Professional Practice Project: Utilizing Action Research Courses to Demonstrate Proficiency Through a Comprehensive Exam in an Online Ed.D. Program

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Comprehensive exams are a standard requirement in many Ed.D. programs. This discovery session will engage attendees in an open discussion of the outcomes of utilizing two online action research courses in an online Ed.D. program to prepare students from their comprehensive exam through the means of a Professional Practice Project.


Aubrey Statti, Ed.D. earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Florida and a Masters of Professional Counseling and a Doctorate of Education from Liberty University. She has worked in higher education for 13 years and has taught at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels in areas of psychology, counseling, education, and research at Liberty University, Arcadia University, Bryan College, University of the Rockies, and Walden University. Additionally, she has worked in the Florida public schools as both a high school teacher and a school counselor. Dr. Statti is currently a professor for The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's (TCSPP) Educational Psychology and Technology program, primarily teaching qualitative research and ethics courses. She also serves as a Dissertation Chair and reader on doctoral students' dissertations. Her research interests in the areas of educational technology include K-12 education, online education, early childhood education, digital storytelling, rural education, and the impact of mentorship in educational settings. Dr. Statti has served as a reviewer for the Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education journal and is currently on the development committee of TCSPP’s International Journal of Educational Psychology and Technology.

Extended Abstract

Doctoral programs throughout the nation rely on a series of milestones to assess a student’s educational abilities and preparedness for completing their degree.  One of these milestones is traditionally a comprehensive exam.  In order to meet this requirement, the studied university utilizes a Professional Practice Project.  Ed.D. students in the studied online program enroll in two action research courses, one focused on action research studies and the second focused on program evaluation research.  Throughout these two courses, students prepare an action research proposal as well as a program evaluation proposal.  Through course assignments and class discussions, students receive feedback from their professor and classmates to best develop their research proposals. After completion of these two online courses, students select one of the two developed courses to present in person at the program Residency requirement on campus.  Students present their Professional Practice Project to their classmates while being reviewed by two outside professors in the program.  Students must receive a passing grade on their Professional Practice Project/Competency Exam prior to moving forward in the program.

The presentation will discuss the faculty member’s experience in both teaching the online action research courses that prepare the students for the exam as well as the role of evaluating students’ Professional Practice Projects/Competency Exams. The intent of this research is to assess the effectiveness of the Professional Practice Project as a means of meeting the program’s competency exam requirement. Students have provided the program faculty with a broad range of feedback on this format and therefore as a core faculty member, the researcher is striving to determine the most appropriate and beneficial format of an online Ed.D. program competency exam.


This discovery session will begin with a brief introduction to the program’s current Professional Practice Project/Competency Exam format.  The session will then present both the benefits to the current format as well as the challenges.  The session will conclude with a discussion of audience feedback, questions, and personal experiences with similar program requirements.

Though all participants are welcome to attend for an informative look into the use of professional practice projects, participants at the intermediate and advanced level in higher education as well as administrators and design thinkers will potentially gain the most benefits from the session.  Participants will engage in the material through interactive discussion and audience contributions.

Learning outcomes of the workshop include:

  1. Workshop participants will gain an understanding of the purpose of comprehensive exams in an Ed.D. program.
  2. Workshop participants will be exposed to the intent and learning outcomes of a professional practice project.
  3. Workshop participants will discover the possibility of integrating two online action research courses into a student’s professional practice project and program comprehensive exam.
  4. Workshop participants will discuss alternative potential methods for assessing student proficiency in an online Ed.D. program.