NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Entire Course Weekly Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 1: Introduction to the Dissertation

Welcome to the first week of Preparing for Dissertation.

Embarking on the dissertation phase of doctoral studies is an exciting and daunting prospect for most scholars. The opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to a field of study is an inspiring responsibility, indicative of a scholar’s academic expertise, curiosity, and passions. Developing a dissertation is a journey; however, it’s a journey that requires planning, patience, and a comprehensive awareness of process.

You certainly will not write your dissertation in a day, or for that matter, a week, a month, or maybe even a year, because the process involves developing and executing a research project. There are, however, strategies you can use to maximize your efficiency and productivity, which ultimately may reduce the time it takes you to complete your dissertation. One such strategy is to understand the components, or pieces, of the dissertation and their purposes before you begin writing. Doing so will minimize your risk of completing certain pieces incorrectly and, thus, prevent you from unnecessary re-writes.

This week, you begin to familiarize yourself with the pieces of the dissertation. Specifically, you consider how the Premise, Prospectus, and Proposal fit into the dissertation process. You will also begin development of your Dissertation Premise.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Justify the importance of research topics
  • Analyze the role of the Premise, the Prospectus, and the Proposal in the dissertation process
  • Create a Dissertation Premise for proposed research*

Writing a dissertation is an iterative, multi-step decision-making process that relies on feedback from your supervisory committee. The first step is developing the Dissertation Premise, in which you first define your topic based on initial research that you have conducted. The completed Dissertation Premise is composed of a title, a problem statement, a description of your approach for the study, and a listing of your preliminary references. The Premise leads to the next step in the process, the development of the Prospectus, which is followed by the Proposal.

In this Discussion, you will begin developing your Dissertation Premise by posting your proposed topic, problem statement, and the research approach that you plan to use in your study. As you consider the research problem you might address, review the Dissertation Premise Guide (provided in this week’s Learning Resources through the “Office of Student Research Administration: Ph.D. Dissertation Program” resource). This document will be a useful resource over the next three weeks as you complete your Premise. Pay particular attention to The Litmus Test, which defines the Walden University “hallmarks” of the doctoral research problem. Consider how well topics and problem statements in which you are interested align to these hallmarks.

By Day 3

Post a draft of your proposed topic, problem statement, and the research approach you plan to pursue. Also, include a brief statement supporting the importance of this research topic.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings providing feedback on their topic, problem statement, and proposed research approach.

Note: This Discussion provides you with an opportunity for peer review. You may revise your own proposed research topic and problem statement based upon the feedback you receive from your colleagues. As such, ensure that you provide thoughtful and well-reasoned feedback to your colleagues. You may find it useful to review and apply the Dissertation Prospectus Rubric and the “Quality Indicators” section of the Dissertation Prospectus Guide as you craft your feedback to each other. (Both of these documents are located through the “Office of Student Research Administration: Ph.D. Dissertation Program” resource.) Pay particular attention to how the Premise leads to the Prospectus, which leads to the Proposal.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues have made.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 2: The Dissertation Topic and Committee

How do you settle on a topic for your dissertation? As you continue to work on your Dissertation Premise, keep in mind that the topic you select should intrigue you and keep you motivated throughout the dissertation process. It also should have substance and contribute to social change. Last but not least, your topic should be original and provide unique insight into your area of interest, as well as meet the characteristics of doctoral-level research as detailed in the Dissertation Premise Guide.

This week, you focus further on your dissertation topic and consider how your research might contribute to your field and/or profession. You also explore the roles and responsibilities of your dissertation committee.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Evaluate the significance of dissertation topics and problem statements
  • Identify potential dissertation committee members
  • Compose draft e-mails to potential dissertation committee members

Walden University has developed numerous documents to guide you through the dissertation process. Last week you took the first step in developing your Premise by posting a topic and problem statement for peer review. In this Discussion, you further examine your topic and problem statement in light of Walden’s Quality Indicators.

Reflect on the dissertation topic and problem statement you posted in the Week 1 Discussion—and perhaps have since revised based on peer or Instructor feedback. Then, review the Dissertation Prospectus Guide found on the “Office of Student Research Administration: Ph.D. Dissertation Program” webpage in this week’s Learning Resources, focusing on the Quality Indicators. Finally, evaluate your topic and problem statement through the lens of Indicators 2 and 3.

