From the first day of the program, students spend significant time planning for their dissertations in structured and supervised settings, particularly within the evidenced-based leadership modules and the applied research sequence that spans the program. Our systematic approach to the dissertation will allow students to defend in their last semester of the program.
Since students develop their dissertation questions early in the program, they ground the preparation of their dissertations in their classroom work and at their places of employment. Working closely with program faculty, students develop a dissertation research project designed to identify, analyze, report and make recommendations about an actual problem of leadership practice -- often their own practice and situated within their own educational organization.
Dissertations may include analyzing the effectiveness of a school district's literacy program; developing a standards-aligned community outreach program for an independent school, or designing a district’s teacher professional development system and providing recommendations in preparation for upcoming contract negotiations. Early in the program, students refine their dissertation topics and the questions they seek to answer, starting in year one. Some may change topics completely as they assess the feasibility of their initial ideas. By the beginning of their second year in the program, students’ dissertation projects are defined broadly, refined with intensive faculty support into their proposal. Once approved, usually during the final term of their second year, students carry out the research, completing the study by the end of their third year. In addition to the final defense, students are supported, via writing and innovation coaches, to disseminate their work to the field.
It is clear that you will need more detailed information in order to apply one of these dissertations research methods. However, you will be able to choose a research method for your dissertation research with help from this page. Choosing one may not be as easy as it may seem. You have to figure out what you are passionate about first and foremost.
Dissertation Research: What and What Not to Do
Your dissertation research questions should be "doable." If your research question is not doable as a dissertation, your dissertation committee will most definitely reject it. Save yourself this trouble by working closely with your dissertation chair or dissertation consultant to ensure that your dissertation research question is not beyond the scope of a dissertation. To ensure that your dissertation research question is doable you may want to ask yourself several questions: