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Research Design and Methods:

Module 2

Ryan Bradshaw

George Mason University

EDRS 822

Dr. Baily


Research Design and Methods

The design of this project is best described as a qualitative grounded theory project to

determine what motivations influence a club sports alumnus(a) to donate back to institution. This

study is based on the hypothesis that alumni who are former club sports student athletes had a

more positive student experience than alumni who were not club sports student athletes, which

corresponds to Monks (2003) findings. The project involves first confirming that a higher

percentage of alumni who are former club sports student athletes do in fact donate back to their

alma mater, giving more often and giving more money, than non-former club sports student

athletes. The second part of the study will involve interviewing former club sports athletes who

donate back to the institution to determine what factor their experience as a club sport student

athletes plays in their motivations or constraints to donating.

The first questions to answer are:

1. Are alumni of an institution who participated in club sports while attending the institution

more likely to donate to their alma mater than alumni who did not participate in club

sports while they attended the institution?

2. Do alumni of an institution who participated in club sports while attending the institution

donate to their alma mater more frequently than alumni who did not participate in club

sports while they attended the institution?

3. Do alumni of an institution who participated in club sports while attending the institution

on average donate more funds to the institution per alumnus(a) than alumni who did not

participate in club sports while they attended the institution? Commented [SB1]: These are rather yes no type of questions
Ryan and I am not sure they are conducive to the type of design you
are looking at – also grounded theory is tough to use in such a
framework as well. How do you generate theory when you are
getting a yes/no response.


Site Selection Commented [SB2]: This is a good place to start – but you might
want to separate out the criteria from the actual selection for the

In choosing a venue to conduct this survey, it is important to find an institution that

fulfills several requirements. First, the institution must provide a robust club sports program,

with multiple traditional (volleyball, soccer, basketball, etc.) and non-traditional (underwater

hockey, jiu-jitsu, quidditch, etc.) sport offerings for students who attend the institution, in order Commented [SB3]: Of course!!

for individuals to have had an opportunity to participate in a club sports program while they were

a student. Second, the club sports program must have continuously offered this robust club sports

program to students for at least 15 years (from the 2001-2002 academic year to the 2016-2017

academic year), in order for the institution to have a suitable sample size of alumni who include

older alumni, who Okunade & Berl (1997) found are more likely to donate based on their greater

ability to be earning a higher income. Third, the institution must have kept records of the names

of individuals who participated in club sports for the last 15 years in order to identify alumni

who are former club sport participants versus alumni who are not former club sport participants.

Fourth, the institution must have a club sports department that is willing to share their list of

former club sport participants with me for the purpose of identifying any former club sport

member from the previous 15 years with the Alumni Affairs office. Fifth, and foremost, the

institution must have an office of Alumni Affairs and a Foundation office that are willing to

share aggregate information from the previous 15 years on the percentage of total alumni and the

percentage of total former club sport participant alumni who had made a donation to the

institution; the average number of donations per alumnus(a) for all alumni and for all former club

sport participant alumni; and the average total dollar value of donations per alumnus(a) for all

alumni and for all former club sport participant alumni. Commented [SB4]: Very clear – and each criteria builds to the
next – good work. But with the layers you might need a Plan B –
because it might be that you can ‘t have it all 


The ideal venue would be a large public or private institution that fulfills all of the Commented [SB5]: There are huge differences between public
and private to a reader – why does this not matter – can you share
with reader?
requirements stated above. In order to identify an institution that could potentially meet all of the

requirements, I plan to first utilize an online community of practice web portal, provided by

NIRSA – Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, to send out a request to Club Sport departments at

NIRSA institutions that meet the requirements of being a large institution with a robust club

sports program that has complete participant records for the previous 15 years to contact me.

When Club Sport professionals who receive the message contact me, I would then introduce the

scope of the project, the objective, the design, and the requirements of being willing to share

their list of participants from the previous 15 years with me. If they are willing and able to

comply with requirements one through four, I would then contact their office of Alumni Affairs

(or similarly titled department) and their Foundation office to determine if they would be willing

to share the information required to answer the research questions.

As offices of Alumni Affairs and their Foundations are typically very protective of the

types of information that are being requested for this project, I anticipate a negotiation with the

institution to agree upon terms that make the project beneficial for both parties. I do not expect

an institution to give an outsider full access to their database of alumni and of donors, and to

enable me to compare individual alumni’s propensity to donate, their frequency of donations,

and the dollar values of these donations.

I do, however, anticipate an institution’s offices of Alumni Affairs and their Foundation

to be willing to participate in this project due to the benefit they would receive from knowing the

donation behaviors of a large sub-group of their alumni population and then receiving

information on the motivators and constraints that help or inhibit their alumni to make donations.

