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Preliminary Dissertation Proposal Outline Draft Assignment Instructions


You will construct a preliminary dissertation proposal outline draft which will serve as a basis for your future dissertation proposal defense. The requirements for the proposal defense can be found in the dissertation handbook. The assignment will include the proposed title of your dissertation written in APA format. The assignment will also include a 1-3 paragraph research topic, statement of the problem, and research gap. Items to be included in these paragraphs are described below. You will also include a methodology section which will describe your study, include the type of design and detail your procedure you are proposing to be used for analysis. This section is also described in more detail below. This document will serve as a preliminary Proposal as you move towards the Dissertation Design course.


Below is a brief outline of what is included in this assignment. Following the outline is a detailed outline and description of what should be included in each section and, in many cases, examples of what should be included.

Assignment Details

· Proposed Title of Dissertation

· Research Topic and Gap in the literature

· Proposed Methodology

· Description of Study

· Participants

· Setting

· Research Design

· Research Questions

· Hypotheses

· Instrumentation

· Procedure

Proposed Title of Dissertation

Using the APA Manual, you will construct a concise but descriptive preliminary title for your dissertation.

Research Topic and Gap in the Literature

In about 3 paragraphs, you will describe the topic for your dissertation and what the research gap is that your study will address. You may write more paragraphs if needed. Here is an example adapted and modified from another dissertation that includes all of these elements (Sung Hoon Kim’s LU 2017 dissertation):

Research Topic

This study is designed to incorporate diversity into Christian accommodative approaches for mental health practices. Specifically, the Latino evangelical perspective is one that is of growing importance in the United States.

Statement of the Problem and Research Gap

Two Christian approaches are increasingly gaining importance in dealing with mental health within Christian communities: Christian-accommodative professional therapies and Christian-derived approaches functioning primarily in church settings (Johnson, 2013; Johnson, Worthington, Hook, & Aten, 2013a, 2013b). Christian-accommodated therapies refer to established secular therapies with Christian elements incorporated to work with individuals with similar faith confessions. In contrast, Christian-derived models develop strategies through applying Scriptural principles and historical Christian spiritual practices (such as Christian Spiritual Disciplines of prayer, meditation, Scripture study, solitude, fellowship, etc.) rather than starting with a secular theory like CBT (Johnson, Worthington, Hook et al., 2013, p. 331).

Existing studies about the efficacy of Christian accommodated and derived psychotherapies suffer significant methodological limitations (Worthington, Johnson, Hook, et al. 2013). While randomized studies of Christian accommodative CBT treatments have demonstrated equivalent results compared to secular CBT with Christian clients (Worthington, Hook, Davis et al., 2011), studies on Christian-derived methods are minimal at best (Johnson, 2007). For example, Christian devotional methods of meditation only have one randomized study (See Carlson, Bacaseta, and Simanton, 1988). This study has methodological issues, measurement issues, and is quite dated. Though some initial non-randomized studies of centering prayer are beginning (e.g., Monroe & Jankowski, 2016) and some studies utilize “universal” meditation strategies that may incorporate Christian principles if the client is Christian (Wachholtz & Pargament, 2005, 2008), true outcomes-based experiments are lacking for Christian meditation and the other Christian-derived methods mentioned that will be included in this protocol.

The current study addresses this gap in the literature through subjecting the developed protocol to empirical scrutiny. In the process of doing this study, another research gap will also be addressed—the lack of cultural diversity in studies of Christian accommodative and Christian-derived methods (Worthington, Johnson, Hook et al., 2013). The study will utilize the Latino evangelical Christian church population.

Proposed Methodology Outline

You will sketch out your methodology in as much detail as possible currently. The outline here is general at best. Examples for quantitative, mixed, and program development/evaluation studies (labeled “quantitative” for the remainder of this section) and qualitative studies will be given. For both quantitative and qualitative studies, you will get the best ideas about what sections to create in your outline by looking at research articles using your design.

Description of the Study

Participants. Describe who you want to participate in your study. Here is a quantitative example and a qualitative example:

Quantitative participant example adapted from Garzon & Paloma (2005):

Participants for this survey will be adults attending a four-day Advanced Theophostic Training conference in the eastern United States. The minimal requirements recommended by Smith (2000) for attendance include having taken the Theophostic Basic Training seminar, completing 30 hours of Theophostic Ministry with other people (clients, friends, prayer partners, etc.), and having received 10 hours of personal Theophostic Ministry. Theophostic Ministry, prior to granting permission to attend the conference, investigates the requirement of previous attendance at a basic training seminar. Irregular queries are also made in regards to the last two criteria. Given this lack of consistency, it is unclear how many of the participants will actually have had 10 hours of personal ministry and how many have had 30 hours of ministry experience.

Qualitative example adapted from Sites, Garzon, Milacci, et al. 2009:

Participant selection for this study will be accomplished through a form of criterion sampling (Creswell, 2007). More specifically, selection for participation will be based on student perception of a faculty member’s effectiveness in the practice of integration. Using archival data from a previous survey in which one question asked students to identify one individual whom they considered “to be the faculty member that I have learned Christian integration from the most”, the faculty members who received the highest number of student nominations will be invited to participate in the study.

