Critical Inquiry in Educational Research and Professional Practice

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1 DOCTOR IN EDUCATION COURSE DESCRIPTIONS A. CORE COURSES NEDD 800 Professionalism, Ethics, and the Self This introductory core course will explore and interrogate ideas surrounding professionalism and professionalization. Students will be introduced to literature articulating these ideas and be encouraged to develop: their own critical appreciation of what professionalism is; or what professional thinking should be (like); or their own critically original takes on relevant debates encircling these. Students may be expected to identify various forms of logics and ways of thinking or knowing relevant to professionalism, and critically negotiate these in order to defend their own account. They may consider the relevance of ethics for professional thinking and behavior, and in this regard the course may introduce students to dominant but competing moral theories. The course will also explore how if at all the various normative elements in professional thinking have implications for the understanding of or construction of one s own identity and conception of the self, and in this respect it may explore debates concerning the value, history and relevance of authenticity and its value. It may also consider the organizational and socio-political conditions that favor or threaten professionalism, and explore ways professionalization processes can support or harm valued accounts of professional thinking and behaviors. NEDD 801 Critical Inquiry in Educational Research and Professional Practice This core course introduces students to the overarching paradigms and debates in educational research and design. By exploring basic social theories and concepts across a range of topics and contexts (individual, social, local, international), the course will enable students to become critical consumers of research literature the first step towards rigorous research design. The course begins with the philosophical issues underpinning all social sciences research ontology, epistemology, and axiology to unpack how the researcher and researched are part of social reality and context, the limits of observability and evaluation, and the connection between truth and value. By the end of the course, students will have working knowledge of the various framings of social sciences research and some methodological implications of these different views. This will prepare them for the methods courses to follow and the eventual design of their proposals, as they will be poised to engage literature and design as problem solvers and critical designers. NEDD 802 Answering Questions with Quantitative Data This course aims to develop students knowledge and effectiveness in conducting data analyses by deepening students understanding of quantitative inquiry in educational research. Inquiry includes the process by which educational phenomena 1

2 are understood, the specification of models for that understanding, the assumptions of those models, and the linkage between theories, concepts, researchable problems, and methods of analysis. The course also focuses on providing students with skills in defining educational research questions (e.g., asking questions, designing data collection strategies, developing a successful measurement), working with data collection and data analysis (e.g., determining what to analyze, access the right data, judging the worth of the data), utilizing the data collected, and presenting results in effective formats. In addition, this course is intended to introduce the students to advanced means of analyzing various types of data including data collected at one point in time, several points in time, or at different organizational levels. The course covers both parametric and non-parametric analyses. The students are expected to have had a basic course in research designs such as the experimental design, quasi-experimental design, survey design and correlational studies, and to have had some familiarity with basic concepts (e.g., mean, standard deviation, t and F ratios, correlation, regression). NEDD 803 Answering Questions with Qualitative Data This course delves into the theoretical, methodological and practical aspects of using qualitative methodologies to examine institutional practices within different organizations. Given the complexities of practices within different organizations, qualitative methodologies offer powerful means of distilling the nuances and essences of learning experiences and interactions beyond purely cognitive and individualistic activities. In this course, students will be exposed to means of collecting, analyzing and writing about data either from a small sample or from participants who are not randomly sampled. This course aims to equip the students with skills to: (1) analyze the basic assumptions of research traditions and specify the interrelationships among them; (2 ) select the appropriate qualitative research method(s) to answer their specific research questions; (3) reflect on issues to consider when selecting participants; (4) consider the rigour and ethics of qualitative research; and (5) consider operational, ethical and logistical details when collecting qualitative data, analyzing the data, and aligning theories, data and practice to construct a coherent and powerful thesis. NEDD 804 Conceptualising and Writing the Research Proposal The course is designed to support students through the completion and presentation of their formal research proposal, and will assume and build on work commenced in their earlier core research-focused courses. It explores issues involved in designing and carrying out a practice-focused dissertation in the field of education. It assumes (and is different from) students prior study of research paradigms, methodologies and methods in their core courses, and is intended to be undertaken in conjunction with students regular contact with their supervisors during the semester (once a fortnight) to develop their research proposal. Among the issues to be considered are: What constitutes an adequate contribution to knowledge in professional practice in education? How do I ensure the integrity of my research and its compliance with the ethical tenets of science in the way I plan, implement and disseminate it? What voice is appropriate in writing a 2

