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Research Proposal: Dependent and Independent Variables, Sample Sizes, and Survey Instruments

Please help with the following.

Team B's proposal paper:

ABC Company, a large grocery retailer located on the east coast, is experiencing a significant reduction in employees furthering their education and earning advanced degrees and certificates. The company has a tuition reimbursement policy, but has not reviewed or updated it for several years. In addition, several employees have complained that the efforts to further their education are not rewarded at the company, since many employees in senior level positions do not have advanced degrees.

ABC Company is becoming increasingly concerned that the knowledge within the company is becoming stale, as innovative ideas and efficiency recommendations are becoming a thing of the past. With competition at its most intense level ever, the company cannot afford to be reactive to consumer wants and needs. Customers are leaving to shop at formats such as club stores, giant discounters, dollar stores, and specialty stores. The cost of lost customers is growing, and costs associated with trying to win them back greatly outweigh the costs that it would have taken to keep them in the first place, through understanding and being proactive to customer desires.

Plan: Learning Team B will collect data from primary and secondary sources regarding:
- Amount of education by level
- Reasons for continuing education/training
- Reasons for not continuing education/training
- Promotions involving degreed and non-degreed employees
- Market standards for tuition reimbursement

Primary Data Sources
- Surveys on the reasons for continuing or not continuing education/training
- Surveys on perception of value of further education/degrees/training
- Tuition reimbursement for similarly sized companies in the same geographic area

Secondary Data Sources
- employee resumes
- internal training information
- number and type of tuition reimbursement program participants
- level of education of employees recently promoted along with all considered candidates
- job descriptions including minimum education requirements

Populations of Interest
- employees at ABC Company
- similarly sized companies on the east coast

Sources to Collect Data
- Surveys
- Focus groups
- Human Resources department
- Market data collections firm
- Training department

Solution Preview

Since you did not provide that much information on the actual project, I am wondering if you are supposed to collect actual data or hypothetical data. Since ABC company is a fictitious company, I will explain what is needed to be done on a hypothetical level.

The first step is to actually understand the scenario. ABC company's employees do not seem to be seeking to obtain higher education. They are worried that because employees do not have advanced education, they are not innovative, and they are not able to keep ahead of the trends. The company thinks that since they lack the knowledge to stay abreast of the situation, they are loosing customers to specialty stores, and the cost to re-attract these customers is very expensive.

So what would be the dependent and independent variables?

Here is a quick recap of the variables:

What experimenters do is take an aspect that they want to study this is called the INDEPENDENT variable. Then, the experimenter will manipulate this variable. The changes that occur in behaviour are called the DEPENDENT variable. This would be done using pure experimental form - however, this is an example of a quasi-experiment.

Why is that? Because we can't actually manipulate who will go to school, and who does not - therefore, we have to divide the groups up based on who already went to school, and who did not. Respondents self-select themselves into groups. This takes away the manipulation factor, but it is the best case scenario.

So remember that ABC thinks that the lack of education is causing them to loose customers away from competitors. Therefore Team B will have to actually compare ABC to competitors.

So in this case, our independent variables would be for all employees in all companies being studied:
- amount of education
- reasons for continuing education/training
- Reasons for not continuing education/training
- Promotions involving degreed and non-degreed employees
- Market standards for tuition reimbursement
- Etc....

And our dependent variables would be:
- the degree of innovation of the company and other similar firms
- the number of new customers that each company attracts
- the increase in sales ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides guidelines for writing a proposal, and covers concepts like dependent and independent variables, samples sizes, and survey instruments.