Fielding Graduate University


Name of CPED-Influenced Program: Educational Leadership for Change
Key Contact Person:
Anna DiStefano, EdD

Program Description: 

The Educational Leadership for Change EdD Program addresses both existing challenges and opportunities to our student centered, outcome based learning model and the need to develop a graduate program anchored in 21st Century learning skills.  Those skills include: critical thinking and problem solving; collaboration across networks; leading by influence; agility and adaptability; initiative and entrepreneurialism; effective oral and written communication; accessing and analyzing information; and curiosity and imagination.

Our redesigned program deepens and contextualizes our learning model in 21st Century Learning Skills by doing three things: first, our students are provided the opportunity to embed their learning in communities of practice that encourage critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and leading by example; second, our students are provided multiple opportunities to develop authentic learning activities that are project based and that explore solutions to shortcomings in educational systems; and third, our program provides our students with multiple learning opportunities to acquire the doctoral level competencies at the center of their graduate education.  Together, these three activities provide our students with opportunities to be knowledge producers who incorporate initiative and entrepreneurialism in their learning process.

Our program is offered with an understanding that our various stakeholders (students, alumni, the Department of Education, WASC, etc.) expect us to provide our students a first class educational experience that: 1) can be completed in a reasonable period of time; 2) is cost-effective; and 3) provides them the opportunity to acquire content knowledge and skills consistent with the needs of the global “learning economy” in which “knowledge is the crucial resource” and “learning is the most important process.”  

Thus, through action-research, project-based learning, appreciative inquiry, as well as a variety of other research methods and techniques connected to communities of practice, our program is positioned to make foundational contributions to solving some of the challenges confronting education. 

Stage in Redesign Process: Implementation

Program Link: Educational Leadership for Change

Signature Pedagogy: 

Our learning model is based on a deep understanding of the principles of adult learning.  It is designed to accommodate the needs and learning styles of active professionals.

Dissertation-Focused, Personalized Studies

Every step through the EdD program is intended to give students the background, understanding, and ideas they need to shape their dissertations. Students develop customized learning plans to study their unique interests within a framework that embraces both individuality and collaboration. Through a combination of project-based learning and competency-based instruction, students learn how to help solve real-world educational problems.

Student-Initiated, Technology-Supported Scholarship

Students are encouraged to exercise initiative in proposing a program of study and in selecting a combination of study strategies that work best for their personal situation. Faculty then integrate leading-edge technology to facilitate individualized learning, assess student learning, and support students in building e-portfolios for career advancement.

Build on Existing Knowledge and Experience

While students must demonstrate competence in all specified components of the curriculum, they build on strengths they already have and are exposed to less familiar areas.

Collaborative Partnerships

Students learn in a collaborative partnership with faculty members who advise, mentor, and evaluate work based on doctoral-level standards. Our faculty are continuously and actively engaged with each student and his or her learning plan. EdD students are encouraged to participate in communities of practice where they can apply what they learn in their courses of study.

Flexible Options

Students can pursue their degrees in ways that best fit with their career and family responsibilities. Our approach incorporates academic rigor, research, and critical thinking with online learning tools and face-to-face interaction. Face-to-face options include workshops and study clusters with faculty, peers, and alumni. Our online network makes possible a wide range of formal and informal learning activities including seminars, discussion forums, library services, and communication tools. This creates a shared learning enterprise that is available to students whenever and wherever they need it. 

Laboratories of Practice: 

In the Leadership for Change portion of the doctoral curriculum, you are introduced to available communities of practice, and you have the opportunity to investigate and propose additional communities that match your interests and goals. You read some foundational texts, self-assess your level of skill in key areas, and develop a plan of action for moving forward to critique with your Mentor. An introductory seminar is a prerequisite for any further work in the Leadership for Change Praxis courses.

The Praxis courses afford you the opportunity to extend and deepen involvement in one or more change efforts as well as reflecting upon your experiences more deeply so as to increase your effectiveness. You may do work which involves face-to-face work in a setting or in virtual communities. You may involve yourself in existing and ongoing projects or organize something new. You may wish to coordinate work for this course with elective or required courses or to align it with your dissertation plans. The projects in which you get involved are opportunities for you: to develop new skills, to deepen current skills, to test out theories which you are exploring, to develop new theories out of the experiences you are having, to collaborate with others within and outside of ELC and Fielding, and to make a difference in the environments that matter to you about the issues that concern you most. Provided that you have completed the Introductory Seminar, you complete this work at any point in your program. This is a repeatable course.

Description of each year of the Program: 

Each student establishes his or her own sequence of courses for the program.  Students must register for at least 4 new credits each term (there are three terms each year), and they must complete at least 18 credits each year.  Typically, students carry 10 credits per term, although it is important to stress that this load varies from student to student and from term to term. 

For example, in their first term, all students complete the Foundations for Doctoral Study course for 4 credits and then one of the courses from the Effective Communications (EC) group and one of the courses from the Approaches to Inquiry (A to I) group (total = 12 credits).  In the next two terms, they complete additional EC and A to I courses as well as the Introductory Seminar for the Leadership for Change part of the curriculum.  Students may choose to take electives as appropriate to their individual Learning Plans.

Most students integrate exploration of their dissertation interests into their coursework, so that by end of the second year, their proposals are complete and approved and the dissertation is the focus for the remainder of their enrollment in the third year.

Program Milestones: 

Advancement to candidacy requires the following academic requirements be completed:

·       Completion of the Foundations of Doctoral Study course

·       Dissertation proposal approval by chair and faculty readers and formal comments by external examiner, and all pre-requisite requirements of proposal approval

·       Completion of:  Critical Reading & Writing, all four Approaches to Inquiry courses, the Intro Seminar in Leadership for Change, and any 30 credits in addition. 

General Information:
  • How long has your CPED-influenced EdD program (i.e., post-redesign) been running?:  2013
  • Program Delivery:  Hybrid
  • Average number of students admitted into the EdD program each year: 60
  • Student:Faculty Ratio (Advising): 12:1
  • Number of credits in the program (beyond the Masters): 84
  • Length of Program:   Less than 4 years
  • Are most students part time or full time?:  full time
  • Average number of students enrolled in each cohort: 15
Graduate Competencies:
What competencies and/or attributes best characterize graduates of your program?:   EdD students are expected to be proficient in a variety of academic areas, including a broad understanding of theories and research, applying critical thinking, demonstrating professional and practical doctoral skills, engaging in academic dialogue, and using current resources. The specific competencies are identified below.
  • Writing for the Scholarly Community: Proposing ideas to other scholars by critically reviewing relevant scholarly work and developing a thesis.
  • Effective Communication and Scholarly Discourse other than through Scholarly Writing: Conveying information through dialogue, virtual media, arts-based projects, etc., that is readily understood by multiple audiences.
  • Leadership in Change Agentry: Leading socially - and ecologically-just change. 
  • Self-Directed Learning: Planning and carrying out a successful course of (independent) study.
  • User of Research Studies: Critically evaluating research to determine its utility for theory building, further research, and practice.
  • Designing and Conducting Research: Producing competent research.
  • Social Justice and Diversity: Demonstrates an informed awareness of local and global social justice and diversity issues, as well as a commitment to work toward resolution that includes praxis.

Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED)
Headquartered @ The University of Pittsburgh School of Education
4318 Posvar Hall - 230 S. Bouquet Street - Pittsburgh, PA 15260   +1 (412) 648-7428