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Ed.D. in Educational Leadership Course Descriptions

Year 1: Understanding the Problem and Seeing the System


Stewardship of Practice (EDDL 701)

This professional seminar will operationalize the framing concepts of the program as expectations for the students. Students will use the lens of social justice to: a) examine themselves as leaders and their positions relative to others in society; b) investigate problems as dynamic issues located in ecosystems rather than in one organizational home; and, c) set actionable goals for self-mastery and self-improvement. The course promotes the guiding principle that effective educational leaders think strategically and communicate effectively to catalyze and lead educational improvement that is community-engaged, evidence-based, and socially-just.

Education and Social Justice (EDDL 702)

This course will inform the theoretical and empirical frames that connect educational leadership and conditions of social justice. Students will develop understandings of critical social theory, institutional networks of power, the cultural dimensions of power, and the dynamics of power that operate between dominant and subordinate communities to impact the quality of education and educational opportunity for all learners. Skills of educational leadership advocacy will be developed through laboratories of practice projects to frame educational leadership as aspiring for social justice.


Educational Policy and Politics (EDDL 710)

This course examines the forces that shape educational policy with an emphasis on governance structures, stakeholders, public engagement, current policy issues and political contexts at the global, national, and local level paying particular attention to the contexts of policy including the evolving conceptualization of global and local systems of governance

and the uses, limitations, and ethics of policy and policy analysis. Students will develop the skills and abilities required to understand, analyze, and design sound and responsive policy.

Research Literacy for Educational Leadership (EDDL 711)

The course will develop knowledge and skills necessary for the critical consumption of (1) empirical research from the scholarly and professional literatures in educational leadership and (2) data generated through and informative of the professional practice in education. The course emphasizes developing skills to critique and critically review published research and to interrogate data generated though standardized testing, action research, evaluative studies, and policy analyses at the classroom, school, district, state, and federal levels in order to evaluate evidence and inform decision-making.


Learning and Learning Environments (EDDL 720)

This course will examine the theoretical underpinnings of human development, motivation, and learning in PreK-12 education to investigate and understand the design of optimal learning environments that interact with the learners' cultural background, prior knowledge, interests and identity to provide culturally relevant pedagogy. Students will develop the knowledge and skills to look for and use compelling evidence of student learning and achievement to support collaborative and intentional inquiry focused on improving learning opportunities for all learners-children and the adults who educate them-both in schools and also out of school settings and after school programs.

Educational Improvement and Accountability (EDDL 721)

Within a frame of improving educational practice, the course focuses on understanding the educational systems where improvement is sought and how accounts of improvement efforts within those systems are documented. Tools for engaging stakeholders and accounting for the outcomes and impacts of improvement efforts will be studied-including their ethical implications and moral imperatives-and applied in practice contexts. The tools will include the development and use of logic models as well as tools of improvement inquiry that engage stakeholders in understanding and addressing problems of practice.

Year 2: Establishing an Aim and Developing a Theory of Improvement


Community-Engaged Leadership for Social Justice (EDDL 730)

Through theory and practice students consider, examine, and problematize the ethical dimensions of leadership in relation to community systems, organizations, and institutions. Students will deconstruct concepts of community-engaged leadership including race, class, gender, justice, and power. Students will gain the knowledge and skills to work toward positive improvement outcomes for students, parents, educators, the local community and society as a whole; strengthen sustainable, mutually beneficial, long-term community partnerships and initiatives that facilitate positive social change; increase opportunities for engagement though collaborative learning and inquiry, and increase their visibility, awareness and recognition of community-engaged leadership.

Program Evaluation (EDDL 731)

The course provides an overview of the design, development, and implementation of evaluations of educational programs. The theories and practices of educational evaluation will be studied with a focus on improving PreK-12 schooling, including the performance of students, teachers, administrators, schools, and community efforts to improve educational outcomes. Evaluative purposes, evaluation plans, evaluation designs and instruments will be examined as well as data collection, analysis, and reporting.


