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Special Issue: Doctoral Studies in Educational Fields

Guest Editors: Shanon S. Taylor & Tammy V. Abernathy, University of Nevada-Reno


Learning About Program Evaluation by Doing Program Evaluation: Development and Delivery of a Graduate Course about Program Evaluation

Authors: Shannon S. Taylor & Tammy V. Abernathy
Institution: University of Nevada, Reno

Reference: Taylor, S. S., & Abernathy, T. V. (2013). All aboard: Showcasing doctoral studies to guarantee the vitality of our field. The Researcher, 25(1), 1-5.


Exploring the Importance of an Introductory Doctoral Course

Authors: Anna C. Treacy, Nicole Casillas, & Lynda R. Wiest
Institution: University of Nevada, Reno

Abstract: This article presents a case study conducted by two course participants and a course instructor who jointly explored their experiences in an introductory doctoral course they had recently completed. Through personal experiential stories, the authors discuss the benefits of the course, suggest improvements, and describe the classroom climate. Four themes that appeared in the authors’ individual narratives about the benefits of the course relate to dispositions, knowledge/practical skills, meaningful connections, and personal reflection/insight. Themes on suggested improvements relate to time constraints and the need for a broader range of faculty and student role models. The paper concludes with a brief description of the class climate, recommendations for doctoral programs, particularly in relation to inclusion of an introductory doctoral course, and recommendations for future research.

Reference: Treacy, A. C., Casillas, N., & Wiest, L. R. (2013). Exploring the importance of an introductory doctoral course. The Researcher, 25(1), 6-20.


Using a Mixed-Methods Survey of Alumni for Program Evaluation and Improvement: A Case Study from a Doctoral Program in Education

Authors: Georgia Brooke, Fei Chen, Angela Lui, & Christopher Valle
Institution: University at Albany, State University of New York

Abstract: A growing focus on educational reform has prompted much debate over what constitutes high-quality educational research and how to best develop its practitioners (Levine, 2007). Differing opinions on how to prepare researchers at the doctoral level represents a major barrier to developing more effective programs. Part of the solution to this problem lies in systematic program evaluation capable of fostering individual program improvement while encouraging discourse about the qualities of effective programs (Lin, Wang, Spalding, Klecka, & Odell, 2011). The following case study describes a method for program evaluation in doctoral level education programs using a mixed-method survey of alumni to collect information about graduate success, satisfaction, and suggestions for program improvement.

Reference: Brooke, G., Chen, F., Lui, A., & Valle, C. (2013). Using a mixed-methods survey of alumni for program evaluation and improvement: A case study from a doctoral program in education. The Researcher, 25(1), 21-33.


Should I Stay or Should I Go? The ABD (“all but dissertation”) Phenomenon Among Special Education Faculty Members

Authors: Shanon S. Taylor & Ann Bingham
Institution: University of Nevada, Reno

Abstract: This within-stages mixed methods design study examined the views of special education faculty members regarding junior faculty members who are considered ABD (“all but dissertation”). Findings provide insight into the rarely-examined phenomenon in special education higher education of hiring faculty members who have yet to complete their terminal degree and the discussion provides direction for future research to better inform ABD junior faculty and special education doctoral programs.

Reference: Taylor, S. S., & Bingham, A. (2013). Should I stay of should I go? The (“all but dissertation”) phenomenon among special education faculty members. The Researcher, 25(1), 34-46.


Motherhood in Academia: A Grounded Theory Pilot Study of Online Text

Author: Anna CohenMiller,  University of Texas at San Antonio

Abstract: Issues of gender in the workplace are a persistent issue in the U.S. The gender gap is particularly enhanced within academia, with academic mothers facing particular challenges. To address this issue of motherhood in academia, more needs to be known about the problem. Previous research tends to look at the experiences of faculty and graduate students through interviews or work-family policies to (in)formally assist parents with balancing career and caretaking duties. This grounded theory study adds to the literature in a new manner by looking beyond experiences and policies and instead concentrates on the phenomenon of motherhood as seen through an online source focused on an academic audience. By utilizing contemporary technology to focus on this topical problem, an expanded understanding can be achieved. Results from an analysis of texts on Chronicle.com revealed four primary themes: personal experience/story, biology, academic pressures, and advice. These emergent themes developed into a mid-level theory that explains the phenomenon of motherhood in academia online.

