SOE News

School revamps Ph.D. program

The School of Education has revamped its Ph.D. in Education program, establishing five new research specializations that will be fully available to students in Fall 2013.

“Our new Ph.D. in Education is designed to foster collaboration among faculty and students from diverse disciplines, enabling them to tackle some of the most important and pressing questions in education,” said Bill McDiarmid, dean of the School of Education.

“The faculty worked very hard to develop this new program,” McDiarmid said. “We expect this configuration will bring new excitement and energy to our intellectual community.”

The Ph.D. in Education is designed to prepare its graduates for leadership positions in educational research and teaching at major universities and other organizations.

The new specializations:

  • Applied Developmental Sciences and Special Education
  • Policy, Leadership and School Improvement
  • Teacher Education and Curriculum
  • Cultural Studies and Literacies
  • Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies.  

They replace three strands: Culture, Curriculum and Change; Early Childhood, Special Education and Literacy; and, Educational Psychology, Measurement and Evaluation.

Students who joined the Ph.D. program in Fall 2012 have the option of switching to the new specializations. Other students may be allowed to make a switch on a case-by-case basis.

The new specializations

The Applied Developmental Science, School Psychology, and Special Education strand is designed to train doctoral students in the interdisciplinary and theoretical foundations of developmental science. These foundations will provide young scholars with the tools to advance knowledge about human development from birth through adolescence, with a particular focus on studying children/students at risk for learning and behavioral challenges.

This mission is accomplished by offering research perspectives in the developmental trajectories of families and children/students from diverse socio-culturally backgrounds in the multiple contexts in which they live, including school, home, neighborhoods, and communities. Work within the strand also will provide a grounding in evidence-based models of prevention that seek to provide equitable opportunities for learning and successful adjustment for all children by  emphasizing education and instruction directed towards individual differences among learners.

The Cultural Studies and Literacies strand is designed for future scholars and researchers who will study the linguistic, social and cultural contexts of education and how culture, language and education are produced.

This strand prepares future scholars, researchers and faculty who will work in the areas of multiple and critical literacies, social and cultural foundations of education, the intersectionality of  race, gender, language, sexual orientation and class, qualitative research methods broadly conceived, and how all of these contribute to creating social and educational inequities.

The program is designed to prepare scholars to be first-rate educators, theorists, and qualitative research methodologists and advocates for change.

The Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies strand draws upon the relatively new field of learning sciences that has emerged to address the increasingly inter- and multi-disciplinary nature of work within and beyond the academy.

Faculty within the program strand represent a diverse set of academic backgrounds and fields, such as critical theory, educational psychology, psychometrics, school psychology, socio-cultural studies, mathematics and science education, technology studies, and statistics.

The LSPS strand will examine formal and informal learning within and across multiple contexts, such as teaching and learning in classrooms, centers, communities, homes, museums, schools, virtual environments. It will also consider learning from multiple perspectives, including critical, disciplinary, design-based, post-positivist, post-structuralist, and structuralist.

Students interested in LSPS can elect to concentrate in a number of areas including mathematics education, science education, educational technology, cognition, and quantitative methods and evaluation.

The Policy, Leadership and School Improvement strand is designed to prepare leaders who will influence the direction of educational organizations at home and around the world.

The program will produce scholars, administrators, and analysts for leadership roles in K-12 systems, universities, research organizations and policy-making bodies. It will seek to develop students’ understanding of the societal, political and economic conditions affecting schools; the capacity to analyze educational problems and their proposed solutions; and the ability to design innovations and implementation processes that work.

Our faculty, as leaders in these areas, will work collaboratively with students to develop research questions and hypotheses, study them in state and national settings, and link findings to practice. Faculty and students in PLS are expected to engage in the examination and critique of today’s important and contested issues in education, including teacher quality, turn-around schools, high school effectiveness, resource allocation, principal instructional leadership, and issues of class, gender, immigration and race in education.

The Teacher Education and Curriculum strand will seek to address a growing need for scholarship that incorporates school-based inquiry along with research that considers policy and socio-cultural contexts of teaching and learning, with the aim of informing educational practice.

The strand provides a venue for advanced study and research in interdisciplinary curriculum areas and in teacher education. Students who select this strand will take additional courses in other doctoral strands in the School of Education and in other programs and colleges across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

Graduates will be ready to assume teacher education positions and/or curriculum studies positions.

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