Doctoral Degree: Teacher Education and School Improvement

The mission of the Teacher Education and School Improvement (TESI) doctoral concentration is to prepare reflective, informed, and research-oriented scholars and practitioners in the fields of teacher education, teacher development, and school improvement. The TESI concentration is committed to supporting research and practice that advance the aims of educational equity and social justice. We believe teachers’ work is intellectual work: academically rigorous, highly complex, and deeply relational. As such, teacher educators have a responsibility to develop teachers who are reflective practitioners with deep knowledge of their content area as well as the social, political, and cultural dynamics of teaching and learning in their full sociopolitical context. The TESI concentration supports engaged scholarship that advances these goals by enhancing our understanding of effective teaching and teacher-education practices, increasing our society’s capacity to implement such practices on a broad scale, and preparing doctoral students to become leaders in the field.

We strongly encourage applicants to the TESI program to describe reasons for wishing to pursue our research-oriented doctorate in their personal statement, as well as some tentative research interests or intellectual questions they would like to pursue. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to review recent research of TESI faculty and to contact individual faculty members whose research is of particular interest. 

Highlights/Points of Pride:

We seek doctoral applicants who are experienced educators and wish to develop their expertise in issues related to teacher education, teacher development, and school improvement. Some examples of research topics that TESI doctoral students might pursue include (but are not limited to):

  • How teachers can support the academic achievement of culturally, racially, and linguistically diverse learners;
  • How schools, families and communities can work together for school improvement more effectively;
  • How social inequalities like race, class, gender, and language affect school achievement;
  • How to design or improve programs for teacher preparation and teacher professional development;
  • How to apply institutional theory to understand the influence school change efforts;
  • How to develop curriculum or improve pedagogical practice in a particular content area.
Doctoral students in TESI will have access to a variety of research, teaching, and apprenticeship experiences. TESI faculty members are engaged scholars and reflective practitioners who integrate scholarship with teaching in a variety of ways. We are committed to the university’s public service mission, and aim to advance the public good through engaged research and reflective practice in and with school/community partners. TESI is proud to be an “intellectual home” for teacher education-related research and practice in the College of Education.
TESI graduates have been highly successful. The majority (55%) of our graduates hold tenure track position at various college and universities in the United States. Other graduates chose careers as lecturers in higher education, K-12 teacher leaders or school administrators.

Program of Study

Credits Required: 54 Credits

Course Number

Course Title

Credit Hours

Required Core Courses



Review & Retrieval of Research; typically offered Fall



Historical and Social Foundations; typically offered Spring


Content Area #1 Sociopolitical Context of Education: at least 1 course


EDUC 726

Introduction to School Leadership


EDUC 755

Urban Education; typically every other Fall


EDUC 837

Social Contexts of Schools and Politics of Reform



African-American Literacies; typically every Spring


Equivalent courses with Guidance Committee approval_____ (initialed by advisor)


Content Area #2 Teacher Education Research and Practice: at least 1 course


EDUC 722

Research on Teacher Education; typically Spring


EDUC 851

Principles of Supervision


Equivalent courses with Guidance Committee approval_____ (initialed by advisor)


Content Area #3 Curriculum Teaching and Learning: at least 1 course



Foundations/Theories of Learning



Theories of Interest and Motivation


EDUC 730

Research on Teaching/Theories of Critical Pedagogy



Children's Thinking and Learning


Equivalent courses with Guidance Committee approval_____ (initialed by advisor)


Content Area #4 Conducting Original Research: 4 courses required (2 must be quantitative*)


EDUC 555

Introduction to Statistics I*


EDUC 619

Qualitative Research Methods


EDUC 652

Mixed Methods Research* (typically Spring semester)


EDUC 656

Introduction to Statistics II*


EDUC 661

Education Research Methods I*


EDUC 671

Survey Research Methods*


EDUC 718

Action Research



Critical Discourse Analysis



Qualitative Data Analysis


EDUC 815

Ethnography (2 semesters)


Equivalent courses with Guidance Committee approval_____ (initialed by advisor)


Elective Courses: non-thesis writing


Dissertation Credits


Minimum Total Credits


Contact Information

For more information about the Teacher Education and School Improvement program, please contact:

Concentration Coordinators:  Meg Gebhard (Professor)

Associated Faculty

Meg Gebhard (Professor), Darryl Essensa (Lecturer), Keisha L. Green (Assistant Professor), Linda Griffin (Professor), Robert Maloy (Senior Lecturer), Elizabeth McEneaney (Associate Professor), Kysa Nygreen (Assistant Professor), Ruth-Ellen Verock (Senior Lecturer)