I also anticipate an institution being willing to share the aggregate percentage of total alumni and


the percentage of total former club sport participant alumni who had made a donation to the

institution, in order to determine if one group was more likely to donate than the other; the

average number of donations per alumnus(a) over the course of their time as an alumnus(a), for

both former club sport participant alumni and overall alumni, to determine their if one group was

more likely to donate more frequently than the other; and the average total dollar value of

donations per alumnus(a) over the course of their time as an alumnus(a), for all alumni and for

all former club sport participant alumni, in order to determine which group is more likely to

make larger donations over time. Commented [SB6]: Good point…

A venue will be selected based on an institution’s ability to fulfill all of the five

requirements. Commented [SB7]: Paragraphs should have two sentences at

least – might want to fold into the previous para.

Procedures Commented [SB8]: Unclear – what procedures? Data

collection – participant selection?

As it would not be expected that an institution’s offices of Alumni Affairs and the

Foundation would provide me direct access to their full database of alumni and their individual

donation habits due to the proprietary nature of this information, the office of Alumni Affairs and

the Foundation would need to assist in providing the data. First, a list of all former club sport

athletes who participated in a club sport for at least a full semester of their university experience

during the previous 15 years would be compiled by the institution’s Club Sports department. The

list would include the name of the alumnus(a) and their student identification number on record

to identify individuals who may have the same name. This list would then be provided to the

Alumni Affairs and Foundation offices.

The Alumni Affairs and Foundation offices will then have agreed to perform an analysis

of their database and to provide me with the requested information to determine if alumni who


were club sport participants have a higher propensity to donate; if they on average donate more

frequently; and if they on average donate larger sums of money than alumni who were not club

sports participants.

The working hypothesis for this project is that alumni who are former club sport

participants will have a higher propensity to donate, will on average donate more frequently, and

will on average donate more money. This is based on Weerts and Ronca’s (2008) findings that a

strong correlation existed between a student’s level of engagement with the institution as a

student and their willingness to donate time back to the institution as an alumnus(a). Club sports

participants are typically more engaged with campus life during their student experience

(Lifschultz, 2012). Monks (2003) and Sung and Yang (2009) also found that alumni’s propensity

to donate was linked to their student experience. Participating in extracurricular activities, such

as student organization like club sports, was considered a component of the “student experience”

(Monks, 2003). Donors also prefer to donate to a group they have established a connection with

(Bennett, 2006; McDearmon, 2010), such as club sports. Commented [SB9]: This whole section seems a bit redundant
with the previous section – not sure what you are getting at here…

Determining why club sports alumni are more likely to donate

Understanding what motivates club sports alumni to donate to their alma mater and what

constrains them from donating further to the alma mater is valuable to Club Sport programs,

Campus Recreation departments, Student Affairs divisions, Alumni Affairs offices, Foundation

offices, and universities as a whole. It is important for these groups to know whether it was their

participation in club sports, or if it was some other factor, that motivated the alumnus(a) to: make

a donation; make a donation more frequently; or to donate larger sums of money. It is also

important for these groups to know if that club sports experience could have potentially


constrained the alumnus(a) being interviewed from making a donation; from donating more

frequently; or from making larger donations. Currently, a slim 8.7% of alumni donate back to

their alma mater (Council for Aid to Education, 2014); knowing what motivates and/or

constrains a subsection of alumni who had a different, more engaged, experience from the

average student would enable these offices to target this group of potential donors.

Shapiro and Giannoulakis’s (2009) study focused on the barriers and constraints that kept

former student athletes, who represented institutions in National Collegiate Athletic Association

(NCAA) competition, from donating back to their alma mater. Shapiro and Giannoulakis’s

(2009) study was based upon O’Neil and Schenke’s (2007) findings that former NCAA student

athletes had different student experiences than non-NCAA student athletes and that those

students were less likely to donate back to their institution because they believed they had

already contributed to their alma mater through their athletic skill. Club sports student athletes

are expected to have had a very different student experience, including having to pay to play,

practicing at off-peak hours, utilizing volunteer or student-coaches, and managing to operate

with small budgets and little financial support from the institution (Pennington, 2008).

Shapiro and Giannoulakis’s (2009) qualitative study that identified constraints that

prevented former student athletes from donating to the athletic department of their alma mater

will be used as a guide for this study. One objective of the study is to compare and contrast

Shapiro and Giannoulakis’s (2009) findings of constraints that prevent student athletes from

donating with the motivations and constraints facing former club sport student athletes from

donating to their alma mater. Commented [SB10]: This whole section is not necessary in a
methods section – I am assuming it would be in the lit review and
here you are really just focusing on how you are doing what you are


Research Population

The research population of this study would be comprised of club sports alumni from the Commented [SB11]: Qual language would lean towards
participants…rather than research population.

institution who had donated to their alma mater within the previous 15 years. As part of the site

selection process, the Alumni Affairs and Foundation offices would have been asked if they were

willing to randomly select a total of 30 alumni who had participated in club sports as a student

and who had donated to the institution. This population will be identified through the rosters of

club sports participants from the previous 15 years that the school’s Club Sports office would

have provided to the Alumni Affairs and Foundation offices.

