Produced with Scholar
Icon for Innovative Ideas, Transformational Practices

Innovative Ideas, Transformational Practices

Learning Design and Leadership Program, Six Course Examination-Dissertation Sequence

Learning Module

Abstract

This learning module takes a step-by-step, systematic approach to the development of a doctoral dissertation. It has been created for participants in the Learning Design and Leadership program at the University of Illinois. Among its innovations is an iterative process of peer review in CGScholar, where the dissertation gradually develops through multiple cycles of peer review. The aim of this process is to develop a community of scholars modeled on the principles of peer review that govern formal knowledge validation processes in science, the social sciences and humanities. The learning module is also underpinned by learning analytics which use cutting edge "big data" and experimental "artificial intelligence" technologies. It also supports multimodal knowledge representation, where digital media and datasets can be embedded inline.

Keywords

Education, Dissertation, Master's Degree, Doctorate

0. Overview

0.1 Introduction to the Exam-Dissertation Sequence

For the Candidate

The exam-dissertation process is a sequence of activities culminating in a dissertation, where you demonstrate your capacity to be a scholar in terms of rigorous methodology and scholarly discourse, and where you demonstrate that you are able to push the frontiers of knowledge with original thinking.

Before he became a world-famous theorist of communication (and later a novelist whose books were turned into movies), Umberto Eco wrote a little book, How to Write a Thesis. After he became famous, it was translated into English.

Eco, Umberto. 1977 [2015]. How to Write a Thesis. Translated by C. M. Farina and G. Farina. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Here, in Eco's words, is the thesis project:

This is a piece of original research through which the candidate must demonstrate scholarly capability of furthering his [or her! ... Eco writes in 1977] discipline. ... [O]ne must not only know the work of other scholars but also "discover" something that other scholars have not yet said. ...Writing a thesis requires a student to organize ideas and data, to work methodically, and to build an "object" that will in principle serve others. (pp. 2, 6)

This learning module covers a sequence of six courses which will take you step by step through the process of becoming a scholar as reflected in the construction of the artifact of the thesis. Your dissertation will enter the universe of published scholarly works where it needs to be of the same standard as peer-reviewed journal articles or books. In fact, you may want to pursue formal publication options, though this usually entails revision.

The six courses in the exam-dissertation sequence are as follows and must be completed in order and build off of one another::

  • Course 1: General Field Research Seminar
  • Course 2: Special Field Research Seminar
  • Course 3: Methodology Research Seminar
  • Course 4: Thesis Seminar - Preliminary Examination
  • Course 5: Thesis Research (1) First Full Draft of Thesis
  • Course 6: Thesis Research (2) Final Defense

Our aim in this course sequence is to create and nurture a vibrant scholarly community in support of a sustained intellectual project of your design. We do this via an incremental process, where you work towards the overall task of the dissertation by going through a series of defined and manageable milestones. We have taken this approach in order to address the two main criticisms of doctoral work: all-too-frequently it is experienced as a lonely process, and the final dissertation feels like a daunting task, so daunting in fact that can easily slip from one’s grasp.

In each course, you will be creating text that can potentially be part of your final dissertation. You will be adding to a single large work that will be your dissertation. For instance, from the general field and special field examinations, you will be creating sections of what might become a literature review section, the first part addressing the wider literature of the discipline, and the second reviewing literature is closest to your chosen topic. The research methodology examination might become a chapter that provides a rationale for your chosen methodology, and an explanation of how it will be implemented. The preliminary thesis examination, (the culmination of work done in three research exam courses - introduction with the research question/s, hypotheses, literature review, selected methodology and plan of going forward with research/project) it may also include a description of a proof-of-concept pilot study. As you move forward, the earlier sections will inevitably change. Although the focus in each course will be in the newly added sections, we will be interested also in how the earlier sections are also evolving.

Approach

Our aim in this course sequence is to create and nurture a vibrant scholarly community in support of a sustained intellectual project of your design. Not only is this an incremental process, where you work towards the overall task of the dissertation by working through a series of defined and manageable milestones. It is also, at every stage in the process, a social and collaborative process, with multiple cycles of peer review and feedback from your committee. We have taken this approach in order to address the two main criticisms of doctoral work: all-too-frequently it is experienced as a lonely process, and the final dissertation feels like a daunting thing, so daunting in fact that can easily slip from one’s grasp.

Key features of the approach we are taking in this course sequence are:

  • Systematic peer interaction, semi-formally in online discussions, and formally in peer reviewed projects, section by section as the draft of the dissertation evolves.
  • Flexible pacing with commitments made in deadline contracts at the beginning of each course (this is necessary for allocating peer reviews based on complementary interests).
  • Peer mentoring, where peers who are further into the process offer support to those who have joined the program more recently.
  • A student led support community.
  • Weekly synchronous workshop meetings with the program instructors.
  • A four-person faculty committee, whose members stay with program participants throughout the course sequence, reviewing interim work. At least three members of the committee will review the final works submitted for the exam courses, and all four will review the work submitted preliminary and final thesis examinations.
Iterative Review and Revision Process

General References

  • Dunleavy, Patrick. 2003. Authoring a PhD Thesis: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Dissertation. London UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Eco, Umberto. 1985 [2015]. How to Write a Thesis. Translated by C. M. Farina and G. Farina. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
  • Hayton, James. 2010. PhD: An Uncommon Guide to Research, Writing & PhD Life: James Hayton.
  • Rudestam, Kjell Erik and Rae R. Newton. 2007. Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.
  • Walker, George E., Chris M. Golde, Laura Jones, Andrea Conklin Bueschel and Pat Hutchings. 2008. The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century. San Francisco CA: Jossey-Bass.

Web Tips

Action Items

Action Item #1: Review several of the resources on the dissertation process

Action Item #2: Identify at least one other resource that you feel may be helpful to your peers

Action Item #3: Comment: Share what you found helpful in the resources above.  Share at least one other resource that you have found helpful and what in particular made it helpful. What are your initial reactions, thoughts about the dissertation process, based on your readings?

For the Adviser

0.2 Building Your Research Diary and Bibliography

For the Candidate

Building Your Research Diary and Bibliography
There are many different ways to develop a systematic record of your reading and thinking. We are going to suggest one, involving two primary artifacts, a research diary and a bibliographical database. Of course, there are many ways to be systematic, you just need to establish a way!

Research Diary

This is an evolving, private knowledge record.

  • Create a single Word file or Google Doc
  • Date each day’s work, the latest date at the start of the doc so the entries appear in reverse chronological order

Include:

  • Notes cut/pasted from readings: be careful to include page numbers so you can cite without having to go back to the readings
  • An index of other topics with page numbers where you might want to go back to an idea you encountered in your readings
  • Tag or indicator if they apply to your General, Special, or Methodology exams, if applicable
  • Your own thoughts, but, very important (!) be careful to distinguish your own thoughts from notes to avoid accidental plagiarism. For instance, always put your thinking in square brackets, or a different colored text or column
  • Copy/paste parts of updates, annotated bibliographies and literature reviews that you think would be helpful to come back to. Again, be very careful to distinguish text you have written from your notes and selections

Other Suggestions

  • Use hashtags so you can find ideas you would like to locate again at some point, for instance #differentiatedinstruction. Create an index of hashtags at the beginning of the document. This of course will evolve and grow as your thinking develops
  • Include citations in the text, inserted from your bibliography database
  • Over the 16 courses of the doctoral program, this document may become very large. The advantage of having a single document is that you will able to search quickly for hashtags, authors, and other words.

Bibliographical Database

Keep all the references that you read and to which you may wish to refer in a bibliographical database program (e.g. Mendeley, Endnote, RefWorks, Zotero).

  • Make sure you include enough data in each reference to create a well-formed citation; confirm the citation details as soon as you import the attachment
  • Include pdfs if you have them, links to source pages, or notes about where you can locate a book or other item if you need it again
  • Highlight text and copy and paste relevant notes from your research diary into the notes field
  • Put citation makers into your research diary file

Citation Styles

There a different types of citation methods and protocols for acknowledging sources.

  • APA (American Psychological Association) - Education, Psychology, and Sciences
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) - Humanities
  • Chicago/Turabian style - Business, History, and the Fine Arts

Some disciplines favor in-text bracketed citations, others footnotes or endnotes. Choose a citation method, and stay with it!  Also be sure to communicate to your reviewers which method you have chosen so that they can provide appropriate peer review feedback regarding your citations.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Decide on a system for note-taking and a bibliographical database.

Action Item #2: Comment: Describe your note-taking method and choice for documentation of readings and other sources. How might this be extended, improved, or changed?

For the Adviser

0.3 On the Work of a Dissertation, and Scholarly Work Generally

For the Candidate

Dissertation work in doctoral programs is often—and notoriously—a torturous and alienating process. If the candidate has an enthusiasm for an idea or a practice, that is soon exhausted by a feeling of being alone (after having been until this point learning with others in their coursework), and being a slave to methods. For the funnier side of this experience, see @AcademiaObscura on Twitter... but like so many jokes, behind the joke there is something that is not funny, a failure of the scholarly experience. We want to do something different and better, while staying faithful to the intellectual ideals of academe. These, we want to say, are to create innovative ideas and transformational practices that address the ongoing challenges and aspirations of education in any of its many aspects.

