One of the design concepts attributed to successful EdD programs is the scholarly practitioner, which The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) defines as practitioners who “blend practical wisdom with professional skills and knowledge to name, frame, and solve problems of practice. They use practical research and applied theories as tools for change because they understand the importance of equity and social justice. They disseminate their work in multiple ways, and they have an obligation to resolve problems of practice by collaborating with key stakeholders, including the university, the educational institution, the community, and individuals” (n.d., Design-Concepts Upon Which to Build Programs section).
As you move toward the final weeks of our course, a high priority for all who lead learning is the application of systems thinking as you identify a problem of practice relevant to your organization.
As noted by Dirkx (2006):
The demand for evidence-based research (EBR) in education has evoked considerable debate regarding the nature of knowledge practitioners hold, how they come to know, and the sociopolitical contexts in which that knowledge is generated. Proponents of EBR such as Michael Feuer stress the need for research that validly identifies solutions to important problems of educational practice. Critics such as Elizabeth St. Pierre decry such approaches to research on practice as epistemologically inappropriate and oblivious to their political and moral implications. Both positions illuminate important dimensions of improving practice, but what works seems to get lost in the rhetoric. In this article, the author suggests that we in adult education take seriously the question of what works in practice by developing a knowledge base grounded in research methods and strategies that give voice to the particularities of practice contexts, what he refers to as the “insider perspective.” (p. 273)
As you proceed through your EdD program, you’ll be required to identify a problem of practice, not simply an isolated problem in your organization, but instead a problem of practice that is clearly supported in the professional literature. Note that such problems were most likely identified as you developed the Literature Review assignment—all work of doctoral scholars must be firmly corroborated in the literature and research relevant to your organization’s problems of practice.
As you work to identify a problem of practice in your organization, please note the imperative to apply systems thinking. As noted by Senge, Cambron-McCabe, Lucas, Smith, Dutton, and Kleiner (2012):
Systems thinking is the ability to understand (and sometimes to predict) interactions and relationship in complex, dynamic systems—the kinds of systems we are surrounded by and embedded in. Some of the systems already under study in classrooms (population growth; land use, climate, and agricultural production; the causes of revolution; and traffic patterns) readily lend themselves to the use of systems thinking and its tools.
The ability to think systemically is neither new nor mysterious. One teacher, after an introductory course, gave voice to many people’s reactions when she exclaimed: ‘This is just common sense!’ In many ways that is true. Systems thinking enables you to see the big picture, the minute details that make it up, and the way parts interact over time, making explicit the patterns of behavior that people see all the time but that are rarely explained.
The tools of system dynamics—behavior-over-time graphs, stock-and-flow diagrams, causal loops, computer models, simulations, and archetypes—are all ways to help us more effectively understand those patterns and the systemic dynamics that drive them.
Dirkx, J. M. (2006). Studying the complicated matter of what works: Evidence-based research and the problem of practice. Adult Education Quarterly, 56(4), 273–290.
The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate. (n.d.). The CPED framework ©. Retrieved from https://cped.memberclicks.net/the-framework
Senge, P., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J., & Kleiner, A. (2012). Schools that learn: A fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education. New York, NY: Crown Publishing.
Researching Problems of Practice
The following article helps place the problem of practice into an evidence-based context:
- Dirkx, J. M. (2006). Studying the complicated matter of what works: Evidence-based research and the problem of practice. Adult Education Quarterly, 56(4), 273–290.
While the following resource focuses on schools, the principles presented apply to all leaders responsible for leading professional development, training, and professional learning:
- Senge, P., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J., & Kleiner, A. (2012). Schools that learn: A fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education. New York, NY: Crown Publishing.
- Part VII, “Systems Thinking in the Classroom,” pages 269–318.
Read the following standards presented by Paul and Elder. This website provides a concise overview of each of the standards you should incorporate into your discussion responses this week.
- Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2010). Universal intellectual standards. Retrieved from http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/universal-in…