Doctoral Research: What to Expect

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Professor McCloud talking to student

Earning an Ed.D. degree involves gaining a deep knowledge of the state of the academic field. It also involves cultivating the leadership qualities and research skills necessary to identify ways to improve the profession through effective instruction and administration. An Ed.D. prepares students to shape the course of education through an in-depth understanding of what works and what could work better.

The methods practitioners use to complete their studies may have a significant impact on their experience in the Ed.D. courses, as well as how they use their knowledge in later professional roles.

Implementing a practical, experiential instruction style is one way to potentially improve engagement and success in an Ed.D. program. People who are taking online Ed.D. courses tend to already be in significant roles in the academic world. Giving them hands-on assignments and relevant projects to complete ties their studies closely with their existing roles and allows them to see the practical relevance of the new concepts they’re learning.

This is what makes the doctoral research requirement associated with Bradley University’s online Doctor of Education program so vital. It provides students with an experience-driven structure, and offers them the opportunity to focus on subjects that are most relevant to their interests.

Bradley University’s online Doctor of Education program includes action research concepts throughout its curriculum as part of the doctoral research requirement. Through real-world examples and practical applications, practitioners get closer to the topics they’re investigating.

Doctoral Research Steps

Bradley’s doctoral research requirement applies action research methodology. This seven-step concept helps practitioners use data to improve their projects and professional practices. Its purpose is twofold: It allows for a thorough diagnosis of a potential problem to determine its severity and impact, and it gives students an opportunity to propose solutions.

1. Select a Focus

The focus for any research project should be specific enough to draw meaningful, actionable conclusions. Instructor time is precious, so action research topics in education should promise to materially improve educator practices on a short timeline.

2. Clarify Theories

Practitioners following the action research methodology should determine their starting opinions and assumptions on their topic. This enables researchers to take a focused and informed approach to confirming or disproving their thoughts.

3. Identify Research Questions

Inquiries associated with research must be guided by specific and clear questions. In action research, these queries should be relevant to the researcher. Researchers should understand what they are investigating and why it matters.

4. Collect Data

Data collection should incorporate multiple sources of information to achieve holistic conclusions. Instructors gathering data about the way students react to parts of the academic experience should synthesize results to accurately assess the situation.

5. Analyze Data

Analysis consists of working through raw information to determine the “story” of the research experiment. Teachers should objectively view the results of their inquiries and determine why the scenarios played out the way they did.

6. Report Results

Reporting the findings of a study is a crucial part of the action research methodology. Action research findings can be reported through a formal presentation, as a scholarly paper or article, or both.

7. Take Informed Action

The final step in action research methodology involves turning findings into immediate, impactful changes. Educators can improve their conditions with the carefully developed results of their projects.

Classes Within the Doctoral Research Requirement

Bradley’s online Ed.D. curriculum breaks down the doctoral research requirement into five sequential classes to give a comprehensive overview of action research in education.

1. Introduction to Doctoral Studies and Annotated Bibliography

Students in this course complete assignments to understand the importance of action research and the ways it can be used to create change. In this first class, candidates prepare to launch their own studies into carefully chosen areas of academic processes.

2. Action Research Plan and Ethics

This course is a continuation of what students learned in their first research project class. By comprehending the ethical considerations of data collection and developing their studies, practitioners make concrete progress toward degree completion.

3. Data Collection and Analysis

Here, students take action on the groundwork they have laid. The fourth step of the action research methodology, concerned with collecting data, is one of the most demanding parts of a study. This class is devoted to specifics of data collection, with participants gathering information and receiving instruction on ethical considerations.

4. Seminar in Action Research Literature Review

In this course, students review literature and published data related to their chosen topics. By incorporating this research into their own findings, educational professionals can build more complete and comprehensive overviews of those areas. The class will help these researchers use relevant databases and discover content that can strengthen or challenge their theories.

5. Seminar in Action Research Data Analysis and Conclusions

Presenting data and contemplating the meaning of research project findings are the essential steps at the end of an action research project. Rather than thinking about data in isolation, students can interact with classmates to pool project resources.

Ed.D. Application Process and Requirements

Completing the online Ed.D. program is one way to gain knowledge and skills to further an educational professional’s career. Candidates seeking admission should include a resume and letters of recommendation from colleagues in addition to past academic transcripts.

By enrolling in Bradley University’s online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program, you won’t just learn about the concepts powering today’s educational institutions through lectures or reading. You’ll put relevant ideas into practice, internalizing the uses of action research in education and uncovering novel data on the ideas that excite you the most. In the doctoral research requirement, you will become familiar with the widely applicable actionable methodology and more deeply knowledgeable about your field of choice. Learn how we can help you prepare to make a difference in the world of education.

Recommended Reading:

A Look at the 4 Online Ed.D. Foundational Courses

How to Become a Chief Learning Officer

Ph.D. vs. Ed.D.: Key Differences


Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Guiding School Improvement with Action Research

Business Research Methodology, Action Research

Bradley University, Online Ed.D Higher Education Administration Curriculum

Creative Educator, “Embrace Action Research”

National Head Start Association, Data Design Initiative: Action Research