Features of Doctoral Programs in America and Their Historical Roots

Features of Doctoral Programs in America and Their Historical Roots

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2656-9.ch003


This chapter continues to discuss developments in the history of doctoral program, including the initial Ph.D. degree in education and the move towards the new Educational Doctorate degree (Ed.D.). The chapter moves to more recent history of Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs in America and the consistent movement towards specialization. A renewed focus on standardization is illustrated by discussing some of the developments in the specialized field of mathematics education over the last 20 years. The chapter finishes by listing the basic components that are typical of most doctoral programs in education in America. These common features are the focus of the next several chapters.
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My Examples Come From My Experience And My Lens

In order to give specific examples, I will discuss the general ideas about doctoral programs from my own experience base. I earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at a small liberal arts college and became a high school mathematics teacher. My master’s degree is in mathematics in which I had a bit more of specialization in algebra (not high school algebra, but the theoretical stuff of which the algebra you learned in high school is one tiny aspect of the broad field). My doctoral degree is in education. Specifically, it is listed as curriculum and instruction but in actual practice it was nearly all in the field of mathematics education. As a research assistant and then teaching assistant, I participated in state and national grant work, taught mathematics education courses, presented at national and local conferences, and authored or co-authored several publications.

My experience as a professor has come at two institutions. At the University of Tennessee- Knoxville from 2001 to 2008, I taught coursework, worked on grants, served in many professional organizations nationally and locally, served on doctoral committees, and chaired several dissertation committees. By the time I earned tenure at the University of Tennessee, I had twenty-five published articles and many more presentations at professional conferences. I helped define part of a collaborative doctoral program involving several universities as well as co-planning the revamping and launch of our own doctoral program which moved from an EdD to a PhD. I also led a major committee for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and served as editor of a publication of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. For more information, you can find my curriculum vitae in a later section of this book for doctoral students.

I served as an educational consultant briefly before I rejoined the world of academia in 2010 at Carson-Newman University. My first course at Carson-Newman was educational research at the master’s level. In my first several years I taught undergraduate courses and master’s courses. I then served on a committee that designed an Educational Doctorate Degree (EdD). In 2014, we launched Carson-Newman’s first doctoral program which is fully online. Throughout the book I will relate the differences and similarities between the three doctoral programs in which I have taught, including how the online teaching methods have affected the pedagogy, participation, implementations, and outcomes.

My role at Carson-Newman University has constantly evolved. At first, I was the mathematics educational specialist, but I now serve as the methodologist member of every doctoral committee. We currently have about fifty candidates working on their dissertations in any given year. The only courses I teach are the methodology courses. Otherwise, all my time is dedicated to the work of methodology on dissertations.

It is from this unique perspective that I write this book and give my specific examples. It is important to remember that while there are a lot of differences in specific content, the basic structures formed over the last 120 years remain. The knowledge shared here will have some niche-specific value, but the basic concepts carry across nearly all doctoral programs.

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