Part I: The Road to the Thematic Dissertation in Leadership Practice

I. TDiLP Doctoral Students

Doctoral students conduct the team-based TDiLP project during Year 3 in the EDLR program. Students primarily will be doing so in teams of three to six comprised of other members of their cohort. EDLR faculty and/or TDiLP supervisors will present students with several possible TDiLP projects and students will indicate first and second preferences. Then faculty will arrange TDiLP teams based on a variety of considerations, including student preferences, strengths, professional concentration/context areas, etc.

In Year 3 doctoral students participating in the TDiLP project register for:

  • EDLR 6510 TDiLP I (Fall Quarter (6 credits)
  • EDLR 6520 TDiLP II Winter Quarter (6 credits)
  • EDLR 6530 TDiLP III Spring Quarter (6 credits)

Each individual student earns a letter grade each quarter for each registration—i.e., letter grades will be earned/submitted for EDLR 6510, EDLR 6520, and EDLR 6530, separately and respectively.

Each individual’s grade each quarter will be assessed/determined by criteria specified in the TDiLP Grading Rubric as articulated by current policy.  

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II. Selection/Assignment of the TDiLP Project and Inquiry Supervisor

During spring quarter of each academic year, students completing Year 2 of the EOLL  program will be presented with potential TDiLP research topics, each connected to a community partner organization and a TDiLP inquiry supervisor. A variety of topics will be presented (taking into consideration the professional concentration areas of those who will be conducting TDiLP projects), after which each student will identify a first and second preference among the alternatives. Teams typically will consist of three to six students. EOLL program faculty will arrange teams by considering student preferences as well as student strengths, areas of interest, and overall professional goals.

Inquiry Supervisors are paired with specific topics based on their expertise and availability to work with a dissertation team. Students will be notified of their assigned inquiry supervisor, team and topic by the end of Year 2—i.e., most likely near the conclusion of spring quarter that ends Year 2. Year 3 begins in summer quarter, during which time students are expected to obtain, read, and take notes on research studies relevant to their team topic to be prepared to share with teammates once Year 3 Fall Quarter begins.

Registration for TDiLP credits and formal TDiLP team meetings will begin Year 3 Fall Quarter. The TDiLP inquiry supervisor will coordinate, facilitate, mentor, and guide all TDiLP processes and practices that formally begin Year 3 Fall Quarter. one’s stage in the process. The role of the chair is discussed more in Part 2, but the role of the committee covers four areas:

  • a check and balance on behalf of the University (degrees shouldn’t be determined by one person; multiple expert eyes can ensure consistent quality);
  • multiple sources of expertise (as it’s helpful to have a diverse range of expertise on the committee to assist you);
  • multiple sources of support (similar to expertise, each committee member brings a different degree of accessibility and style of support);
  •  and accountability (to ensure that the dissertation is judged on its merit) (Garger, J. (2011). 

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II i. Committee Members

The main role of committee members is to:

  1. Serve as ad hoc consultants to the TDiLP team during preparation of the Research Proposal and TDiLP Dissertation. Note: Always converse with your TDiLP inquiry supervisor before seeking input from committee members. If your supervisor deems it appropriate to contact committee members, then do so and consider the helpful suggestions they provide. Remember that feedback from committee members commonly is provided informally through brief contacts, interactions, or conversations—not through meticulous rounds of reading and marking drafts—this is what your inquiry supervisor does to assist you in preparing your Research Proposal and TDiLP Dissertation that finally is ready to be given to committee members for their critique for your defense.
  2. Read and critique the Research Proposal and TDiLP Dissertation in preparation for the defense. Committee members should contact the inquiry supervisor if they believe that either the Research Proposal or TDiLP Dissertation is not yet ready.
  3. Attend and participate in two defenses: the Research Proposal defense that takes place late Fall Quarter or early Winter Quarter (i.e., December, January, February) and the TDiLP Dissertation defense that takes place late Spring Quarter or early Summer Quarter (i.e., May, June, July). Ask provocative questions during each defense, provide evaluative feedback to the students, and determine whether to (a) approve, (b) approve with conditions (minor revisions required), or (c) not approve (major revisions required). If not approved, committee members will participate in a future defense (once the inquiry supervisor verifies that major revisions are completed).

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III. TDiLP Supervision

The TDiLP inquiry supervisor is the primary point of contact and support provided by Seattle University for doctoral students and community partner throughout the TDiLP project/process. The TDiLP inquiry supervisor has final approval authority concerning all aspects of the TDiLP project. Students and community partners always should first contact their inquiry supervisor regarding all issues relevant to the TDiLP project. 

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IV. Your Dissertation Committee

Every dissertation is guided by a faculty chair and a committee. The size and composition of the committee can vary by the degree program and  Your TDiLP committee shall include a minimum of three qualified professionals: 1) TDiLP Inquiry Supervisor, 2) one other full-time SU faculty member, and 3) one member from outside the university, typically from the workplace, including schools, districts, nonprofit and other organizations. The 3rd member is also required to have a terminal degree from an accredited institution of higher education.

