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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Sharon Davis
Doctor of Education
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: A Study of the Impact of a K-12 School District-University Doctoral Cohort on District Leadership Capacity
Dr. Van Cooley, Chair
Dr. Sue Poppink
Dr. Nancy Mansberger
Date: Thursday, September 30, 2010 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
3506 Sangren Hall
The phenomenological study examines how a K-12 school district – university partnership impacted a school district’s leadership from the perspectives of cohort members and non-cohort members. The doctoral cohort consisted of 22 candidates. The intent of the program was to merge theory with best practice and to focus on increasing the district’s leadership capacity. The study involved a purposeful sample of 10 participants that include five teachers who participated in the doctoral educational cohort and five teachers who were not members of the cohort. Data were collected through interviews.
This doctoral cohort was modeled on learning theory that addressed the needs of adult learners. Course content was not changed; however, class activities and assignments were modified to address the professional development needs of cohort members while concurrently meeting university accreditation standards. Several courses extended across multiple semesters as a systematic approach was used to connect theory with district challenges.
Respondents identified a number of changes that occurred in the areas of collaboration, knowledge and leadership. This includes increased participant leadership that resulted from participation in the doctoral cohort partnership, and establishment of a learning community. Attitudinal changes were evident as participants demonstrated passion and enthusiasm in leaning activities. Non-cohort members witnessed professional growth in cohort member and noted that cohort members became a resource for non-cohort members in reference to teaching and assessment practices. Cohort members created a sense of shared responsibility and emerge as leaders who encouraged others to improve performance and create. Trust also increased between cohort and non-cohort members.
Recommendations for further research include: 1) A study regarding the long term ramifications of doctoral cohort programs on school improvement; 2) The impact of cohorts on student achievement; and 3) The impact of cohorts of increasing measurable leadership capacity.
The investigation adds to the literature on doctoral cohorts and provides insights into methods of alternate program delivery. The study examines the impact of doctoral cohorts and problem based learning on a district’s leadership capacity.