This learning module supports the 6-course dissertation sequence in the Learning Design and Leadership program. We want to do two main things that are different (and other things as well, please help us work on these!):

  1. Transformational: The thesis process should be imagination and agenda driven. We are doing this work to make the world a different and better place, in small ways perhaps but always connecting to bigger transformations. This means that we must not become slave to methods. Too often we see doctoral theses whose focus has been narrowed by methods, and to the point where the answer to the question they address is obvious, and in retrospect, the question was not worth asking. The evidence is rigorous, but once its rigor has been established, the results are self-evident. Things have been "discovered" that could have spoken for themselves without having to be spoken for. Methods are, of course, very important, but they are never more than a means to an end. Keep the end in sight (remember, "innovative ideas and transformational practices"), and the work will remain motivating because it is purposeful.
  2. Productive Diversity: The examination and dissertation process should build and draw upon the resources of intellectual peer community. The dissertation process is often alienating because much of the time the only relationship the creator has is between them and their screen. At the end of long, anxious-making stretches of time and seemingly endless stretches of lonely work, their committee reads their exams, prelim and dissertation, and proclaims pass/rewrite/fail. But apart from these short moments of feedback and ad hoc conversations with their adviser, the candidate is mostly alone. They have precious little in the way of interaction with their peers, and they you do it is informal, not an integral part of the dissertation process. The problem is that intellectual work and its practical applications are never this lonesome. Scholars work in labs, research teams, in intellectual communities where their work is peer reviewed, and in communities that discuss and apply the work once it has been published. So, the second big thing we want to do in this course sequence is to make it social, to create a sense of intellectual community whose fundamental value is "productive diversity." We want to transform the doctoral process, no less!

And, as Eco states in his How to Write a Thesis, "The rigor of a thesis is more important than its scope." (p.5)

References: See section 0.1

Action Items

​Action Item #1: To consider the hazards of working on a dissertation.

Comment: Academic horror stories? Academic dreams? Tell us what you have heard or seen...

For the Adviser

0.4 The Formal Peer Review Process

For the Candidate

The Collaborative Process

The peer review process is intended to be a learning and assessment exercise that will strengthen your own work in addition to providing feedback to your peers. Our approach is both traditional and innovative. For some centuries now, peer review has been the formal process for evaluating and validating academic research and knowledge. This is the foundation of scholarly journal and book publishing. Today is also a time of great innovation, spurred by developments in digital media and publishing technologies. For more about our thinking in this area, see Cope, Bill and Angus Phillips (eds), The Future of the Academic Journal, Elsevier, 2014.

It is not necessary that you have begun or enrolled in the dissertation courses to begin the peer review process. Here are some reasons to join early:

  • Connect with others who have similar or complementary research interests.
  • Help you define or refine your research interests.
  • Become familiar with the dissertation process and deliverables.
  • Guide you in your elective course selections.
  • Learn new content, best practices, and how to critically analyze others’ works.
  • Enhance your deliverables associated with your regular LDL courses and the dissertation courses.

Everyone will be assigned three peer reviews per project. Reviews will be assigned based on criteria of timeliness (someone needs a review and you are at approximately the same point in the exam-dissertation course), and relevance in terms of your interest. Sometimes, the work you are reviewing may be somewhat off topic because another person needs a review, but that is not always a bad thing. Ideally, we will try to arrange reviews for you based on the following criteria, though it may not always work out this neatly!

  • We will aim to assign everyone is at least one peer review prior to completing their own project. We will send you a request to review, but if you are unavailable or it seems too soon, you can turn down the request. Please respond quickly so we can find another reviewer if you are not available or ready.
  • When possible, you will be assigned a second review per project prior to submitting your final version, otherwise, it will be assigned after you have submitted your final version
  • A third peer review will usually come after you have submitted your final version.
  • Peer reviews in the Examination-Dissertation Sequence of courses will be open (i.e. not anonymous) because, through multiple, iterative cycles, participants will get to know each other's work. Not only would anonymity be impractical, we want to create an intellectual community here that is more like a collaborative research lab than the distant and objective judgments that anonymous peer review seeks to nurture.
  • Try to differentiate your ratings across the different works you review. In first draft submissions particularly, works are more variable in their quality than they are in final submissions after the benefit of the peer review process.
  • We recommend you annotate before you review. The most helpful coded annotations will have an approximately equal balance positive (+) and negative (-) judgments.

Some Additional Notes:

  • A peer review rubric and annotation coding frame has been provided to guide you in the peer review process. (See below) A meaningful peer review should take two to three hours to complete.
  • Peer reviews should be completed within one week, unless other arrangements have been made. You will receive a deadline for review submission with each review request.
  • You must be nearly completed with your course requirements before officially registering for a dissertation-related course, however you may join our online course community, participate in the peer review process, and attend our weekly group advising sessions at any time. We encourage students to look ahead at what the process entails and examples from your peers who have already embarked on this journey.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes: The following rubric is relevant to all projects throughout this sequence

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

The Technical Process

You will write this work in the Creator area of CGScholar. It will not be connected to a project for peer review until you have completed the draft.

  • Go to CGScholar => Creator, and create a new work. The title of your work should be the tentative title for your dissertation.
  • Annotated bibliographies (the first work in each of the examination courses) will be separate works.
  • For the second work in each of the examination courses you will be creating just one work (but two separate "projects" within the CGScholar functionality so that they can be routed for peer review), and this will stay with you all the way to your dissertation. Make good use of the structure tool which allows any number of levels of subheadings. Having many small sections within sections helps you to rearrange your thoughts. (A subheading is created by dragging the + icon in the section name in the Structure tool to the right.) For the moment, the top-level sections can be called "The General Field of ...," "The Special Field of...," "Methodology for..." Also indicate which is a newly added section, e.g. "The General Field of... (Revised)," "The Special Field of ... (New)." These temporary subheadings can be revised at each step and for the final dissertation.
  • When you have finished each of the exam-dissertation courses and you are ready to move on to the next course, duplicate your final work in the previous stage (Creator => About this Work => Versions => Current. Hover over this version and you will see the duplicate icon.) For the next course, add to this newly duplicated work.
  • When you have finished your draft section, you are creating for the current course, go to Creator => About this Work => Publish, search for the publisher "LDL General Field Examination" and request connection to a project for peer review.
  • After your admin has made the connection, submit your work for peer review.
  • About this time (perhaps before or after you submit—as soon as we can find suitable reviewers), you will be asked to review three of your peers' works. Please prioritize reviews ahead of your own work.
  • After three reviews have been received for your work, you will be requested to revise. Before you submit your revision, write a self-review beside the current version, and offer your reviewers feedback-on-feedback.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Reflect on the challenges and benefits of giving and receiving peer reviews, including examples of effective reviews

Add a comment within this update that addresses the following:

  1. Offer some tips for peer review
  2. Share at least three excerpts from one or more peer reviews that you have received in a previous course that you found helpful and explain why
  3. Share what you value most in a review
  4. Ask questions about the process

Respond to others' questions

 

For the Adviser

0.5 Re-Use of Previous Work

For the Candidate

Courses vs. Exam Seminars: While your annotated bibliography or literature review from a previous course may address something related to your dissertation topic, the exam seminar courses serve a different purpose and should be substantially new material not used in previous courses. Your annotated bibliography and literature review in a course addresses one of the themes of that course. In the exam seminars, your annotated bibliography and literature review should address the general or special field in a way that specifically focuses on the themes of your dissertation and addresses that exam’s research questions.

Annotated Bibliography: At least 15 new sources not used in previous courses/exams

Literature Review Exam Seminar Requirements: At least 15 new sources not used in previous courses/exams and at least 70% new writing, with at least 3,000 to 5,000 new words.

For the Advisor

Course 1: General Field Research Seminar

Course Description: This is one of three dissertation research-based courses that will be taken after all coursework is completed for the doctorate, prior to dissertation proposal seminar. It is designed to guide students as they develop the research foundations and design frameworks in their general field of study, upon which they will form their dissertation proposal and doctoral dissertation. The primary focus of this course is to develop the general field literature review chapter of the dissertation. In a structured classroom format, students will use advanced research strategies, read, and become familiar with the literature in order to identify relevant research and theory related to their general fields as well as critique the gaps in the literature. Their major research paper will meet the doctoral milestone of the general field examination and lay an integral foundation to their dissertations. Students will continue to be part of a community of researchers, willing and able to support each other in the development of research plans as peer scholars.

1.1 Choosing Your Focus

For the Candidate

What is Your Interest?

You need to select and define a topic that aligns your interests/passion with your desire to address a scholarly problem/challenge or social need. You start with a research question – not a research statement. This question is based on some hypothesis that you have.  At this stage in the sequence, you should consider a tentative topic while also choosing a general field topic that will be the focus of your General Exam literature review.

Dissertation Focus

If the focus of your dissertation work is to be innovative ideas and/or transformational practices, what is your interest? What needs to be done in the world? What are your initial ideas for a dissertation? Consider:

  • The topic, or the thing in the world that upon which you are going to focus?
  • The genre of the dissertation? (for instance: empirical research, theoretical reframing, or curriculum intervention)
  • The subdiscipline of education (for instance: curriculum and instruction, educational psychology, history of education, philosophy of education, sociology)

General Exam Focus

What is the general field of your dissertation topic?  What general topic will help you arrive at your final dissertation topic?

