Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The pursuit of a PhD as a virtual professional learning community: A phenomenological dramaturgy of one cohort's experience
by Ford, Lance Mason, Ph.D., The University of Oklahoma, 2009, 205; 3366052
Abstract (Summary)

Education can be a lonely business. Teachers and administrators are often separated from other adult professionals in isolated classrooms, offices, and administration buildings. Geographic remoteness only exacerbates personal seclusion, preventing collaboration concerning how to foster student learning and wellbeing. Bringing a disparate group of potentially isolated educational leaders together, in 2005 the Educational Administration Department (EAD) at Central University in the United States created a local/distance (mixed) PhD cohort. Pathways, a special unit embedded within EAD, spearheaded the plan; infused the curriculum with collaborative community literature; intended to enhance student administrative expertise; and, if desired, prepared students for the college professorate. I was a cohort member, and my co-author taught four research courses scattered throughout the program. Classes are over now, and 13 out of 14 original members are defending prospecti and dissertations.

For the most part Pathways realized its expectations, and the group became a professional learning community (PLC). This study produced three thematic lenses through which to see the cohort's evolution: job-related challenges, technology struggles, and interpersonal relationships. This methodology centers on a phenomenological dramaturgy. Cooley (1922) and Mead (1934/1967) guided our view of the phenomenon as the cohort's historical group development toward each individual's evolving professional- and self-perceptions within a community context. We present the findings in a four-act play (Goffman, 1959). Our special attention to students speaks to future virtual and local doctoral cohort developers and those who theorize about successful doctoral education. Being a good educator means paying attention to details—in this case, the ever-changing social self-constructions that can make or break a student's experience.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: O'Hair, Mary J., Vaughn, Courtney A.
Commitee: Eseryel, Deniz, Garn, Gregg, Wilson, Scott
School: The University of Oklahoma
Department: Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration, Curriculum development, Higher education
Keywords: Dramaturgy, Graduate education, Pathways, Phenomenology, Professional learning community, Virtual
Publication Number: 3366052
ISBN: 9781109265910
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