By Day 3

Post your evaluation of the significance of your research topic and problem statement with regard to Quality Indicators 2 and 3. Explain whether your topic and problem statement meet those Indicators and why. If your topic and problem statement do not meet Quality Indicators 2 and 3, explain how you could modify them so that the Indicators might be met.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings providing insights on how they could refine their topic and problem statement based on Quality Indicators 2 and 3.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

Assignment: Dissertation Committee

Your dissertation committee has two primary responsibilities. One is to ensure that your dissertation meets academic and scholarly standards as defined by Walden University and the academic field. The other is to mentor you throughout the dissertation process. Those who serve on your dissertation committee can provide valuable insight into how to structure and perform your dissertation research. Thus, it is important to consider carefully those whom you will ask to assist you.

To prepare for this Assignment, peruse the Walden PhD Nursing Faculty Dissertation Committee list for faculty members eligible for Dissertation Committee work.  The list is posted in Doc Sharing. Based on your projected research topic, select three or four individuals who might be appropriate to serve as your dissertation committee Chair or committee member. Please note: your Chair must be from Nursing and hold a PhD. The committee member must also have an earned doctorate and can be from Nursing but if you have someone from another profession or college within Walden University, it may be possible for that faculty member to be on your committee. You must designate one committee member as your methods expert and one who will serve as a content expert. The Chair can be either the content or methods expert.

You will send this email during the last quarter of your coursework along with your premise and nomination forms to your faculty nominee for Chair and for Member. If you are in the last term of your coursework now, you can send the email with your premise and nomination forms when you receive feedback from your instructor.  If this is not your last quarter of coursework, keep the email until your last quarter prior to entering NURS 9000 Dissertation. The nomination form is linked in Doc Sharing.

The Assignment (2–3 pages):

  • Provide a list of three to four faculty members whom you could ask to serve as your dissertation committee Chair or as potential committee Member. List them according to your preference.
  • Explain why you selected each individual and the role (i.e., dissertation Chair or dissertation committee Member) you think each could play on your committee. Designate each as methods of content expert.
  • Compose a draft e-mail that you would send to faculty who could serve as your dissertation committee Chair. The e-mail should include an introduction of yourself, when you plan to register for NURS 9000, a description of your topic, and a summary (4–5 sentences) of what you have found thus far in the literature.Note: This draft e-mail is first submitted for review to the Instructor and is not to be sent to prospective committee members at this time.

Support your Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list for all resources, including those in the Learning Resources for this course.

By Day 7

Submit your Assignment.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 3: Completing the Dissertation Premise

Over the past two weeks, you have focused on refining your topic and problem statement. You have posted your ideas and engaged in discourse with colleagues and faculty. You have likely pursued additional research as you narrowed or adjusted your focus. The Dissertation Premise informs and flows into the Prospectus, which in turn is used to confirm the topic for the Proposal. As such, the time spent in identifying a preliminary topic is time well spent in the dissertation process.

This week, you complete and submit your Dissertation Premise.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Create a Dissertation Premise for proposed research

Now that you have given additional in-depth thought to your potential research topic and problem statement, and received feedback on your ideas, it is time to refine those ideas into a more formal document that communicates a general sense of the direction of your research. To complete this Assignment, carefully review once more the Dissertation Premise Guide found in the “Office of Student Research Administration: Ph.D. Dissertation Program” webpage in this week’s Learning Resources. Focus particularly on the Annotated Outline that defines the protocols for the four parts of the Premise: title, problem statement, approach for the study, and references, as well as the Sample Premise.

The Assignment (2–3 pages):

  • With consideration to the Instructor and peer feedback you have received and following the guidance found in the Dissertation Premise Guide, develop your Premise.
  • Before submission, evaluate your Premise using the Litmus Test found in the Dissertation Premise Guide. Based on your evaluation, adjust your Premise as necessary.

Support your Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list for all resources, including those in the Learning Resources for this course.

By Day 7

Submit your Assignment.

Note: You will resubmit your Dissertation Premise once you have addressed and incorporated your Instructor’s feedback. This second submission of your Dissertation Premise is due by Day 7 of Week 5.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 4: Literature Review—Managing Resources

The literature review is an essential part of the research process and a key component of the dissertation. It informs what is known about a topic and what might benefit from further exploration. As you continue to research your own topic, you will be seeking connectivity and relationships among scholarly writings. You will be looking for gaps in the research, and in so doing, developing ideas of your own to address. This comprehensive search of the literature will likely yield many, many results of varying applicability. Managing and keeping track of these results is critical to the ongoing progress of your work and requires forethought and organization.