The Scope of "Education"

Education offers you an unusually broad scope to choose potential topics for your dissertation work. We define education as the science of "coming to know," and we don't mean science in its narrow sense. Broadly speaking, science means focused attention, systematic observation and thinking which may take a whole range of forms including any or all of empirical, theoretical or narrative (e.g. historical) work. Education encompasses "coming to know" any possible are of knowledge or social practice in the world. It includes learning in formal institutions, and informal learning in everyday life. It includes learning at different stages of life: babies, children, adults. It includes learning in a range of sites: schools, workplaces, voluntary organizations, community settings, and in personal life. The good thing—and the challenge—is that the range of possibilities is enormous. In the following paper, we explore the discipline of education as a frame of intellectual reference:

"Education is the New Philosophy"

Dissertation Genres

There are three major genres of knowledge creation that can go into the making of a dissertation:

  1. Practice Focus. This is an interested intervention, where you do something to change conditions in setting where learning is occurring (a formal educational setting or an informal social setting). The intervention could be something that you have developed or implemented, for instance a curriculum resource or program, or a community participation strategy, or an educational technology. You might use qualitative or quantitative methods to evaluate the effects of the intervention. In the case of quantitative methods, an intervention/control comparison adds methodological rigor. This should be accompanied by logic model tracing the lines of causation between intervention and effect. You will be expected to make an original contribution to knowledge by demonstrating the relations between intervention and effect.
  2. Research Focus. This is arms-length observation of processes of learning in a formal or informal education setting. Here, you are not an agent—you are a disinterested observer systematically analyzing learning processes. Your methods may be quantitative or qualitative. You will be expected to make an original contribution to knowledge, either by bringing to light new insights based on empirical experience nor new conceptualizations arising from your research data.
  3. Theory Focus. This involves mapping and reconceptualizing a field of knowledge based on available theoretical resources (philosophy, social theory, cultural studies) or historical or contemporary documentary resources (primary and secondary sources). Here, you will be able to make an original contribution to knowledge by building a new theory (concepts defined in relation to each other) or providing a reconceptualization of an existing body of knowledge (such as an historical re-interpretation).

References

  • Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2012. New Learning: Elements of a Science of Education (Edn 2). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2014. "‘Education Is the New Philosophy’, to Make a Metadisciplinary Claim for the Learning Sciences." Pp. 101-15 in Companion to Research in Education, edited by A. D. Reid, E. P. Hart and M. A. Peters. Dordrecht: Springer.

For Your Consideration

Before we start with some suggestions, feel free to choose anything you wish. Push the boundaries of the possible—we like that! You don't have to do something that aligns with our research agenda or interests, but if you do, here they are (in no particular order):

  • Multiliteracies: examining the uses of multimodality or the impact of digital media on literacy learning, including the academic literacies required today in all discipline areas.
  • Learning by Design: interventions and evaluations of the design, implementation of pedagogies that afford greater agency to learners.
  • e-Learning Ecologies: exploring the affordances of digitally-mediated learning.
  • Theories of Learning and Philosophy of Education.
  • Learner Diversity: reflecting on the historical and social contexts of learning, and developing strategies for inclusive pedagogy.
  • The CGScholar Platform: design, implementation and evaluation of learning modules, investigating the dynamics of peer-to-peer learning, multimodal knowledge representations, and learning analytics.

References

  • Cope, Bill and Mary Kalantzis, eds. 2015. A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Learning by Design. London: Palgrave.
  • Cope, Bill and Mary Kalantzis, eds. 2016. E-Learning Ecologies: Principles for New Learning and Assessment. New York NY: Routledge.
  • Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2016. "Learner Differences in Theory and Practice." Open Review of Educational Research 3(1):85–132.
  • Kalantzis, Mary, Bill Cope, Eveline Chan and Leanne Dalley-Trim. 2016. Literacies (Edn 2). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2019 [forthcoming]. Making Sense: A Grammar of Multimodal Meaning. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Find and cite two or three dissertations in your area of possible focus and provide a summary of your topic according to the guidelines below

Make an Update: Post your summary and engage with peers. Your summary should answer the following questions:

  1. What are you thinking?
  2. What is your dissertation topic? (note that your ultimate question(s) will come as a result of your General and Special Exam Literature reviews)
  3. The genre of your work?
  4. What kind of disciplinary practice do you want to use?
  5. What do you consider to be your General Field topic? (this is the focus of your General Exam Literature Review)
  6. What do you tentatively consider to be your Special Field topic? (this will ultimately result from your General Exam Literature Review and will become the focus your Special Exam Literature Review)
  7. What were the genres of the dissertations you found?
  8. What was the General and Special Fields of the dissertations you found?
  9. What do you want to emulate in your literature reviews and why?  Share specific excerpts from the literature review portion of the dissertations
  10. What do you want to emulate in the dissertations and why? Share specific excerpts from the dissertations.
  11. What would you want to do differently than the dissertations you found and why? Share specific excerpts from the dissertations.

(Answering these questions will also point in the direction of your annotated bibliography and literature review.)

Include "1.1" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update. Before you post your update, read and comment on at least three other participants' 1.1 updates, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you.

For the Adviser

1.2 Choosing a Topic

For the Candidate

Now, tell us about the idea you have for your dissertation! How will it be innovative? How will it be transformative, or world-changing? By "world-changing," we don't mean the whole world. Small changes are just as important as large ones, and small changes can be in sympathy with large changes in the world.

How do you choose a topic? Here is some practical advice:

  1. Choose a topic that is close to the work you do in the rest of your life. One of the wonderful things about the fully online doctorate is that you are not taken out of life to do it. Until the opportunities offered by "distance education" and now e-learning, university learning departed little from its origins in the medieval monastery. The student left "real" life to spend years in a dorm room, the reading room of the library, and to join the congregation of other students in lecture hall and the classroom. You have advantage of staying in life while you study, so avail yourself of this opportunity. Create something, apply something, observe something in or for the life that you lead, be that a professional life, a passion, a vocation, or community commitment. This is advice is in part practical, not to overburden your life with too many unrelated tangents. But you also have an advantage over on-campus students in that you don't have to venture out for your research to a strange place with uncertain prospects.
  2. Design a project that will be manageable. You can read too widely. Your sample size can be too large. You might be doing too many interviews. The expanse of your historical study can be too broad. Your philosophical question may be too general. Your project must encompass just enough to say something worthwhile, and no more, otherwise you may never get your project finished. You won't necessarily know the precise dimensions of "enough" at the start, but at a certain point, you have to say to yourself, "enough!"
  3. Be methodical. In the section 0.2, we suggest one approach for the era of Word processors, hash-tagging, and bibliographical databases. These are our twenty-first century cognitive prostheses. You won't survive without these kinds of methodical processes and supports.

The dissertation will contain several key elements of scholarly discourse. We are going to get you to express your initial idea in these terms. Of course, this idea could evolve during the first courses in this sequence, and possibly turn into something different. But it is good to have a starting point as a way to master the genre of scholarly writing, and as a reference point to recall how your thinking evolves, and the extent to which it evolves.

  • Title: Create a tentative title for your dissertation, and possibly also a subtitle. A title without a subtitle must be descriptive of the content of the dissertation. If you have both a title and a subtitle, once can be more figurative, a phrase in the form of a short quote, or a catchy idea. But at least one part of the title/subtitle must be plainly descriptive.
  • Research Questions: Create several research questions - two or three is a good number. The possible answers to the questions should not be "yes"/"no." Nor should they be plainly obvious.
  • Hypotheses: What to you anticipate the range of answers to your research questions might be. Web tips: Constructing a Hypothesis (traditional empirical focus)
  • Abstract: What you are exploring in this dissertation, the reasons why this exploration is significant, the approach you expect to take, and the outcomes you expect to achieve. (Later on, if you keep part of this text, you will change this to the outcomes you have received.)

Web Tips

Action Items

Action Item #1 (1.2A): Map out your topic based on the guidelines below.

Action Item #2 (1.2B): Find, summarize, and cite one scholarly article that represents your research interests and share why you feel it is relevant to the general field and why it is significant to your research.

Make Two Updates:

Update 1.2A:

  1. Include the tentative title for your dissertation
  2. Write one or more research questions
  3. Construct a hypothesis
  4. Create a tentative abstract of your dissertation
  5. Describe what you want to explore
  6. Explain why this is important
  7. Define how you plan to approach your task

Update 1.2B:

  1. Cite the article
  2. List the research questions
  3. Identify the hypothesis of the study
  4. Copy the abstract, and if you have the PDF, include that as well
  5. Describe what the authors wanted to explore
  6. Define how the author(s) approached the task
  7. ​Share why the article is relevant to the general field
  8. Share why the article is relevant to your research

Include "1.2A" and "1.2B" and a subject-focused title for your post in the title of each of these updates. Before you post your update, read and comment on at least three other participants' 1.2A and 1.2B updates, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you.

For the Adviser

1.3: The Genre of Review

For the Candidate

In this course, we are working to create an initial draft of a part of the literature review for your dissertation. All-too-frequently in dissertations, these are dull summaries of the "she said, then he said" variety.

There is a genre of general writing called "the review," and also a scholarly variant of this genre of writing. Reviews are a delicate relationship of giving the authors or scholars you are reviewing a fair representation for readers who do not (necessarily) already know their writing, while weaving in (but also clearly separating) your own interpretative voice.

When it comes to your literature review, we want you both to summarize and synthesize the field, but also to make a case, that leveraging the literature to foreshadow important questions, the general shape of their answer, and remaining unanswered questions.

There are a number of marvelous review magazines where you will find masterful examples of the general genre of review. They are a good way to find out the latest thinking across a number of fields. They are a way to keep up to date with the latest thinking across a wide range of areas. We recommend subscribing to one or more of the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, or the Los Angeles Review of Books. However, bear in mind that in many ways, the kinds of reviews published here are quite a different genre from a literature review—mostly more opinionated than you can afford to be in a literature review.

