Guiding Principles for Quality Professional Practice Dissertations

Guiding Principles for Quality Professional Practice Dissertations

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0445-0.ch009
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In this chapter the authors share the guiding principles for professional practice dissertations developed and studied within their online EdD in Educational Technology at the University of Florida. While these guiding principles were developed approximately four years before the call for chapters for this book was released, they align nicely with at least three pertinent themes that frame this book (i.e. the importance of addressing critical problems of practice, applying research rigor involving real theory and inquiry and demonstrating impact of research). The authors make explicit connections between their guiding principles and these themes and provide examples of how the themes have played out in dissertations completed in their program. The authors then provide implications for others seeking to structure (or restructure) the way dissertations are conceptualized in their professional practice problems.
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Guiding Principles For Professional Practice Dissertations

To our knowledge there were no other online professional practice doctoral programs in Educational Technology at traditional brick-and-mortar institutions when we began our program in 2008. At that time our university was part of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) so we began exploring how other CPED programs structured the dissertation component. Most of these programs were focused on Educational Leadership and we quickly noticed important differences between this discipline and ours. In particular, the field of Educational Technology tends to attract a more diverse student population. Our program enrolls students from different contexts and with different goals who are working in K-12 education, higher education, virtual schools, not-for-profits organizations, business, industry and the military. In contrast, most students in Educational Leadership have somewhat similar goals of administration in K-12 or higher education. Thus, the dissertations conceptualized for Educational Leadership programs often did not align with our needs. For example, some programs emphasized a particular stance toward the dissertation such as social justice (ProDEL, 2012), promoted a particular research genre such as action research (Wetzel & Ewbanks, 2013) or revolved around a common theme explored by most of the students (Marsh & Dembo, 2009). In some cases the dissertations completed in these programs resembled traditional dissertations (Auerbach, 2011), which also did not work for us because we make clear distinctions between the purposes of goals of our online Ed.D. and campus-based Ph.D. programs (See Dawson et. al., 2011 for more details about these distinctions).

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