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SCIENTIFIC MERIT ACTION RESEARCH TEMPLATE (SMART) FORM
a.k.a. “Research Plan”
School of Public Service Leadership
Scientific Merit Process
Learners who are doing action research for their dissertation will use this form to go through the process of scientific merit review. The goals of this process are: (1) to facilitate the planning of the details of your action research project, (2) to ensure that the proposed project has rigor and allows for scientific merit review, and (3) to facilitate your progress through the dissertation. This is not an addition to your dissertation but rather a step to assist you in obtaining mentor, committee, school, and IRB approval more efficiently. You must obtain mentor, committee, and school approval of your Research Plan before submitting your IRB application.
Scientific Merit Criteria
The following criteria will be used to establish scientific merit. The purpose of the review will determine if the proposed project:
1. Contributes to society by improving a practice
2. Documents need for change by utilizing evidence-based needs assessment
3. Meets certain “Hallmarks” of a good action research project including:
a. Action research design
iii. Defined Action Plan
Scientific Merit Approval
Your completed SMART form will be approved, not approved, or deferred for major or minor revisions. Your committee will use a checklist to determine if the study meets the criteria for scientific merit and the committee will provide specific feedback designed to identify any issues that need to be resolved related to the scientific merit. You will have up to three opportunities to submit this form for committee approval.
Obtaining scientific merit approval does not guarantee you will obtain IRB approval. The IRB review will focus on ethical issues. A detailed ethical review will be conducted during the process of IRB approval.
Recommendations for How to Use This Form
The SMART form is intended to help you and your mentor plan the design and details of your dissertation. Once your mentor approves your SMART form, your entire committee will review the form for scientific merit. When the entire committee approves your SMART form, then it will be submitted for school approval. It is recommended that you use this form in a step-by-step way to help plan your design. Expect that you will go through a few revisions before your mentor and committee approve this form.
Tips for filling out the SMART form:
• Prepare your answers in a separate Word document, as editing and revising will be easier.
• Copy/paste items into the right-hand fields when they are ready.
• Don’t delete the descriptions in the left column!
• Don’t lock the form, as that will stop you from editing and revising within the form.
• Leave no blank spaces in the form. If an item does not apply to your study, type “NA” in its field.
• Read the item descriptions carefully. Items request very specific information. Be sure you understand what is asked (Good practice for your IRB application!).
• Use primary sources to the greatest extent possible as references. Textbooks (Patton, Leedy and Ormrod, etc.) are not acceptable as the only references supporting methodological and design choices. Use them to track down the primary sources.
Upcoming Milestone Steps:
Milestone Group 1
Milestone 1: Learner Completed CITI Modules
Milestone 2: Committee approved topic (Sections 1 & 2 of SMART form)
Milestone 3: Mentor Approved Research Plan (complete SMART form)
Milestone Group 2
Milestone 4: Committee Approved Research Plan
Milestone 5: School Approved Research Plan
Milestone 6: University Approved IRB
Milestone 7: Committee Conference Call
Section #1 To be completed by Learner
1.1 Learner Name Dorothy “Kaprina” Worthy
1.2 Learner Program DOCTORAL OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
1.3 Learner Email Dorothy3@capellauniversity.edu;email@example.com 1.4 Learner Phone 305-293-5806 work; 404-931-4807
1.5 Mentor Name/Email Dr. Rudolph Ryser Rudolph.firstname.lastname@example.org
(Mentor/Chair of Committee)?
1.6 Committee Member #1 Name/Email Dr. Carol Beckeremail@example.com
1.7 Committee Member #2 Name/Email Dr. Arthur Gaffrey firstname.lastname@example.org
1.8 Dissertation Title Action Research Study of the Effects of a Mentoring Program on Leadership Development
1.9 Site Selected Joint Interagency Task Force South
1.10 Contact Info for Site Approver & Expected Approval Date Patricia Mailer
Chief of Human Resources
Section #2 To be completed by Learner
Write approximately one paragraph that describes the action research project and the basis for it being addressed.
