Comparative Review of Education Doctorates in Three Countries

Comparative Review of Education Doctorates in Three Countries

Marlene East, Eva Brown Hajdukova, Monica E. Carr, William H. Evans, Garry Hornby
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2560-8.ch011
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Researchers affiliated with education PhD programs in Australia and New Zealand, and an education EdD program in the United States aimed to enhance understanding of contemporary education doctorate approaches and challenges. The central research question was: What knowledge will emerge regarding education doctoral programs through the lens of globalization? Using a descriptive interpretive research paradigm, collaborators determined that although education doctorate approaches vary, skills developed are similar. As researchers are increasingly viewed as strategic assets, access to quality education is essential. Doctoral program planners must attend to the paradigm shift away from traditional apprenticeship supervision pedagogy to structured and standardized approaches. For sustainability, online education must be integrated into doctoral programs, while ensuring faculty are trained in distance education theory and best practices. As growth in doctoral enrollments drives the need for more faculty, program planners must also aim to solve related problems of contingent academic labor.
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New knowledge generation has been described as a significant strategic resource that impacts a country’s economy (Kirshin, 2014; Salmi, 2000). Countries that fail to provide a well-trained cadre of higher education professionals who are able to match the exponential growth in knowledge face the risk of falling behind in education, production, and economic viability (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD], 2012). Continual advances in transportation, communication, and related infrastructure such as the Internet, drive globalization, and further the interdependence of economies and cultures. In this digital era and increasingly integrated world market (Salmi, 2000) technology advances the pace of learning, with knowledge changing at an accelerating rate (Haggans, 2015; Jamieson & Naidoo, 2007). Haggans indicates that the digital transformation is altering every aspect of universities. A rapid evolution is taking place in residence halls, libraries, pedagogy, textbooks, course delivery, and uses of facilities. Digital transformation requires countries to produce highly educated critical thinkers, researchers, and planners who are equipped to maximize resources for sustainable higher education and who are able to address contemporary issues (Nerad, 2012). This need for scholars also raises pressing issues regarding accessibility to higher education.

In view of this early 21st century setting, the PhD tradition has inescapably faced challenges to improve efficiency and effectiveness (Thelin, 2013). In many countries, professional doctorate programs evolved as an alternative training pathway (Kot & Hendel, 2012). Kot and Hendel described the proliferation of professional doctorates in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia as remarkable. Further, Kot and Hendel note that while a number of studies investigated doctoral training in the United Kingdom and Australia, there is a dearth of studies on the emergence of professional doctorate programs in the United States and Canada. Higher educational training in Australia has been acknowledged as based upon the U.K. system.

Blackstone (2012) describes macro, meso, and micro approaches to sociological inquiry. According to Blackstone, macrolevel research investigates interactions between nations or comparisons across nations, mesolevel research investigates interactions between groups, and microlevel research investigates the smallest levels of interaction. Accordingly, at a macro level across nations, this study compares contemporary doctoral training programs grounded in both U.K. based and U.S. based approaches. At a micro level regarding fields of study, this research project is limited to contemporary doctorates conferred as the highest degrees for educators, education doctorates. Spotlighting in an exploratory study the commonalities and differences in education doctorate programs offers contemporary insights regarding approaches to and accessibility of doctoral education. A goal for this exploration is to determine the need for and feasibility of more extensive research that will serve to inform doctoral program planning and related policy enhancements. A purposeful sample reflecting the lived experiences of three of the authors, recent education doctoral graduates in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, informed this study. A literature review regarding doctoral degree approaches in general along with an explanation of education doctorates forms the background for the study. The central research question guiding the investigation was: What knowledge will emerge regarding contemporary education doctoral programs’ approaches and accessibility through the lens of globalization?

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