EdD not ABD: Supporting Students in Rigorous Research in a 3-Year Program
Concurrent Session 1
Finish your EdD in 3 years? Including the Dissertation? Yes! Join us to learn more about how we have organized a rigorous research process in the scope and sequence of the program and the on-campus immersion experiences, all leading to an EdD, not ABD.
This session will describe how we help our students complete their EdD in three years, including the development and presentation of a Problem of Practice Dissertation. Research findings suggest that the rates of attrition within EdD programs are somewhere between 50-70% (Ivankova & Stick, 2006; Rockinson-Szapkiw et al., 2014). In many programs, students may successfully complete their coursework, but fail to complete the capstone project or dissertation resulting in their ABD (All But Dissertation) status. EdD students face particular challenges in their quest to complete a doctoral degree. First, EdD students are often full time employed adults who must balance a number of demands on their time including work and family (Kerrigan & Hayes, 2016; Tuñón & Ramirez, 2010). Second, EdD students often experience a disconnect between doctoral curriculum and theory and their own professional practice making it difficult for them to identify a meaningful problem to study. Finally, EdD students may also struggle with the process of designing, executing, and writing their capstone projects. Therefore, it is important to consider how to support EdD students in their successful completion of the EdD dissertation. Researchers have suggested several potential support structures for EdD students including, peer mentoring(Lowery et al., 2018), cohort models and community building (Bista & Cox, 2014; McCarthy et al., 2005), library support (Tuñón & Ramirez, 2010), and focusing on practice based and authentic research (Kerrigan & Hayes, 2016; Rockinson-Szapkiw et al., 2014).
Based on research around best practices in student support, we designed and implemented a number of student support structures to help our EdD students walk the stage as an EdD and not end up ABD. This presentation will explore the support structures we use to help our students engage in rigorous practitioner based research called the Problem of Practice dissertation.
The Problem of Practice (PoP) dissertation is a comprehensive and ongoing written product that is completed throughout the EdD in Learning and Organizational Change online program. The PoP dissertation for this EdD program is organized and completed in three distinct stages, with designated benchmarks throughout the three-year program. Students work with faculty members to design and complete their Problem of Practice, formally presenting their ongoing progress throughout the program. The dissertation is submitted and presented to faculty during the final capstone course. Generally speaking, the focus of the EdD dissertation centers on a need to make improvements in a specific educational or professional context, which can lead to larger and lasting benefits beyond the personally significant dissertation defense (Archbald, 2008; Belzer & Ryan, 2013). This type of practitioner research takes place “at the intersection of an individual’s work as a practitioner and researcher, wherein a practitioner focuses on understanding localized problems of practice through in-depth inquiry” (Lochmiller & Lester, 2017, p. 3, 2017, p. 3). The goal of the Problem of Practice is to produce industry leaders “who will transform professional practice” (Council of Graduate Schools, 2007, p. iv). As leaders in their field, our EdD students must be active learners who use research and theory to engage in analysis of and reform within their organizations. Ultimately, the purpose of the development of a problem of practice product is to enhance a student’s ability to conduct research on critical problems of educational practice that could impact future professional growth and lead informed change in their organization.
Although all courses are taken online, EdD Students participate in two on-campus Immersions during their program. Each Immersion is planned for two days (Friday/Saturday arrangement) to allow EdD students to experience the campus, interact with faculty and other campus leaders, and engage in collegial discussions to further develop their academic experience and PoP. Three (3) Faculty Advisors are assigned to small groups of students (12-15) within each cohort and follow them throughout their doctoral program. These faculty teach the Problem of Practice and Capstone courses. Faculty Advisors also plan periodic meetings during the entire program to support EdD student’s overall development of the PoP.
In addition to this support structure, our EdD program provides a fully staffed Writing Center, templates and planning documents, and a high level of ongoing support. The EdD Writing Center includes two full-time staff and two graduate student writing consultants. This team provides writing consultations for EdD students and supports the work of the Faculty Advisors as they facilitate feedback on the development of the PoP. In addition, the EdD Writing Center offers a variety of webinars and an optional writing course that supports students throughout their program. In conjunction with the PoP courses, the EdD Writing Center also provides templates and planning documents for the development of the PoP. This provides support for organizing the PoP document according to the required formatting requirements of the graduate school. The EdD Writing Center, alongside the Faculty Advisors for each cohort, provide ongoing support for EdD students throughout their program. Students begin their initial ideas for their PoP in the first trimester and continue to develop these ideas through their sequence of required courses, including the PoP courses, all strategically organized to support the developmental progression of the research plan leading to the finish product of a PoP dissertation.
Plan of interactivity
This session will involve a number of interactive elements whereby participants will work directly with program documents, watch videos of program practices, and hear from students and faculty involved in the program. Using a variety of technological tools, such as mentimeter, google docs, and padlet participants will have the opportunity to not only learn about our program, but also to consider how to apply these ideas to their own programs. Participants will:
Brainstorm issues doctoral students might face in their quest to complete a doctoral degree and ways to increase student success.
Explore the EdD course sequence, including the embedded PoP courses.
Explore our “4-chapter” with Executive Summary format dissertation and our process for the dissertation presentation.
Learn about students support structures such as the EdD Writing Center, peer working groups, and advisor groups.
Discuss helpful research and writing tools such as: literature maps, initial planning documents, library resources, and reference management software options.
Watch videos that showcase our on-campus Immersion experiences and learn about the specifics of each of these experiences.
See examples of student work, including poster presentations, planning documents, literature maps, and more.
Hear about lessons learned in our implementation of rigorous research standards.
Attendees will learn about:
Structuring courses within the program to support capstone projects.
The Importance of creating manageable and measurable chunks for the doctoral capstone project.
Developing and implementing a cohort model with embedded peer working groups.
The role that faculty advisors play in supporting student success.
Designing and implementing on-campus immersion experiences.
Ways to develop community in an online program.
Development of student writing through a program embedded writing center.
Archbald, D. (2008). Research versus problem solving for the education leadership doctoral thesis: Implications for form and function. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(5), 704–739. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X07313288
Ivankova, N. V., & Stick, S. L. (2006). Students’ persistence in a distributed doctoral program in educational leadership in higher education: A mixed methods study. Research in Higher Education, 48(1), 93. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-006-9025-4
Lochmiller, C. R., & Lester, J. N. (2017). Conceptualizing practitioner-scholarship for educational leadership research and practice. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 12(1), 3–25. https://doi.org/10.1177/1942775116668525
Lowery, K., Geesa, R., & McConnell, K. (2018). Designing a peer-mentoring program for education doctorate (edd) students. Higher Learning Research Communications, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.18870/hlrc.v8i1.408
Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J., Spaulding, L. S., & Bade, B. (2014). Completion of educational doctorates: How universities can foster persistence. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 9, 293–308. https://doi.org/10.28945/2072
Tuñón, J., & Ramirez, L. (2010). ABD or EdD? A model of library training for distance doctoral students. Journal of Library Administration, 50(7–8), 989–996. https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2010.489004