This Action Research study explores the effects of a mentoring Program on Leadership Development at Joint Interagency Task Force South situated in the United States Department of Defense. Joint Interagency Task Force South is a multiagency, multiservice task force with a mandate to carry out counter operations on illicit trafficking, as well as fusion of intelligence. This Florida-based organization conducts multi-sensor correspondence to monitor illicit trafficking that can pose a threat to regional stability and national security. As mentioned by Ellinger (2013), mentoring occurs for a wide range of individuals in contexts such as privately and publicly funded organizations, educational institutions, community-based institutions, professional associations and work organizations.
Ellinger, A. D., (2013). Mentoring in Contexts: The Workplace and Educational Institutions. Retrieved June 2, 2014 from http://calpro-online.org/eric/docs/mott/mentoring4.pdf
2.2 Contribution to Society
Using citations, answer the following questions in order:
1. How does your project improve a current practice?
2. If your action research project is successful, how could your project impact your field of interest?
3. What are the practical implications of your project? For example, what will be the impact of this project on your sample, your site location, or your workplace?
1. Currently, Joint Interagency Task Force South lacks a mentoring program. This is despite the numerous advantages associated with the practice. Burke (1984) and Kram (1985) stated that mentoring is a relationship between a less experienced individual (protégé) and a more experienced individual (mentor) who are focused on achieving organizational success. A substantive mentoring program would be results-oriented so that the organization can deliver relevant leadership competencies that are required for organizational growth, and mentoring has been found to support leadership development initiatives (Avolio, 1999; Bass, 1981; Kram, 1985). More recently, Leadership Development Programs and mentoring program have been discussed in terms of one program supporting the other (Fulmer, Stumpf, & Bleak, 2009).. Also, Metros and Yang (2006) described the mentoring relationship in terms of improving performance, developing leadership skills and mentoring is the opportunity to maximize one’s potential. Mentoring is also a great opportunity to enhance an individual’s insight into their role as leaders, broaden their own perspectives within the organization and consider their own professional career paths (Shea, 2003).
Mentoring has also been linked with preparing leaders for challenges (Grazier, 2002). In addition, it is important to clarify that both mentoring and coaching have been highly correlated as being significant components of leadership development. Rix and Gold (2000) indicated that coaching allows for leadership development; however, coaching is strongly associated with directing and giving instruction to complete specific tasks, whereas mentoring can include coaching to help instruct the protégé to complete tasks. Current literature indicates that mentoring not only supports leadership development initiatives but is also a vital component of leadership directives (Francis, 2009; Fulmer, Stumpf, & Bleak, 2009; Maguire, Tavares, & Gorsline, 2009; Miller & Desmarais, 2007; Trahant, 2008).Recent research in the field suggests that leadership development has an influence on the effectiveness of leaders and managers (S. Allen, 2009; Bicego, 2006; Boland, 2009; Curry, 2009; DiGirolamo, 2009; Hall, Forrester, & Borsz, 2008; Scott & Webber, 2008). It is also suggests that mentoring plays an enormous role within the leadership development process (Darmstadter, 2006). To discover how mentoring can prepare leaders to face organizational challenges, first it is important to explore and understand the historical foundations of leadership development.
Allen, D. T., Finkelstein, L. M. and Poteet, M. L. (2009). Designing Workplace Mentoring Programs: An Evidence-Based Approach Paperback. San Francisco, US: Wiley Blackwell.
Erdem, F., & Aytemur, J. O. (2008). Mentoring—A relationship based on trust: Qualitative research. Public Personnel Management, 37(1), 55–65.
Forman, D.C. (2004). Changing perspectives from individual to organizational learning. Performance Improvement, 43(7), 16–21. doi:10.1002/pfi.4140430707
Van Tiem, D. M., Moseley, J. L., & Dessinger, J. C. (2001). Performance improvement interventions: Enhancing individuals, processes, and organizations through performance technology. Silver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance
Zachary, L. J., (2005). Creating a Mentoring Culture: The Organization’s Guide. San Francisco,US: Jossey-Bass.
2. If this research project is successful it could positively effect leadership development at Joint Interagency Task Force South, therefore, enhancing the commitment and motivation in role, improved competence, increased job satisfaction, personal confidence and improved work relationship. Research indicates that formal and informal mentoring programs can have a significant impact on a new employee’s expectations, assimilation, and retention (Barkun, 2006; Hezlett & Gibson, 2005). It has also been shown, “mentoring is a good predictor of an individual’s career satisfaction” and “several meta-analyses have shown, mentoring is a good predictor of an individual’s career satisfaction” (Blickle, Witzki, & Schneider, 2009, p. 94).