There is also a specialized genre of academic journal article called the "review article." One subset of this genre reads like an overview of a thematic area within a discipline. There is another, often highly technical subgenre called meta-analysis, which aims to aggregate quantitative empirical research results across multiple studies. Most journals will publish review articles, however in education there are some journals that are dedicated to review articles, such as the Review of Educational Research.

Review articles are both very useful and also notorious in academe—helpful because they provide an entry point into an area, and also notorious because they become widely read and cited even though they don't involve original research. (They seem like an easy way to garner a lot of citations!) As a genre, review articles are close to literature reviews, but not exactly the same. While review articles in journals may tackle a question or a theme, literature reviews demonstrate your knowledge and mastery of a general or a special field as a coherent body of knowledge.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Read and analyze three review articles in your chosen general field.

Action Item #2: Make an Update that addresses the following:

  1. Briefly summarize each article; include PDFs in the article if they are available
  2. What are the main issues arising in each article?
  3. Explain the significance of each article to the general field
  4. Explain the significance of each article to your research interests
  5. Provide at least four examples from each article that demonstrate effective review principles
  6. What is the value of each review article? How has it built its case?
  7. What are the characteristic features of the genre?

Include "1.3" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update.  Provide at least 5 specific recommendations to at least three other peers' 1.3 updates, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you.  Specific feedback at this stage will be critical to assisting your peers in writing an effective annotated bibliography and literature review and also help you reflect on your own projects.

For the Adviser

1.4 General Versus Special Field Versus Dissertation

For the Candidate

The doctorate has traditionally included a General Field Examination in the old-fashioned sense of testing your knowledge about major topics in education during a fixed period of time, and we're keeping that title for old times' sake. Over time, this became a take-home exam, but still it had to be "your own work," which meant not talking to others while you were doing it, the professor set you a question, and you had a defined period of time to do it.

We're changing those assumptions and practices. Now, you are a member of a knowledge community, with reciprocal obligations to offer feedback to peers. You will comment on others' posts, and undertake two peer reviewed projects, an annotated bibliography and a literature review. This is what replaces the time-limited, individualistic test-logic of the traditional General Field Examination. We don't assign you a topic—you choose your focus. And there is no fixed timeframe. Although this is, bureaucratically speaking, an 8-week course, you can start it before or after the formal period of your enrollment, and you can take more or less than 8 weeks to complete. The aim now is not to pass/fail, but to give you the scope to keep working until you have produced excellent work that represents your new and emerging knowledge and understandings.

You will produce two peer-reviewed works in each of the three exam-dissertation courses, an annotated bibliography, and a literature review. The literature review will be draft material that may eventually be revised and become part of your dissertation.

What do we mean by "general field?" In this course, we want you to frame the broad shape of the area in which you are working. What are its main challenges? What kinds of innovative ideas and transformational practices is the field begging, generally speaking? One rough measure of generality might be, if you were to create undergraduate college course introducing students to this general area of knowledge, what would you want them to know? What should they read to get a sense of the critical issues being addressed in theory, research and practice? (By way of contrast, Course 2 in this sequence is the "special field examination," focusing in on theory and research related to the specific topic you have chosen for your dissertation.)

Here are some examples of general vs special field literature reviews:

Tentative Thesis Title General Field Literature Review Special Field Literature Review
Approaches to Differentiated Instruction in e-Learning Environments Theories and Practices of Learner Diversity and Differentiated Instruction Applications of Differentiated Instruction in Computer-Mediated Learning Environments
Pedagogical Innovation in English Language Arts at Springfield District 88 High School Approaches Curriculum Reform at the School Level Measuring Change: Evidence of Effect in ELA Curriculum Innovation
A Study of Peer Review in e-Learning Environments Collaborative Learning in Computer-Supported Learning Environments Mechanisms and Outcomes of Peer Review in Learning: Models and Research Evidence
A History of the Montessori Method to the United States, 1900-1950 The Progressive Education Movement in the United States, 1850-1950 The Origins of Montessori Education, and Its Introduction to the United States, 1900-1950
Theories of Learning in Wittgenstein’s Picture Theory Wittgenstein’s Philosophy, and its Applications in Education Picture Theory in Wittgenstein

There is no need to make research methodologies a special focus at this at this stage, because we will do that in Course 3. However, do look out for the methodologies that are typically and successfully used in the area of your focus.  Tag those articles as they may become relevant as you write your methodology.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Characterize the difference between general and special field in the area you have chosen according to the guidelines below.

Make an Update that includes the following:

  1. Give a title for your general field literature review
  2. Provide a tentative title for your special field literature review, with the expectation that this may change as a result of your general exam literature review findings
  3. Describe in a paragraph what you will be looking for as you pursue your General Exam literature review

Include "1.4" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update. Before you post your update, read and comment on at least three other participants' 1.4 updates, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you.

Action Item #2: Share the link to your update with your advisor and/or present during a live synchronous session to receive guidance and approval on your general exam topic.

For the Adviser

1.6 General Field Annotated Bibliography (Peer Reviewed Project)

For the Candidate

For first of the two peer-reviewed projects in this course, you will create an annotated bibliography of 15-20 references. These should be the references that you consider to be the most important in the field. Note that you will also creating an annotated bibliography for your special field examination in Course 2, so keep specialized works you might come across for then.

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to demonstrate that you can select the key publications of scholars who have also addressed the topic of your dissertation and who have addressed your research questions. This is an indicator of the sense you have gained of the shape of the general field. Your commentary will demonstrate that you can make astute synthesis and analysis of each publication, and connect publications in a way that is indicative of your understanding of the shape of the general field.

Re-Use of Previous Work

Courses vs. Exam Seminars: While your annotated bibliography or literature review from a previous course may address something related to your dissertation topic, the exam seminar courses serve a different purpose and should be substantially new material not used in previous courses. Your annotated bibliography and literature review in a course addresses one of the themes of that course. In the exam seminars, your annotated bibliography and literature review should address the general or special field in a way that specifically focuses on the themes of your dissertation and addresses that exam’s research questions.

Literature Review Exam Seminar Requirements: At least 15 new sources not used in previous courses/exams and at least 70% new writing, with at least 3,000 to 5,000 new words.

Finding and Selecting References

  1. On the web. Be sure to supplement a general web search with Google Scholar. Not only does this narrow your search to scholarly articles and books. It has useful information about how widely a work and an author has been cited. However, be careful with this information—quantity does not necessarily mean quality or relevance to your interests. Less cited works may be very good or highly relevant.
  2. In the library and Library Web site. Search for journal articles and e-books that are behind paywalls on the web.
  3. Read review articles. Look for review articles that address your topic or special field, because these will probably reference key works from the general field as well.
  4. Follow the gossip! When you find an article or book that you really like, or that you find very helpful, look at who this author is citing. If their work is helpful, they will probably have a good eye for things that you will also find helpful. Look out particularly for citations that may be obscure and not necessarily popular in the sense of garnering a large number of citations. Think of academic writing as a kind of gossip network. Who is talking about whom?

Web Tips

Requirements and Considerations

  1. Write an introduction to your annotated bibliography which explains your interest, your topic, and your General Exam research question. What makes this your general field, and why are you here?
  2. Organize your sources into themes/sections
  3. Create one subsection per source within the relevant theme's section
  4. Cite each reference formally and in full.
  5. Write one or two paragraphs for each reference, summarizing its content and explaining its significance to the field and to the issues you will be addressing in your dissertation. Include and cite key quotes and any relevant tables and figures. Specific
  6. Include a References/Works Cited Section that includes all sources highlighted in your annotated bibliography

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

When writing your entries, things to consider include:

  • Your introductory rationale for selecting and grouping these works (your experience, interest, project focus)
  • The concepts and theory used by the scholar(s) who authored the book or article.
  • Main empirical findings, if the work is based on empirical study.
  • The methodology of the work, and how this has been usefully insightful in this case.
  • The significance of the work in terms of its impact on the academic field, and the frequency with which it is cited. (Though of course, some works you may want to argue are important in their implications for the whole field, even if not widely known or cited.)
  • Practical applications and real-world consequences, actual or potential. Creative and innovative extensions

Ask any questions or share suggestions in the comments area.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Read literature reviews in two or three dissertations in areas close to your chosen topic.  Share the references with your peers.

Action Item #2: Create an Update: Before you start the Annotated Bibliography, share your reference list in APA style with your peers as an Update in the community.  This should then be included in your actual Annotated Bibliography

Include "1.6" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update. Review and comment on at least three other people's reference lists before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. You may get some more ideas! Suggest other possibly relevant references for others' annotated bibliography.

Action Item #3: Peer-Reviewed Project: Create an Annotated Bibliography for your general field with 15-20 references.

  1. Include a descriptive title and work icon
  2. Cmmence with a framing rationale for your selection
  3. Conclude with a references section of all sources
  4. Complete a self-review of the first version of your work
  5. Ensure that all requirements have been met
  6. Once ready, request that your work be connected to the LDL Doctoral Dissertation Sequence publisher so that it can be routed for peer review
  7. A TA will review your work to confirm all requirements have been met prior to routing for peer review
  8. Once you have received your peer review feedback, dialogue with your reviewers and make necessary revisions
  9. Complete a self-review of the final version of your work

For the Adviser

1.7 The General Field: Literature Review (Peer Reviewed Project)

For the Candidate

Main Action Item: Write a literature review that provides evidence that you have a command of the wider field of scholarly endeavor associated with your research question.

