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A doctoral program includes more than just attending and passing courses. As the highest level of formal learning, it is important to develop skills in scholarly writing, literature reviews, critical analysis, and making recommendations. These skills transfer to the dissertation process and the colloquium provides a strong foundation upon which to build.

After completing the core foundations and research courses, doctoral students are asked to begin to explore the literature about a chosen topic which will eventually lead to a dissertation topic. According to our doctoral handbook,

“This requires the student to write a scholarly paper and to present that paper in a formal, public seminar to the educational community. Presentations are scheduled each summer. The scholarly expectation is that the paper will not be simply descriptive, but will also include (the student’s and not someone else’s) analysis and evaluation. This will generally require the student to state and defend his/her own thesis about the topic.”

After multiple edited drafts of the paper, the students present their papers in formal and public forums which are held each summer. Students present their papers in a research presentation format. They are limited to 20 minutes which is followed by a question and answer period. This format is modeled after the format of a research conference.

Below is a list of the 2013 Colloquium papers being presented this year. There are a wide variety of educational topics which reflect the varied professional and personal interests of the students.

School Board Impact on Student Achievement: A Review of the Research on the Influence of Locally Elected School Boards, by Jon Holmen

Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) Use and Students’ CAS Self-Efficacy in Undergraduate College Mathematics Classes, by Daphne Sluys

Service-Learning and Character Development, by Owen Sallee

Discipline-Based Art Education K-8 and Student Achievement, by Patti Hayes

Passive Recipients or Active Participants: Exploring Views of Children in the Christian Church, by Heather Ingersoll

Principal Technology Leadership Attributes for Effective Integration of Information and Communication Technology in Schools, by Jon Tienhaara

Toward a Transformative History Education: Project- and Problem-based Learning, Reflective Assessment, and Academic Discussion, by Kimberly Jensen

Principal Instructional Leadership and Improved Student Growth, by Alison Brynelson

The Role of Resilience among High School Principals Leading Change, by Paige Wescott

An Application of Jerome Bruner’s Cultural Psychology Theory to Teaching and Learning in the History Classroom, by Eric Boyer

Pedagogical Reform in Tanzania: Issues Raised When Adopting a Learner-Centered Instructional Approach for Implementing the Competency-Based Curriculum of the Tanzanian Primary Schools, by Michael Msendekwa

Supporting Preservice Teachers in Preparation of Teacher Performance Assessment through Facilitating Reflective Writing in E-portfolios, by Daihong Chen

The Relationship Between Leaders’ Supervisory Behavior and Teacher Reflective Practice, by Lisa Truemper

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With good reason only a small percentage of people pursue and complete a doctoral degree. Earning a doctoral degree demonstrates attainment of the highest levels of knowledge and thinking available in formal education. The work is rigorous, challenging, and time consuming.

It’s best to chunk challenging tasks into doable parts. You can think of doctoral studies are a series of hoops to jump through… taking admissions tests, getting admitted, taking coursework, passing comprehensive exams, conducting dissertation research. But the pursuit of a doctoral degree is much more than jumping through hoops and completing products. While those earning a doctoral degree reap tangible benefits such as increased earning potential and professional opportunities, the processes involved can also be exceptionally rewarding in many other intangible ways.

The cognitive challenges presented during a rigorous doctoral program can drive students (along with faculty) to develop and grow. Synthesis, critical analysis of historical and current ideas, debate, application of ideas to professional contexts, and pursuit of new information are hallmarks of this level of learning. For many, these sorts of cognitive challenges are highly motivating. A love of learning and doctoral studies often goes hand in hand.

The professional and personal relationships built during doctoral studies will last a lifetime. Students and faculty spend time in the “trenches” together and the collaboration, support, and development of ideas cement relationships that pay multiple dividends. Many who earned degrees years ago remain in contact with professors and fellow students. The semi-cohort model employed in SPU’s doctoral programs, along with close interactions built with faculty members during mentoring and dissertation processes, ensures rewarding relationships for years to come.

Doctoral studies should be viewed holistically and the multiple rewards of the journey, along with the more tangible benefits, are to be cherished.

Andrew Lumpe, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Director of Doctoral Programs

Photo Credits-Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/fncll/

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