Pending Dissertation Topic and Methodology

by Ed Cabellon on May 13, 2015 · 20 comments

Digital technology image

As I wrap up my doctoral coursework at Johnson and Wales University this weekend, I wanted to share my pending dissertation topic and methodology in hopes for any feedback you may have as I start to write my dissertation proposal this summer. Certainly, I have had my mind on a technology in higher education related topic for quite sometime, bouncing around from ideas including “Retaining First Generation College Students Through Twitter” and “Shifting Faculty Perceptions of Classroom Use of Social Media.”

However, at the start of the term, a member of the Educational Leadership faculty approached me and offered up a winning suggestion. Given all the work I was (and am already) doing with:

… she suggested that I attempt a more unique (and somewhat sophisticated) dissertation methodology in educational research…

(Drum roll please…)

So, my pending dissertation topic and methodology is:

  • Title: Digital Technology Use by Student Affairs Administrators: A Ten-Year Historical Analysis
  • Research Design: Qualitative, historical study exploring contemporary problems in education (digital technology integration), and analyzing it from a social issues and trends perspective (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2007).
  • Purpose: To analyze and critique applications of digital technology from 2005-2015 by student affairs administrators and to project how the depth and breath of the analyzation could affect future student affairs practice.
  • Research Question: How has digital technology changed student affairs practice from 2005 to 2015?
  • Data Sources: Primary source data in historical research is documentary evidence (Gall et al., 2007). My primary source data will be through student affairs associations (ACPA, NASPA, ACUI, ACUHO-I, NACA) where my goal would be to analyze handbooks, policies, conference presentations, conferences and workshops that covered digital technology topics and utilize document analysis to uncover emergent themes. Additionally, I would interview key people in this emerging trend and analyze these first-hand accounts.

Certainly, this will take greater shape as I craft my dissertation proposal, but I would love your take on the topic and methodology. I can certainly send along other pieces (e.g. limitations/delimitations, proposed data analysis, etc.) if you are interested.

I’ll take my comprehensive exams on Wednesday, June 3, and plan to write and defend my dissertation proposal this summer! I’m thrilled that my coursework is almost over and that I am one step closer to becoming Dr. Ed Cabellon! :)

What are you thoughts on my dissertation topic and methodology? What else should I be thinking about as I prepare for a summer of research and writing?


Gall, M. D., Gall, J. P., & Borg, W. R. (2007). Educational Research: An Introduction (8th Ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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