Research

CPAP Performance Objective
Use qualitative and quantitative research methods appropriate to the nature of the task.

Evaluation Criteria
1.  Demonstrate the ability to reason clearly and logically.
2.  Clearly link a decision to accumulated evidence and knowledge.
3.  Formulate a research question and use an appropriate research method to investigate it.

Research is a valuable tool. Learning how to ask questions, develop information, and communicate findings are a basic staple of public administration. The MPA program takes students from being research consumers to research creators.

Artifact 4:  Examining Readability in Regulatory Comments (with Dr. Sara Jordan)
This artifact special significance to me as my first academic manuscript submitted for publication. While discussing a sequence of four papers with Dr. Jordan, I asked the simple question "I wonder whether running any of this through a readability scoring engine would tell us anything interesting?"  As we gathered the data to support a number of other manuscripts, I kept returning to that core concept.  Ultimately there were three key areas to explore:  the readability of the proposed regulatory action, the relationship between readability of the proposed action and the public comments, and readability as a characteristic of the citizen participant. Exploration of this question drew upon all the skills learned in PAPA 6514, Inquiry. Although readability has been studied as an element of government publications and web sites there is a limited body of work on readability as it relates to the interaction between the government and citizenry. 

Artifact 8:  Data & Methods Statement and Code Book
As part of the Communication performance objective, I shared a presentation and individual graphs associated with our analysis of the Virginia Tech Men's Basketball Team conformance to the coach's behavioral standard during the National Anthem. One of my roles within the team was to prepare the data and methods statement and develop our analysis methods to answer our research question. Once the photos were obtained, we looked at the original video clip to determine three specific dimensions to code:  demeanor, posture, and conformity.  Coding was simple, with each subject in each photograph coded in each dimension as compliant (1) or non-compliant (0). A code book outlining the schema was also created as part of the project. Development of the codes and processes demonstrate clearly the ability to reason clearly and logically; failing to use such a specific process would have resulted in erroneous or incomplete data.  At the core, the methods used were critical to answering the question "Were Virginia Tech Men's Basketball Players better behaved during the National Anthem than their peers?".

Artifact 9, Inquiry Exam Presentation
For PAPA 6514’s third exam, Dr. Jordan provided a data set and asked us to evaluate data received from a contract research organization (CRO) and prepare recommendations for our organization’s Board. In short, the data set was highly problematic. I prepared a presentation that explains the status of the data. One of the key tenets of Dr. Jordan’s course was “your analysis is only as good as your data.”  Clear, logical reasoning was required to understand how the coding by the CRO created erroneous or potentially falsified data. An analysis of the data led to a decision to reject the data received from the CRO and seek recourse based on the contract.

Artifact 10, Guest Speaker Lecture Information
As a result of my work, both in PAPA 6514 and while supporting her research into Regulations.Gov, Dr. Jordan asked me to speak to the Spring 2017 section of her Inquiry course as a guest lecturer on data visualization. She allowed me two course meetings to discuss the role of data visualization in public administration, introduce the tools that are available, and work through a scenario involving a 500-item data set.  The scenario provided the basic research question:  “Is there a response time problem?”  After allowing two students to showcase their work, I demonstrated how using Tableau provided a completely different insight into the question. The ability to create this class session demonstrates a clear link to the required ability to reason clearly and logically, to link a decision to the evidence, and use a variety of tools to answer the basic research question.