Summer 2023



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Dr. Jennifer Carlson

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Jill Madsen

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Paul Magnuson


Goodman Chien, K. R. (2023). “The Heart of my Professional Work”: A Case Study of EdD Student Experiences and their Alignment to Program Outcomes and Graduates’ Professional Practice Needs. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to learn about the experiences of EdD graduates and how those experiences aligned with the intended outcomes of a program and graduates’ professional practice needs. This research is vital to the field because it connects current scholarship regarding EdD programs with how these programs meet the professional practice needs of participants by developing scholarly practitioners (Gigliotti et al., 2016; Kline, 2016; Rueda et al., 2013; Teske, 2017). The findings provide essential information for EdD programs to align programming and outcomes with student experiences and provide potential students with information about the EdD experience. The three theoretical frameworks used in this study to inform the research questions were Mezirow’s (1991) transformative learning theory, Benner’s (1982) Novice to Expert Theory, and Wenger’s (1998) Communities of Practice Theory. This study was conducted using a survey (61 respondents) and semi-structured interviews (8 participants) of the first 10 cohorts of EdD graduates from one Midwestern university. An aspect of the interview included an arts-based data collection method. Findings provided evidence of EdD graduates’ experiences meeting intended program outcomes and their professional practice needs. Overlap between meeting intended program outcomes and professional practice needs emerged in themes from both the survey and interview, such as improved research and writing skills and applying dissertation research to professional practice. The latter theme is also supported in the literature (Kumar & Dawson, 2013; Teske, 2017). Recommendations include the continuation of learning communities beyond the time spent in pursuit of the degree for scholarly encouragement and support, periodically surveying EdD students about their experiences to identify needs and made adjustments during the coursework phase, conducting post-EdD surveys to keep the EdD program connected to current professional practice needs, using a commonly accepted metric for graduation rate calculation to track progress, and intentional recruitment of skills course facilitators who are committed to supporting students’ needs. Research Methodology: Case study–survey, interview, and arts-based data collection Key Words: Student experience, doctorate in education (EdD), doctoral education, professional doctorate, scholarly practitioner


Student Experience, Program Outcomes, Professional Practice Needs, Ed.D.








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