The random selection would take place by having a staff member of the Alumni Affairs

and Foundation office designate each alumnus(a) who was a former club sport participant within

the previous 15 years and who had donated to the institution since graduating a unique number.

A random number generator will be used by the staff member to select the 30 individuals whose

names and contact information, email address and phone number, would be provided to me to

contact for the purpose of taking part in an interview to discuss their motivations and/or

constraints to donating to the institution since graduation.

The participants who are selected will be contact through the email address the Alumni

Affairs office has on file by me from my official George Mason University email address. The

email will explain the study and its objectives and state the importance of the individual’s

participation in the study, will describe how data collection will take place, and will invite them

to meet with the researcher in person or virtually via video chat for a 30 to 40 minute interview

in order to participate in the study. Participants agreeable to participating will be asked to


provide consent via email of their willingness to participate in the in person or virtual interview

in order to set up a scheduled time to perform the interview.

Purposeful sampling, which involves the sample size of the study being determined by

when the researcher believes a sufficient number of participants have been interviewed (Johnson

& Christensen, 2014), will be used for this study. Lincoln and Guba (1985) believe that

purposeful sampling stops collecting data when no new data is forthcoming. I aim to maximize

the information gathering and anticipate data saturation to be attained after about the 15th

interview. Commented [SB12]: This is not really the definition of

purposeful sampling. You might mean saturation – but you still
would need a ball park figure of what you are looking for.
Purposeful sampling is when I select x number of people from
Data Collection somewhere based on the fact that they have certain specific

One-on-one interviews with participants will be the method for data collection. I will

serve as the interviewer for all of the interviews. Interviews will take place either in a private

meeting room on the campus of the institution or virtually utilizing Skype or Google Hangout to

provide the interviewee and me with both visual and audio components of our meeting. I would

utilize a private meeting room when conducting a virtual interview to help ensure that the

interviewee’s responses are kept private.

Prior to the interview, a consent letter would be emailed to the participants describing the

purpose of the study, contact information for myself and George Mason University’s and the

chosen institution’s Institutional Review Board, the expected length of the interview and the

participant’s right to start or complete the interview. The interviewees would also be informed

that there are no known risks or benefits to the participant for their participation in the study

existed. Participants would also be informed that the interview would be audio recorded and that

the digital recording would only be used for data collection and analysis. The recording will be


kept private and password protected until transcription, after which it will be destroyed.

Anonymity of participants would also be ensured by assigning each participant a pseudonym to

be used throughout transcription, data analysis, and reporting. Participants will be asked to

electronically confirm their consent to participate in the study via email.

Each participant will take part in one semi-structured interview that will last 30 to 40

minutes. As the study’s goal is to replicate Shapiro and Giannoulakis’s (2009) study, the

interview protocol will be based upon their “Former Student Athlete Constraint Questions”

(Appendix A). The 14 question protocol was designed to identify constraints that individuals

being interview faced to donating to their alma mater’s athletic department and several questions

make reference to “former student athlete” and “Athletics Department”. The findings were also

used to develop the “Former Student-Athlete Donor Constraint Scale”, which was then verified

as an effective predictor of potential barriers influencing charitable contributions amongst a

specific population (Shapiro, Giannoulakis, Drayer, & Wang, 2010), providing validity to

Shapiro and Giannoulakis’s (2009) findings. For this study, “former student athlete” will be

modified to “former club sports student athlete” and “Athletics Department” will be modified to

“Club Sports Department”.

As this study is also exploring motivations for donating, an additional question related to

Shapiro and Giannoulakis’s (2009) “List three barriers/factors that prevent you from giving to

athletics” will be added: “List three motivating factors that contribute to you giving to Club

Sports”. Questions relating to the “Booster Club,” an entity which likely does not exist for Club

Sports at the study venue institution, will be eliminated from the questionnaire for these

interviews. As Shapiro and Giannoulakis (2009) did in their study with semi-structured

interviews, responses given by the interviewees would alter the order in which questions will be


asked. Additional open-ended questions will also be used in order to clarify items I believe need

clarification. A final open-ended question will be used as a “catch-all” to allow the interviewees

the chance to share any information they did not feel they had an opportunity to do: “Do you

have any final comments regarding former club sports athletes and motivations or constraints

that they experience in donating to their alma mater’s Club Sports department?”

The audio recordings of the interviews will be fully transcribed by me following the

completion of all of the interviews. The transcriptions will utilize the pseudonyms of the

participants and will be kept on my password protected computer in order to protect the identities Commented [SB13]: But you never tell the reader why only
interviews – and why these types of questions/protocols?

of the interviewees.

