A study of the impact of a K–12 school district-university doctoral cohort on district leadership capacity

2010 2010

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Abstract (summary)

The phenomenological study examined how a K-12 school district-university partnership impacted a school district’s leadership from the perspectives of cohort members and non-cohort members. The doctoral cohort consisted of 22 candidates. The intent of the program was to merge theory with best practice and to focus on increasing the district’s leadership capacity. The study involved a purposeful sample of 10 participants that included 5 teachers who participated in the doctoral educational cohort and 5 teachers who were not members of the cohort. Data were collected through interviews.

This doctoral cohort was modeled on learning theory that addressed the needs of adult learners. Course content was not changed; however, class activities and assignments were modified to address the professional development needs of cohort members while concurrently meeting university accreditation standards. Several courses extended across multiple semesters as a systematic approach was used to connect theory with district challenges.

Respondents identified a number of changes that occurred in the areas of collaboration, knowledge, and leadership. This included increased participant leadership resulting from participation in the doctoral cohort partnership, and establishment of a learning community. Attitudinal changes were evident as participants demonstrated passion and enthusiasm in leaning activities. Non-cohort members witnessed professional growth in cohort members and noted that cohort members became a resource for non-cohort members in reference to teaching and assessment practices. Cohort members created a sense of shared responsibility and emerged as leaders who encouraged others to improve performance and create a collaborative community. Trust also increased between cohort and non-cohort members.

Recommendations for further research included (1) a study regarding the long-term ramifications of doctoral cohort programs on school improvement, (2) the impact of cohorts on student achievement, and (3) the impact of cohorts on increasing measurable leadership capacity.

The investigation adds to the literature on doctoral cohorts and provides insights into methods of alternate program delivery. The study examines the impact of doctoral cohorts and problem-based learning on a district’s leadership capacity.

Indexing (details)

Educational leadership;
School administration;
School districts;
Adult learning;
Colleges & universities;
0449: Educational leadership
0514: School administration
Identifier / keyword
Education; Cohort learning; Collaborative learning; District leadership; Doctoral cohort
A study of the impact of a K–12 school district-university doctoral cohort on district leadership capacity
Davis, Sharon
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Cooley, Van
Western Michigan University
University location
United States -- Michigan
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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