Doctoral Degree: Children, Families and Schools Concentration

...school, family, and community are the three major contexts in which children grow and develop...

The Children, Families, and Schools (CFS) doctoral program is designed to address the growing concern for meeting the educational and developmental needs of children in the varied settings in which learning and development occur. The curriculum addresses the philosophical, historical, and cultural foundations of learning and development.  It offers future researchers and practitioners a program of study in child development, childhood studies, and learning, and examines how they relate to educational practice from birth through the early childhood and elementary school years. The program philosophy is based on the assumption that a complex interdependent relationship exists among school, family, and society and espouses an approach that requires those working with educational settings to be aware of the impact of culture, ethnicity, gender, history, values, and economics upon the lives of children and families.

Highlights/Points of Pride

Reflecting the research interests of the faculty, student research includes topics on the child as learner, the psychological foundations of development and early education, the relationship between childhood, education  and culture, educational psychology, the human interactions involved in the teaching process, the definition of the teacher's role, the implications of the new technologies for learning, character development, the family of the special needs child, early intervention, family development, and the role parents, families and communities play in the education and development of the young child. CFS doctoral students also have the opportunity to engage program field supervision and teaching assistantships associated with our early childhood and elementary teacher preparation programs.

Required Courses

Doctoral students in the Children, Families and Schools are required to take a minimum of 7 courses within CFS and are encouraged to take at least one course outside of the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, preferably outside of the College of Education. Students work with their advisory committee to identify courses that align with the College of Education competencies, the NAEYC Professional Standards, as well as their own scholarly interests.

Doctoral course requirements are aligned with the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Professional Standards for Advanced Programs. We include the NAEYC competencies and course requirements below:

1. Promoting Child Development and Learning

Candidates' demonstrations of competence may include using effective methodologies to generate new knowledge about development and the conditions that promote it, as well as using effective teaching strategies to make current child development knowledge meaningful and powerful for future teachers or other community practitioners.

At least two of the following are required:

Advanced Child Development (EDUC 673)
Infancy (HUMDEV 600)
Theories of Human Development (HUMDEV 660)
Adolescent Development (HUMDEV 670)
Moral and Character Development (EDUC 691A)
Research in Early Childhood Education and Family Studies (HUMDEV 791B)
Research and Theories in Early Childhood Education and Family Studies (HUMDEV 773)

2. Building Family and Community Relationships

Candidates show skill in using sound methodologies to generate new knowledge about families of young children, or they may devise more effective ways to help future teachers and community practitioners understand, engage, and support families

At least one of the following is required:

Anthropology of Childhood (EDUC 795G)
Children and Families: Theoretical and Educational Perspectives (EDUC 697D)
Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Education (EDUC 697R)
Inquiry into American Schooling (EDUC 645)

3. Observing, Documenting and Assessing

Candidates work to develop and validate assessment tools and are able to analyze the effects of various assessment approaches in improving child and program outcomes. Candidates show evidence of knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions related to the study and promotion of sound assessment practices.

At least one of the following is required:

Classroom Management (EDUC 608)
Learning Disabilities in Children and Youth (EDUC 668)
Behavior & Disability: Etiologies, Assessments and Interventions (EDUC 692F)
Assessment of Children and Youth with Special Needs (EDUC 679)

4.  Teaching and Learning

Candidates should identify significant research questions, critique current research, and design worthwhile studies utilizing in-depth knowledge of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Those candidates who will be preparing future teachers in higher education or community programs will learn and demonstrate research-based approaches to building others’ skills in curriculum development and teaching strategies. 

At least one of the following is required:

Curriculum Theories (TBA)
Any course in subject-specific pedagogy at the 600 level or higher
Examples: Teaching Mathematical Problem Solving (EDUC 651); Teaching Math to Students with Disabilities (EDUC 672); Language and Language Learning (EDUC 670); Language Development and Literacy (EDUC 697); Curriculum Design and Instruction for Social Justice Education (EDUC 627); Teaching Reading and Writing for Content and Language Learning (EDUC 681)

At least two qualitative methods and two quantitative methods courses at the 600 level or higher are required for all doctoral candidates. Some examples: 

Survey Research Methods (EDUC 794B)
Applied Multivariate Analysis I or II (EDUC 771, 772)
Structural Equation Modeling (EDUC 731)
Qualitative Research Methods (EDUC 619)
Qualitative Data Analysis (EDUC 797A)
Education Statistics II (EDUC 656)
Educational Research Methods (EDUC 661)
Principles of Testing (EDUC 632)

Depending on the research methods to be used in the dissertation, doctoral students are recommended to take additional courses in related methodologies and research competencies. Some example courses: 

Educational Planning and Evaluation (EDUC 862)
Writing Ethnography (ANTHRO 697CC)

5.  Growing as a Professional

Candidates should know and use effective, sound methodology to develop and conduct studies of the profession. To be effective, their work requires them to engage collaboratively with others both within and outside academia. And researcher candidates require special competence in understanding and using ethical guidelines for the protection of human subjects, especially when those research subjects are vulnerable young children.

This requirement is experiential. The specifics may be negotiated with the guidance committee members and will be explicitly documented in detail as part of the candidate's degree plan and qualification and as a pre-requisite for beginning preparation for comprehensive examinations.  Competencies may be met by some or all of the following:

Attending and presenting at local, national or international conferences in the field
Writing a research or theoretical paper for a practitioner audience, or as part of comprehensive examinations
Being a mentored research or teaching assistant in the concentration 
Completing the CITI training for human research subject use through the UMass research office (required)

Contact Information

Coordinator: Ernest D. Washington (Professor)

Associated Faculty

Camille Cammack ( Lecturer), Portia Elliott (Professor), Darrell Earnest (Assistant Professor), Sally Galman (Associate Professor, Co-Coordinator), Claire Hamilton (Associate Professor), Alfred L. Karlson (Associate Professor), Ray Sharick (Lecturer), Ernest D. Washington (Professor), Seon Jeong Yu (Assistant Professor).

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