Barkun, A. (2006). Maximizing the relationship with a mentor. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy,
64(6), S4-S6. doi:10.1016/j.gie.2006.11.006
Blickle, G., Witzki, A., & Schneider, P. B. (2009). Self-initiated mentoring and career success: a predictive field study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74, 94-101. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2008.10.008
3. The practical implications of a Mentoring Program on Leadership Development in Joint Interagency Task could meets five basic objectives: organizational change, affirmative action, succession planning, retention and recruitment. Besides, it could create a culture built on inclusiveness, mutual respect, openness, trust and high performance through all management levels in the organization. Murphy (2005) identified mentorship as a significant leader development strategy that is increasingly important for the upward mobility of future leaders. Amidst the complexity of the 21st century economic environment, many organizations recognize the significance of people or human capital as strategic resources. Consequently, there is an increased focus on developing these resources (Phillips, 2005). Developing mentoring skills among managers may further facilitate a practical strategy for executive leader development as well as viable succession planning (Soonhee, 2003). The literature demonstrates that authors agree with the notion of mentoring as an influential tool for protégés, mentors, and organizations.
Murphy, S. A. (2005, Autumn). Recourse to executive coaching: The mediating role of human resources. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 7(3), 175- 186. Retrieved May 29, 2014 from EBSCOhost database.
Phillips, J. J. (2005, August). The value of human capital: What logic and intuition tell us? Chief Learning Officer, 4(8), 50-52. Retrieved May 29, 2014, from EBSCOhost database.
Soonhee, K. (2003, Winter). Linking employee assessments to succession planning. Public Personnel Management, 32(4), 533-547.
2.3 Need and Evidence to Make Change
Provide current information on your needs assessment or analysis for change. Include the cost-benefit analysis if indicated by design.
The hunt for approaches through which organizations can enhance employee engagement are of strategic significance to their sustainability (Zachary 2011). This study is significant because of the potential impact of formal mentoring on the effective development of talented managers at a small agency. Mentoring provides a formal opportunity for senior leaders and directors to provide their expertise to less experienced employees in an effort to advance careers and enhance proficiency (Williams 2008). Williams goes on to say, “Mentorship facilitates employee growth through on the job experience and the expertise of senior executives.” However, according to Mathis and Jackson (2003), despite many successful attempts, the mentoring process continues to challenge many organizations. Identifying mentor proficiencies required to develop leaders for continued upward mobility in a joint interagency is a challenge. This study, therefore, is a strong suggestion that effective mentoring programs enhance employees’ commitment, consequently, improving employee, as well as organization’s performance.
Mathis, R. L., & Jackson, J. H. (2003). Human resource management (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western.
Williams Pat L. (2008). Developing 21st Century small Business Leaders through formal Mentoring
Zachary, L. J., (2011). The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships. San Francisco, US: Jossey-Bass.
2.4 Theoretical Foundation
Describe the theory or theories that serve as the backbone of your project. Provide references for each theory.
The conceptual framework will focus on the relationship of mentoring as a contribution to leadership development through motivation. Furthermore, a qualitative case study will be employed to attempt to truly capture the experiences of the participants and to create results and outcomes that management could use to bring meaning to the value of mentoring. This is because it incorporates a categorization of fundamental human needs into self-actualization, social, safety, self-esteem and physiological. This provides managers with an undertaking of assisting their employees satisfy their needs, therefore, making them better employees. Leadership is a crucial aspect in an organization because without it employees lose direction, thus, a chaotic work environment (Murphy & Kram 2014). On the other hand, employees cannot perform to their best capacity without motivation (Kouzes and Posner 2012). This illustrates the significance of leadership and motivational theories to an organization. This therefore, form the basis of the project given that the advancement of a Mentoring Program on Leadership Development at Joint Interagency Task Force South will require the organization’s leaders to guide the project with a high purpose, values and meaning.
There are four motivational theories that should be considered in the forefront of mentoring: need, expectancy, goal-setting, and reinforcement theories.
