Requirements the Superintendant
Taking into account the three primary requirements that are required by the Superintendant: (a) financial and budget constraints, and (b) the primary requirement of effectiveness of the Course Management System for learning ease, and (c) fulfilling standardized test score results. The hypothesis that must be researched is: Is the Course Management System is effective in providing ease of learning, and fulfilling standardized test scores to students? It will be written first with a null hypothesis: (Ho): Ux — Uy = 0 and then the alternative hypothesis: (Ha): Ux — Uy does not = 0.
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A systematic review is an overview of all the primary studies completed that conform specifically to the research question, or hypothesis (Chalmers & Altman, 1995). These primary studies will fulfill the following two criteria: (a) that the primary studies contain within themselves an explicit statement of objectives, materials and methodologies utilized in the study, and (b) that the methodology used, is both explicit and reproducible.
Stages of Research
The first step is to form the hypothesis. The second is to perform a search that produces trials that fulfill the the stated hypothesis. From the results, list the factors of each trial for their methodological quality. Filter these results through the eligibility criteria, justifying any exclusions. Compile the most comprehensive dataset possible. Analyze the results of eligible randomized trials through statistical systhesis of the data, comparing alternatives if possible, and appropriate. Finally prepare a critical review of the summary, detailing aims, methodologies, materials and any conclusions drawn from the reported results (Greenhalgh, 1998).
First and foremost, the quantitative systematic reviews provide an increase in the precision of the results. The reason is obvious, the sample size is increased through having a greater number of methodologically sound studies involved, from which the conclusions in the final report are drawn (Greenhalgh, 1998). An issue that will require analysis is the homogenity of the studies. If the studies selected, demonstrate a lack of homogenity, which is a statistical calculation, then the studies selected differ in some important variable, and these variable[s] need to be indentified, which may result in sample size being reduced if the studies need to be removed from the systematic review.
The collection of data, via database searches, must avoid an important trap. This is the linguistic imperialism, whereby foreign studies are excluded in preference to the native tongue. Further, electronic searches of databases may only provide part of the final total. Other manual searches are required. Searching the references of the references provided by the electronic search, then a further manual search of the references of the references may well yield further results (Greenhalgh, 1998). With the results of the search, all the studies are graded for their methodological quality, their precision, and their external validity. This systematic search, after the final grading and selection process, will very likely yield the required number of primary trials that will amply satisfy the target sample size required to provide statistical significance, while avoiding all errors with regard to creating a sampling process for an original primary study, and generating a large enough random sample.
The meta-analyst is to select the most appropriate outcome measures, and to tabulate relevant information with regard to the variables: (a) sample size, (b) withdrawal rates, (c) results of any primary and secondary endpoints. Finally, an interpretation, in the form of a written report of the findings and conclusions drawn, conclude the data analysis process. Many of the non-significant trials or studies included in the meta-analysis, that on their own did not produce statistically significant findings, due to their sample size, or other methodological issues, will when pooled with all the other studies, produce a result that is statistically significant. This point is very important to our Superintendent, who has financial constraints and time constraints to consider, while concurrently seeking a reliable answer to the problem posed.
The Role of the Systematic Review
In conclusion the systematic review fulfills all of the requirements that are mandated within the provided brief. A systematic review and meta-analysis have been compared to a quasi-experimental model. This is true in that a quasi-experimental model examines variables for their causality within a target population. A quasi-experimental model differes from other trial designs in the allocation of controls and non-control, or those assigned to treatment or study. Systematic reviews can as part of their selection of studies, choose to include quasi-experimental studies, but, this will be reflected within the weighting assigned to the methodologies. Sampling processes, target sample size, data collection techniques, and any ethical concerns are all issues that can be resolved with the correct weighting assigned to these variables within the systematic review.
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Costs are reduced through the adoption of a systematic review, in reducing the time required in designing and implementing an original independent study. The smaller sample size, of an original study could deliver a lower confidence level in the results, which could weaken the conclusions that are drawn, relating to the distribution of the two variables within the Superintendants population.
Chalmers, I., Altman, D. Systematic Reviews. (1995). London, England: BMJ Publishing.
Greenhalgh, T. How to read a paper. (1998). Derry, Nottingham: BMJ Publishing StatisticsGroup.