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Development of the CPED Working Principles
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The History of the Development of the CPED Working Principles for EdD Program Design

At the Palo Alto Convening in June 2009, CPED Phase I members decided that they wanted to develop a set of principles that might characterize excellent doctoral programs for those who aspire to practice education. This idea was a response to move the Consortium away from a prescriptive program model, toward a framework that honored local context yet supported commonality and quality across institutions. Ideas put forth were carried over to the October 2009 Convening in Pittsburgh. Below is an overview of the process that resulted in CPED’s current six Working Principles for EdD Program Design.

Pre-convening work

Phase I was to result in a set of working principles for EdD program design. To prepare for developing the working principles, the primary task for all CPED member institutions (which at the time numbered 25) was to generate and submit 3-7 statements that represented the Principles for the Professional Doctorate in Education (PPDEs)[1] that should govern the EdD program at their institution.  These statements were brought to the October 2009 convening. A total of 35 sample statements were submitted.

The statements submitted by each institution were placed “in nomination” so that they could be examined and considered at the October 2009 Convening. The idea of “nomination” was important. As was discussed at the June 2009 convening, the principles generated would be works in progress or working principles and would require research and development during future phases.

Clarifying the nature of the Principles

As a result and analysis of “The June 2009 Convening Principle Discussion” and the post-convening evaluative comments and suggestions, the planning groups and the CPED Advisory Group identified three key questions that needed to be addressed about the nature of the principles to be developed. Each question and how it was addressed is described briefly below.

Are we developing principles within or across the areas of concentration?

By “area of concentration,” we refer to the three groups that comprise the consortium: institutions that are working on programs for those who seek to practice school leadership, teacher education, or institutional leadership/higher education.  (Some institutions are working in more than one area.)  As we work within our institutions, our program areas and institutional contexts should certainly influence what we design, implement, and test.  In order to accomplish the transition, however, we need to think across the areas of concentration.

For the October 2009 convening, we ask that you bring broader statements of principles that would apply to any doctoral program that seeks to prepare educational practitioners.

How specific or general should our statements of principles be?

Most of the statements that were generated during the June 2009 “principle discussion” were specific to one of the CPED concepts (e.g., admissions, capstones, labs of practice) or to a particularly promising practice for, say, admissions (e.g., “expert practitioners should sit on the admissions committee“). That is not surprising given the context of our discussion, but it does suggest that there is a broader level to be considered here as well: principles that might govern an entire program (e.g., “build a broad experience base”) rather than a particular practice attached to particular way of admitting students, proposing capstones, selecting laboratories of practice, etc.  The point here is that there is a range from specific statements about how to operate various parts of our programs to principles that apply to an entire program.

For the October 2009 convening, we expect to work initially with principle statements that range in applicability from specific elements of a program to the program in general. 

What is the target we are trying to hit with our principles? (What, exactly, are these principles for?)

According to the Council of Graduate Schools, in their Task Force Report on the Professional Doctorate (2007), “…a professional doctoral degree should represent preparation for the potential transformation of [a] field of professional practice, just as the Ph.D. represents preparation for the potential transformation of the basic knowledge in a discipline.” (p.6).

For the October 2009 convening, we propose that our principles for the professional doctorate in education be aimed at and judged against the following criterion: Preparing doctoral students who graduate with the potential to transform the professional practice of education.

The implication of this “target” for the principles we develop is that we clearly distinguish between the preparation for educational practice and the practice of education our graduates will engage.  In June 2009, we used the terms “Principles of Best Practice” and “Principles of Practice”, but the “practice” to which we were referring was the practice related to the implementation of a doctoral program designed to prepare educational practitioners. The term “practice” did not refer to specific practices of professional educators. As we move into Phase II of CPED–and begin to publish our work–we need to keep the distinction clearly before us.  For that reason, we are proposing that we begin to employ a more precise label for the principles we will develop as we end Phase I and then test in Phase II.

Moving to Six Principles

Over the course of the 2½ days at the October 2009 convening, participants were divided into five groups. First, the groups were asked to remove duplicate statements among the original 35 statements and to narrow the remaining statements using the following criteria:

Statements should:
1) cut across all areas of the program – from capstone to courses
2) clearly demonstrate why this program is an EdD and not a PhD

Statements that did not meet these criteria were removed.

Next, the groups identified overarching themes that were present across the remaining statements and combined their thinking to result in the following themes:

1.     Social justice, equity
2.     Inquiry related to problems of practice
3.     Collaboration
4.     Multi-disciplinary
5.     Stewardship

The remaining statements were then clumped under these five themes. Under each theme, new statements were constructed from the clumped statements.  The result was 10 statements. Those ten statements were handed to a subgroup of members who narrowed and word-smithed the list to the current six principles. During this same timeframe, a definition for the EdD emerged from discussions around the principles. The final of the work of the participants at the October 2009 is below.


Working Principles for the Professional Practice Doctorate in Education
Developed by The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate
October 2009

We, the members of CPED, believe

“The professional doctorate in education prepares educators for the application of appropriate and specific practices, the generation of new knowledge, and for the stewardship of the profession.”

With this understanding, we have identified the following statements that will focus a research and development agenda to test, refine, and validate principles for the professional doctorate in education.

The Professional doctorate in education:

  1. Is framed around questions of equity, ethics, and social justice to bring about solutions to complex problems of practice.
  2. Prepares leaders who can construct and apply knowledge to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families, organizations, and communities.
  3. Provides opportunities for candidates to develop and demonstrate collaboration and communication skills to work with diverse communities and to build partnerships.
  4. Provides field-based opportunities to analyze problems of practice and use multiple frames to develop meaningful solutions.
  5. Is grounded in and develops a professional knowledge base that integrates both practical and research knowledge, that links theory with systemic and systematic inquiry.
  6. Emphasizes the generation, transformation, and use of professional knowledge and practice.


Copyright 2014 by the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, Inc. (CPED).   The foregoing material may be used for noncommercial educational purposes, provided that CPED is acknowledged as the author and copyright holder. Any other use requires the prior written consent of CPED.


[1] The name of the principles was eventually changed to Working Principles for EdD Program Design.