Western Carolina University

 
Program Description: 

The Western Carolina University Executive Ed. D. in Educational Leadership is a Carnegie-modeled program with two concentrations: PK-12 School District Leadership and Community College Leadership. Designed to prepare senior level leaders to address complex problems of practice, the program features:

  • Cohort model
  • Rigorous, integrated, scaffolded curriculum
  • Signature pedagogies are improvement science, problem-based learning and embedded fieldwork
  • Hybrid course delivery (one weekend per month and online work
  • Developmental inquiry strand, culminating in a disquisition based on field-based problem solving
  • Engagement of practitioners as partners in course delivery, research, program design and evaluation

The primary focus of the program is preparing senior level educational leaders to address complex problems of practice within two concentrations: PK-12 District Level Leadership and Community College Leadership.

Signature Pedagogy: 

Signature pedagogies are improvement science, problem-based learning, and embedded field work in laboratories of practice.

 

Capstone: 

The EdD Disquisition

Overview: The culminating activity of the Educational Leadership Doctorate (Ed.D.) at WCU is a problem-based disquisition, rather than a traditional research-based dissertation. A disquisition is a formal discourse or treatise in which a subject is examined and discussed in depth. The disquisition provides a concrete good for the larger community through the dissemination of new relevant knowledge. More particularly, for the purposes of our program, within a disquisition, issues of social justice, equity and ethics are typically at the forefront of the discourse.  As the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) states, “[The purpose of the Ed.D. is to] ...prepare educators for the application of appropriate and specific practices, the generation of new knowledge and the stewardship of the profession.” (Perry, 2012, p. 43)

At WCU, we prepare scholar practitioners who can utilize theory and real life situations to address problems of practice. The process of developing the disquisition (in conjunction with the associated coursework) helps to prepare scholar practitioners who will (continue to) serve as educational leaders. The preparation of the disquisition is an exacting, stringent, worthy, dignified and towering encounter that prepares outstanding scholar practitioners in P-12 institutions, districts and community colleges.   We prepare outstanding principals, teachers, curriculum leaders, superintendents and other central office administrators, community college presidents and other community college administrators, teacher educators and evaluators.  In concert with the CPED, we understand that “...[the Ed.D is] the highest-quality degree for the advanced preparation of school practitioners and clinical faculty, academic leaders, and professional staff for the nation's schools and colleges and the organizations that support them.” (Perry, 2012, p. 42)

A Problem-Based Exercise: The WCU Ed.D. disquisition is a relevant, congruous and well-suited culminating activity for educational leadership scholar practitioners. It zeros in on the issues and demands of scholar practitioners and the institutions in which they work. It sheds additional, directed and effective light on an effort to address a particular organizational quandary.  In the disquisition process, scholar practitioners utilize theoretical and day-to-day understandings to address practical situations. Through the exercise, they gain expertise in differentiating between the present state of an organization and the sought after or preferred state. Indubitably, the act of preparing a disquisition--absolutely and with forethought--guides scholar practitioners in addressing the challenges faced in P-12 schools and districts and community colleges.

The Disquisition Process: The disquisition process begins long before the investigation and writing begins.  It starts with the articulation of a problem of practice within an institution (or set of institutions) and a query as to what can be done to address the problem.  Such problems will often include issues of social justice, equity and ethics. The intent of the exercise is to improve the situation through investigations within the institution(s) and the acquisition and application of relevant knowledge. Critical thinking, knowledge of the field(s) and some give-and-take are necessary. While previous literature is utilized, it is not used to develop an argument, but, instead, to support or strengthen it. Ultimately, scholar practitioners develop a perspective on the problem and appropriately communicate the perceived resolution(s).

For the disquisition, scholar practitioners work with other P-12 and community college practitioners, as well as WCU faculty to explore the problem in question.   The disquisition may take several forms.  Possibilities include--but are not limited to--collaborative action research, portfolios and monographs.   (Final determination of the format is made in consultation with the scholar practitioner's academic advisor.)

