The Education Doctorate: A Promising Strategy to Promote Smart Use of Research Evidence?

Can doctoral education training programs improve the use of research evidence among school district leaders and managers?

Internal brokers can play an important role in facilitating the use of research in school districts, but few studies have investigated strategies to bolster district leaders’ and managers’ skills and capacity to access, appraise, and use research. This study leverages an initiative by the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) to reform the education doctorate and cultivate “scholarly practitioners” who use research and applied theories as tools for change. These programs are intended to train education leaders in finding relevant research, assessing its credibility, and using it to define problems and design responses, but little is known about the pedagogies and instructional practices training programs use to foster these skills. Firestone will investigate whether redesigned education doctoral programs help graduates acquire such skills, the contexts that seem to support that training, and how students experience their training. Using mixed-methods, the study includes four education doctoral programs that vary in size, location, faculty research activity, and approach to students’ capstone experience. Findings from the study may shed light on how to prepare education leaders and middle managers to critically appraise and use research.