Crafting the Program of the Year Application

Crafting the CPED Program of the Year Application

EdD Faculty Work as a Community of Practice

By: Deanna Hill, J.D., Ph.D. and Kathy Geller, Ph.D, Drexel University

Drexel University EdD faculty team posing with the CPED Program of the Year Award in 2019. 


In January 2019, the Drexel University EdD Advisory Council (EAC) made the decision to apply for the 2019 Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) Program of the Year Award.  We believed we had a compelling story to tell about how our program continued to align with, and rely upon, the CPED principles as we grew from serving an inaugural group of just over 40 students to serving an active student enrollment of over 300 students. 

We wanted to share our story with colleagues at other institutions.  Little did we realize that the work we were embarking on would allow us to build a shared story of our program’s growth, identify the challenges we face, clarify the value the program offers to our students, and recognize the impact our students are having in their contexts. 

At the time that we agreed to apply, Dr. Deanna Hill was poised to take over the program director role from Dr. Kathy Geller, and she was shadowing her during a period of transition scheduled to end on June 30, 2019.  While Deanna had worked with individual EdD students as a supervising professor, she had not been immersed in the full EdD curriculum.

Kathy, on the other hand, had been with the EdD program since its early years and had served as program director for the previous three years.  She had been at the helm during the period of rapid growth and had led the EAC through a number of growing pains. 

Getting Started:

Over the next several months, we collaborated as an EAC on writing the Initial Application.  The Initial Application required us to respond to questions regarding our program characteristics and our alignment to the CPED principles. 

In early March, we were among the institutions invited to submit a Full Application.  The Full Application required us to provide:

  • An overview of our EdD program and how it aligned to our mission and vision statements and the CPED Framework
  • An in-depth description of a programmatic innovation of our EdD program
  • A description of the impact our innovation has had on the experience and practice of our scholarly practitioners, our program, our faculty, and the community we serve

Our EAC Took on the Challenge with Gusto:

After many formal meetings, informal huddles, and late night Zoom sessions, the EAC crafted an application that told the story of how faculty and staff have worked with limited budgets to develop systems to ensure each and every student receives the support necessary for success in the EdD program and beyond. 

Considering our institution to be its own laboratory of practice (Shulman, 2017), we generated five interrelated strategies to ensure the quality of the EdD program kept pace with the quantity of EdD students in the program.

Specifically, we:

  1. Mapped supports onto coursework to ensure students were receiving ongoing mentoring and advising – by faculty, EdD program managers/advisors, and other university partners
  2. Utilized technology to expand access to program manager/advisor support
  3. Introduced a new faculty role dedicated primarily to dissertation advising
  4. Established and shared a new model of faculty mentoring and advising
  5. Created forums for scholarly-practitioner activities.  

We encourage you to read our publicly-available application to learn more about each of these strategies, but we want to continue to describe the collaborative process we engaged in as it has become one of the highlights of our careers (and, for Deanna, has been the best professional development an incoming program director could have asked for). 

Before we go on, it may be helpful for us to share more about the EAC. 

About the EAC:

In alignment with our School of Education’s commitment to shared governance, program decisions for the EdD are made by an EAC that includes the program director, seven representative faculty members, and one program manager. Together, the EAC is actively involved in policy formation, new student admissions (reviewing more than 200 applications per year), Comprehensive Examination administration (serving more than 80 students per year), and an ongoing assessment of program learning outcomes (through Drexel’s Pre-Program Alignment and Review (Pre-PAR) process and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) process). 


The EAC’s collaborative approach to submitting CPED applications was not new. 

In 2017, EdD faculty Joy Phillips was selected as a CPED writing fellow. Phillips collaborated with EAC members Kathy Geller and Ken Mawritz on a 2018 article in Impacting Education titled “Program Innovation and Design in an Era of Accountability: EdD Faculty Work as a Community of Practice.”

The authors described how a task team of Drexel EdD faculty worked as a community of practice (Wenger, 2006) to conduct a crosswalk to align the Drexel EdD program principles (our five Keystones) with university and national standards, including the six Guiding Principles for Program Design contained in the CPED Framework. 

While Ken passed away suddenly in 2018, that process has been continued among the EAC and served us well in collaborating for our Program of the Year Award application.  We are now in Phase Two of aligning our standards to specific courses, and Joy and Deanna shared the results of our work at Drexel’s annual Assessment Conference last summer. 

Looking Ahead:

Since being named the CPED Program of the Year Award winner in 2019, the EAC has taken on a new challenge.

Much of its membership is engaged in Drexel University’s Program Alignment and Review (PAR) process. The process is designed to assess program quality and viability and facilitate program improvement.

The EdD program self-study and the insights in the self-study report draw heavily on the collaborative work we engaged in for the Program of the Year Award application.  Further, the strategies that emerged for continuous improvement were ideas born out of data-informed conversations we had as an EAC. 


In this way, the process of writing the Program of the Year Award application was invaluable.  The experience provided each of us with a deeper understanding of our program, its alignment with CPED Guiding Principles, and our collective opportunities for continuous improvement.   

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