October 14-16, 2020

Dismantling the hegemonic practices of establishing knowledge in the education profession

Exciting plans are underway for our Virtual Convening! Our goal is to stay true to the CPED vision of a convening; with lots of interaction, sharing, and learning across our membership.

Because we are going virtual, we anticipate record numbers of members participating. Therefore, we invite all of our members to consider this opportunity to participate in CPED through offering a learning exchange. Registration details will be available in late July/early August.

Table of Contents:

  1. Theme Overview
  2. Call for Learning Exchange & Workshop Proposals
  3. What is a Learning Exchange?
  4. Formats for Exchanges & Workshops
  5. What Does It Mean To Go Virtual?
  6. How to Submit a Proposal
  7. Deadlines
  8. Call for Exchange Peer Reviewers
  9. Call for Virtual Session Chairs
  10. Contact Us

Theme Overview

According to the Council of Graduate Schools Taskforce on the Professional Doctorate (2006), professional doctorates fall into two categories: those with a dissertation and those without. The degrees that have a dissertation have “no direct relationship to licensure and have a significant relationship to clinical, translational, or engaged research” (p. 12). Because the field of education does not have a licensure body, some product or experience is needed to demonstrate to the faculty that the student is qualified and has done the work worthy of earning the education doctorate degree. Colwill (2012) has further described professional degrees that require a dissertation as a Professional Research Doctorate, one that focuses on both research and practice, and that requires a dissertation to “investigate a particular professional topic or existing problem” (p. 13). CPED members have strived to reframe the dissertation in their EdD programs to make it align with Colwill’s definition. As a result, CPED members have renamed the dissertation for the EdD to the Dissertation in Practice (DiP), which is a scholarly endeavor that impacts a complex problem of practice. 

Despite this clear definition, the task of changing the format and expectations of the final product presents various challenges. Historically, the dissertation is synonymous with doctoral education. The academy has utilize this exercise “to confer expertise by winnowing out the amateurs from the experts” (Loss, 2015, p.3), To many faculty members who completed their own traditional dissertation or for practitioners who know colleagues who spent years working alone on a lengthy research project, the traditional dissertation is the gold standard. Further, most education faculty are not trained in program design and tend to follow what they know by designing programs around theory and research. Finally, practitioner needs are not front and center in the purpose of the dissertation. Rather than provide practical, applicable skills, the traditional dissertation is an extensive experience that may be informative but may not help the practitioner apply theory to practice. Hegemonic practices of book-length monographs don't reflect the career goals of EdD students or let them demonstrate what they know beyond the narrow borders of academe (Patton, 2013). It’s time to dismantle our thinking about knowledge production in the practice of education.

In spite of these challenges, CPED member institutions have changed the dissertation to some degree. We have seen various forms of group dissertations, format changes such as modified manuscripts and portfolio models, purpose changes such as client evaluation models, and methodology changes such as action research and improvement science. Though some members have created new frameworks, requirements, and rubrics we must still ask ourselves - are these enough to support practitioners at

learning to transform their practice? Are we addressing needs of practitioners or remaining tied to traditional academic thinking preferencing the academy over the field? As it stands, the majority of current Dissertations in Practice still look and feel like five-chapter dissertations. We have yet to demonstrate how this exercise demonstrates the ways in which practitioners are better prepared to “apply appropriate and specific practices, generate new knowledge, and steward the profession” (CPED definition of the EdD). 

The challenge of the traditional dissertation has also been troublesome in the humanities. Since the mid-2000s, fields such as history, English, and communications have been debating and rethinking the role and purpose of the traditional dissertation in their PhD programs. In many cases, students in these fields can take 7-10 years to complete their dissertations and spend the majority of their time writing versus researching. Further, with the need for knowledge mobilization and digital forms of expression, the end products are increasingly becoming less useful for their students who are more and more entering practice positions and not the academy. In 2013, Stacy Patton wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education that the traditional dissertation can no longer be defended. She noted that many fields were moving to digital and more interactive dissertation models. For instance, history students might develop products that are useful to museums, or digital interactive historical maps. Other fields allow for interactive websites that let students document their research experience, or e-books that share additional information to guide readers of the student’s work. These ideas are applied and useful to the student and to their practice and field.

While few, there have been innovative EdD dissertations. For example, in 2014 Nick Sousanis, an EdD student at Columbia University's Teachers College, wrote and drew his dissertation in comic-book form. Sousanis’ dissertation, Unflattening: A Visual-Verbal Inquiry into Learning in Many Dimensions, broke traditional norms by weaving together philosophical essays and theory with graphic images. His work made a profound contribution to the study of comics, semiotics, epistemology, and visual thinking as they apply to teaching. His work has also become recommended reading for students wanting to utilize visual narrative form (Dunn, 2014). 

