The Ed.D. program is designed to support interaction and learning among students and faculty by incorporating cohort membership, small cohort size and strategic groupings, a blended delivery system, active learning, educational trips, and pedagogical “best practices” within the design.
Students in the doctoral program move through a sequence of courses collectively. The cohort model allows the university to provide academic and logistical support to help students succeed and complete program requirements in a timely manner. The common goal of starting and completing the program together encourages students to work collectively, which promotes the development of personal relationships and the building of a professional network. Cohort membership enables students to support and learn from other students, raising expectations that all but the occasional student will complete the program successfully.
Small Cohort Size and Strategic Groupings
The program limits the number of students within a cohort and strategically allows for arrangement of students in small groups for online learning that is advantageous for active learning. As approximations:
- On-campus, Face-to-Face Learning Sessions: 15-18 students.
- Real-time Online Learning
a. For content and research courses: 7-9 students.
b. For dissertation seminars: 3-4 students with 2 professors (Co-teaching is utilized.) or 2-3 students with 1 professor.
Concordia University offered a program that catered to professionals, keeping in mind they still have families.
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Blended Delivery System
The blended delivery system utilizes face-to-face, on-campus classroom sessions; real-time, online (video conferencing) learning sessions; and self-paced learning modules to provide students an accommodative learning environment that encourages interaction among students and faculty, supports active and authentic learning, and respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
The typical length of a term is eight (8) weeks and incorporates the following learning modalities throughout the term:
For content and research courses,
- Face-to-Face Classroom Sessions: 1 Saturday per term.
- Real-time, Online Learning Sessions: 3-times per term.
- Self-paced Learning Modules: 3-weeks per term.
For dissertation seminars,
- Real-time, Online Learning Sessions: 2-times per term.
Participation in class is essential for student success in graduate courses. For synchronous learning sessions, students are expected to be prepared to engage in discussions or activities in a small group format, led by the instructor. For asynchronous learning, students are required to communicate with the professor and fellow classmates several times a week. A large portion of this is accomplished through weekly discussion board conversations.
The program embeds educational trips within the curriculum to enhance student understanding of how policy, law and culture affect learning organizations. During the Washington, DC trip students meet with government officials to discuss standards, policies, and entities that presently guide decisions at the national-level and how political aspects impact education policy. During the trip to the People’s Republic of China, students interact with Chinese colleagues and students to generate a comparative analysis of different educational systems and to identify desirable attributes to integrate within their local educational system. These trips also offer students and faculty the opportunity to build a sense of community and camaraderie within the cohort.
Pedagogical “Best Practices”
Since Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson published “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education”, their principles have been adopted by educators at many colleges and universities throughout the United States. Their pedagogical framework forms the foundation for instruction and learning in the doctoral program for both on-campus and online modalities. The seven principles are listed below:
- Encourage contact between students and faculty.
- Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students.
- Encourage active learning.
- Give prompt feedback.
- Emphasize time on task.
- Communicate high expectations.
- Respect diverse talents and ways of learning.