Quality is a key expectation in matters pertaining to academic investigations. Such is often the case as these projects aim at improving how their readership perceive the issues under discussion as well as their significance in the respective fields. This line of thought is quite essential when going through research papers. It is through understanding the value of quality that an analyst evaluates a research with respect to relevance and credibility. With that said, this essay presents a critical appraisal of Mozhgan, Parivash, Nadergholi, and Jowkar's Student Leadership and Competencies Development article. Available in the 'Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences' journal, the article engages its readers in an in-depth exploration of the leadership concept at its basic level. The researchers placed emphases on student leadership with the underlying belief that the stage plays a pivotal role in the development of individuals who later assume governance position in the occupational setting. Clearly, the scope of the research is in line with the Human Resource Management discipline; hence, it is quite relevant in the present analysis. It also appears wise to mention that the article in question incorporates information from a qualitative study, which utilized the triangulation approach: the investigators relied on focus group interviews, individual interviews, informal discussion, and documentation reviews. Considering the approach taken by Mozhgan and cohorts - as well as their findings - the analyst rates the research at 6 on a scale of 0 to 10. The following sections provide a detailed breakdown of the qualitative evaluation.
As mentioned in the introductory section, academic investigations are usually conducted to enhance industrial practice and standards. The same can be said of Mozhgan (2011). The researchers aimed at enhancing practitioners' (in the education sector) knowledge of the factors that promote or discourage leadership skills among students. They engaged in the project with the conventional assumption that today's students are tomorrow's societal leaders. In this regard, it is apparent that the education system plays a major role in the society. Normally, such an objective ought to be accompanied by credible information. Such a sentiment is grounded on the underlying fact that accurate representation of the phenomena is essential in the development of any practice regardless of the industry/sector. On that note, one would be urged to reflect on the issue of credibility. When exploring an article's credibility, various factors come into play including the researcher(s)' qualifications, academic endorsements (peer reviews), and the information sources.
As far as the first is concerned, Mozhgan was on a Ph.D. program (Science & Research) while the rest were faculty members during their investigation. This information is relevant as it allows an analyst to assess whether the researchers had sufficient knowledge and skills. Considering their academic qualifications, one can agree that the researchers possessed vast knowledge of matters relating to research. As for academic endorsement, their project was included in the Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences journal: this implies that the paper went through intense scrutiny from academic peers before the inclusion. Lastly, a research project's credibility relies on the information sources used by the investigators. As far as the Student Leadership Competencies Development article is concerned, data was sourced from both primary and secondary sources. The primary information was collected through qualitative triangulation: included findings from interviews (individual and focus groups), documentation review, and informal discussions. Fairly, all of the mentioned options are effective when it comes to qualitative investigations. Such is usually the case as they enhance a researcher's grasp of the phenomena from an abstract point-of-view. The researchers in question included students in their primary data collection process; hence, they managed to obtain information from the right group. As for the secondary information, the researchers used a total of 23 sources: most of which were books. Agreeably, these information sources are convenient as they bring out the qualitative aspect of the research.
Inasmuch as the article's credibility has been enhanced by the researchers' qualification, the information sources, and the academic endorsement, it has been undermined by their inadequate use of the information sources. On reading the article, one can note that the discussion and conclusions were based on the secondary sources rather than the primary sources. This sentiment is grounded in the belief that the focus of the section should be on the study evidence rather than the findings of secondary sources. One would agree that the credit would have been enhanced if the discussions and conclusion were based on the primary sources. Nonetheless, it must be acknowledged that the researchers managed to promote logic and coherence in their conclusion: they summarized all the factors that are believed to affect student leadership.
Like credibility, relevance is also a key aspect of high-quality research projects. When reflecting on this concept, it is important to explore the impact of the research on the existing knowledge. Student Leadership Competencies Development expands the current knowledge on the value of education on the development of leadership skills. The research has been based on the Interactive Leadership Model developed by Sillien and colleagues. It is a four-tiered framework that emphasizes the recognition of self-development, perception, and appreciation of others, interaction with others, and perception of environmental conditions and external factors. Basically, the model suggests that leadership depends on an individual's ability to interact with and learn from his/her situation and environment. This theoretical perspective offers a broad view of the leadership concept. When placed into perspective, the Interactive Leadership Model is general as it describes the fundamentals of leadership skills among human beings.