This literature review will become a draft for a chapter in your dissertation (Chapter 2 in the standard thesis model). You will also submit this to three of the four members of your committee for evaluation as the general field examination. You will create another part of this chapter in the "special field examination," coming up as Course 2, so be sure that your literature review covers the broad shape of the field, not the specialized area you will be addressing in your dissertation work.

The literature review should not merely be descriptive—it should be analytical and critical. However, at the same time it should be a fair representation of the perspectives and voices of a range of people across the field. What are the main issues arising in this general field? The main challenges to be addressed? The questions being asked by the intellectual and practical leaders in the field? Absences or gaps in our knowledge? Work that needs to be done. Of course, you need to map the broad shape of the field to make your case, but the focus here should be your argument about work that needs to be done, which also justifies your dissertation focus.

However, having said this, the literature review is a part of the dissertation where your voice is secondary. This should be a place where you let the field speak. You are there, of course, in the selection of texts and the framework you develop to present them—but subtly so. Then, when you get to more clearly-voiced sections, principally the introduction and the conclusions, your setting of the context will make your voice all the more powerful.

The narrow, Special Literature Review elaborates specifically on the particular gap in the broader literature review that you uncovered that leads to, and underpins, your own thesis, and thereby allows you to contribute something new to the literature itself.

Content, Structure, and Process

Content

Some questions to address in the general field literature review:

  1. What motivates you to work in this general field? How does it frame your project and research questions?
  2. What is the empirical range of the general field?
  3. Who are the most influential and most cited thinkers?
  4. What are the main theories, interpretative frameworks, or paradigms which order knowledge in the field?
  5. What kinds of methodology are used across the general field?
  6. As a body of work, what practical questions does the literature set out to address?
  7. What range of practices does the general field spawn? What are its most exciting and promising areas of innovation?

Literature Review Content Reminders

  • A literature review sets the context for your dissertation demonstrating that you have discovered, presented and analyzed the value of the key sources that contain the theories, practices, data, methodologies and applications associated with your research question.
  • It will evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and impact of key works.
  • It is not a summary, explanation or exposition of the issue that you are interested to address, nor does it contain your unverified opinions.
  • You are building an argument or case for the significance of your area of focus and research question based on your analysis of the general field.

Structure

One possible structure for the general field literature review might be:

  1. Introduction
  2. The general domain and how your topic fits within that domain
  3. Challenges addressed by the general field
  4. Key concepts and theoretical frameworks used in the field: compare and contrast
  5. Typical methodologies employed in the general field, and the connections between these and the theories (epistemological alignments)
  6. Gaps in the Literature
  7. Conclusion: where the field is heading, the tasks ahead for people (like you!) in this field
  8. Works Cited

In the standard model of a doctoral dissertation, the literature review would be Chapter 2. You may want to label this work Chapter 2 already. (You will be adding to this chapter when we undertake the special field literature review.)

Process

  • You will write this work in Creator. It should be 3,000-5,000 words in length.
  • Make the title and subtitle of this work, the interim title of your thesis. You will duplicate, revise and add to this work in the following courses.
  • Create a section called "Chapter 1: Introduction," in which you include your draft abstract, general exam research questions, and hypothesis about the answers you may discover to these hypotheses. At every stage in the process, you should come back to your initial title, research questions and hypotheses, review and modify these as your thinking develops. For reviewers of this literature review, this section is important, because it tells them why you have selected the general field, and what you have chosen to highlight in that field.  In this first work, those research questions should be the focus your General Exam literature review and not your dissertation.
  • Create a section called "Chapter 2, Literature Review," in which there will be two subsections, "The General Field" (this course), and the "The Special Field" (the next course). Then, the thematic subsections for your general field literature review will be a third level head. (Drag the + in the Structure tool to the right to create a new level of subhead.) Of course, you may want to give the chapters more interesting titles at a later point, but for the moment and at this early draft stage, plain titles might be easiest.
  • Ensure that you have met all requirements before finalizing your first version.
  • When you have completed your first version, request an admin to connect the work to a project for peer review.  Choose the LDL Doctoral Dissertation Sequence publisher.
  • A TA will complete a preliminary review to ensure that all basic requirements have been met before routing the work for peer review

The Textual Features of the Genre, Literature Review

The literature review is a delicate play between the voices of the field, and the way you bring them together in a synthesis and interpretation. In this chapter of the dissertation, your principal aim is not to say what you think—you will be able to do that in the introduction, the chapters presenting your findings, and the conclusion. Instead, you want to map out the field, fairly representing its varied voices, analyzing their differences, critically interpreting the nuances. The open questions, tensions and gaps you find in the field are the reasons why have chosen your topic and research questions.

References

  • Boote, David N. and Penny Beile. 2005. "Scholars before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation Literature Review in Research Preparation." Educational Researcher 34(6):3–15.
  • Galvan, Jose L. 2006. Writing a Literature Review: A Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Glendale CA: Pyrczak Publishing.
  • Machi, Lawrence A. and Brenda T. McEvoy. 2016. The Literature Review. Thousand Oaks CA: Corwin.
  • Reardon, Sean F. 2011. "The Widening Academic Achievement Gap between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations." Pp. 91-116 in Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances. New York NY: Russell Sage Foundation. (Example of a review article.)

Web Tips

Here are some resources addressing the textual dynamics of a literature review:

References: On Academic Writing

You may also wish to take a moment to reflect on academic writing in general. Much academic writing is (frankly!) poor writing. Here are some readings and source books you may find useful:

  • Goodson, Patricia. 2017. Becoming an Academic Writer. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.
  • Strunk, William and E.B. White. 1979. Elements of Style. New York NY: Longman.
  • Sword, Helen. 2012. Stylish Academic Writing. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
  • The University of Chicago Press Editorial Staff. 2017. The Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press. Online edition.
  • Coursera Academic Writing Course.

You cannot be too obsessive about style and textual consistency! Two requests:

  1. Always proof everything you submit, including first versions for peer review.
  2. As a reviewer, always note typos and suggest textual revisions to peers using the annotations tool.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

Web Tip: How to Write a Compelling Research Paper Introduction.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Comment: Add a comment that shares one or more excerpts of a stand-out literature review and explain why. Be sure to cite the reference.

Action Item #2: Create an Update: Before you start the literature review in Creator, make an Update to share a draft of the first paragraph of your literature review and seek feedback from your peers.  Include "1.7" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update. Review and comment on at least three other people's opening paragraphs before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you.

Action Item #3: Peer-Reviewed Project: Write a literature review for the general field per the instructions earlier in this post.

  1. Write a literature review that provides evidence that you have a command of the wider field of scholarly endeavor associated with your research question.
  2. Include a descriptive title and work icon. Once ready, request that your work be connected to the LDL Doctoral Dissertation Sequence publisher so that it can be routed for peer review.
  3. Complete a self-review of the first version of your work.
  4. Reviewers will be asked to provide feedback in about a week.
  5. Once you have received your peer review feedback, dialogue with your reviewers and make necessary revisions
  6. Submit your final revision
  7. Complete another self-review of the final version that will be submitted to your committee.
  8. Complete the Exam Submission form process and update the Google Sheet Tracker to submit your literature review to your committee.

For the Adviser

Course 2: Special Field Research Seminar

Course Description: This is one of three dissertation research-based courses that will be taken after all coursework is completed for the Ed.D. and prior to dissertation proposal seminar. It is designed to guide students as they develop the research foundations and design frameworks in their specialized field of study, upon which they will form their dissertation proposal and doctoral dissertation. The primary focus of this course is to develop the special field literature review chapter of the dissertation. In a structured classroom format, students will use advanced research strategies, search appropriate databases, read, and become familiar with the literature in order to identify relevant research and theory related to a specific topic as well as critique the gaps in the literature. Their major research paper will meet the doctoral milestone of the special field examination and lay an integral foundation to their dissertations. Students will continue to be part of a community of researchers, willing and able to support each other in the development of research plans as the group moves through the degree program.

2.1 Addressing the Special Field

For the Candidate

In this course, you will narrow your focus to research findings relevant to the particular area you will address in your dissertation. Here you demonstrate that you are aware as an expert in the area of empirical research and/or theoretical work that directly relates to (what might become) the topic of your dissertation. As was the case for your general field examination, you will create two works: another annotated bibliography of 15-20 references and another analytical literature review, focusing not just on the dimensions of the specific field of your interest, but absences and questions that still need to be addressed.

You will peer review approximately three other program participants’ work, and revise your work based on peer feedback. The revised text of the literature review will be reviewed by three of the four members of your dissertation committee for your special field examination. This text may later be revised and incorporated into the literature review chapter of your dissertation.

The main differences from the general field annotated bibliography and literature review will be:

  • Now you that are close enough to a specific area, you will be able to identify important empirical results (there would have been too much at the level of the general field).
  • How does the special field answer your research questions, and confirm or deny your hypotheses? It will be hard to answer your research questions at the level of the general field, but the scope of the special field should be the scope of your research questions.
  • At the level of the special field, you will also be able to identify gaps in knowledge. There will be things that are missing, things that need to be addressed, and this is why you have chosen to work on this particular topic.

Web Tips

Action Items

Action Item #1: Comment: What is the gap in knowledge that you wish to address? In what ways will your dissertation be innovative and break new intellectual ground?

Action Item #2: Create an Update: Capture a tentative title and research questions, focusing on the special field,

Make an Update that addresses the following

  1. How are you expecting the special field will answer these questions?
  2. What theories, methodologies and empirical results are you expecting to find?
  3. What gaps in knowledge do you anticipate? (You may already have a sense of this, so your response can be a mix of what you already know and what you suspect might be the case.)
  4. How do these concerns translate for you into a dissertation title and research questions?

