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Session Descriptions

This summer, NSU's Abraham S. Fischler College of Education will host a working institute specifically designed to move you forward toward your goal of completing your dissertation. Depending on your individual progress, you will participate in one of two concurrent academic tracks; each will  include seven core/required working sessions that blend direct instruction with allotted times for students to write and create draft products.  

In addition, there will be substantial time reserved for you to select from and attend a wide variety of focused elective workshops addressing your specific needs. The overall goal of the institute is to immerse you in a three-day study/writing experience resulting in draft work worthy of submission to assigned chairs for immediate consideration, editing, and eventual approval.

Everyone is strongly encouraged to bring personal computing devices for the duration of the conference. 

This track is designed for students without an approved concept paper or prospectus, and offers one-on-one/small group sessions with dissertation faculty. 

The core/required sessions will include sessions focusing on topics such as dissertation components/practical planning, writing purpose statements and research questions, understanding varying methodologies, writing a scholarly literature review, introduction to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process, and library sessions on facilitating scholarly searches as well as APA style and format writing.

Session 1: Navigating the Dissertation Process: The Components

This session will provide an overview of the Ed.D. dissertation process for current Ed.D. students and dissertation committee chairs and members (CCMs).  This session will detail what is expected in each of the four dissertation benchmarks:  Applied Dissertation I: The Prospectus, Applied Dissertation II: Proposal Development, Applied Dissertation III: Proposal and IRB, and Applied Dissertation IV: Applied Dissertation Final Report and Format Review.  The session will cover the research course sequence and answer any questions students and/or CCMs have regarding the dissertation process.

Session 2: Alignment: The Key to a Strong Dissertation

This session will be an interactive presentation where students will be shown how to create a viable problem statement.  Participants will share their ideas with colleagues to help tighten the language.  Once this step is accomplished, students will design purpose statements, then look at whether they align with the problem statement.  The final portion of the session will involve students creating possible research questions that would address that problem. An alignment chart will be presented to help them.

Session 3: How to Write Chapter 3: Your Methodology and IRB

During this session, participants will gain an understanding of how to organize and write Chapter 3 and complete the Institutional Review Board process. The presenters will illustrate through various examples of the Chapter 3: Methodology (i.e., quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods) and several sections of the IRB Manager.  Chapter 3 includes potential participants, sample strategy, instrumentation, steps in the research, data analysis, limitations, and more. This session will ensure that all doctoral students are aware that they must submit and obtain NSU IRB approval prior to collecting data for dissertation purposes.  Presenters will provide an overview of the IRB process as well as examples and non-examples of the IRB protocol and ancillary documents.

Session 4: Writing Your Literature Review

This session will focus on assisting students with the development of the literature review (Chapter 2). The session will include information on the purpose of the literature review, steps to evaluate and organize the literature, and key elements to include in a good literature review. The presenter will explain how the literature review secures the most productive and effective manner for selecting a topic for research and designing an investigation. Examples of how former students used scholarly and refereed literature to identify a feasible and academically sound research topic will be shared.

Session 5: Flavoring your Prospectus with Seasoned Library Resources

Learn how to mine scholarly information to find updated, peer-reviewed articles, save time cross-searching several databases, and track down related studies. You will also learn how to improve your search results by using subjects instead of keywords and how to identify if a journal is peer-reviewed using the best-kept secret at the library.

Session 6: APA Style and Format 101

This session will offer a review of the basics of APA style and format in writing.  It will be an overview of how to structure and format papers and cite references in the text and in the reference list.  Helpful writing resources will be discussed as well.    

Session 7: Managing Your Dissertation: Practical Tips for a Smooth Dissertation Journey

We’ve all heard the saying, “The best dissertation is a done dissertation!” But a done (and high quality) dissertation doesn’t just happen.  There must be a plan for it.  This session will help students create their own plan for reaching their dissertation goals by providing tips for managing procrastination, managing time, managing stress, and last but not least, managing their dissertation committee.  Students will leave the session with concrete ideas they can implement during all phases of the dissertation process.

This track is designed for students with an approved concept paper/prospectus who have made evident, initial progress in proposal development, and offers a variety of workshops and writing sessions.

