Dissertation Topic (Ed.D.)- What should it be?

Posted: February 7, 2012 in Research

I am nearing the time that I need to decide on a topic for my dissertation (Educational Leadership, Ed.D.).  There are several topics that look interesting, but I need to select a direction pretty soon.   I really want my research to be important and immediately relevant.  Several broad areas of interest include Non-Formal Education,  Career Technical Education (CTE), STEM, and Educational Technology.  Last semester I did a really broad Literature Review on Recognizing Non-Formal Learning.  As I wrote the paper I found it was too broad of a subject and that there are many different ways that I could go with my dissertation.

I have a background in Industrial Technology, specifically product design and CAD. I currently teach Drafting Technology at Merced College, and utilize many different types of technology in my classes including online exercises, and videos (demonstration and lecture)

Some of the potential topics that I am thinking about are:

  • Ability to learn CTE/STEM topics in Formal vs Non-formal settings
  • How willing employers are to  accept non-traditional forms of recognition (badges, portfolios)
  • The Reliability of Peer Review in approval of digital  badges (ie. P2PU)
  • Utilization of the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) exams at different levels in the UK
  • Something doing with the “need” to memorize facts vs. find them online (similar to Sparrow, Liu, &  Wegner, 2011)
  • Effectiveness of interactive homework (Khan Academy) vs traditional homework
  • Effectiveness of “Flipped” vs traditional lecture

What do you think about these topics? Which ones do you want to see research done on? Is there another research topic that is related but I haven’t listed? Let me know in the comments.

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Comments
  1. Robin says:

    These are my picks:
    (1)Ability to learn CTE/STEM topics in Formal vs Non-formal settings
    (2)Effectiveness of interactive homework (Khan Academy) vs traditional homework
    I would be interested in your results when you finish your dissertation

  2. James says:

    Thank you, I think these two lend themselves to experimental design as well.

  3. Mark says:

    My suggestion to you is to ask yourself, “what issue is burning a hole in my mind? What can I not stop thinking about irrespective of specific subject area? What aspect(s) of Educational Leadership inform(s) almost everything I read or see or experience among nearly every venue of human endeavour?”

    The answer to those questions is your topic. (The research question that may emerge from that topic is something else altogether, of course.)

    And, if you cannot answer those questions, if your areas of interest are merely “interesting,” then I would suggest that (a) you’ll have a very challenging time sustaining yourself through the research, analysis, and dissertation process; and/or (b) you’ll produce a piece of work that is of little value, that you will likely never want to see or think about again (and that would be a shame, given the investment of time, effort, and your soul that goes into a dissertation).

    [As an aside, among the things I do is coaching of graduate students and doctoral candidates.]

    • James says:

      Thank you Mark. I really want to do something related to validating Non-formal learning. The research question is the sticking point. First before I can even discuss validation is the question of how well people can learn in a non-formal setting (which is also affected by subject matter), then what are good ways to represent and evaluate non-formal learning (portfolios, professional certifications, badges?), and finally whether or not the evidence will be accepted by other organizations (formal education or employers).

  4. Gary Krinberg, Ed.D says:

    Like Mark offered, something you think is relevant and speaks to you loudest. Start a cursory lit review for your choice…see what is out there in terms of depth and credible studies/papers concerning what you want to do. You may run into a wall. There may be a previous study you can utilize in opposition or piggyback on it. You dont want to replicate something that has already been flogged like the family mule so a review helps you see how fresh your research is.
    One area you seriously need to look into is how readily you can conduct your methodology and what instruments you will employ to satisfy an IRB board. Study your school’s Dissertation Manual closely and make sure youre spot on with their requirements. Sometimes, like water, you need to take a line of least resistance in pursuing your hypotheses as IRB may prove to be an immovable source.
    My degree is in Ed Leadership, Higher Ed. Write something we can all learn from that you can enjoy writing. Good luck.

  5. Darryl says:

    I am just entering my program (Ed. D in education). I am really interested in the education of the African American male. I need suggestions as to where to take the study?

  6. Pat says:

    Having a hard time with a topic–I have a proposed title: Principals’ and Teachers’ Perceptions of Leadership Styles in Vocational Education. The research questions I want to know are…

    What are principals’ leadership style in vocational education?
    What are teachers’ perception of leadership styles in a vocational school?
    Is there a difference in leadership styles in a vocational school by gender?

    Can someone help me and do these questions seem OK?

    I want to research on leadership styles and also have seen in the past 20 yrs a shift from a male dominate figure in leadership in vocational education to a female dominate leadership–wanted to know if a male or female leadership style differs in a vocational school setting.

    Thanks.

  7. Lara Ervin says:

    As someone in the throes of a doctoral dissertation, let me repeat what my chair and professors have all asked… “What does the research say?” What gaps are there in current research? I am pulling together two different bodies of research in my dissertation and have found there is TOO much of a gap in the research. It makes the lit review extremely difficult and defense is a bear. On the good side, because I am one of a very few people doing this research it has the potential to open doors…

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