Review and comment on at least three other people's updates before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. Include "2.1" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update.

For the Adviser

2.2 Special Field Annotated Bibliography (Peer Reviewed Project)

For the Candidate

For first of the two peer-reviewed projects in this course, you will create an Annotated Bibliography of 15-20 references in your special field. For a reminder of the distinction between special and the general field, see section 1.4 of this learning module. While it is unlikely you have reviewed many empirically-focused articles or books in your general field, if you have a practice or research focus this is essential in your special field annotated bibliography. If you have a theory focus, you will be locating literature that is close to your specific area of interest.

Cite each reference formally and in full. Write one paragraph for each reference, summarizing its content and explaining its significance to the field and to the issues you will be addressing in your dissertation.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

When addressing the peer review, rubric, things you may consider for each work include:

  • What brings you to this special field: your experiences, interests, dissertation topic can research questions.
  • For each reference, what is Its explicit or underlying theory?
  • Its methods?
  • Its empirical findings (if empirical)?
  • Its practical implications? Its potential to prompt innovation?
  • How this addresses your dissertation title and research questions, and whether it tends to confirm or deny your hypothesis.
  • Its limitations, questions left unanswered, intellectual work it leaves to be done.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Create an Update: Share your reference list before starting your Annotated Bibliography

Review and comment on at least three other people's reference lists before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. You may get some more ideas! Suggest other possibly relevant references for others' annotated bibliographies. Include "2.2" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update.

Action Item #2: Peer Reviewed Project: Write an Annotated Bibliography for the special field of 15-20 references, commencing with a framing rationale for your selection.

For the Adviser

2.3 Special Field Literature Review (Peer Reviewed Project)

For the Candidate

The special field literature review will become the second part of Chapter 2 of your dissertation, if you decide to follow the standard dissertation model (and we suggest you start with the standard model, even if you modify it later). You will also submit this to three of the four members of your committee for evaluation as the special field examination. This is a follow-on section the literature review you undertook for the general field. Be sure this section does not repeat the general field section. Revise the general field section as needed.

Before you start, review Updates 1.3 and 1.4 in the Course 1 to review the distinction between general and special field, the genre of literature review. A note to reviewers: although the focus of your peer reviews will be on the special field section of this review, please look over the general field section as it may have been revised, and check the relationship between the general field and special field sections. Also, consider the connections between the thesis title, abstract and hypotheses, bearing in mind that these are still fluid.

Structure and Process

One possible structure for the special field literature might be:

  1. How the special field is located within the general field
  2. Challenges addressed by the special field: how these connect with the challenges of the general field
  3. How the key concepts and theoretical frameworks of the general field are applied, extended or modified in the special field
  4. How the methodologies of the general filed have been applied in the special field.
  5. The main findings generated by these methodologies
  6. Conclusion: How does the special field answer (or fail to answer adequately) your research question? What are the gaps, the areas where additional work is needed, concepts need to be clarified etc.? Implicitly, these are the reasons you have chosen your special field, topic, and research questions. (Implicitly: because in the literature review, you are expressing this in terms of the needs of the field and the world served by the field, rather than your personal interests.)

In the standard dissertation model, this will be the second part of chapter 2. Recommended next steps:

  • You will write this work in Creator. Duplicate then extend your general field literature review with an additional 3,000-5,000 words.
  • Create a new subsection in Chapter 2, "Special Field Literature Review (new text)."
  • Review and Revise the General Field Literature review section in the light of your new work in the Special Field Literature Review, and amend the title, "General Field Literature Review (revised). Write a change note at the beginning of this section, outlining the changes you have made and the reasons you made these changes.
  • Review and revise your title and preliminary Chapter 1 contents (abstract, research questions, hypotheses). Write a change note at the beginning of this section, outlining the changes you have made and the reasons you made these changes.
  • When you have completed your new draft, request an admin to connect the work to a project for peer review.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes: 

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

Some questions to address in the special field literature review:

  • What brings you to this special field?
  • What are the main theoretical approaches in your special field?
  • What are the most commonly used methodologies?
  • What are the principal empirical findings?
  • What answers does the literature provide (and fail to provide) to your research questions? Do these answers tend to confirm or deny your hypotheses?
  • What are the practical needs for research and intervention in your special field? What potentials are there for extended application and innovation?
  • What work needs to be done, in general, in particular in your dissertation?

Action Items

Action Item #1: Comment: How do you expect the genre of literature review might be different at the level of special field from what it was in the general field? Provide specifics of your topics as examples.

Action Item #2: Create an Update: Before you start the literature review in Creator, share a draft of the first paragraph.

Review and comment on at least three other people's opening paragraphs before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. Include "2.3" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update.

Action Item #3: Peer Reviewed Project: Create a literature review for the special field

  1. Create a copy of your General Exam Literature Review work within Scholar
  2. Add a Second Sub Section for the Special Exam Literature Review
  3. include an introduction
  4. Write a literature review that provides evidence that you have a command of the field of scholarly endeavor no wider than your topic research questions.
  5. A literature review sets the context for your dissertation demonstrating that you have discovered, presented and analyzed the value of the key sources that contain the theories, practices, data, methodologies and applications associated with your research question.
  6. It will evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and impact of key works.
  7. It is not a summary, explanation or exposition of the issue that you are interested to address, nor does it contain your unverified opinions.
  8. You are building an argument or case for the significance of your area of focus and research question based on your analysis of the special field.

For the Adviser

Course 3: Methodology Research Seminar

Course Description: This is one of three dissertation research-based courses that will be taken after all coursework is completed for the Ed.D., prior to dissertation proposal seminar (EPOL 591). It is designed to guide students as they develop the research foundations and design frameworks in their research methodology, upon which they will form their dissertation proposal and doctoral dissertation. In a structured classroom format, students will analyze and develop their chosen research methodologies for their dissertation studies. This endeavor will not just be a description of the mechanics of their approach. Rather, students should demonstrate a critical awareness that all such methods are partial and must show that they are adopting a particular methodology with a keen awareness of the arguments of its critics. The major research paper will meet the doctoral milestone of the research methodology examination and lay an integral foundation to the dissertation. Students will continue to be part of a community of researchers, willing and able to support each other in the development of research plans as peer scholars.

3.1 On Research Methods

For the Candidate

The main focus of this course is going to be research methods, although we also want to reflect upon and write up the closely related question of your theory. You are going to create two peer reviewed projects in this course. The first is an annotated bibliography on your chosen method and its critics. The second will be two closely connected chapters for your dissertation (for submission, review and revision together), a theory chapter and a methods chapter. After peer review and revision, the theory and methods chapters will be reviewed by three members of your committee for the methods examination.

What knowledge focus do you intend to have in your dissertation work? These vary widely according to the three fundamental knowledge creation genres: practice, research and theory. See section 1.1 of this learning module for a description of these three dissertation genres. These very different frames of reference will determine your approach to methods.

In approaching the question of methods, you should not just consider the mechanics of your proposed approach. You should also develop a critical awareness that all such methods are partial. For every approach, you will find a strident literature addressing the limitations of that approach, the more severe critics sometimes even suggesting that the approach is fatally flawed. You must show that you are adopting a particular methodology with a keen awareness of the arguments of its critics, and its epistemological limitations.

References: General

  • Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup and William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The Craft of Research. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Creswell, John W. and J. David Creswell. 2018. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.
  • Denzin, Norman K. 2009. The Research Act: A Theoretical Introduction to Sociological Methods. Piscataway NJ: Aldine Transaction.
  • Krathwohl, D.R. 1993. Methods of Educational Research: An Integrated Approach. White Plains NY: Longman.

Qualitative Methods (generally)

  • Denzin, Norman K. 2001. Interpretive Interactionism. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.
  • Denzin, Norman K. and Yvonna S. Lincoln. 2007. Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.
  • Stake, Robert E. 2010. Qualitative Research: Studying How Things Work. New York: Guildford.

Ethnography

  • Agar, Michael H. 1996. The Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction to Ethnography. Cambridge MA: Academic Press.
  • Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Fontana.
  • Hammersley, Martyn and Paul Atkinson. 2007. Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London UK: Routledge.
  • Hammersley, Martyn. 2013. What's Wrong with Ethnography? London UK: Routledge.
  • Heath, Shirley Brice, Brian V. Street and Molly Mills. 2008. On Ethnography: Approaches to Language and Literacy Research. New York NY: Teachers College Press.

Case Study

  • Stake, Robert E. 2005. The Art of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.
  • Yin, Robert K. 1994. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Discourse Analysis

  • Fairclough, Norman. 2003. Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London: Routledge.
  • Fairclough, Norman. 2015. Language and Power. London: Longmans.
  • Gee, James Paul. 2005. An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method. New York: Routledge.
  • Gee, James Paul. 2011. How to Do Discourse Analysis: A Toolkit. New York: Routledge.
  • Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2019 [forthcoming]. Making Sense: A Grammar of Multimodal Meaning. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kress, Gunther and Theo van Leeuwen. 2006. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge.

Survey

  • Andres, Lesley. 2012. Designing and Doing Survey Research. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.

Interview

  • Kvale. 1996. Interviews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.
  • Seidman, I.E. 1998. Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences. New York NY: Teachers College Press.