This week, you begin to review the literature for your dissertation.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze strategies for managing resources
  • Evaluate articles for literature reviews in support of specific dissertation topics

Your literature review sets the stage for everything else that you do in your dissertation. It is through this review that you determine the research that has been conducted in your area of interest and the gaps that exist where research is still needed. The literature review also helps support hypotheses that you might have generated and the choices that you make in your research.

As you proceed, you will review numerous articles that are applicable to your topic. Managing your search of the literature, as well as your findings, is a key part of the dissertation process. Think about strategies you have used in the past to organize research you have conducted. What was effective and what was not? How might you improve your strategies? How will you keep track of the articles you have reviewed and how will you save those that you intend to use in your literature review? What will you do to ensure that you have saved and backed up critical documents? What specific tools will you use? Keep these questions in mind as you determine how you can best manage the many resources that will inform your literature review.

By Day 3

Post the strategies you plan to use to manage the resources for your dissertation. Include steps for tracking your search techniques. Describe your strategies for storing and backing up your resources and the tools you will use or have found to be useful. Be specific.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings offering additional suggestions or strategies for managing resources.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 5: Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks

Now that you have developed your Dissertation Premise, the next step is to begin expanding it into the Prospectus, which, in turn, will serve as the plan for developing the Proposal. The theoretical base or conceptual framework, which is the focus of this week, is an important section of the Prospectus, grounding the study by informing research questions and helping to identify research design decisions.

This week, you will determine the theoretical and/or conceptual framework that you intend to use in your study. You will also resubmit your updated Dissertation Premise document and send it out to a potential committee Chair.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Evaluate theoretical and conceptual frameworks related to dissertation topics
  • Evaluate Dissertation Premises for clarity

Last week, you spent time searching for and reviewing research articles related to your topic. Now, you are asked to spend time thinking about the theoretical or conceptual framework for your study. You may already have an idea of specific theories or concepts that relate to your topic. If so, you should begin thinking about what pieces, or aspects of the theories or concepts, relate the most to your topic and provide the basis for your study. If not, you should spend some time reviewing research articles that include one or more of the same variables you are using and identify the theoretical or conceptual frameworks those authors used. Doing so will give you an idea of how specific theories or concepts may be used as the basis for your study.

Review the Dissertation Prospectus Guide and pay particular attention to Quality Indicator 4: Is the problem framed to enable the researcher to either build on or counter the previously published findings on the topic? Also, revisit the Dissertation Minimum Standards Rubric available at the “Office of Student Research Administration: Ph.D. Dissertation Program” webpage, provided in this week’s Learning Resources. With this information in mind, as well as any additional research that will help inform your selection, determine the theoretical and/or conceptual framework that you intend to use. You are advised to give serious thought to this task. This theory or framework will be the lens through which you view the entire research project.

By Day 3

Post a brief description of your dissertation topic. Explain at least one theory or conceptual framework and its relationship to your topic, including why you believe it would be the most appropriate framework to use. Support your response with citations from the research literature.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings offering suggestions of other theoretical or conceptual frameworks that may be appropriate for their dissertation topic.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 6: Research Questions

Thoughtful, targeted, and well-constructed research questions are critical to a successful dissertation process—and a key to ensuring that you are making an original contribution to your discipline. Research questions are generated from the problem statement and lead to the determination of what needs to be done in a study and how it will be accomplished. The research question(s) also inform(s) the research design, and compose(s) one section of the Prospectus.

This week, you reflect on the problem statement from your Premise and develop research questions for your dissertation.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Develop research questions

Research questions are critically important in the dissertation process, as they help pinpoint exactly what you intend to discover through your research. When formulating research questions, care should be taken to ensure that the questions are actually leading you in the direction of what you hope to study.

For this Discussion, you develop two potential research questions for your Dissertation Prospectus.

By Day 3

Post a minimum of two research questions, based on your problem statement, which will guide your dissertation research.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues, providing feedback and suggesting an additional research question.

