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. 

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.

Required Courses:

The program of study is 36 credits of coursework plus 18 dissertation credits. Doctoral students complete a minimum of five graduate courses (15 credits) within the TESI concentration core, following the distribution requirements explained below, 4 research methods courses (12 credits) as well as three elective courses (9 credits) in any department. These requirements are only the minimum; many students will complete more coursework. All decisions about coursework will be made in consultation with your faculty advisor, based on your specific scholarly interests and professional goals.

Required courses for all entering doctoral students in the first semester: 

  • EDUC 791A: Review and Retrieval of Educational Research
  • EDUC 790C: Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education

A minimum of three TESI core content courses (9 credits):

  • EDUC 755: Urban Education
  • EDUC 722: Research on Teacher Education
  • ED 730: Research on Teaching
  • ED 791: Schools as Workplaces
  • EDUC 837: Social Contexts of Schools and Politics of Reform

A minimum of four research methods courses:

  • EDUC 619: Qualitative Research Methods
  • EDUC 797A: Qualitative Data Analysis
  • EDUC 652: Mixed-Methods Research
  • EDUC 661: Quantitative Research Methods
  • EDUC 555: Introduction to Statistics and Computer Analysis I
  • EDUC 591: Fundamentals of Test Construction
  • EDUC 656: Introduction to Statistics II and Computer Analysis II
  • EDUC 771: Applied Multivariate Statistics I
  • EDUC 772: Applied Multivariate Statistics II
  • EDUC 815: Ethnography (2 semesters)
  • EDUC 718: Action Research
  • EDUC 794D: Critical Discourse Analysis


Contact Information

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

Concentration Coordinators: Margaret Gebhard, Associate Professor, and Robert Maloy, Senior Lecturer

Associated Faculty

Kathy Gagne (Senior Lecturer), Meg Gebhard (Associate Professor), Keisha L. Green (Assistant Professor), Linda Griffin (Professor), Robert Maloy (Senior Lecturer), Elizabeth McEneaney (Assistant Professor), Kysa Nygreen (Assistant Professor), Ruth-Ellen Verock-O’Laughlin (Senior Lecturer)