The audience for the disquisition is determined by the problem and the proposed solution(s).  The audience could be P-12 administrators, teachers and/or staff; community college administrators, faculty and/or staff; superintendents and/or other central office staff; school board members; community college board members; business people; community people; local, state or federal political leaders; parents; students; or combinations of the aforementioned groups.  

Depending upon the audience, one or more document may be produced as the final disquisition. The components of the final product will typically include:

  • A description of an organization problem: Identification of a gap between the present and desired situation
  • Problem statement and possible strategies to address it
  • An argument related to addressing the problem: Persuading stakeholders
  • Strategies designed to address the problem: Proposed actions
  • Actions taken and results
  • Final report(s), including implementation status and outcomes

Benefits to Ed.D. Graduates: At WCU, within our Ed.D. program, we prepare outstanding leaders in the field of educational leadership, who advance understanding of the field and apply, as appropriate, germane and focused efforts at improving the condition of education. The goals of preparing the disquisition are consistent with this overall intent of the Ed.D. program.

The WCU Ed.D. disquisition experience embodies the four qualities articulated by Archbald (2010): (1) developmental efficacy, (2) community benefit, (3) intellectual stewardship, and (4) form and function distinctiveness.  That is, scholar practitioners who complete the WCU Ed.D. disquisition will (1) possess enhanced comprehensive research skills; (2) provide a significant and meaningful benefit to identified constituencies around them; (3) embody the enhanced values traditionally associated with the doctoral experience, e.g., critical thinking, disciplinary inquiry and argumentation; and (4) encounter a unique and rewarding educational experience.

Description of each year of the Program: 

Western Carolina University
 

EdD in Educational Leadership

 9 Semester Course Sequence

(Students enroll every semester, including summers.)

Semester

Required Ed leadership

(18 required)

Required Research/Inquiry

(16 required)

Disquisition

(9 required)

Superintendent Licensure

(6 credits required-- counted as concentration electives)

Concentration Electives

(9 credits Required)

Total Credits

(52 required)

Up to 8 per semester=Part-Time

Summer

1

EDL 822

Leadership of Complex Educational Organizations

3 cr

Allen

EDRS 800

Analysis of Educational Research

3 cr

Crow

 

0

EDL 805

Academic Writing for Research

1 cr

 

7

Fall

1

EDL 824

Leading Institutional

Improvement

3 hours

Lomotey

EDRS 801

Methods in Improvement Science

3 cr

Crow

 

 

Student Choice

 

Spring

1

EDL 826

Policy Leadership

3

EDRS 802

Research Design

3 hours

 

EDL 883—Intern I

1 cr

 

Student Choice

 

Summer

2

EDL 828

Human Resource Leadership

3 cr

EDRS 803

Data Collection

3 cr

 

EDL 793

Disquisition Proposal Writing

1 cr

(Disq chairs assigned late summer)

EDL 884—Intern II

1 cr

 

Student Choice

 

Fall 2

EDL 830

Applied Leadership Theory

3 cr

EDRS 804

Data Analysis

3 cr

EDL 899—Disq Research

Cr: Student choice

(with chair)

EDL 885—Intern III

1 cr

 

Student Choice

 

 

 

Semester

Required Ed leadership

(18 required)

Required Research/Inquiry

(16 required)

Disquisition

(9 required)

Superintendent Licensure

(6 credits required-- counted as concentration electives)

Concentration Electives

(9 credits Required)

Total Credits

(52 required)

Up to 8 per semester=Part-Time

Spring 2

EDL 832

Decision-Making

3 cr

EDRS 805

Interp and Use of Research

1 cr

EDL 899—Disq Research

Cr: Student choice

(Proposal defenses in Feb)

EDL 877

The Superintendency

3 cr

Student Choice

 

Summer 3

 

 

EDL 899—Disq Research

Cr: Student choice

 

Student Choice

 

Fall 3

 

 

EDL 899—Disq Research

Cr: Student choice

 

Student Choice

 

Spring 3

 

 

EDL 899—Disq Research

Cr: Student choice

(Disquisition Defense prior to March 15)

 

Student Choice

 

 


 

Admission Requirements: 

Cohort size is limited, so admissions are competitive. Applications must be submitted online through the Graduate School's Apply Yourself system. To apply, you must submit:

  • Application letter, including short and long-range objectives for completing the EdD
  • Resume highlighting leadership experience
  • Official GRE scores
  • Official transcripts for all graduate work, documenting a GPA of 3.5
  • At least three reference who will complete an online recommendation

In addition, potential candidates for the cohort are interviewed and asked to complete a writing exercise. Students who want to earn a superintendent's license must complete the requirements for a principal's license prior to applying for the EdD program.