Note: When you respond to your colleagues, reference the Litmus Test hallmarks found in the Dissertation Premise Guide. Recall that all hallmarks must be affirmatively addressed.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 7: Research Design and Methods

It is critical to the successful completion of a research project that appropriate research methods and research design are applied. Both are essential to achieving credible results, and thus both must align with the requirements and intent of the project. Your choice of research design will influence the methods you use. Specific research designs require or are better carried out with certain research methods.

This week, you explore various research designs and methods and consider which you might use for your dissertation research.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Evaluate research designs and methods

An explanation of the approach that you will use to address your research question(s) is part of the draft Dissertation Prospectus that you will submit in Week 11. This week’s Learning Resources provide guidance in identifying the research method (qualitative, quantitative or mixed method) and the research design that best align with your research question(s), and thus enable you to logically and effectively address the research problem. It is often noted that the research design is the “blueprint” applied in conducting a study. As you continue to develop the draft of your Prospectus and prepare for this Discussion, keep in mind the strengths and limitations of each of the different research designs and methods.

By Day 3

Post your problem statement and your research question(s). Then describe at least one potential research design and one potential research method that you could use. Explain why each would be the most appropriate, given your problem statement and research questions. Be specific and support your response.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 5

Respond to at least one of your colleagues, discussing the alignment of the problem and question(s) with the design. If applicable, suggest another possible research design and/or method and point out why these might be more appropriate to use.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 8: Data Collection

After you have selected a major research method (quantitative, qualitative or mixed) and a research design, you must focus on issues related to data collection and data analysis. To do so, you will consider the types of data you require, the most appropriate sources of that data, and the tools you will use for data collection. You must also consider how the data, once collected, will be analyzed. Some types of analysis are more appropriate than others, depending on your overall method and/or the type of data you collect.

This week, you focus on types of data you plan to use for your dissertation, how you plan to collect the data, and types of analysis that might be used.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze data collection methods
  • Analyze types of data analyses
  • Analyze the application of data collection and analysis methods

In the Week 7 Discussion, you conferred with colleagues and faculty in selecting an appropriate research method and design for your proposed research project. After you have chosen a research method for your dissertation, you are advised to continue to read other studies that apply this method. To clarify further that it is the best match for your own project, gather as much information as possible about how and when it is appropriately used.

Next, you must determine possible types of data you will gather for your research, possible sources of that data (e.g., public databases, published research results, surveys, interviews, etc.), and potential ways to analyze that data. The type of data you obtain and how you analyze those data is often stipulated by the research method you chose. If, for example, you chose a quantitative method, you will use statistics (e.g., MANOVA, logistical regression, etc.) to analyze your data. The statistics you use will depend on the type of data (nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio) and number of variables in your study. If you chose a qualitative method, your analysis might consist of organizing descriptive information into a story, creating concepts, identifying themes, or certain types of statistical analyses.

Note: The inclusion of possible analytical strategies is optional in your draft Prospectus, but it is an important dissertation consideration at this time.

By Day 3

Post a brief description of the research method you selected. Explain the type of data you plan touse for your dissertation, and how you plan to collect that data. Describe a type of analysis (t-tests, ANOVA, Chi-square, theming, concept analysis, etc.) you might use to analyze your data and explain the reason(s) for your selection. Be specific and support your selections with references to the literature.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings by asking a probing question suggesting alternative data collection or analysis methods.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 9: Purpose and Social Change

Walden University provides a diverse community of career professionals with the opportunity to transform themselves as scholar-practitioners so that they can effect positive social change.

—Walden University Mission Statement

As a Walden student, you have been involved in coursework that has explicitly addressed social change. As a doctoral student, you have the opportunity to choose an area to study that, when researched, produces social change. As noted on the Walden website, Walden University defines social changes as “a deliberate process of creating and applying ideas, strategies, and actions to promote the worth, dignity, and development of individuals and communities alike” (Walden, n.d.-o). This is an important challenge and responsibility to consider at this stage of your dissertation.

This week, you consider the potential of your dissertation research to effect social change.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze the potential of dissertation research to effect social change

    The mission of Walden University is to develop not only scholar-practitioners, but also to foster positive social change. This mission has great potential impact for students at any degree level, but, for the doctoral student, it is particularly relevant. The research that you undertake, and the questions that you ask to “fill in the gaps” of what is known and what is not known can have authentic, far-reaching ramifications. Quality Indicator 6 in the Dissertation Prospectus Guide poses this question: “Does this project have [the] potential to [e]ffect positive social change?” The “An Annotated Outline” section within the Dissertation Prospectus Guide—your model for completing your own draft—includes a section titled “Significance” that asks, “How might the potential findings lead to positive social change?” The tenets of positive social change are deeply embedded in Walden University, and your own research will continue to contribute to that tradition.

