists will seize on the behind the scenes reporting to indict the young speechwriter for disloyalty.  i say however that Bush asks some good questions about the policies his staff are bringing him to support that clearly violate his guidance.  It indicts the President for not having the right people around him, a responsibility he may not evade, but I thgiunk it reveals that he was savvier than he is given credit for.

He was right about Hillary’s behind, Obama’s naivete, and Palin’s as well, and that McCain is a nut.

The most important indictment, one not addressed, is just how stupid it is to grant unchecked authority to anyone at the highest levels. Paulson comes actross as a loose cannon, out of synch with anything remotely resembling policy. i dont care which party is in office, they ar eno match for a self-regulaitng market

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Speech checklist

September 9, 2009 1 comment

  • Blame Bush? check
  • Call republicans lying, scaremongering politically expedient hacks? check
  • Then invite republicans to be reasonable and cooperate? check
  • Use fuzzy unsupportable numbers?  check
  • increase the partisanship? check
  • have more other hands than an economist? check
  • gloss over disconfirming facts (like CBO analysis)? check
  • characterize opposition as haters and obstructionists and toadies to powerful interests? check
  • surround yourself with grinning halfwits like Biden and Pelosi? check
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