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The Problem of Writing A Problem Statement and Purpose

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Mark Perkins

on 19 May 2016

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Transcript of The Problem of Writing A Problem Statement and Purpose

The problem:
Coming up with a problem and purpose
Mark Perkins, Ph.D.
Presented to Colorado State University Students
University of Colorado, Denver Students
This is Syd
Syd is a graduate student taking research methods
Her research methods course requires her to write a research proposal!
This makes her a bit nervous because it is unlike anything she has ever done before....
There is hope, however, because the paper is to be done in drafts . . . .

Let's go through the first draft: Finding a problem and a research purpose.

Syd thought about a topic, and realized that a lot of social workers quit their agencies within a few years.
I'm outa here!
She decided to focus her paper on this problem!
So Syd's topic is Social Worker Retention

But what is the problem?

Syd thought and thought, and decided that
the problem is that social workers don't stick around!

However, all of this is based on her own observations.
The big question is . . .
Is this really a problem that
exists beyond my own
anecdotal observation?

I better look to the
literature to find out!
So Syd logs into the library and finds some peer-reviewed journal articles. She goes to different agencies and finds statistics on mobility. She also researches the state of Arkansas (her state) to find out exactly HOW MANY, WHAT PERCENTAGE, etc. of social works leave and why.
Now Syd has a well established problem supported by the literature. So, she writes the first page or two of her research paper, the HARDEST pages to write!
"Caseworker retention is a growing problem in the United States . According to . . . . ____% of new social workers leave the profession or change locations within 2 years (author, date, page). In the state of Arkansas . . . (reference)."
Now that Syd has a well-supported problem with references, the next hurdle is to figure out what the purpose of her proposal is . . .
What do I actually research?

I know, what does the literature say?
So Syd goes to the literature on retention and notices some stuff is mentioned about mentoring new caseworkers.

She also noticed that some of her friends did not have great mentors or mentors at all. It's anecdotal, but it is also supported by her literature.
Eureka! I want to review the literature on mentoring.
As you can see, Syd has established a purpose for her research. The next step is to create a good paragraph or so that explains that purpose.
"Therefore, the purpose of this proposed research is to see what effect, if any, mentorship has on new workers . . ."
In review, Syd went through a process of topic, problem, and then research purpose. Her literature review will help her with her methods. For now, she is in great shape!
Phew! Draft 1 done!
Caseworker Retention/Mobility
Research Purpose
My observations and the literature mention mentoring. I wonder if this applies in this setting . . .
After the literature, they don't stick around (cite sources).
The End!!
Full transcript