Design Research

  • Lankshear, Colin and Michele Knobel. 2004. A Handbook for Teacher Research: From Design to Implementation. Maidenhead UK: Open University Press.
  • Reinking, David and Barbara A. Bradley. 2008. Formative and Design Experiments: Approaches to Language and Literacy Research. New York: Teachers College Press.

Action Research

  • Kemmis, Stephen and Robin McTaggart. 1988. The Action Research Planner. Melbourne: Deakin University Press.
  • Kemmis, Stephen and Mervyn Wilkinson. 1988. "Participatory Action Research and the Study of Practice " in Action Research in Practice: Partnership for Social Justice in Education, edited by B. Atweh, S. Kemmis and P. Weeks. London: Routledge.
  • Stevenson, Robert B. and Susan E. Noffke, eds. 1995. Educational Action Research: Becoming Practically Critical. New York NY: Teachers College Press.

Controlled Intervention

  • Erikson, Frederick and Kris Gutierrez. 2002. "Culture, Rigor and Science in Educational Research." Educational Researcher 31(8):21-24.
  • O’Donnell, Carol L. 2008. "Defining, Conceptualizing, and Measuring Fidelity of Implementation and Its Relationship to Outcomes in K–12 Curriculum Intervention Research ". Review of Educational Research 78(1):33-84.
  • Torgerson, David J. and Carole J. Torgerson. 2008. Designing Randomised Trials in Health, Education and the Social Sciences: An Introduction. London UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Computational

  • Cope, Bill and Mary Kalantzis. 2015. "Interpreting Evidence-of-Learning: Educational Research in the Era of Big Data." Open Review of Educational Research 2(1):218–39. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23265507.2015.1074870.
  • Cope, Bill and Mary Kalantzis. 2016. "Big Data Comes to School: Implications for Learning, Assessment and Research." AERA Open 2(2):1-19

Historical

  • Anderson, James D. 1998. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935. Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Carr, E.H. 1967. What Is History? London UK: Vintage.

Educational Theory/Philosophy

  • Glaser, Barney G. and Anselm L. Strauss. 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. New Brunswick NJ: Aldine Transaction.
  • Iser, Wolfgang. 2006. How to Do Theory. Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2012. New Learning: Elements of a Science of Education (Edn 2). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Peters, Michael A. and Nicholas C. Burbules. 2004. Poststructuralism and Educational Research. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Peters, Michael A. 2007. "Kinds of Thinking, Styles of Reasoning." Educational Philosophy and Theory 39.

Web Tips

Action Items

Action Item #1: Comment: What is your chosen dissertation genre? What methods are you selecting? Why?

Action Item #2: Read the methods chapter of two or three dissertations that you have not already read, reflect on those, and write a description and justification of your own methods.

Create an Update that addresses the following:

  1. What do the dissertation examples that you read get right that you want to emulate?
  2. How might you do things differently?
  3. Write an outline of your initial thinking about methods.
  4. What research methods do you propose to use?
  5. How do these align with your title and research questions?
  6. What are the limitations of this methodology?
  7. How do you plan for your methods to work from a logistical point of view?
  8. What kinds of material will they provide you? (evaluation data in the practice genre, research data in the research genre, field metanalysis data in the case of the theory genre).
  9. Cite the dissertations that you read and include excerpts that support or demonstrate your responses

Review and comment on at least three other people's updates before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. Include "3.1" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update.

For the Adviser

3.2 Research Methods Annotated Bibliography

For the Candidate

For first of the two peer-reviewed projects in this course, you will create an annotated bibliography of 15-20 references. These should be the references that you consider to be the most important and influential articulation of the methods you have chosen. At least a quarter of your references should be critics of the methodology, either in its conception or its practice. Include also exemplary implementations of the method, focusing in the parts of the article or book which explains, justifies, and discusses the limitations of the methodology.

Cite each reference formally and in full. Write one paragraph for each reference, summarizing its content and explaining its significance to the field and to the issues you will be addressing in your dissertation.

Requirements and Considerations

Write an introduction to your annotated bibliography which explains your motivation to use this kind of methodology, your previous experience of this methodology either as a consumer or implementer.

Cite each reference formally and in full. Write one or two paragraphs for each reference, summarizing its content and explaining the relevance of this methodology to the issues you will be addressing in your dissertation.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

When addressing the peer review rubric consider:

  • The relevance of the methodology to your interests, topic and research questions.
  • The generative power of the methodology in the case of each source, e.g. the kinds of empirical results it can produce.
  • The theory of the methodology, as an epistemological paradigm or way of knowing as evidenced in the source.
  • The practical logistics of the method, how it is applied and implemented in practice.
  • An awareness of generalized critiques of the approach, its strengths, weaknesses and comparative limitations.
  • The significance of the source in terms of its impact on the field, for instance the frequency with which it is cited in the methods sections of articles and books in the field and the influence it has had in spawning innovation.

Action Items

Action Item #1: Create an Update: Share your reference list of your Annotated Bibliography with your peers

Before you start your Annotated Bibliography, share your reference list with your peers and seek their feedback

Review and comment on at least three other people's reference lists before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. You may get some more ideas! Suggest other possibly relevant references for others' Annotated Bibliography.  Include "3.2" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update.

Action Item #2: Peer Reviewed Project: Create a Research Methods Annotated Bibliography.

Write an Annotated Bibliography of 15-20 references, commencing with a framing rationale for your selection.

For the Adviser

3.3 On Theory

For the Candidate

Here is a dictionary definition of theory:

Oxford English Dictionary

In our theory of theory, there are two main components:

  1. Concepts are the building blocks of theory. The world consists of instances of particular things. Concepts name kinds of things in their generality. This generality can be described in definitions. Scholarly work involves a high degree of specificity in naming and definition. In fact, its peculiar strength is to name things with greater clarity than everyday language, and to name things at a high level of generality. Concepts can be defined in terms of existing scholarly traditions, or they can be redefined in order to make a different or new point. Key questions: how usefully does the concept describe the world at some relevant level of generality, and what, by definition, is the nature of that generality?
  2. Theories put concepts together into models of the world, explaining processes and uncovering truths that may not be immediately obvious. Key questions: how do concepts in part define each other, and how do they fit together into a cogent model of reality?

References

  • On Concepts: Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2019 [forthcoming]. Making Sense: A Grammar of Multimodal Meaning. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. Section 1.
  • On Theorizing: Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2014. "‘Education Is the New Philosophy’, to Make a Metadisciplinary Claim for the Learning Sciences." Pp. 101-15 in Companion to Research in Education, edited by A. D. Reid, E. P. Hart and M. A. Peters. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Example of Theory: Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. 2016. "Learner Differences in Theory and Practice." Open Review of Educational Research 3(1):85–132.

Creating Your Own Theory

It is time now to draw together your own theory, as emerging from the literature reviews and the methods annotated bibliography. There you were describing and analyzing others' theories. Now are you creating and outlining your own. Or you make a case for choosing a theory that you want to use in some specific and original way.

Theory can be represented in a number of different ways. One way to approach the theory chapter is to define the key concepts, explain how these connect into a model of a world, and outline how you connect the concepts in the domain you are addressing.

Another approach is to represent theory in diagrammatic form. In research and practice dissertation genres, theory is sometimes represented diagrammatically in logic models, with accompanying key and explanatory text. The danger in such models is to oversimplify the world in a mechanistic way, so it is important that your accompanying text qualifies the model with an understanding of its simplifying limitations.

Theory evolves during your project in a dynamic interplay with your research:

  • Before you start your research, theory provides a hypothetical way to model the answers to your research questions that you anticipate may be possible.
  • After you have completed your research, it should provide you a way to explain your data. At this point, the theory should be reviewed and revised, along with an explanation of how and why the research experience has required adjustment to the initial theory.

References

  • Cope, Bill and Mary Kalantzis. 2015. "The Things You Do to Know: An Introduction to the Pedagogy of Multiliteracies." Pp. 1-36 in A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Learning by Design, edited by B. Cope and M. Kalantzis. London: Palgrave.
  • Iser, Wolfgang. 2006. How to Do Theory. Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishing.

Web Tips

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

Action Items

Action Item #1: Write and share your Theoretical Elevator Pitch

Comment: In brief, connect your main concepts into theory. (This should be as short as the proverbial "elevator pitch.") Comment on recent theory pitches by others in this thread.

Action Item #2: Write an overview of your theory or select and explain a theory you want to use for your dissertation.

Your theory is a model of how the world works. It connects concepts together into a framework of testable or verifiable explanation. It could be a matter of testing an available theory, thoroughly referencing its sources, explaining why you have chosen it and how you will apply it. Or it could be a theory you have developed, using your own concepts or redefining others' concepts. But in this case as well, you must thoroughly reference others' concepts and theories by way of comparison and contrast.

Create an Update: Write your initial thoughts about how you will represent your theory.

  1. Include your main concepts and how these connect into a framework for understanding the world.
  2. How does your theory align with your methodology?
  3. How is your theory similar to or different from other theories in the field?

Review and comment on at least three other people's updates before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. Include "3.3" and a subject-focused title for your review area in the title of your update.

For the Adviser

3.4 Theory and Methods Chapters

For the Candidate

Add two chapters to your evolving dissertation draft. In the standard model for a dissertation, these might be Chapters 3 and 4. After peer review and revision, you will also submit these chapters to three of the four members of your committee for evaluation as the methodology examination. Following are some questions you should address:

Chapter 3: Theory

  • What is your theory? Define its main concepts. Connect the comments into model of a process or an aspect of the world.
  • How does your theory connect with others in the field, as analyzed in the literature review chapter? (Refer back to the theory in the literature review, but don't repeat it here, except in the barest of summary.)
  • As a model, how does the theory help to frame your research questions and hypotheses?
  • What are the most appropriate methods test your hypotheses and develop your theory? (Refer forward to the methods chapter.)