The core/required sessions will include practical planning/strategies for success, the literature review, quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods overview, writing a methodology, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) mandated approval process, and an APA style and format writing session.

Session 1: A Practical Plan for Proposal and Beyond

We’ve all heard the saying, “The best dissertation is a done dissertation!” But a done (and high quality) dissertation doesn’t just happen.  There must be a plan for it.  This session will help students create their own plan for reaching their dissertation goals by providing tips for managing procrastination, managing time, managing stress, and last but not least, managing their dissertation committee.  Students will leave the session with concrete ideas they can implement during the proposal and final dissertation phases of the dissertation process.

Session 2: An Overview of Methodology Types

This session will provide students with an overview of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods of study and some basic research questions that can be answered using these methodologies.  Emphasis will be placed on the importance of knowing key elements of research design in order to develop an interesting and feasible dissertation research topic.  Discussion will focus primarily on how the purpose statements of students’ studies can be turned into research questions that can be answered using one or more of the covered research paradigms.

Session 3: How to Write Chapter 3: Your Methodology

The gorilla of applied research, the specific challenge in Chapter 3 is to conceptualize and communicate to a passive, universal audience the method that the researcher will undertake. In this session, you will be oriented to expected/anticipated headings in prescribed order. Then, the presenter will spend a few minutes on each heading: discussing purpose and content. Strategies and resources relating to success in writing Chapter 3 will conclude the session.   

Session 4: Writing Your Literature Review

This session will focus on assisting students with the development of the literature review (Chapter 2). The session will include information on the purpose of the literature review, steps to evaluate and organize the literature, and key elements to include in a good literature review. In addition, there will be an overview on the general formation of what constitutes an exhausted literature review.

Session 5: Infusing Library Fuel for Dissertation Take-Off

This session will demonstrate how to search dissertation databases and how to use the different citation tracking features. It will also cover a selection of advanced database tools that make research and organization more efficient and effective, such as creating accounts and setting up alerts. Lastly, students will be introduced to the best sources for methodologies and instruments.

Session 6: APA Style and Format A to Z

This session will provide participants with strategies for preparing their dissertations for Final Format Review. It will offer tips on completing the abstract, displaying tables and figures, and preparing appendices. It will help students tune up their academic writing skills, grammar, and APA formatting. Additionally, students will receive assistance in using the Format Guide for Applied Dissertation template for pagination and formatting of the table of contents, as well as citing sources from various research materials.

Session 7: Tips for IRB Submission

This session will offer students guidance, tips, and an appropriate timeline for acquiring and submitting IRB materials. Topics will include the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program, obtaining site approval, completing consent/assent forms and participation letters, and navigating the IRB Manager system.

Writing and Communication

This session will engage participants in activities designed to help them begin writing their dissertations.  Topics will include developing early drafts, clarifying ideas, keeping a research journal, and organizing materials.  Participants will be actively involved throughout the session, which will include ample discussion.

Changing Face of America: 21st Century Demographic Shifts

This session will explore how the nation is changing racially, ethnically, culturally, and geographically as well as how these changes may impact education. Participants will be able to find answers to many questions, including the following:

  • Are human capital and monetary resources for educational programs keeping pace with demographic changes?
  • Are community schools prepared to meet the needs of its new students?
  • As an educator, how are demographics impacting my work?

The Relevance of Ethics in Research

The session will focus on ethical norms as the standards for behavior that apply to people conducting research or engaging in other scholarly or creative activities. The goal is to raise awareness of the relevance of ethical behavior for conducting research and its essential principles. Presenters will highlight the essential values to collaborative work, researchers being accountable to the public and their institutions, in addition to moral and social values. 

Theoretical Lens: Exploring, Learning and Identifying

One of the challenges for beginning doctoral students is to find and identify a lens through which they can propose a research topic and then finally analyze the data that they will be collecting.  In this session, the presenter will introduce, explain, and give examples of theoretical lenses by exposing students to actual theoretical lenses via a variety of instruments (scholarly articles, texts, dissertation theses, etc.). 

Qualitative Design

This session on qualitative research will review the principles of this research methodology and provide specific tips in designing a qualitative study.  The session content will include in-depth and formal interviewing techniques, principles of field observation, questionnaire design, and philosophical inquiry into qualitative research perspectives. Major emphasis will be placed on learning how to integrate qualitative logic and language in every chapter of the dissertation.