It is time for CPED members to recognize that the format of a bound volume mimicking a scholarly book needs to be deconstructed. We must value the needs of practitioners and utilize the DiP exercise as a means to demonstrate preparation for becoming a Scholarly Practitioner. The goal of the convening is to collaboratively reimagine and reconstruct the Dissertation in Practice (DiP).

Call for Learning Exchange & Workshop Proposals

For the virtual convening, CPED seeks proposals focused on:

Structural Changes to the DiP: Purpose, Form, Content and Style

  •  How the purpose, form, content, or style of your DiP differs from, or is moving away from, a traditional dissertation (e.g., single monograph, 5 chapters, written, ETD format).
  • How collaboration fits into your DiP. How you are making the process less isolating and more reflective of problem solving in practice.
  • How your DiP is preparing Scholarly Practitioners who understand questions of equity, ethics, and social justice to bring about solutions to complex problems of practice?
  • How your DiP’s purpose, form, content, and style leads to graduates with expanded capacity to tackle complex challenges, both large and small. · How CPED’s Framework© is helping you reimagine and reconstruct your DiP.

Institutional & Programmatic Challenges related to the DiP: How to Overcome, Opportunities 

  • Unique ways your program prepares and supports all EdD students to do a DiP. · How your DiP experience demonstrates that students have the skills of a Scholarly Practitioner.
  • How you are navigating the IRB process for practitioner inquiry. Ideas/strategies you have for new DiP forms and IRB requirements.
  • The institutional structures that support new dissertation forms, structures, content and styles.
  • How to overcome instutional structures that inhibit changes to traditional dissertation formats.

How DiPs Meet Professional Needs: Developing Scholarly Practitioners as Leaders/Change Agents

  • How your DiP teaches students to include diverse perspectives and ways of knowing. How does your program encourage socially just, equitable, participatory, and transparent leadership work.
  • How the knowledge, skills, and dispositions your students gain from their DiP relates to, and enhances, their professional practice. How these abilities will continue to be used after students graduate. How you are encouraging students work sustains, spread, and/or enlarge their work.
  • How your dissertation work capitalizes on your students’ professional knowledge, talents, creativity, and passion and enhances their problem-solving skills, intellectual versatility, leadership, adaptability, and/or breadth of understanding.
  • How your DiP prepares leaders who can construct and apply knowledge to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families, organizations, and communities.
  • How your DiP supports candidates in develoing and demonstrating collaboration and communication skills across diverse communities to build partnerships for change? · How CPED’s Framework© is leading to new types of DiPs that develop scholarly practitioners as leaders and change agents.

What is a Learning Exchange?

Despite moving to a virtual convening, CPED is committed to providing interactive ways for its members to engage with, and learn from, each other in concurrent breakout learning exchange sessions. Convening evaluations have told us members want to avoid sit-and-get sessions and instead to engage in active professional development that enables them to take away materials and/or ideas that they can use. To accomplish this, we are committing to an interactive online experience that will develop highly engaging exchange sessions. 

Small Group Exchanges

Small Group Exchanges are presented concurrently in Zoom rooms. Exchanges can be facilitated by an individual or done collaboratively across departments or institutions. To promote the interactivity and engagement in a virtual setting, CPED will provide online supports for presenters. See below for more information about going virtual.

CIG Sponsored Small Group Exchanges open to CIG members:

CIG Sponsored Exchanges will capture the spirit and focus of the CIG’s work and/or the convening’s theme as they relate to the CPED Improvement Group (CIG). CIG leaders develop the call for these exchanges and will be involved in reviewing proposals. New convening attenders are welcome to join CIG exchanges as part of their more general welcome to CPED. CIGS are: Social Justice and the EdD, On-Line and Hybrid programs, Improvement Science, and Group Dissertations. 

View CIG Calls


Formats for Small Group Exchanges:

  • Panel presentation with interactive discussion: This type of session might have a group of faculty or students (or a mix) presenting about a program/DiP design but will offer learning steps for participants and time for interactive discussion or activity.
  • Fishbowl: This type of session will offer participants a look into a process by watching a group of presenters “play out” or “try out” and activity such as a design meeting, a dissertation presentation, etc. Participants will learn from watching the process and have time to ask questions/interact with presenters.
  • Challenge Room: This type of session presents a short bit of information about a topic or idea and engages the participants in a broader discussion. Ideas are generated, documented, and then shared with the participants.
  • Book/Article Discussion: This type of session will ask participants to consider a book or article relevant to EdD programs –design or content—and engage them in discussion about the value, relevance, etc of the materials. Book or articles can be distributed before the convening.
  • Collaborative Development (syllabi, protocols, etc.): This type of session is a kind of brainstorming that will bring participants together to collaboratively develop products or tools for EdD program. For example, participants might generate a syllabus on teaching equitable and just leadership. Participants get to take ideas/products with them.