Chapter 4: Methods

  • What is the theory associated with the method you have selected, and who are its main proponents?
  • What is your justification for selecting this theory/method?
  • What is its underlying theory of knowledge?
  • What do its critics say? What are its intrinsic limitations?
  • What is your research design? What is your implementation plan? What is your timeline? Mention data sources: participants, sample, primary knowledge resources, IRB approvals. What instruments will you use to collect data?
  • How are you planning to analyze the research data and other materials you collect? What measures will you apply? How do these connect with your research questions?

Appendices

  • Include ancillary artifacts such as surveys, or interview and observation schedules as appendices.
  • Draft, submit and have approved IRB protocols (for your methodology, if necessary).

The Technical Process

  • Duplicate then extend your Chapters 1 and 2, with an additional 1,500-2,500 words for the theory chapter, and 2,500-4,000 words for the methods chapter.
  • Create two new sections, "Chapter 3: Theory (new text)" and "Chapter 4: Methods (new text)." If your methodology requires specially created artifacts and IRB approval, create appendices for these materials.
  • Review and Revise Chapters 1 and 2 if you think this is required. Delete previous change notes, and write a new, dated change note at the beginning of each chapter, outlining the changes you have made and the reasons you made these changes.
  • When you have completed your new draft, request an admin to connect the work to a project for peer review.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

Some questions to address in the theory and methods chapters:

  • How do your theory and methods connect with your interest, topic and research questions?
  • How do your theory and methods throw light upon and reveal aspects of the empirical world?
  • What are your concepts (name and define them)? Your theory or model of the world?
  • What is the theory of your methods (its epistemology)?
  • How will you put the theory and methods int practice?
  • What do the critics say about this theory and these methods? What are their limitations?
  • How will you apply the theory and methods? What is the range of potentially innovative applications, within or beyond the scope of this dissertation?

Action Items

Action Item: Peer Reviewed Project: Write a theory and methodology section for your dissertation.

Write the theory and methods chapters of your dissertation according to the guidelines outlined above

For the Adviser

3.5 Pilot Implementation (Optional EdD, Essential PhD)

For the Candidate

The PhD program requires an early research project, an additional course offered as an independent study. Typically, this will involve a pilot implementation which may in the standard dissertation model become an additional section for Chapter 4. This section will be written at the completion of the pilot study.

Some questions to address in the pilot study write up:

  • What was the plan for the pilot study, as distinct from the full study? Was this sufficient to provide useful insights into the viability of the full study?
  • What happened in the implementation process? How did it work in practice?
  • Analysis: what data were generated, and what conclusions could be drawn from these data?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology, as evidenced in the pilot study?
  • What revisions to the methodology are required in the light of the experience of the pilot study?
  • Are revisions required to the data collection instruments or IRB protocol?

Suggested Structure and Process

Recommended steps:

  • Duplicate then extend your Chapters 1-3, with an additional 2,000-4,000 words in chapter 3
  • Create a new subsection, in Chapter 3, "Pilot Implementation."
  • Review and Revise Chapters 1 - 3 if you think this is required. Delete previous change notes, and write a new, dated change note at the beginning of each chapter, outlining the changes you have made and the reasons you made these changes. Revise data collection instruments and IRB protocol in appendices if necessary.
  • When you have completed your new draft, request an admin to connect the work to a project for peer review.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

Action Items

Action Item #1: Comment: Describe your initial thoughts about your pilot implementation plan.

Action Item #2: Create an Update: Write an overview of your pilot implementation plan.

  1. What will it involve?
  2. How will it be an adequate test of your methods?
  3. How will you analyze its outcomes?

Review and comment on at least three other people's updates before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. Include "3.5" and a subject-focused title in the title of your update.

Action Item #3: Peer-Reviewed Project: Develop, implement, and write up a pilot project according to the guidelines outlined above

For the Adviser

Course 4: Thesis Seminar

Course Description: Designed to take students through the entire process of proposal development, this course is intended for masters or doctoral students who are ready to prepare a thesis or dissertation proposal. Students will learn to use a systematic and comprehensive approach to develop the research proposal and how each step in the research process is related.

4. Preliminary Examination

For the Candidate

For the preliminary thesis examination, you will be required to prepare a draft of chapters 1-3 of your dissertation. Your focus at the stage in the dissertation drafting process will be to create a full introductory chapter.

You will be required to peer review approximately three other program participants’ work, and revise your work based on peer feedback. You will attend 3 other students’ preliminary examinations before your own. You will need to present to the committee in person or online for no more than 15 minutes in a session that will last 1 hour, with other students in the program attending as observers. You should send a finalized draft of your text to the committee at least two weeks before the date of the presentation.

Suggested Structure and Process

  • Duplicate your manuscript so far.
  • Create a table of contents.
  • Move the abstract out of its temporary place in Chapter 1.
  • Draft an extended introductory Chapter 1, including: 1) the significance of this topic and the reasons you selected it; 2) research questions; 3) hypotheses; 4) overview of theory; 5) summary of methods and rationale for selection; 6) research plan.
  • Review and Revise Chapters 2-4 if you think this is required. Delete previous change notes, and write a new, dated change note at the beginning of each chapter, outlining the changes you have made and the reasons you made these changes.
  • When you have completed your new draft, request an admin to connect the work to a project for peer review.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

Action Items

Action Item #1: Peer-Reviewed Project: Compete your dissertation proposal

Complete the following of your dissertation:

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review
  3. Theory and Methods chapters

Action Item #2: Committee Submission: At least two weeks prior to your Preliminary Exam, submit your written work for committee review.

Action Item #3: Committee Presentation: Present your dissertation proposal in a preliminary examination lasting no more than 15 minutes.

For the Adviser

Course 5: Thesis Research (1)

Course Description: Thesis research and writing. Completion of a full draft for peer presentation and review.

5. Full Dissertation for Feedback

For the Candidate

In this course, you will write up your research data and complete a tentative analysis of its meaning:

Chapter 5: Findings: Outline the results of your dissertation work.

Chapter 6: Conclusions: Discussion, limitations, implications/meanings, recommendations for further research or action and connect back to the research questions and hypotheses, by way of conclusion.

This course will also provide you the chance to try out your final ideas with peers before you present to the dissertation committee. The presentation will mirror the final presentation for final examination.

Suggested Structure and Process

Recommended steps:

  • Duplicate the whole work, then draft your Chapters 5 and 6.
  • Review and Revise Chapters 1 - 4. Delete previous change notes, and write a new, dated change note at the beginning of each chapter, outlining the changes you have made and the reasons you made these changes. Revise data collection instruments and IRB protocol in appendices if necessary.
  • When you have completed your new draft, request an admin to connect the work to a project for peer review.
  • After peer review and revision, you will be ready for a trial run with peers of your final thesis examination.
  • After the presentation, you may wish to revise your text further.

Reference

  • Murray, Rowena. 2009. How to Survive Your Viva: Defending a Thesis in an Oral Examination. Open University Press: Milton Keynes UK.

Peer Review Rubric and Annotation Codes

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

Web Tips

Action Items

Action Item #1: Comment: What are the challenges you are facing at this stage in the dissertation process?  What suggestions do you have for your peers who may be earlier in the process?

Action Item #2: Create an Update: Before you start work on Chapter 6 in Creator, share a draft of your opening discussion with your peers and seek their feedback

Review and comment on at least three other people's chapter beginnings before you post yours, preferably recent ones so your comments are helpful to people at about the same place in the process as you. Include "5" and a subject-focused title in the title of your update.

Action Item #3: Peer-Reviewed Project: Write your findings and conclusions.

Action Item #4: Peer-Reviewed Presentation: Present your final ideas to your peers before you present to the dissertation committee.

For the Adviser

Course 6: Thesis Research (2)

Course Description: Thesis research and writing, culminating in oral presentation and defense.

6. Final Examination

For the Candidate

In this final course you will:

  • Revise your complete dissertation.
  • Defend it in an online oral presentation to the four committee members, with other course participants as observers.
  • Revise further as required.
  • Deposit your dissertation.

The final dissertation will be presented online in an academic conference format, usually with several other presentations. Each presenter will be given 15 minutes to present, then each member of the examination committee will ask clarifying questions and serve as a discussant foreach of the papers.

A finalized draft of your text must be published online for the committee at least two weeks before the date of the presentation. All course participants will be required to attend as non-contributing observers at two other preliminary dissertation examinations prior to their own.

Reference

  • Murray, Rowena. 2009. How to Survive Your Viva: Defending a Thesis in an Oral Examination. Open University Press: Milton Keynes UK.

Peer Review Rubric and Coded Annotations

KnowledgeProcessesRubric.pdf

Web Tips

Action Items

Action Item #1: Comment: Share challenges and solutions with your peers

What are the challenges you are facing at this stage in the dissertation process? What is something that you have learned through the process that you feel may help those who are newer to the process?

Action Item #2: Peer-Reviewed Project: Final Version of Project: Review and refine your thesis and receive a final round of feedback from your peers

Action Item #3: Commitee Submission: Final Version of Project: Submit your thesis to your committee

Action Item #4: Commitee Presentation: Final Version of Project: Defend your thesis in a presentation no longer than 15 minutes

Action Item #5: Deposit your dissertation according to Graduate College guidelines

For the Adviser