Quantitative Research Methods

This session will provide an overview of the different types of quantitative research designs, including experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, survey, and ex post facto designs.  The presenter will also discuss different ways to collect quantitative data in order to answer your research questions.

Mixed Methods

This session on mixed methods for research will introduce the concepts of research designs related to incorporating both quantitative and qualitative methods into a single research project. The session was designed for graduate students with the aim of communicating and applying the conceptual and procedural components of various mixed methods designs. The emphasis will be on the explanation of these concepts and the applications to “real-life” and research-based paradigms so students can become more skilled at applying the most appropriate research designs and develop the skills necessary to complete an applied dissertation.

Survey Development: Process and Expectations

Any student wanting to develop or modify a survey for their dissertation needs to understand the survey development process. This session will detail how to develop/modify a survey for use in one’s dissertation.  An overview of the different methods for conducting surveys, as well as how to establish content validity, will be the focus of this session.

Qualitative Analysis

This session will give students an overview of the theory, preparation, and practice of analyzing qualitative data. Students will learn the different ways to organize the data collection and data analysis as it relates to the qualitative tradition and research questions. In addition, different types of interpretive analytic approaches and their use will also be explored and applied. Last, students will be introduced to different types of computer software for organizing the coding process. It is highly recommended that students come to this session with a qualitative data set to analyze. 

Statistical Analysis Made Easy: A Beginner’s Tutorial on How to Use SPSS Software

SPSS is a user-friendly software for analyzing quantitative data.  In this session, you will learn the basics concerning how this software is used.  Step by step instructions will be provided for both creating a new database and importing an existing Excel spreadsheet into SPSS.  Details concerning easy point and click procedures for using SPSS with ease will be described.  By the end of this session you will have a firm grasp concerning how this powerful, yet very user friendly, software can be used to analyze data for your applied dissertation.

How to Use SPSS to Answer Basic Quantitative Research Questions

Students will receive a concise overview of how to use SPSS for answering research questions of interest to them.  Procedures for entering data into SPSS will be reviewed.  Point and click procedures for obtaining descriptive statistical output will be described.  Also, how SPSS can be used to examine differences between groups with respect to average performance will be reviewed.  Finally, correlational approaches used to explain individual differences on an outcome will be reviewed.  Specifically, SPSS procedures for answering research questions using t-tests, analysis of variance, correlations, and multiple regression will be covered.

A Journey from Dissertation to Publication

In this session, the presenter will discuss the personal journey of one FCE alumnus from writing the dissertation to successfully publishing an article.  An overview of how goal setting, time management, writing tools, editing, revising, and final production of the dissertation will be provided and discussed.  Procedures and suggestions for publishing opportunities based on your dissertation will be outlined.  The journey does not end with the successful completion of the dissertation, but continues with publication and being recognized as an academic with credentials.

Finding Tests and Instruments

Don't stress out trying to find validated tests and measurements.  This session will cover library tools that will help you identify and select an appropriate instrument.  Strategies for obtaining permission for instruments will also be discussed.


EndNote is a powerful citation management tool that helps you collect and organize references from online sources, and save PDF documents. It also offers a Cite While You Write feature. This session will include a brief overview of downloading and installing the software, but will mainly focus on using EndNote. Participants should make an appointment if they need one-on-one help with installing the software on their computers, downloading database content, or using EndNote's features.

Organizing Sources for a Literature Review

Keeping up with the literature in a chosen field, and keeping track of what you already have found, can be daunting. Learn some tips and tricks for organizing your sources such as setting up alerts, naming files, creating folders, and using cloud tools.

Identifying Theories and Landmark Studies

This session will cover finding relevant dissertations to help you identify theoretical frameworks. Using Web of Science, a multidisciplinary database of over 12,000 of the highest impact journals worldwide, will help you identify landmark or seminal studies by searching for frequently cited articles.

Sage Research Methods

Tap into 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned content with advanced search and discovery tools to help you design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct research, and write up findings. The session will also cover SAGE Research Methods Cases, a collection of case studies of real social research specially commissioned, and designed to help students understand often abstract methodological concepts by introducing them to case studies of real research projects.

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