The impact of microaggressions on school leadership

This is a request for a dissertation proposal. The premise of the dissertation is to study how microaggressions experienced by school leaders (K-12 principals and vice principals) impacts their leadership. This will be phenomological study of school leaders by conducting individual interviews and determining what common themes exist.

Proposed outline w/notes:

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Parts of a Dissertation Proposal


Chapter 1 (20-25 pages)

Introduction of the topic and your study

Overview of topic

Why is a focus on this topic important to education in a larger sense

Conceptual Frameworks that serve as a basis of the study

What is already known in general about this topic and issue/problem? — (not as deeply explored as in the literature review…but kind of a summary of what is current research and theory says that is related to your topic).

How are YOU framing the problem/issue and how in an overall sense is the issue/problem framed in the context of the study and the literature

the intro offers an overall perspective which is deepened extensively in chapter 2 – the literature review

Statement of the Problem

Concise statement of the problem you are studying

Need for the Study/ Purpose of the Study

How is it important to education that you conduct this study?

What will be the significance of this study within current literature, theory and practice?

What holes will it fill in existing research and theory?

Brief Summary of the Study

Research Question(s) – can be included in the Statement of the Problem section if you prefer

Key Assumptions

Significance of the Study

Limitations of the Study

Definition of Terms


Chapter 2 (35 pages)

Literature Review

(Purpose of the Study) Here is what existing research has said

synthesized, critiqued, integrated and presented in patterns of overall research

What are the various streams or patterns in the research and how do they contribute to framing the context of your study?

Here is what existing research has missed…

How Review of Literature Informs this Study

Here is what this research study will contribute within the context of existing research…what gaps it will fill

Use a funnel approach writing from the larger contextual perspective and narrowing toward the specific patterns in the literature related to your topic….sometimes this means moving from national to local, sometimes from history to current, sometimes from policy to practice…

Chapter 3 (20 -25 pages)

Intro to chapter and topic –

includes Research Question(s) – restated and explained

Research Paradigm (Philosophy) used as a Foundation for this Research

Critical, Feminist, Cultural, Positivist, Constructivist etc.

see Jones, Torres & Arminio; Schram; Creswell; and Marshall & Rossman, Guido-DiBrito, Chavez & Lincoln; for beginning definitions here – then research your chosen research paradigm/philosophy

Ontology (nature of reality)

positivism – one reality or truth to be discovered

constructivism – many truths to be explored

Epistemology (how truth is known)

objective (positivism)

subjective (constructivist)

i.e. critical, feminist, cultural

Positionality of the Researcher in relation to the study

Identity similarities and differences in relation to participants

relationship as insider and/or outsider to the study and its context through experience, location etc.

beliefs about the study – how working from your chosen philosophy will assist in the study

Mode of Inquiry



Mixed Methods


Define and discuss the basic characteristics of your chosen mode of inquiry and how you believe it will assist you in exploring YOUR specific research questions.

Substantiate heavily with literature about the mode of inquiry…go well beyond sources from your coursework

Site(s) of Study

Where will your study take place…describe the salient qualities and offer rationale for why this is a good site or sites to explore your specific research question(s)

Often you will want to describe the city and state as well as the educational institution..especially with the unique qualities of New Mexico….some studies are national or statewide in scope…and then you would discuss this as appropriate for your study.

Participants/Data Sources


Ways of purposeful sampling to determine your participants

General demographic and other description of participants

Other Data used (documents, web analysis etc.)

Rationale and targeted documents etc.


Methods of Data Collection and how each

has a reasonable chance to answer the research questions and

are substantiated by research methods literature

should be consistent/congruent with research philosophy chosen



Selection of Interview Participants

Document Analysis

Selection of Documents for Analysis


Criteria for Selecting Observation Activities


Site(s) of the study

Research Process

Data Collection Protocol



How will you analyze each data collected via each method chosen

How will you analyze across the various types of data

Should be WELL substantiated with literature on data analysis in your mode of inquiry and methods

Standards of Quality/Rigor

supported by research literature – how your design supports this rigor/standards of quality

Credibility/Trustworthiness (qualitative) OR Validity (quantitative)

Research Design Credibility & Rigor

Ethics – IRB, discussing ethical dilemmas of the research and how you will minimize chance for harm and supported by research ethics literature

Limitations of Study

What your study does not do and limitations of the research design, methods, participants chosen etc.

Plan & Timeline for Completing the Study

Reference List


Qualities of a Proposal

How informative is the introduction? Is it easy to understand?
How long before you understand what the proposal is about?
Is there a clear articulation of the problem that the study will address? How far do you have to read before you have a clear sense of it? (Note: There is a difference between a statement of what the research will do and the problem that it addresses.)
Is a plausible argument made for doing the study? Will the study likely make a significant contribution to practice or theory?
Are the questions that the study will address clear? Do they seem reasonable, given the nature of the problem?
Is the literature review adequate, and is it conceptually integrated with the problem and the questions posed?
Is there a convincing argument for the theoretical perspective taken to the problem? Is the perspective (or theoretical framework) from which the data will be collected and analyzed clear and reasonable?
Is there a convincing argument for the methodological approach taken?
Are the methods of the study spelled out in concrete detail? Will they have a good chance of answering the questions the study poses?
Is the researcher’s role in the inquiry clear and acceptable, given the nature of the problem?
Is the ‘‘design’’ of the study apparent, and does it have integrity? Is there a coherent train of thought that runs through the proposal from beginning to end?
Is the structure of the proposal apparent and lucid? Do the parts fit together?
Are the transitions from one part of the proposal to another clear and helpful?
Are the ethical considerations clear and acceptable?
Is the proposal well written? Does the author guide you through the work?

From, Kilbourne, B. (2006). The Qualitative Dissertation Proposal. Teachers College Record Volume 108(4), pp. 529–576.

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