Field-Specific Courses and Cognate Courses

Field-Specific Courses and Cognate Courses

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2656-9.ch006
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This chapter presents the structures of the field-specific and cognate courses designed to help the doctoral candidates develop specific expertise within the focus of the program. This is again illustrated with the same three programs. Similarities and differences in the structure and intent of this specialized coursework within each of these programs are explored.
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Field-Specific Courses

Each niche within a field has its own basic knowledge base. However, we have already explored the differences that exist with mathematics education. It is this way with every niche field. As long as there are professors with specific research interests, there will continue to be a great diversity of content that is considered important and even central to each niche field. The views of the current and former faculty of the niche doctoral program define the content that is included in that area of specialization within the educational doctoral program at that university.

Because of this diversity, the following examples of specialization coursework should not be viewed as mandatory content that would be common across all universities which offer the same specialization area. They reflect the values, beliefs, expertise, and experience of their respective niche faculty.

At the University of Missouri, mathematics education is an area of specialization for their current doctoral program in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum. There are high requirements for coursework in mathematics education set at thirty credit hours, but the core of the specialization is reified in four required courses and two recommended courses:


  • Mathematics Curriculum

  • Mathematics Teaching in Schools

  • Mathematical Thinking

  • Research on Equity and Diversity in Mathematics Education

Strongly Suggested:

  • Seminar on Research in Mathematics Education (1-credit every semester)

  • Special Topics in Mathematics Education**

The first set of four courses represents the areas within mathematics education which all the Missouri mathematics education faculty agreed to identify as absolutely critical. The seminars are intended to promote discussion of current topics and provide a central point of connection for their doctoral students to operate as a community of practice.

** The Special Topics course can be repeated several times. Each faculty member can teach content that represents their special areas of interest and expertise.

It is important to understand that the specialization required coursework, suggested coursework, and faculty-driven elective coursework combine to define the University of Missouri’s niche within the community of doctoral programs in mathematics education with the U.S. and throughout the world. Although there are certainly many common themes among most mathematics education doctoral programs, as identified in Reys & Kilpatrick (2001), each program has a unique set of expertise represented by the coursework and the expertise of the faculty.

At the University of Wisconsin, special education in an area of specialization for their current doctoral program in the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. Specialization is handled slightly different in this program as the strictly required special education content has been integrated into the coursework for the Philosophic and Practical Core. As such, there are only three elective seminar courses required to fulfill the special education specialization.

The recommended choices for filling this three-course requirement include:

  • Specific Topics Courses that are taught by the Special Education faculty

  • Critical Issues in Severe Disabilities

  • Educating Students in Alternative Settings

  • Directed Study (if approved by the major advisor)

  • Other courses that are related to disability (if approved by the major advisor)

An academic minor is also required, but that will be discussed as the Cognate requirement later in this section.

At Carson-Newman University, there are two areas of specialization that fall under the doctoral program in Educational Leadership: Administrative Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction Leadership. Both have all the exact same requirements except for the field-specific courses. The following are the field-specific courses required for the Curriculum and Instruction Leadership area of specialization:

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