This wide array of data strands could then be manipulated to measure the veracity of the philosophical claims informing our qualitative argument.
The analysis which is envisioned as a way to address the available datasets is provided for by Creswell & Plano-Clark (2007), who denote that data-mixing is a valuable way to determine whether or not variables possess meaningful relationships with one another. According to the text by Creswell & Plano-Clark, "by mixing the datasets, the researcher provides a better understanding of the problem than if either dataset had been used alone . . .there are three ways in which mixing occurs: merging or converging the two datasets by actually bringing them together, connecting the two datasets by having one build on the other, or embedding one dataset within the other so that one type of data provides a supportive role for the other dataset." (Cresswell & Plano-Clark, 7)
For the purposes of our envisioned analysis, its seems appropriate to use convergence as a way of mixing two distinct data sets. These would be the data sets derived from a university with post-tenure review practices in place and one without these practices in place. Convergence would allow a comparative analysis of the experience of educators and the performance of students in either of the two educational contexts.
The envisioned analysis must also include a method for establishing relationships between the independent variable -- which is identified as the presence of post-tenure review -- and any number of possibly relevant dependent variables. It is thus that we envision using 'triangulation' in order to approach different possible relationships between data. Thusly, we can hope better observe possible connections between post-tenure review and such variables as student enthusiasm, student success and student aptitude as well as such variables as professional morale, sense of academic freedom, sense of job security and sense of occupational satisfaction. .
The implication of triangulation to our particular study is that this method may be used to draw connections between otherwise seemingly unrelated variables through a method of literature review and the cross-checking of formal relationships within our converged datasets. This would allow us to respond to or confirm criticism of the post-tenure review policy as it relates to the intended and real outcomes in the context of academic performance.
Ensuring the validity of the research endeavor will hinge largely on the degree to which the sample settings selected are categorically similar in all regards beyond the independent variable. That is to say that the presence or absence of post-tenure review must be isolated as the most distinguishing feature between the two selected universities. Any divergence between the two universities otherwise threatens to undermine conclusions which are based on the view that post-tenure review is responsible for certain variable outcomes.
This means that the universities selected to serve as both control and experimental contexts must have a number of features in common. Particularly, it is important to select to universities that are widely perceived as being on the same academic tier. Divergences in student performance between pupils at an Ivy League University vs. those at a local community college are likely to be based on a wide array of factors beyond the policies relating to educator tenure. Thus, two universities of a common level of accreditation, with similar staff and student population sizes, in a shared geographic context and possessing similar tuitions and academic performance measures must be used as a way of maintaining the internal validity of the study.
With respect to achieving an external validity to the study, the connection which may be drawn between the presence or absence of post-tenure review and the measure of educator job contentment may be viewed as having potentially universal implications. However, in order to deduce this, it will be necessary to identify the above-noted specificities relating to the selected contexts of examination such as tuition, scholarly performance and student enrollment. Any conclusions drawn in the context of this study may be applied in such similar contexts with an expected external validity. But ultimately, this validity will not apply to a wider diversity of educational contexts until a greater set of samples is achieved.
The primary challenge to reliability is the intent to use the personal report of professional educators to collect dependent variable data. Namely, there is always a danger that educators may provide false report for reasons of political pressure or fear of reprisal. It is thus that anonymity will be considered a preeminent feature of the study. The data collection methods are conducted in private, with only a single respondent and researchers present. Researchers will not include any biographical information in recording responses. Moreover, none of the researchers present during the administration of the survey will handle data records thereafter. Analysis will be conducted by a separate research team so as to prevent any fear on the part of participants that researcher knowledge will endanger the privacy of responses. The assurance of anonymity and privacy should ensure that respondents feel free and comfortable to express their genuine feelings toward post-tenure review as it relates to job contentment.