In a successful attempt to expand the existing knowledge on the matter, Mozhgan et al (2011) placed their focus on student leadership. At this point, the reader is urged to contemplate the scope of the study. The researchers' decision to delve into the education sector is quite convenient as it is obvious, one of the most basic levels in which leadership qualities are nurtured. This fact has been echoed by the researchers when they claim that student leadership is the primary duty of tertiary education institutions. In light of such a bold declaration, the researchers' investigation has explained how exactly the education system promotes leadership skills among students. This was achieved through the exploration of five exclusive questions including:
- What is leadership?
- What is leadership development?
- How do leadership experiences reflect in university and life?
- What are the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for effective leadership?
- What are the main aspects of leadership competency development?
From these questions, one can note that the researchers attempted to explore leadership from a causal standpoint. That way, it becomes clear that the research was a theoretical extension of the Interactive Leadership Model. One would be right to agree with such a sentiment given that the scope of Mozhgan and colleagues' investigation involves the students' interaction with the school environment and life at large. When perceived from this point, the project's relevance remains indubitable.
Unfortunately, the researchers were not convincing in their explanation regarding the role of the education system in the development of leadership skills among students. As should be noted, the investigators claimed that the study involved in-depth interviews. This claim appears to be an overstatement particularly as the report lacks a satisfactory explanation of the interactions between the background, structural, personality, pre-enrollment, and intermediate factors and the students with respect to leadership. For instance, the researchers only mention that high-grade point average (GPA) is linked to effective student leadership. While such a point enhances one's understanding of the factors in play, it fails to show how exactly the high GPA promotes leadership. Consider the following explanation: high GPA boosts a student's self-confidence, which in turn enhances his/her attitude towards academic and career challenges. In such a case, the student is highly likely to take on leadership roles when tackling a problem in a group. Perhaps, Mozhgan et al. would have been more convincing if they placed sufficient weight on the findings rather than just highlighting the factors that affect student leadership competencies development. From this viewpoint, one can agree that the project's relevance was somehow undermined especially since the scope (fundamentals of leadership competencies development) was not fully explored.
Keen analysts would note the emergence of a potentially useful perspective from Mozhgan et al.'s findings: emphasis on the third question. As noted in the findings, attitude plays a pivotal role in the development of leadership skills. Considering the scope of the study, such an argument debunks the underlying notion that the education system has to be extant for the development of leadership competencies. Likewise, it can be used to explain why not all individuals emerge as leaders despite sharing similar educational backgrounds. Such a realization can be integrated into practice by tailoring instruction towards the creation of an enabling environment rather than a challenging one. This way, the education institutions will be focusing on improving the students' attitudes towards school and life. Similar sentiments were made by Felsheim (2001) as he believed that self-effectiveness is usually boosted when an individual engages in attainable tasks. On that note, one can confidently conclude that the research in question is relevant to the current literature corpus on leadership competencies development.
A good research is usually conducted in a systematic manner. Systematism is quite necessary for such projects as it enhances coherence and validity in the assessment and reporting. Student Leadership Competencies Development utilized a rather unique research design. As mentioned earlier, Mozhgan and colleagues applied a qualitative approach. However, unlike most qualitative investigations, this one was based on a triangulation method: it involved a combination of three key data collection strategies including interviews (focus and individual), literature review, and informal discussions. Considering the fact that the research followed a qualitative design, it is obvious that these approaches were effectual. At this juncture, the reader is urged to contemplate the basic tenets of qualitative studies: they tend to explore the why, what, and how in social phenomena. The study in question attempted to explore how student leadership competencies are developed at the institutional level. Such a query could not be explored using a quantitative approach since it needed to be understood first. The defensibility of Mozhgan et al.'s research design can be proved by exploring why other designs (quantitative and mixed) could not be applied. Unlike qualitative research designs, quantitative and mixed methods tend to explore the extent to which a certain phenomenon exists. When placed into perspective, the quantitative method would attempt to quantify the matter by exploring the extent to which s...
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