Understanding the Problem of Practice: An Analysis of Professional Practice EdD Dissertations

  • Vera Wei Ma University of Florida
  • Nancy Fichtman Dana University of Florida
  • Alyson Adams University of Florida
  • Brianna L. Kennedy Utrecht University
Keywords: professional practice doctorate, dissertation experience, problem of practice, doctoral education

Abstract

Investigating a “problem of practice” is a signature feature of the EdD dissertation. Yet, little is known about how doctoral students derive their problems, the nature of the problems they study, and the impact studying problems of practice has on students’ local contexts. The purpose of this study was to investigate EdD students’ problems of practice through document analysis of 28 dissertations completed in one EdD program at a large, research-intensive university. Findings revealed that problems are derived from doctoral students’ felt difficulties and real-world dilemmas in three main categories: supporting marginalized students, increasing the quality of educator professional development, and supporting novices’ entry into the profession. Furthermore, five generic themes that describe the types of impact dissertation studies had on students’ local contexts are reported. Based on findings, four guidelines to assist EdD students in deriving problems of practice are offered.

Author Biographies

Vera Wei Ma, University of Florida
Vera Ma, M.A., is a PhD student in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida. Her research involves Ed.D. education, job-embedded teacher professional development, and critical perspectives in teacher education.
Nancy Fichtman Dana, University of Florida
Nancy Fichtman Dana, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida. Her research focuses on practitioner research as a professional development strategy. She examines the ways this form of professional development impacts individual educators, as well as the schools in which they enact their practice.
Alyson Adams, University of Florida
Alyson Adams, Ph.D., is a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida. She is also the Associate Director of Teaching and Teacher Education in the School of Teaching and Learning.
Brianna L. Kennedy, Utrecht University
Brianna Kenney is a Professor at Utrecht University, Netherlands. Her research centers on under served public school students who do not demonstrate traditionally defined academic and social success.
Published
2018-03-15
How to Cite
Ma, V. W., Dana, N. F., Adams, A., & Kennedy, B. L. (2018). Understanding the Problem of Practice: An Analysis of Professional Practice EdD Dissertations. Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.5195/ie.2018.50
Section
Research Articles