J. Mcatavey

Barry University (UNITED STATES)
In recent times, there has been a trend to make Doctorate in Education (EDD) programs more relevant. These programs are designed for real-world practice (Perry et al., 2000). The intention of these programs is to prepare leaders who can transform organizations and help them thrive in a rapidly changing environment (Perry et al., 2020). Often these programs use embedded dissertations. Students start the dissertation process early in their program. They complete course assignments that relate directly to their dissertation or in some instances it is called a dissertation in practice (Spaulding et al., 20201). The dissertation in practice focuses on questions concerning ethics, diversity, equity and social justice to solve complex problems of practice in organizations.

According to Knowles (1984) adults like to be self-directed and learn best when they know why they are learning information, and can see how that knowledge can be applied to the workplace. In embedded dissertation programs, students can work on their dissertations while receiving ongoing guidance from faculty members. Providing opportunities for doctoral students to apply their work experiences is an important teaching strategy for teachers, as well as, emboldening students to share their experiences with others (Perry et al., 2020).

Many EDD programs use a hybrid learning model. Also known as blended learning. It usually refers to the integration of face-to-face and synchronous and asynchronous online components (Frydrychova, & Kacetl, 2015).

This study applied the framework of Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory. Bandura’s (1982) Self-efficacy Theory, centers on individuals” belief in their ability to flourish in certain situations. One aspect of self-efficacy is “mastery experiences,” where performing a task proficiently increases a feeling of self-efficacy. EDD students who have an opportunity to engage in hands-on experiential learning, may be able to develop “mastery experiences” at a higher level (Storey & Hesbol, 2016).

The purpose of this phenomenological research study was to explore the meaning of the lived experiences of recent graduates from an EDD program. The researcher attempted to understand the graduates’ perception of what teaching approaches were conducive to learning in their hybrid format. There were nine participants who participated in this study. After they completed an electronic survey using Survey Monkey, five themes emerged. Being able to apply what they were learning was the first theme. Collaborating with other cohort members in the learning process was the second theme. The third theme was prompt and specific teacher feedback. Teachers committed to the learning process was the fourth theme. Building on components of their dissertation in practice as they progressed throughout the program was the fifth theme.