CPED convenings generally offer 2-4 pre-convening workshops which last 2-4 hours. For the virtual convening, we invite proposals for 2-hour workshops that will be scheduled on the first or last day.

Workshops will address the questions above but offer participants more time to learn and collaborate around ideas. Presenters should be prepared to offer deeper interactive learning content that supports participants in the development of their dissertations in practice.

Proposals for workshops should include:

  • Topic
  • Presenter names
  • Description of learning outcomes
  • Content
  • Engagement activities

What Does It Mean To Go Virtual?

CPED is designing our Virtual Convening to optimize interactive and engaging learning exchanges.

To support our presenters:

  • A CPED chair will be present in each learning exchange to support technical logistics so you can focus on facilitating an engaging session
  • Pre-session training and resources for presenter
  • Tutorials on how to login and access virtual sessions
  • Learning Exchanges will be live-streamed and the presentation portion of each exchange will be recorded and shared with all convening participants
  • We have no specific requirements for learning exchange formats to give you the flexibility to be creative.

Each learning exchange will have the following features available for your presentation:

  • File Transfer – hosts and participants can send files through the in-meeting chat
  • Polling – live polling of attendees
  • Screen Sharing – both hosts and participants can share scree
  • Breakout Rooms – sessions can be split into small groups
  • Whiteboards for interactive small group work.

How to Submit a Learning Exchange or Workshop Proposal

Review and use the checklist (below) to complete your learning exchange proposal. Submit proposal by August 1, 2020 online.

In a 2-page maximum (excluding references) blinded narrative include:  
  • Elaborated Exchange Description - Describe the objectives and how they align with the Convening’s theme. Include how your proposal will build the Consortium’s understanding of the CPED Framework and how your work furthers the CPED lexicon and distinction of the EdD.  
  • Exchange Session Design - Identify what the format of the exchange will be (see list in call for proposals). Describe how the exchange will use this format to be intellectually stimulating, interactive, and useful to participants. Describe what materials members will walk away for use at their home institutions. 


Submit Your Proposal

Proposals are double blind, peer-reviewed by CPED member faculty and CPED staff. Selections are made in order to provide an engaging, interactive learning experience for our diverse community. Space is limited so we may not be able to accept all proposals.


Proposals Due: August 1, 2020

All exchange presenters are expected to register for the convening. Exchanges take place on every day of the convenings. We cannot give preference for a day, however.

By submitting an exchange proposal, you agree to be available for all days. Convening registration information will be announced late July/early August 2020.

Call for Exchange Peer Reviewers

As a membership organization, we look to our member faculty to ensure continued quality programming. A great way to support your understanding of CPED and EdD (re)design is to review convening exchanges proposals.

We are particularly interested in ensuring that the exchanges have an active learning/experiential/engagement component in them, and hope that reviewers can assist us with this process. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Carolyn Carlins, Operations Manager at [email protected]

Call for Virtual Session Chairs

To ensure the success of our first-ever virtual Convening, we seek volunteers to chair virtual sessions. A CPED virtual session chair will be present in each learning exchange to support technical logistics and address any concerns. Training will be provided on how to chair a virtual session using our virtual platform, Zoom.

We are particularly interested in members with a background in online teaching and learning. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Carolyn Carlins, Operations Manager at [email protected]


Contact Carolyn Carlins, Operations Manager, [email protected]


Loss, C. (2016). Future of the dissertation: A brief history of doctoral discourse. proceedings from the Council of Graduate Schools’ what is a doctorate? Online Proceedings of the 2016 Global Summit.

Colwill, D. A. (2012). Educating the scholar practitioner in organization development (Contemporary Trends in Organization Development and Change). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
Council of Graduate Schools (2007). Task force report on the professional doctorate. Washington, DC.

Dunn, S, (2014). The amazing adventures of the comic book dissertator. Retrieved 29 December 2019 from, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Patton, S. (2013). The dissertation can no longer be defended. Chronicle of Higher Education, available at http://chronicle.com/article/The-Dissertation-Can-No-Longer/137215