Early psychologist thought of humans and animals as reactionary creatures driven to respond to basic needs such as hunger, thirst, cold, etc. Maslow (1943, 1954) contributed a great deal to our understanding of needs by theorizing that needs are ordered in a hierarchy based on their relative strengths. The most basic needs must be satisfied before we can focus on the next level. Need theories allow us to identify which need or needs may be most active for individuals and to specify outcomes which may lead to need satisfaction.
Expectancy Theory The expectancy theory, sometimes called instrumentality theory or valence-instrumentality-expectancy (VIE) theory, is based on the idea that motivation is the result of (a) the strength of belief (expectation) that a specific outcome or outcomes will follow a given behavior together with (b) the personal value (or valence) a person attaches to this outcome. If, for example, a volunteer believes that there is a high probability that delivering meals to the elderly will lead to a more comfortable existence for many elderly persons and attaches great personal importance to this outcome, then we could anticipate that this volunteer would be strongly motivated to choose to volunteer with Meals on Wheels rather than to seek alternative uses of his or her time.
Goal Setting Theory
When an individual feels there is disequilibrium, it frequently results in consideration of setting a new or modified goal. Edwin Locke (1969) advanced the Goal Setting Theory as he explained a comprehensive theory of motivation in which people’s conscious goals are the primary determinants of their actions. Thus, the types of goal or goals that are set have a primary influence on human behavior. Incentives of various types, such as monetary reward, advancement, formal recognition, reassignment to more interesting or challenging work, training, etc., have an impact on future behavior depending on how they affect the person’s goals.
In contrast to need theory, expectancy theory, and goal setting theory, Moore (1985) suggested that the reinforcement theory directs our attention to the process of learning the ways rewards and punishments influence behavior. Simply put, any behavior that results in pleasant consequence (positive reinforcement) is more likely to be repeated.
Kouzes, J. M. and Posner, B. Z. (2012). The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations Hardcover. San Francisco, US: Jossey- Bass.
Kram, K. E., (1988). Mentoring at Work: Developmental Relationships in Organizational Life Paperback. Maryland, US: University Press of America.
Murphy, W. and Kram, K. (2014). Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life Hardcover. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Ragins, B. R. and Kram, K. E. (2007). The Handbook of Mentoring at Work: Theory, Research, and Practice. London, UK: SAGE Publications, Inc.
2.5 Researcher Positionality:
• Insider w/collaboration
• Reciprocal collaboration
• Outsider, collaboration w/ insiders
Define your role, position, and how positionality will impact your research study.
• INSIDER W/COLLABORATION
I will conduct this study as an insider with collaboration since I work at JIATFS and I have access to all resources. As an insider with collaboration, I plan to work in partnership with the team at JIATF. I am in a unique position to study this particular topic in dept and with distinctive knowledge about this topic. Not only do I have insider knowledge, but also I will have easy access to people and information that can further enhance that knowledge. I am in a prime position to investigate and implement changes to a practice. Working together collaboratively with consistent, clear, and open communication can be a significant determinant of a successful relationship during the period of this research. I have an advantage when dealing with the complexity of work situations because I have in-depth knowledge of many of the complex issues. This is vital when trying to analyze a mentoring program.
Raelin (2008) recognizes the growing body of evidence suggesting that work based projects may prove immensely beneficial to the long-term success of companies. Nixon (2008) demonstrates that engaging in reflection at work and undertaking insider-led research can make significant contributions to work practices. Bonner and Tolhurst (2002) identified three key advantages of being an insider- researcher: (a) having a greater understanding of the culture being studied; (b) not altering the flow of social interaction unnaturally; and (c) having an established intimacy which promotes both the telling and the judging of truth. Further, insider-researchers generally know the politics of the instutition, not only the formal hierarchy but also how it “really works”.
Bonner, A., & Tolhurst, G. (2002). Insider-outsider perspectives of participant observation. Nurse Researcher, 9(4), 7-19.
Nixon, I. (ed.) (2008) Work-Based Learning Impact Study. Available at:
based+learning” [accessed 25 June 2009].York: Higher Education Academy.
Raelin, J. (2008) Work-based Learning: Bridging Knowledge and Action in the Workplace. San Francisco,
2.6 Research Questions and Project Goals/Objectives
List the research questions or project goals. These should align with the need for organizational structure or activities/outcomes of the project.
