Program of the Year Winner Insights - Missouri Statewide Cooperative EdD Program

University of Missouri Statewide Cooperative EdD Program - Program of the Year Winner

Program of the Year Award Winner Insights
University of Missouri Statewide Cooperative EdD Program

CPED’s Program of the Year Award (POY) is presented to distinctive and innovative programs. Explain how your program meets these qualities and the role each member in your team played in developing a program of this caliber.

Since 1997, five institutions have partnered to deliver the Statewide Cooperative EdD Program, a professional doctorate in educational leadership: Missouri State University, Northwest Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, the University of Central Missouri, and the University of Missouri.

This collaborative structure and our dedication to continuous improvement across all aspects of the program are examples of key design features. Features such as these certainly influence how we utilize the CPED framework, and perhaps what makes our enactment of it distinct is that we can look back over the history of the program and see examples of the guiding principles and design concepts; we just did not yet have the benefit of the common language and operationalization of the ideas.

Thus we have experienced very few challenges in terms of implementing the Framework in our program because we had already been working with similar mindsets. The CPED guiding principles and design concepts have enabled us to do what we were doing more intentionally and to better communicate with students and external stakeholders. 

Overall, the most challenging aspect was the dissertation-in-practice redesign. One of the reasons we were successful in the end was that previous program leaders had introduced new ways of thinking about professional practice dissertations.

Though those ideas did not gain much steam at the time, our continued commitment to the process combined with the CPED Framework and resources led us to the format we have now. Since the beginning of the program, our EdD students have been doing research on Problems of Practice within their localized contexts, but we did not yet have the support of CPED to make this a much more intentional experience for students.

The main strategy that enabled us to overcome the opposition we encountered during this process was allowing time and space for stakeholders (i.e., alumni, students, faculty, Deans) to not only have input but to be educated on: (a) the CPED Framework; (b) what other professional practice programs outside of education were doing (e.g., nursing); and (c) persistent messaging that the restructuring was just that – a way of being more intentional in how the information is organized in order to be more beneficial for scholarly practitioners and the communities they are working with on these problems of practice.

This collaborative partnership requires a multi-layered administrative structure, with a Director and/or Associate Director in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) at MU. This position oversees the entire statewide coordination and serves as the main point of contact for students in the MU portion of the cohort. Each of the partner institutions also has a faculty member who serves as institutional site coordinator to oversee the day-to-day operations of the program at their specific sites.

Next, is the Coordinating Committee, with two representatives from each of the five partner institutions (typically the department chair or their designee, and the site coordinator or another faculty member who is heavily involved in the program). The Director and/or Associate Director (AD serves as ex-officio) facilitates meetings and coordinates completion of tasks by the committee. All decisions for determining program structure, admissions standards, exit requirements, course development, and curriculum changes are made by the Coordinating Committee with input from all faculty assigned and approved to participate in this program by the ELPA faculty.

We also have an advisory Board of Deans - the College of Education Deans from each of the five partner institutions. The Coordinating Committee and the Board of Deans meet at least twice a year to discuss program-related issues.

Finally, teams of six or more faculty from around the state work together over a minimum of 3-4 months to develop the courses prior to each semester. The Program Coordinator participates to ensure connections are being made with programmatic objectives, and that the appropriate scaffolding for comprehensive exams and the dissertation-in-practice are put into place throughout the curriculum.

What has CPED and its Framework meant to your team and your program?

CPED has provided us with a network of colleagues who are also dedicated to (re-) designing quality, rigorous EdD programs. The opportunities to learn from each other over the years have enabled us to make several key changes.

For example, the idea for how we might restructure our Interview Day activities came from conversations with a Duquesne University CPED colleague. Another example is using protocols as instructional activities based on attending a University of Florida CPED colleague’s convening session.

The CPED Framework itself has given us a common language to describe things we were already doing as well as a foundation for identifying areas of growth. For example, we went through a strategic planning process in 2014 and 2015 in which we focused on outlining programmatic learning objectives and updating our mission and vision to effectively reflect the core values of the Statewide Cooperative EdD Program through our interpretation of the CPED framework.

Perhaps the biggest example is the redesigning of our dissertation-in-practice. Beginning in the fall of 2012, a task force of faculty from across the five partner institutions worked together to develop a dissertation-in-practice format that entailed well-designed, applied research with substantial value for informing educational practice.

These faculty members spent 2 years reviewing other professional practice dissertation models (e.g., nursing; CPED member models), discussing what the CPED framework meant within the context of our program, and collecting feedback from alumni, students, administrators, and other faculty.

We also wanted to make sure we were developing an experience that, in alignment with CPED guiding principles, would enable students to (at a minimum):

  • “bring about solutions to complex problems of practice”
  • “construct and apply knowledge to make a positive difference…”
  • “demonstrate communication skills to work with diverse communities and to build partnerships”
  • “use multiple frames to develop meaningful solutions”
  • “integrate both practical and research knowledge”; and
  • “emphasize the generation, transformation, and use of professional knowledge and practice.”

Thus, our dissertation-in-practice is a redesigned, six-section model that enables students as scholarly practitioners to address real world problems of practice in education in their laboratories of practice. Unique features of our DiP include development of a piece for practitioner audiences (e.g., technical report, policy brief), a submission ready journal article, and a scholarly practitioner reflection.

What leadership roles have members of your team held in the CPED consortium and what have these roles meant to developing a quality EdD program for scholarly practitioners?

We have had three PIs over the years, and the original PI, Dr. Joe Donaldson, shared the following:

During our early years in CPED we were able to network with colleagues across the nation who served as critical friends in work we were doing to improve the program. We developed strong relationships especially with the University of Connecticut (with which we shared ideas about adult learning and education in the professions), the University of Nebraska (with which we exchanged CPED faculty member visits to compare programs and discuss our programs with our institution’s respective faculties), the University of Vermont, and the University of Southern California, whose early experiences with their dissertation process and the eventual changes made to that dissertation process influenced our early movement away from a conventional dissertation.

We were also active in these initial discussions by sharing insights gained over the years, being one of the “oldest” programs at that time (e.g., the intentional design as a part-time program so that students would have real-time access to laboratories of practice).

We have continued to actively engage by serving as a critical friend at convenings, formally presenting on our redesign efforts, and reviewing learning exchange proposals. We were a data collection site for the FIPSE grant project and we also co-sponsored the convening in St. Louis. Our current CPED Delegate participated on a FIPSE research team, was a Learning Community Fellow, served on the New Member Committee, served on the Advisory Council, and co-chaired the Program of the Year Award committee last year (and remains a member of the committee). This level of engagement has greatly contributed to our ability to operationalize the CPED framework within our unique context.

What is one useful thing you would tell CPED members wanting to apply for Program of the Year?

This is an amazing opportunity to be recognized for all of the time and effort folks put into (re-) designing quality EdD Programs, engaging in continuous improvement, and working with students to have a meaningful impact. Given the collaborative, team-oriented structure of our EdD Program, one important aspect of writing our application was incorporating quotes and specific examples we collected from our alumni, students, and faculty. Look for ways to reflect what makes you distinctive and innovative throughout the application and incorporate evidence wherever possible!

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