  • Your TDiLP committee shall be balanced to include a combination of professionals who can provide expertise in both the content area and research methodology.
  • Your TDiLP inquiry supervisor (a) chairs your committee throughout, (b) oversees your TDiLP team’s research process throughout, and (c) formally evaluates at each defense (research proposal and dissertation).
  • Your TDiLP committee members mainly read, review, and evaluate your TDiLP Research Proposal, TDiLP Final Dissertation and attend your presentation/defense.
  • After discussion with the TDiLP team, your inquiry supervisor will contact qualified professionals to serve on your committee, then file the appropriate paperwork to officially record members (see Appendix XX, TDiLP Form 1). Factors considered when selecting committee members include team preferences, the qualifications of those identified, the workloads of faculty, and the match between your research topic and the expertise of proposed committee members.
  • Your TDiLP committee becomes official once the Dissertation Committee Request Form is completed and all required signatures are obtained—including the signature of the inquiry supervisor, all TDiLP team members, and the committee members. Note: Any committee member who is not employed at Seattle University must submit a curriculum vitae or résumé to attach to the form.
  • Any exceptions to the above policies must be approved by EOLL program faculty and may require the approval by the Dean in the College of Education. Note: Exceptions may include requesting a larger committee (four or five professionals instead of three) or requesting a committee member without a terminal degree from an accredited institution of higher education who demonstrates exceptional professional qualifications (e.g., nationally/internationally recognized).
  • If a committee change becomes necessary, the TDiLP inquiry supervisor will work with the TDiLP team to identify, recruit, and obtain new membership. If a TDiLP inquiry supervisor must withdraw from serving, the EOLL faculty will assist in obtaining a replacement
  • If a committee change is requested after a defense is scheduled but before it has taken place, the defense must be cancelled. The defense will be rescheduled once the committee has been reconstituted, providing reasonable time for all members to thoughtfully review and critique the product being defended.

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V. Distinct Roles of the TDiLP Inquiry Supervisor and Committee Members

The overall role of your committee is to supervise, examine, and approve your TDiLP products. This section describes the role of an inquiry supervisor as distinct from committee members. The next section explains the purpose of the proposal and TDiLP defense, respectively. Reflect on both sections as you consider who to request for your committee and which professionals may best serve in which roles.

Inquiry Supervisor

The main role of the inquiry supervisor is to:

  1. Assist TDiLP teammates in understanding and enacting all TDiLP procedures and policies in the Guide to Thematic Dissertations in Leadership Practice, EDLR Student Handbook, Seattle University Graduate Catalog, and Seattle University EOLL Student Handbook.
  2. For Problems of Practice Dissertation, in consultation with the EOLL Program Director and Dean, ensure the completion of the TDiLP Memorandum of Understanding with the community partner.
  3. Supervise the initial member of committee members with students to set a realistic timeline for completion of the Dissertation and complete the Dissertation Committee Request_Fillable Form.
  4. Guide students to assure that all required TDiLP products exhibit appropriate specificity and detail expected for doctoral research.
  5. Complete and submit quarterly TDiLP Progress Report for TDiLP Team to EOLL program director
  6. Review, evaluate, and determine if the Research Proposal is ready for defense.
  7. Approve the distribution of the Research Proposal to committee members and guide students in scheduling the date/time for the defense.
  8. Facilitate the Research Proposal defense and, once approval is granted, complete and submit the Dissertation Proposal Hearing Report_Fillable Form to formally record approval.
  9. Supervise the TDiLP team in conducting the study as specified in the approved Research Proposal.
  10. Review, evaluate, and determine if the TDiLP Dissertation is ready for defense.
  11. Approve the distribution of the TDiLP Dissertation to committee members and guide students in scheduling the date/time/location for the defense. Once the date/time/location are set, complete and submit the Dissertation Defense Scheduling Request_Fillable Form for formal approval to schedule the defense.
  12. Assist the students in preparing for the defense—i.e., the PPT presentation and oral examination/discussion components.
  13. Conduct the TDiLP Dissertation defense by providing and facilitating an agenda (see Appendix K) and by completing and submitting the report of the Final Dissertation Examination and Filing of the Dissertation_Fillable Form to formally record results,
  14. If revisions are required by the committee, (a) document all revision, (b) assist the TDiLP team in making the revisions, (c) verify that all revisions are made before the students submit the final version of their TDiLP Dissertation, and (d) complete and submit Dissertation Final Review Approval_Fillable Form to formally record successful completion and approval.
  15. Suggest opportunities for professional presentation/publication of the research; provide guidance as appropriate.

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VI. TDiLP Grades

As articulated in Seattle University’s Graduate Catalog, graduate courses graded C- or below will not count toward a graduate degree or certificate. Therefore, any student who receives a course grade of C- or below will be placed on academic probation the following quarter and must successfully fulfill probation requirements by the end of that same following quarter to remain in the TDiLP project. If probation requirements are not successfully fulfilled/completed, the student will be recommended for dismissal from the EOLL program. See Seattle University’s Academic Probation and Dismissal GR Policy.  

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VII. Time Completion

Students must complete the Ed.D. degree by the end of Year 6 in the program. Entrance into the EOLL program begins Year 1 Summer Quarter upon matriculation. The Seattle University and College of Education academic calendar consists of four quarters that begin in summer and end in spring—i.e., one complete academic year is Summer Quarter, Fall Quarter, Winter Quarter, Spring Quarter. If circumstances beyond students’ control make it necessary to complete the TDiLP project after Year 3 Spring Quarter, then all TDiLP teammates must register for EDLR 6100 Dissertation Support (1 credit) each quarter thereafter through the quarter in which the TDiLP project is completed and TDiLP Form 4 is signed.

If a student takes an official Student Leave of Absence (SLOA) during Year 3 while engaged in the TDiLP sequence of registrations, then the Seattle University Student Leave of Absence Policy applies. When a student returns from an official leave, that student will be eligible to start the TDiLP sequence at its beginning with a new team, forfeiting prior work and registrations that no longer apply to the new TDiLP project. Starting TDiLP anew is necessary because the TDiLP requirement is a team-based project conducted through a sequential process that demands full participation of all teammates in all aspects throughout its duration.

Doctoral students from previous cohorts may join a TDiLP project at its beginning if deemed eligible and approved by EOLL faculty. 

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