General Information:
Program Delivery: Hybrid
Average number of students admitted into the EdD program each year: 12-16
Types of employment students hold upon entering the program: Department of Public Instruction Leader,School District Level Administraator (Chief Academic Office, HR Director, Curriculum Director),Building Level Leader (Principal, Assistant Principal, Teacher Leader,Community College Administrator (VP for Workforce Development, Admissions Director, VP for Technology, etc.)
Number of credits in the program (beyond the Masters): 52
Length of Program: Less than 4 years
Are most students part time or full time?: part time
Average number of students enrolled in each cohort: 13
Current PK-20 Practitioner: 1
Current University Faculty: 2-3
University faculty from Discipline outside Education: 1

Students use Improvement Science to address their identified problems. Therefore, they select the methods most appropriate to measure their interventions.

How do students use their dissertation work in practice following graduation?: 

Students develop their improvement projects within their own work settings, so they use their disquisition work from the beginning stage of framing a problem and beyond their graduation.

Does your dissertation process take into account impact or potential impact on the field? If so, can you measure the impact?: 

All students are required to present written and oral reports (disquisition and defense) of their improvement projects, including measures of impact.

Core Courses:

There are 12 core courses--6 "pairs" of courses, each co-taught by a two-faculty team of an Educational Leadership faculty and a Research faculty. See the course scope and sequence elsewhere on this web site.

Content Courses:

Students are required to take 9 credits of concentration electives, developed to address the specific and individual professional needs of the students.

Design Process:

As part of the reorganization of the College of Education and Allied Professions in the spring of 2011, the Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations was eliminated and faculty were re-assigned to the Department of Human Services, the Department of Psychology, or the School of Teaching and Learning. Admissions to our Ed.D. in Educational Leadership were suspended, in order to provide time for the program to be comprehensively reviewed and redesigned. An interdisciplinary steering committee was formed, comprised of faculty from each of the new units and our Graduate School Dean. The charge to the committee was to present a re-designed program that included:

  • Program purposes and objectives
  • Program overview
  • Program structure
  • Recommended curriculum areas
  • Delivery system
  • Program implementation plan
  • Plan to monitor and support program implementation
  • Plan for program evaluation
  • Admissions criteria and process (Who are our ideal candidates?)

The committee spent a year gathering data in order to address its charge and to ensure that the program responded to current and future needs of our constituencies. The committee (1) met with superintendents and community college presidents and their leadership teams; (2) interviewed current, former, and prospective students; (3) met with small groups of faculty in the College of Education and Allied Professions; and (4) reviewed the research on doctoral level educational leadership preparation. The program director also interviewed directors of CPED member institution programs. In addition, the program director and department head consulted several times with CPED Co-Director Jill Perry as well as program directors of Educational Leadership programs at ECU and HPU, who were also redesigning their programs.

After conducting a comprehensive examination of the CPED history, philosophy and principles and carefully examining CPED member institutions’ educational leadership programs, the committee reached consensus on the goal of differentiating our practice-based Ed.D. from a research-based Ed.D., designing a program that integrated elements reflecting the CPED-influenced mission and goals and addressing the needs of our stakeholders.

The committee spent the second year (1) developing the curriculum scope and sequence, (2) designing new courses, (3) redesigning existing courses, (4) undergoing the college and university curriculum review and approval process, (5) developing an admissions process, (6) selecting candidates and (7) rolling out the program in the summer of 2013.

How long was the design process?: 2 years
Was there anything unique about your program design process?: The most unique feature of the design process is that it was completed by an interdisciplinary Steering Committee, representing faculty from all units of the College of Education and Allied Professions as well as the Graduate School.
Last Updated: September 1, 2016 - 1:50pm

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
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