    With consideration to this clear commitment, think about your area of interest and your research questions. How does your research topic contribute to positive social change? Additional consideration of this question at this point might further fuel your dissertation efforts.

    By Day 3

    Post a brief description of your dissertation topic and an explanation of the purpose of your study. Explain how your dissertation research might effect social change. Be specific and use examples to illustrate your explanation.

    Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

    By Day 5

    Respond to at least one of your colleagues’ postings by asking a probing question or offering additional ways the dissertation topic could effect social change.

    Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 10: The Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is responsible for ensuring that all Walden University research complies with the university’s ethical standards as well as U.S. federal regulations. IRB approval is required before collection of any data, including pilot data.

—Walden University Office of Research Integrity and Compliance

After you have received approval from your dissertation committee on your research proposal, you will be required to submit your Proposal (Chapters 1–3) to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB will review the Proposal to determine if your proposed research study is ethically sound. If it is deemed to be so, you will be given permission to move forward with collecting your data. Keep in mind that your dissertation committee, which guides you through the entire dissertation process, will also offer ongoing advisement with consideration to the IRB review.

This week, you will consider the level of review that might be required for your research.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Evaluate the types of consent and precautions required for dissertation research

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is in place to ensure the safety and confidentiality of information for those individuals who participate in research studies. For most research in the field of health care, you are required to have your research preapproved by at least two organizations—Walden University and the health facility with which you will be working.

Understanding the level of review required for your research and why it is vital to be approved prior to beginning your dissertation research will protect you, the University, and the individuals who participate in your research.

Review the “Institutional Review Board (IRB) Frequently Asked Questions” self-paced tutorial included in this week’s Learning Resources, as well as the materials presented at the Institutional Review Board for Ethical Standards in Research website (also included this week’s Learning Resources).

By Day 3

Post a brief description of your dissertation topic. Then, explain the types of consent and precautions you think the Institutional Review Board may require for your research study, and why. Be sure to note how your research design, methods, participants, and type of data might affect the level of institutional review required.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least one of your colleagues, noting additional considerations and insights into the types of consent and precautions needed for the research study.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

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NURS 8551: Preparing for Dissertation Discussions And Assignments

NURS 8551 Week 11: The Dissertation Prospectus

Completing the draft Prospectus is a key milestone in the dissertation process. Take a moment to look back and consider the research you have conducted, the Premise you developed, the problems you have considered, and the questions you have posed—to yourself and to others. Think as well about all the pieces you have developed, clarified, and revised. Changes will continue as you proceed through the process, but this point represents a significant step forward in solidifying the research you plan to do. Congratulations!

This week, you look ahead to next steps as you develop a plan for completing the dissertation. You also submit a draft of your proposed Dissertation Prospectus.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Develop a plan for completing the dissertation
  • Create a draft Dissertation Prospectus

Now that you are completing your proposed Dissertation Prospectus, it is appropriate to look ahead at completing the dissertation itself. The entire process will be much smoother if you take time at the beginning to plan each step and consider how you will go about achieving your research plans.

By Day 3

Post your plan for completing your dissertation. In your plan, be sure to list specific milestones and your timetable for completing these milestones, and when, specifically (e.g., in the evening, on weekends, etc.), you will work on your dissertation. Also, comment on how you will keep your dissertation committee informed of your progress.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings offering additional suggestions for completing their dissertation or communicating with their committee.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

Final Course Project: Draft of the Dissertation Prospectus

The Final Course Project, assigned at the beginning of the course, is due by Day 7 of this week. For the Week 11 Project, incorporate any Instructor feedback you have received on your problem statement, purpose, and significance section. Use the prospectus guide, the prospectus checklist, and the Week 11 Project Rubric to guide you as you write the entire prospectus.

Note: Your Dissertation Prospectus will continue to evolve as you work with your Dissertation Committee Chair. This will not be the final version of your Prospectus.

By Day 7

Submit your Final Course Project.

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