1. How does mentoring contribute to leadership development at JIATFSand self-actualization, social, safety, self-esteem and physiological development? ?
2. How does mentoring objectives play a role in the development of leaders within a small federal agencyWhat motivates a leader to mentor?
Section #3 To be completed by Learner
3.1 Action Plan
Provide detailed steps to implementing your research plan. This should read like a recipe for conducting your project.
Be sure to include all the necessary details so that someone else would be able to follow this and replicate the project exactly.
In implementing the research plan, data will be efficiently and effectively collected and the information within it analyzed. Data collection will be conducted by Joint Interagency Task Force South. As an organization, Joint Interagency Task Force South understands that is the most expensive of all processes in research process, and they will take extra care to ensure that no issues and problems arise with respondents not willing to offer information. Additionally, the data will be processed and analyzed with intrinsic so as to make sure that the critical information and findings get isolated. Data will be reviewed and evaluated for accuracy, completeness and coded for final analysis. The results obtained will then be tabulated and statistical measures computed from it.
Describe your program evaluation and dissemination of results plan.
3.3. Measures and Instruments
List and describe each data collection instrument or measurement tool you will use. This includes questionnaires, formal interview protocols, forms, etc. Include:
a. Data type(s) generated by each measure
b. Available psychometric information (including validity and reliability coefficients)
c. How this data will be used
Attach a copy of each instrument you plan to use as an appendix to your SMART form.
Data will be collected via the following tools and instruments.
Checklists and observations
Ideally, the purpose of this research seeks to determine the value that the mentoring program will add to the employees and the organization as a whole. Through checklist and observations, the employees can offer insight into how the mentoring program will be beneficial to them. The checklist to be employed will be credible, valuable and relevant to the research questions. The data obtained will determine the total number of employees for and against the mentoring program implementation.
A varied number of queries will be addressed to employees to determine what value the mentoring program will add to their lives within and without the work environment.
We will also focus our attention on a group of individuals in managerial positions to determine whether they are pro or quo the mentoring program.
Beyond the questionnaires, we will conduct interviews to determine whether the employees at Joint Interagency Task Force South would be willing to undertake the mentoring program and how they feel it would benefit them. Through the above, we will also determine those not willing to undertake the program and why they would not.
3.4 If Modifying an Instrument:
Describe any pilot test or field test that may be required for any instruments. Type NA if not applicable. Field tests must be done:
a. For new instruments or questions developed by the learner.
b. With expert panelists. Field tests require no IRB review. A pilot test requires IRB review.
Identify the key assumptions of the project; use citations to support their adoption.
The major assumption in this project is the positive reception. The mentoring program is bound to bring about positive results and ideally, that is the line towards which the research declines.
Evaluate the weaknesses of your project at this time. Indicate areas to be improved before starting your project and areas that cannot be improved. Give reasons for not redesigning to address any of the limitations identified.
3.7 Population and Sampling
Describe the key stakeholders or population of your project. Briefly describe the characteristics of this sample, including:
b. Inclusion criteria, if any
c. Exclusion criteria, if any
Describe how you plan to select the sample. Include the steps you will take to include participants.
3.8 Sample Size
What is the expected sample size? Provide citations to support the sample size decision.
3.9 Expected Site
Describe the organization or site(s) from which you expect to draw your sample.
3.10 Site Permission
Who is authorized to provide permission to use this organization or site? Does the site have an IRB? What do you need to do to obtain permission to access the stakeholders, population, or data source?
3.11 Participant Contact
How will potential participants first be contacted? How will participants be contacted following the study?
3.12 Data Analysis
Describe analysis procedures for each data type including: audiotapes, transcripts, videotape, field notes, photos, descriptive analysis, other quantitative analysis, etc.
Describe all methods and procedures for data analysis including:
a. Types of data to be analyzed
b. Organization of raw data
c. Management and processing of data
d. Preparation of data for analysis
e. Storage and protection of data
3.13 Ethical Considerations
Describe any ethical considerations given the sample population and/or topic. Please explain as fully as possible.
Describe any ethical concerns about defined researcher positionality. Address any potential for coercion.
3.14 Risk Assessment
Is your study more than minimal risk? Refer to your CITI course for more information about minimal risk. Please explain.
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