Designing a Doctoral Program in Education Including Professional Experiences

Designing a Doctoral Program in Education Including Professional Experiences

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2656-9.ch013
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This chapter continues to offer ideas for developing and revamping doctoral programs with a focus on professional experiences. It is left for the program faculty to define their own list of professional experiences that they will require and/or encourage. The proposed framework serves as a tool by which the faculty might brainstorm the list and/or assess the existing list of professional experiences in their program.
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Make the list short enough to be reasonable and affordable for the students, given your context and the ongoing lives of your doctoral students while they are in the program.

Part of honing the list depends on the amount you intend to support the students financially or otherwise. Here are some ways by which a program can encourage their students to participate in the desired experiences:

  • 1.

    Supporting participation through logistical, financial, or other practical means

  • 2.

    Embedding the experiences in required coursework

  • 3.

    Strongly recommending the experiences


The Role Of Mentoring And Apprenticeship In Professional Experiences

Some beyond-course experiences will be independently chosen and implemented by the individual doctoral students. Given the constraints of life and the daunting nature of entering a new community of practice, however, it is much more likely to be the case that professional experiences taken on during a doctoral program will be encouraged and mentored by at least one member of the doctoral faculty. We will address the bulk of this topic in the section on “Being a Doctoral Faculty Member.”

In the program development stage, there must be a purposeful plan that includes these individual efforts. Each of the faculty members participating in the planning must be willing to commit to a certain level of mentoring that supports the overall plan developed by the doctoral program development committee. Not only must the committee agree on a set of goals and methods for supporting doctoral students’ accumulation of professional experiences, but the responsibilities for initiating and implementing those methods must be doled out. How much of each goal will be the responsibility of:

  • The professor(s) teaching a specific course?

  • The collective program faculty as a part of the culture of community of practice including both faculty and doctoral students in the specialization area?

  • The mentor/advisor as a checklist embedded in the annual review process?

How much responsibility will end up on the individual student as they seek particular career paths upon graduation? Even then, it is the responsibility of the mentors/advisors to make sure that the student has a list and a plan specific enough to follow.

As with most things in designing a doctoral program, there are many right paths to get to the end goals. The list of professional experiences, however, are often overlooked or assumed to be the responsibility of someone else.

Here is an example that is included as page 10 in the University of Missouri 2019 handbook for the Mathematics Education Doctoral Program:

“Professional Experiences:

Many of the learning opportunities you will experience in the program come from experiences beyond coursework. You will be expected to accumulate a variety of professional experiences through assistantships, internships, and ad hoc work. Internships provide doctoral students with closely mentored, in-depth experiences designed to enhance knowledge and expertise related to college teaching, research, and teacher development. They serve as vehicles to connect coursework with the practical work of mathematics education faculty. Doctoral students typically complete at least one internship in each of the areas noted below. However, if a student’s graduate assistantship assignments provide equivalent experiences related to any of the following areas, that assistantship may be substituted for a transcripted internship at the discretion of the major advisor.

  • College Teaching - the student assists a faculty member in teaching a college level course for preservice or in-service teachers. The course may be a mathematics content or methods course.

  • Research – prior to the dissertation, the student engages in a research study, either a small-scale study he or she designs or as a team member of a study directed by a faculty member.

  • Teacher Development – the student works with a faculty member in planning, implementing and evaluating a single or series of professional development experiences for teachers.

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