The Education Dissertation: A Guide for Practitioner Scholars

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Writing a dissertation requires focus and commitment. The Education Dissertation provides a step-by-step process for developing and completing an academically rigorous dissertation in a time-efficient manner.

Written for doctoral students of education who are also currently working ion the field, this book provides specific and accessible guidance for the entire dissertation process, from finding a topic to conducting the literature review to writing and defending the dissertation. Grounded in adult learning theory, this volume

  • Offers a clear and easy-to-follow approach that highlights key milestones with concrete goals and workable methods at each step
  • Discusses how practitioner scholars can apply their work experience to the dissertation
  • Includes organizational templates complete with detailed charts, checklists, a timeline, student examples, and rubrics
  • Provides tips throughout to help students think through situations
  • Covers both quantitative and qualitative research

Perfect for practicing educators at any stage of the dissertation process, this resource provides the "big picture" framework as well as the nitty-gritty details.

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Editorial Reviews

Daniel L. Duke
"The book is rich with ideas and strategies for thinking about every phase of the dissertation and for undertaking each phase once it has been carefully thought out."
Tammy J. Graham
"The author does an excellent job of taking a serious, technical, overwhelming topic and making it fun and interesting to read."
Doug Leigh
"With each turn of the page I found myself nodding 'exactly!' Whether as a class text assigned by faculty or as a self-study resource used by students, this book will resonate with readers."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412960441
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 11/17/2009
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 264,771
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan W. Butin is the founding dean of the school of education at Merrimack College. He is the editor and author of over fifty books, articles, and book chapters, including the books Teaching Social Foundations of Education and Service-Learning and Social Justice Education. Dr. Butin’s research focuses on issues of educator preparation and policy and community engagement. Dr. Butin has been the assistant dean of the school of education at Cambridge College and a faculty member at Gettysburg College. Prior to working in higher education, Dr. Butin taught middle school, in an adult GED program, and was the chief financial officer of Teacher For America. More about Dr. Butin’s teaching and scholarship can be found at

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Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

Preface xi

Who Should Read This Book and Why xii

Key Features and How to Use Them xiii

Organizational Templates xiv

Synthesis of Research xiv

Key Milestones and Procedures xiv

"Hints" Along the Way xiv

Relevant Activities xv

Examples of Student Work xv

Acknowledgments xvii

About the Author xix

Dedication xx

1 A Guide for Practitioner Scholars 1

Questioning the Doctorate 2

Seeing the Doctoral Process Through Doctoral Students' Eyes 5

This Book as Guidelines and Guardrails 9

Strategies for Success 12

Hint! What Exactly Does a Quality Dissertation Look Like? 14

2 A Roadmap From Start to Finish 19

The Big Picture: An Outline of the Process 20

The Dissertation Timeline 23

Your Own Timeline and Benchmarks 27

Use This! Dissertation Research Timeline Template 28

Hint! Roles and Responsibilities of Your Dissertation Chair 30

Embracing Technology: The Table of Contents and Reference List 32

Hint! Creating an Automated Table of Contents 33

Use This! Table of Contents Template 34

Structuring Your Life as a Doctoral Student 37

3 Focusing Your Research 39

Articulating a Topic in "Academic-Speak" 42

Try This! Developing Your Academic Word Bank 43

Narrowing Your Topic 45

Hint! Writing Your Other Dissertation Next Time 46

Try This! Disaggregate This! 50

Your First Success at Focusing: Creating a Title and Research Question 50

A Final Thought: Focusing Your Research at a Cocktail Party 55

4 Structuring Your Research 57

Choosing a Theoretical Framework 58

Doing a Literature Review 63

Hint! Differentiating Between a Reference List and a Bibliography 67

Hint! Knowing When Your Dissertation IdeaIs Focused Enough 68

Understanding Research Methodology 69

Try This! "Can You Operationalize That?" 70

Choosing a Research Method 71

Empirical Methodologies 74

Linking Research Purpose to Research Method 77

5 Conducting Your Research 83

Linking Research Methods to Research Tools 83

Quasi-Experimental Research 85

Try This! Understanding Dependent and Independent Variables 88

Analysis of Existing Statistical Data 89

Surveys 91

Interviews 96

Document Analysis 99

Field Observations 100

Institutional Review Board (IRB) 103

Some Final Thoughts Before "ABD-Land" 108

6 Putting It All Together: Completing Your Dissertation 111

The Dissertation as a "Machine" 112

Reverse Engineering Your Dissertation 116

What Are the Remaining Key Issues? 120

Triangulating Data 120

Using Your Own Voice 121

Answering Your Research Questions 122

Finding No Finding 122

Remembering the Big Picture 123

Formatting the Dissertation 123

Use This! Key Formatting Guidelines for the Dissertation Final Submission 124

Citation Style 125

Chapter Length 125

Hint! How to Write a Good Abstract 127

Front Matter 127

7 Defending and Moving On 129

The Dissertation Defense 130

Hint! Key Points About Your Dissertation Defense 131

Hint! How to Handle Conflict and Difficult Situations at Your Dissertation Defense 135

Publish Your Findings 136

Hint! Tips for Academic Journal Publishing 138

Apply Your Research: Impacting K-12 Education 141

Teach the Next Generation: Teaching in Higher Education 143

Hint! Tips for Finding a Full-Time Job in Higher Education 144

The Beginning of Your Journey as a Practitioner Scholar 147

Key Resources by Topic 149

References 151

Index 157

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2013

    Essential for any Ed.d Student

    I only wish I had read this book earlier on. This is essential reading for any education doctoral candidate. You should read it cover to cover before beginning your dissertation. It's so discouraging to have professors give you the "run around" and fail to explain things in a way that we can understand. This book will help save you a lot of grief, breaking important themes down into understandable pieces. It won't write the research project for you, but it takes a lot of the mystery out of the process.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2014

    Highly Recommended for EdD Students

    A pragmatic, sometimes humerous, approach to obtaining a dissertation. Good information. Practical. Makes you wish this guy was your one of your instructors. Highly recommend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014


    This is a book that i have never read but still think its great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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