3 thesis that reports self-reflective research on professional practice in education? How is the scope of a literature review constructed? How do I as a novice researcherpractitioner learn to position myself in the field? At the end of the course, students must present and defend their research proposal to a faculty research cluster appropriate to their topic and to their fellow students. Their endof-course research proposal should be words, and demonstrate significant development of earlier versions of a proposal with which they began the course. It should include a clear statement of purpose and justification of the research to be undertaken, a critical review of relevant conceptual and empirical literature and a detailed outline of the proposed methodology. EdD candidature will be confirmed once the extended research proposal has been approved by the EdD committee. B. CONCENTRATION COURSES Learning and Motivation Concentration (under Psychological Studies Academic Group) NEDD 810 Theory, Research, and Practice in Teaching and Learning This course on advanced educational psychology provides a detailed analysis of modern learning theories and practices as they relate to education. It embarks on a detailed investigation of major research in educational psychology focusing on learning cognition. Historically, the field of educational psychology gained form from a series of learning theories, including cognitive learning processes, social cognitive theory, information processing, behaviourism, and social and cognitive constructivism. In this course, these theories are examined in depth. The question, how do humans learn (best)? is at the heart of such theories, and graduate students are invited to construct and reconstruct their personal theories of learning throughout the course. However, modern day educational psychologists face questions that are considerably more varied and diverse than simply, what constitutes learning? Increasingly, they are concerned with a variety of topics, including the effect of emotions on learning, how students become interested and engaged, the conditions creating happiness and well-being of students, the social aspects of learning, the relationship between teaching and learning and issues of accountability. In considering these topics, a common theme continues to be how psychological principles can illuminate processes of learning and teaching. This course thus considers how theory, research, and practice inform each other in order to improve the efforts of educators. NEDD 811 Understanding Learner Motivation This course provides participants with an in-depth understanding and application of the theoretical underpinnings of learner motivation. It begins with an overview of the central theories of motivation, with a focus on how these can be applied in the classroom context to improve learning. Thus, participants will be invited to explore issues related to the motivational dispositions of the learner, their causal attributions, the factors affecting 3

4 learner motivation, and the strategies that could be employed to improve motivation. In addition, the course will discuss aspects of adult motivation that are pertinent at the workplace. The participants will be introduced to recent trends in motivational research, and they will be required to carry out a critical review of existing literature on motivation and to explore how motivational constructs can be put into practice in the classroom and at the workplace. NEDD 812 Trends in Motivational and Learner Studies This course enables participants to revisit the central tenets of learning and motivational theories, in view of providing a platform for further discussion and interaction with relevant field specialists and researchers. This sets the stage for participants to conduct more in-depth explorations of current trends and developments in learner-centred and motivational research. The participants will have the opportunity to conduct a short independent study within their area of interest, to apply and to share their findings with their colleagues. Curriculum and Teaching Concentration (under Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Academic Group) NEDD 820 Inquiry into Curriculum and Teaching I The course is designed to introduce doctoral students to ways of thinking and scholarship in the field of curriculum and to promote disciplined inquiry into curriculum and curriculum development. Students are exposed to foundational and contemporary curriculum theories and discourses, and are expected to critically analyze curriculum and curriculum development in the light of the theories and discourses. They are encouraged to examine their beliefs and ideological positions about curriculum and curriculum design, and how the beliefs and positions shape their curricular and pedagogical practices. NEDD 821 Inquiry into Curriculum and Teaching II Following Inquiry into Curriculum and Teaching I, this course aims to provide students with a firm grounding in pedagogical and assessment theories as a basis for further studies in these and other related areas. Students are required to critically examine pedagogical and assessment practices in the light of the literature. They are expected to develop a capacity for conducting disciplined inquiry into complex curricular, pedagogical and assessment issues. NEDD 822 Curriculum Policy and Reform The purpose of this course is to explore and further our understanding of curriculum reforms over the past two decades in Singapore and other countries. Through academic readings, students will analyze how and why particular policy discourses (e.g. 4