Reference: CohenMiller, A. (2013). Motherhood in academia: A grounded theory pilot study of online texts. The Researcher, 25(1), 47-66.


Educators’ Readiness to Teach Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in an Inclusive Classroom

Authors: Jenny Anne Hayes, Laura Baylot Casey, Robert Williamson, Thomas Black, & Denise Winsor
Institutions: The University of Memphis & Middle Tennessee State University

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine any correlations between general education teachers’ perceptions of preparedness to teach students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their actual knowledge in relevant areas of instruction through inclusive practice. According to results, when teachers indicated academic training or professional development regarding students with ASD, a significant positive correlation was found with their levels of actual knowledge in areas related to methods of teaching and characteristics of students with ASD. However, results also indicated academic or professional development experience did not significantly correlate with actual knowledge of general inclusive teaching practices. This finding suggests that increased training emphasis should be placed on applying knowledge of ASD in an inclusive educational setting.

Reference: Hayes, J. A., Baylot Casey, L., Williamson, R., Black, T., & Winsor, D. (2013). Educators’ readiness to teach children with autism spectrum disorder in an inclusive classroom. The Researcher, 25(1), 67-78.


Teaching English Language Learners in the Mainstream ClassrooThe Methods Teachers Use

Author: Alayne Leavitt, Utah State University

Abstract: This research project was based on the growing need for research regarding English language learners (ELLs) in mainstream classrooms. It addresses the research-based methods for ELL instruction that teachers know of, use regularly, and what the methods look like in a regular classroom setting. A qualitative case study was conducted at one particular elementary school in the western United States. Data was collected using surveys, interviews, and observations. The data were coded and analyzed for themes, which corresponded with relevant literature on the topic. Results indicated that participants were familiar with some research-based methods for teaching ELLs, and used some of the methods regularly in their teaching. Observations of a mainstream classroom indicated that the participants implemented several research-based methods for ELL instruction into their teaching. The findings from this study may benefit other mainstream teachers with ELLs in their classrooms.

Reference: Leavitt, A. (2013). Teaching English language learners in the mainstream classroom: The methods teachers use. The Researcher, 25(1), 79-93.


Preparing Educational Leaders for Special Education Success: Principals’ Perspectives

Authors: Jaime Christensen, Janna Siegel Roberston, Robert Williamson, & William C. Hunter
Institutions: Spectrum Academy Charter Schools, University of North Caronlina at Wilmington, & University of Mephis

Abstract: School leadership preparation programs often lack content pertaining to the knowledge necessary to assure quality programs for students with disabilities. With current trends in educational leadership orienting toward a foundation of social justice, this fact is particularly troubling. The researchers of this study were interested in what principals believed leadership preparation programs should include in terms of knowledge associated with the success of students with diverse learning needs. Sixty-four principals in a southern metropolitan school district responded to a survey to find answers to this question. Results indicated several areas of high importance: Curriculum modification; discipline guidelines; state testing options and accommodations; knowledge of applicable laws, creating an inclusive culture, and mentoring new special educators.

Reference: Christensen, J., Siegel Roberston, J., Williamson, R., & Hunter, W. C. (2013). Preparing educational leaders for special education success: Principals’ perspective. The Researcher, 25(1), 94-107.


Interviewing for the First Faculty Position: Finding the Best Fit

Author: Ann Bingham, University of Nevada, Reno

Abstract: Starting the search for your first full-time faculty position can be an overwhelming prospect and not all graduate students receive direction on how to find the best “fit” for them. This brief article offers tips for graduate students beginning the search for positions in higher education to make sure they consider all components critical in the life of a scholar: teaching, scholarship, and service.

Reference: Bingham. A. (2013). Interviewing for the first faculty position: Finding the best fit. The Researcher, 25(1), 108-111.


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