Ethics and Educational Law (EDDL 740)

This course provides a firm grounding in ethical discernment and an in-depth examination of federal and state school law. Students will develop skills needed to examine the complexities and contradictions that occur in schools and communities and address legal issues that impact the operation of public schools. A personal code of ethics will be developed and applied to practical situations of educational leadership, research, and policy to enhance socially responsible leadership in schools, educational organizations, and communities.

Data Analysis and Evidence-Based Improvement (EDDL 751)

Leading practice improvement in educational settings requires that data be collected, analyzed, and rendered into evidence that is accepted across the boundaries of schools, the academy, and the community. Data analysis techniques-both quantitative and qualitative-will be the substantive focus of the course. Analysis techniques will be examined not only for methodological soundness, but also to determine how the resulting evidence can be constructed and communicated to multiple stakeholders focused on improving practice in specific educational contexts.


Assessing Learning and Achievement (EDDL 750)

This course provides a solid foundation and practical explanations of the many forms of educational assessment concepts and procedures that affect a school or district's student learning and achievement outcomes in order to lead assessment for learning, establish sound procedures for the assessment of learning, meet accountability requirements, communicate with various stakeholders and understand how assessment relates to effective teaching and professional learning. Students will use key principles of sound educational assessment to inform and plan educational improvement efforts.

Qualitative Inquiry and Social Justice Advocacy (EDDL 752)

The course provides a background and analysis of the interpretive act embedded in all educational improvement inquiry. Designed to provide an in-depth study of qualitative inquiry, the course focuses on the major qualitative approaches to understanding problems of practice, educational improvement, and informed educational leadership practice with a special focus on issues of educational equity and social justice for children and youth.

Year 3: Socially-Just, Community-Engaged Research Design and Implementation


Qualifying Portfolio Seminar (EDDL 801)

The course frames and engages the students in the comprehensive examinations that are required for the doctoral program in educational leadership to qualify the student to proceed to the dissertation in practice as a doctoral candidate. The faculty of the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership in the Duquesne University School of Education has adopted doctoral portfolios with an oral demonstration and assessment of competencies to ensure that doctoral students possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies.

Dissertation in Practice Seminar (EDDL 802)

The course engages students in developing working frameworks for taking the approved proposal through the phases required for a completed dissertation in practice: data collection, data analysis, defense drafts, defense presentation, final revisions, and submission requirements for electronic theses and dissertations. The seminar provides opportunities for students in groups with faculty to develop work plans and timelines for submissions to their dissertation in practice committee and for other capstone products and deliverables.


Catalyzing and Communicating Improvement Across Boundaries (EDDL 810)

This course explores the interpersonal and social dynamics of educational leadership to expand understanding of the power and place of social dynamics involved in most change/improvement experiences. Doctoral candidates will assess and diagnose negative social dynamics to design proactive leverage and utilize positive social dynamics as powerful drivers for change. Aspects of group process design (social technologies), group intelligence, peer-to-peer learning and social marketing will be addressed in the context of the doctoral candidate's dissertation in practice.

Dissertation in Practice I (EDDL 811)

The first course of a two-course sequence that supports the writing of the dissertation in practice. The course provides opportunities for students writing their dissertations in practice to consult with faculty and other students to develop and clarify the arguments within each section of their dissertation in practice as they develop the accounts of their research. The course includes opportunities for students to "workshop" the drafts they are preparing for their dissertation in practice committee.


Scholarly Practitioner (EDDL 820)

This course is designed to promote integration among the interwoven curriculum threads-socially just leadership, community engagement, and research/improvement inquiry-and the candidate's experiences in the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership Program. Each candidate produces a leadership impact report that describes, analyzes, and reflects upon the candidate's leadership of and contributions to the strategic project that informs the dissertation in practice to highlight key evidence-based decisions and provide concise insight into the candidate's work along with next steps, resources, and questions to consider for practitioners who might lead similar initiatives.

Dissertation in Practice II (EDDL 821)

The second course of a two-course sequence that supports the writing of the dissertation in practice. The course provides opportunities for students writing their dissertations in practice to consult with faculty and other students to develop and clarify the arguments within each section of their dissertation in practice as they move toward defensible drafts. The course includes opportunities for students to "workshop" the drafts that they will eventually defend before their committee.