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Year Four (PhD)

The PhD path is focused on dissertation development and completion. Students will examine special topics that may be of personal or regional interest. In addition to the required courses, students will take 1 elective and work closely with their advisors and dissertation committee as they complete their dissertation.

Required courses

In this colloquium, students and faculty will examine and discuss critical issues regarding the design, implementation and evaluation of school improvement plans. Sample plans, case studies and research on restructuring chronically struggling schools will be used as a way to conduct the critique and reflect on what is required or could be done differently to improve its effectiveness or increase the likelihood of success.

At this stage the student will conduct the research he or she has proposed and will be writing the dissertation, which must be an original and crucial contribution to the field of educational leadership and policy studies. Such intellectual exegesis is completed under the supervision of a Chair and Dissertation Committee. After approval by the Dissertation by the Committee, the student will proceed to the Defense.

A continuation of Thesis I. You will continue to work through the thesis process. 

The dissertation seminars are designed to support students while working on their dissertations. Questions, dilemmas, conflicts, tensions related with the topic, design and delimitations of the study, the review of literature, and of organization will be addressed in these seminars. Topics such as how to conceptualize a particular problem, how to define and clarify both the objectives and the object and limitations of the study, how to analyze, conceptualize, assess, evaluate, select, use and present critically data will be presented and discussed in a seminar format in order to help students progress as closely as possible on schedule. As part of these seminars, students will learn how to submit the documentation necessary for IRB approval, write, submit for approval and defend a dissertation proposal and then proceed to conduct the study, complete the analysis, work with his/her committee and finally submit and successfully defend a written thesis. The seminars are complementary to the work to be done with the student’s Dissertation Committee and its Chair. It is also designed to provide guidance and individualized support within a given structure and schedule to provide students with the opportunity to progress at their own pace.

A continuation of Dissertation Seminar III. You will continue to work through the dissertation process.

Advanced seminar electives

In this seminar students will be encouraged to examine several conceptual views on ethics in order to make informed and responsible decisions for organizations in difficult situations and circumstances. Students will examine the ethics of rights, justice, and care applied to moral dilemmas using as sources for reflection the professional literature, the humanities, and the student's own practices and beliefs. Using critical transformative leadership as an intellectual prism, students will approach multiculturalism as profoundly determined by class, gender and race dynamics. Students will also examine the importance of using literature as narrative imagination as a way of reflecting and communicating ethical questions in educational policy and practice.

In this seminar students will explore various critical issues affecting education and educational leadership. The course will pay particular attention to the various ways in which educational leadership has been conceptualized, the state of research on the field itself of educational leadership, internal or external factors that may hamper or bolster the likelihood of failure or success as a leader and administrator, and trends and challenges educational leaders face or are likely to face in a nearby future as a result of new policies, procedures or practices that have been enacted. On occasion, this seminar may focus on the examination of a particular area of work such as facilities management, federal grantsmanship, student tracking, ability grouping, retention and dropout prevention, differentiated instruction, alternative dispute resolution, negotiations, and special education. The topics will be announced well in advanced and will be selected in consultation with the students and practitioners alike.

In this seminar students will examine the nature of and the development of professional associations, unions and other educational organizations, their role in collective bargaining and their impact on educational reform initiatives. The seminar will provide an opportunity to study how these educational agencies affect educational policy and practice, the governance and organization of schools, and personnel administration in Education. Emphasis will be given to new federal and state initiatives to develop common quality standards for licensure and accreditation based on performance assessments of teachers and administrators and tying these to student performance on standardized achievement tests. In this seminar we will also reflect on why is Education one of the few “professions” that is not regulated through professional accreditation bodies and state professional boards like Law, Medicine, Architecture, Engineering, Social Work, Accounting, and Agronomy.

In this seminar students will analyze the new complex contexts for the politics of inclusion in planning and in making decisions on how best to address issues of equity, given there is de facto segregation and or widespread poverty in the community or school(s) where the graduate students would be expected to function as a leader; or that there are linguistic minorities, immigrants, and other historically marginalized groups present. They will examine the importance attributed to educational leaders for serving as models or mentors to others as well as the importance of emerging leaders to be more direct in addressing equity issues related to student achievement in schools.

This seminar draws upon successful experiences from real schools, teachers and leaders. By using the real field as a testimony, students will analyze and debate how a winning school and leadership is profoundly connected, not only with the curriculum per se – based on the belief that knowledge comes to life for students and teachers only when it is connected to something that is serious, but also in ways of finding practical avenues to increase the meaningful participation of everyone involved in the educational experience, including parents, local residents, and especially students themselves, making schools a democratic way of living.

In this seminar students will analyze from a historical perspective legislation and case law embodying the legal and educational principles governing school choice programs and assess the current calls for expanding and blurring the public-private sectors controversies in American Education.  Students will also examine research and policy reports on school choice to explore the limits, possibilities and challenges of choice programs in building a more just and fair society.  The seminar will analyze real cases such as the Black Alliance for Educational Options in Milwaukee trying to perceive how choice policies can provide high-quality education for minority communities.

In this seminar students will examine the role(s) that the goal of eliminating the minority achievement gap has had throughout the ages in eliciting change and reform in contemporary American Education. Students will also examine how this goal continues to be used to promote data driven planning and accountability as well as a shift from the idea of an equal opportunity to an equal achievement outcome based on minimums rather than excellence.  Students will critically reflect on whether the focus on the minority achievement gap is still useful or whether a new paradigm shift is needed or is taking place in American schools, particularly that of  benchmarking ourselves against other countries performance on educational efficacy to maintain or improve our international competitiveness and strategic advantages.

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