Data Analysis

Transcripts of the interviews will then be analyzed using a thematic analysis. A thematic

analysis comprises identifying different categories of responses, for example particular

motivations a donor experienced, and then developing themes based on those responses in an

effort to organize them (Johnson & Christensen, 2014).

According to Braun and Clarke (2006), “A theme captures something important about the

data in relation to the research question, and represents some level of patterned response or

meaning within the data set.” Generally this is seen through a prevalence of the theme in the

transcripts, however, prevalence does not necessarily equate it constituting a theme (Braun &

Clarke, 2006).

Braun and Clarke (2006) suggest a six-step approach to conducting thematic analysis:

familiarizing yourself with your data; generating initial codes; searching for themes; reviewing


themes; defining and naming themes; and producing the report. The thematic analysis will be

conducted using this method.

Thematic Coding Commented [SB14]: Is this a subheading of the Data Analysis


I plan to utilize a computer program, such as NVivo Pro, to assist in the thematic coding

of the transcripts. I will first read the transcripts from 15 or more interviews and identify

thematic codes, such as “experience as club sports student athlete” or “giving to support

program” or “decision to donate less money”. The transcripts, which will be in individual

Microsoft Word documents, will then be uploaded into NVivo Pro.

The thematic codes will be identified in NVivo Pro as nodes, a container in the program

that can be used for categorizing and coding identified themes in the transcripts (Richards, 1999,

p. 12) and tested in the system with a sample of four interviews to verify the fit of the selected

nodes. The process will be tested and altered several times to ensure the correct themes are being


The themes will then be compared with Shapiro and Giannoulakis’s (2009) four donor

constraint themes: importance, connection, communication, and experience.

This last section might need to be fleshed out a little more.

Overall – good work Ryan – you are a methodical thinker so that is evident here – but you will

want to think about the gaps – not a lot – but enough to provide your reader with a little more

clarity on your roadmap. Good work!

Dr .B



Appendix A

FSA Constraint Questions

1. Do you currently donate to any organizations, foundations, etc?

2. If so, which organizations do you currently donate to?
3. What is the “range” of your donation?
4. List three benefits of being a charitable donor.
5. Are you currently involved with UNC Athletics in some capacity?
6. If so, in what capacity (fan, volunteer, etc.)?
7. List three barriers/factors that prevent you from giving to UNC athletics
8. Briefly discuss your experience as a UNC student-athlete.
9. As a FSA of Northern Colorado, what is important to you?
10. As an Alumnus of Northern Colorado, what is important to you?

11. Please give us your opinion on the following current and prospective
UNC booster club benefits.

12. What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages of engaging in volunteer charitable
donations (behavioral beliefs)
13. Are there any people or groups that you feel would approve or disapprove of you
engaging (or donating to) in the UNC Booster Club? (normative beliefs)
14. List any factors or circumstances that would prevent you from engaging (or donating to)
in the UNC Booster Club? (control beliefs)



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Council for Aid to Education. (2014). Voluntary Support of Education 2013. New York, NY:

Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2014). Educational Research: Quantitative, Qualitative, and
Mixed Approaches (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Lifschultz, L. (2012). Club Sports: Maximizing Positive Outcomes and Minimizing Risks.
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McDearmon, J. T. (2010). What's in it for me: A qualitative look into the mindset of young
alumni non-donors. International Journal of Educational Advancement, 10(1), 33-47.

Monks, J. (2003). Patterns of giving to one’s alma mater among young graduates from selective
institutions. Economics of Education Review, 22(2), 121-130. doi:10.1016/S0272-

Okunade, A. A., & Berl, R. L. (1997). Determinants of Charitable Giving of Business School
Alumni. Research in Higher Education, 38(2), 201-214.

Pennington, B. (2008, December 1). Rise of College Club Teams Creates a Whole New Level of
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Richards, L. (1999). Using Nvivo in Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.

Shapiro, S. L., & Giannoulakis, C. (2009). An Exploratory Investigation of Donor Constraints

for Former Student-Athletes. International Journal of Sport Management, 10, 207-225.


Shapiro, S. L., Giannoulakis, C., Drayer, J., & Wang, C. (2010). An examination of athletic
alumni giving behavior: Development of the Former Student-Athlete Donor Constraint
Scale. Sport Management Review, 13, 283-295. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2009.12.001

Sung, M., & Yang, S. (2009). Student-university relationships and reputation: a study of the links
between key factors fostering students' supportive behavioral intentions towards their
university. Higher Education, 57(6), 787-811. doi:10.1007/sl0734-008-9176-7

Weerts, D. J., & Ronca, J. M. (2008). Characteristics of Alumni Donors Who Volunteer at their
Alma Mater. Research in Higher Education, 49, 274-292. doi:10.1007/s11162-007-9077-


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