5 globalization and knowledge economies) have become popular in recent years. Furthermore, students will examine the implications of reforms for curricular and pedagogical practices in schools, as well as issues and dilemmas encountered. Educational Leadership and Change Concentration (under Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group) NEDD 830 Current and Emerging Theories and Practices in Leadership and Management Much of the discussions on existing educational leadership in the past decade arrive at two main conclusions; (1) there is still a need for contextualizing leadership; and (2) there is an increasing need for building up on leadership capacity in order to respond to the demands faced by education leaders today. Educational leadership theories that have emerged over the past decade reflect the responses of researchers, policy-makers and programme developers to these conclusions. This course focuses on the current and emerging theories and practices of leadership and management. NEDD 831 Values and Ethics for Leaders This course is designed to enable participants to reflect more deeply on the role that leadership plays in fulfilling the moral purposes of education. The module will encourage participants to take a comprehensive view of the normative dimensions of education. Schools have a nurturing role to play. But what does it mean to develop a good person as well as a good citizen? What are the tensions school leaders have to confront and negotiate in pursuing the goal of holistic development of students? How should school leaders deal with potential clashes of values in terms of their obligations to self, the profession, as well as the organization? How can or should ethics shape policy thinking? Participants in this course will be introduced to basic ethical concepts and theories to facilitate their reflections on fundamental issues and normative foundations, as well as literature exploring ways to change behaviours in normatively desirable directions. NEDD 832 Teacher Professional Development and School Leadership The demands for change, innovation and improvement placed on schools today, and the system education as a whole, require school leaders to make strategic decisions based on the resources that are available to them. As teachers are a key component in the human resource structure in schools, teacher professional development has been seen to be an important lever for school change and development. However, current literature on teacher professional development suggests the need to go beyond traditional models of professional development. New conceptions of teacher professional learning/development, along with their theoretical justifications, are now being considered. These include the job-embedded learning, inquiry-based learning, reflective-based learning and community-based learning. Concomitantly, new models of teacher professional development have been proposed such as reflective practice, 5

6 professional learning communities, communities of practice and action research. This course will provide the learning space for participants to consider, contextualise and critique the theory and practice of teacher professional development in relation to school leadership and organizational change. Technologies and Technology-Mediated Learning Environments Concentration (under Learning Sciences and Technologies Academic Group) NEDD 840 Trends and Issues in the Use of ICT in Education The use of information and communication technology (ICT) has been a major influence upon many business activities, as well as aspects of contemporary life, including how teaching and learning is conducted. However, integrating information and communications technology (ICT) into education has been a controversial issue. There are research reports and reviews on the positive impacts of ICT on various types of students learning outcomes. On the other hand, there are more reserved or even skeptical views on the impact of ICT in education questioning the validity of relationship between the use of ICT and school performance. This course explores various current and emerging ICT tools that have the potential in enhancing teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom environment, as well as related challenges that affect the applications of ICT in education. The participants will review and discuss various pedagogical applications of ICT and key issues in the use of ICT in education, including challenges or barriers in integrating ICT in education and strategies to overcome these barriers. One key outcome is to identify the knowledge gaps in the research on educational technologies and potential research directions. NEDD 841 Theoretical Foundations of Technology-Mediated Learning Environments The pervasiveness of technology is taken for granted in modern societies. Technologymediated means of learning, whether using the Web, using new media, or via mobile handheld devices, are increasingly commonplace. Uninformed and uncritical uses of such technologies abound. This course seeks to equip students with sound theoretical bases for making compelling design decisions with respect to technology-mediated learning environments in order to engender high quality learning outcomes relevant to the needs of contemporary society. To this end, the course will first probe and interrogate ontological and epistemological issues that underpin traditional approaches to learning. Second, it will broaden students exposure to alternative understandings through exposure to other worldviews. A critical connection to pedagogy will then be developed so that students can begin to grasp the vital relation between metaphysical assumptions and pedagogic principles. This understanding will then be directed toward application, to support formal and informal learning in the contemporary world. 6

7 NEDD 842 Designing Technology-Mediated Interventions in Education This course delves into the pedagogical, social and technological aspects of the affordances of technologies to design interventions for teaching and learning. Students will be introduced to conceptual understanding of affordances of technologies, theoretical underpinnings of learner-centred learning environment and principles governing the design of technology-mediated interventions. The EdD students will review critically the research, practices and strategies of technology mediated interventions used in teaching and learning. To foster the theory and practice linkage, they will also analyze the affordances of ICT tools based on the conceptual framework they learned in the course. One key learning outcome is to conceptualise, design and evaluate technology mediated intervention appropriate for their intended learners. C. DISSERTATION The capstone project is intended to verify the student s ability to undertake research at the doctoral level. It is in the form of a practice-focused dissertation of around 50,000 words. Given the course s focus on the students present professional position or future professional goals, a dissertation for the EdD programme should result in improved educational practice. It provides the opportunity for students to study an institution/organisation concerned with educational provision, organisation and support. Students will normally choose to base their study on the institution in which they work, or one with which they have a close association but this is not a requirement. Data to be collected and analysed can range from, and include, documents from the institution, surveys, interviews, on-site observation and fieldnotes. An important feature of the dissertation is that instead of starting with the traditional surveying of the literature to identify a research gap and then select a setting to conduct research, students will begin with the identification of a problem of professional practice and then work backwards by surveying the literature for guidance on how to research the problem. 7

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