Setting. Where will your study be held? If it’s an online survey, state this and note whom the survey will be sent to.

Research Design. What type of research design will you be using? The more specific the name, the better. Here are some examples:

This study will be a randomized pre-test post-test waiting list control group study.

This study will be a phenomenological qualitative study.

This study will be a needs assessment program development study.

This study will be a time series N of 1 case study design.

This study will be a quantitative survey combined with a focus group.

Research Question(s) Here is an example of 2 research questions adapted from a quantitative study (Kristy Ford’s 2016 LU dissertation)

Research Question 1. “Does the adaptation of mindfulness training to a Christian worldview alter the impact of the intervention by positively modifying outcomes on measures of perceived stress?”

Research Question 2. “Will the inclusion of God-awareness alongside open present-moment awareness due to the explicit integration of a Christian worldview positively impact the capacity for secure attachment to God?”

Preliminary Hypothesis(es)

Hypothesis 1. Hypothesis 1 of this study was that the application of a mindfulness training protocol would result in measurable decreases in the perception of stress for participants in both the CMT and the MT group based on responses on the DASS and the PSS.

Hypothesis 2. Hypothesis 2 of this study was that as a result of adapting mindfulness training to a Christian worldview, measurement outcomes from the CMT group would reveal increased security in attachment to God in comparison to the MT group based on responses on the AGI and the Awareness and Instability subscales of the SAI.

Instrumentation. What sorts of measures will be included in your study? Here is an example section with instruments adapted from a quantitative study (Sung Hoon Kim’s 2017 LU dissertation).

Demographic questionnaire

Participant information such as age, gender, cultural background, SES status, etc. will be included.

The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21

The DASS-21 measures Depression, Anxiety, and Stress levels for both clinical patients and non-clinical population with only 21 items (Antony, Bieling, Cox, Enns, & Swinson, 1998).

World Health Organization Quality of Life – BREF

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the Quality of Life is defined “as individuals’ perception of their position in life in the context of culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns” (WHOQOL Group, 1998b, p. 1569). The WHO Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) was developed, from the WHOQOL-100, as a generic and abbreviated questionnaire (26 items) to measure quality of life. It measures the quality of life in four major dimensions; physical health, psychological, social relationships, and environment.

The Attachment to God Inventory

Beck and McDonald (2004) developed the Attachment to God Inventory to measure the individual level of attachment to God. The AGI is designed with two subscales: Avoidance of Intimacy (11 Likert items) and Anxiety about Abandonment (11 Likert items).

The Theistic Spiritual Outcomes Survey

The TSOS is a 17-item self-administered survey that measures individuals’ spiritual outcomes of psychotherapy. This survey has three subscales: Love of God, Love of Others, and Love of Self (Richards, Smith, Schowalter, Richard, Berrett & Hardman, 2005).


Here you describe what you will actually be doing in the particular research design you mentioned above. Two examples will be given: A quantitative survey example and phenomenological qualitative study example:

Quantitative Survey example adapted from Garzon & Paloma (2005):

The survey will be given during the Theophostic Advanced Training Conference. Announcements regarding the anonymous, optional survey will be made during the second day of the conference. Survey forms will be passed out and collected during breaks between sessions. To facilitate debriefing, the survey conductors will remain in the building during breaks to answer any questions. No formal controls will be available to prevent participant collaboration in completing the forms.

Qualitative Procedure Example for a phenomenological study adapted from Sites, Garzon, Milacci, et al., 2009:

Consistent with most phenomenological research, data will be collected via conversational, semistructured interviews as the primary means of exploring in depth the phenomenon of interest (Creswell, 2007; van Manen, 1990). Participants will answer open-ended questions and thus will be able to tell their stories with all the richness inherent therein (Lee & Stronks, 1994). All interviews will last from 60 minutes to 2 and 1/2 hours and begin by asking participants several “grand tour” questions (Leech, 2002, p. 667) such as “tell me about your faith” in an attempt to get them to share their own stories and narratives in a very open-ended fashion (Milacci, 2003). The interviews will be audio taped and subsequently transcribed. Follow up interviews will also conducted.

Subsequent to the data collection process, the data will be approached in terms of “meaning units, structures of meaning or themes” (van Manen, 1990, p. 78). This process of recovering themes embodied in the work is identified as “theme analysis” (van Manen, 1990, p. 78), a procedure in which the researcher attempts to gain control and order of the data by “seeing” meaning in the data (van Manen, 1990, p. 79). Initially, the data analysis will begin by listening and re-listening to the interview tapes while at the same time reading and re-reading the transcribed interview data, field notes, and other pertinent participant documents in search of meaning units or structures of the phenomenon of interest, the Integration of Faith and Learning. Then, words, phrases, sentences, etcetera, that are deemed potentially significant to this study will be highlighted and/or noted directly on the written transcripts. In time, after a myriad of readings and re-readings of the transcripts, data that directly addresses the research questions will be coded into meaning units that eventually become the themes and subthemes of this study. Finally, as a means of ensuring credibility and trustworthiness, both member checking with participants and periodic peer review of the data (Creswell, 2007) will be employed.

Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.

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