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Proposal Overview and Format
Proposal committee, proposal hearing or meeting.
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Students are urged to begin thinking about a dissertation topic early in their degree program. Concentrated work on a dissertation proposal normally begins after successful completion of the Second-Year Review, which often includes a “mini” proposal, an extended literature review, or a theoretical essay, plus advancement to doctoral candidacy. In defining a dissertation topic, the student collaborates with her or his faculty advisor or dissertation advisor (if one is selected) in the choice of a topic for the dissertation.
The dissertation proposal is a comprehensive statement on the extent and nature of the student’s dissertation research interests. Students submit a draft of the proposal to their dissertation advisor between the end of the seventh and middle of the ninth quarters. The student must provide a written copy of the proposal to the faculty committee no later than two weeks prior to the date of the proposal hearing. Committee members could require an earlier deadline (e.g., four weeks before the hearing).
The major components of the proposal are as follows, with some variations across Areas and disciplines:
- A detailed statement of the problem that is to be studied and the context within which it is to be seen. This should include a justification of the importance of the problem on both theoretical and educational grounds.
- A thorough review of the literature pertinent to the research problem. This review should provide proof that the relevant literature in the field has been thoroughly researched. Good research is cumulative; it builds on the thoughts, findings, and mistakes of others.
- its general explanatory interest
- the overall theoretical framework within which this interest is to be pursued
- the model or hypotheses to be tested or the research questions to be answered
- a discussion of the conceptual and operational properties of the variables
- an overview of strategies for collecting appropriate evidence (sampling, instrumentation, data collection, data reduction, data analysis)
- a discussion of how the evidence is to be interpreted (This aspect of the proposal will be somewhat different in fields such as history and philosophy of education.)
- If applicable, students should complete a request for approval of research with human subjects, using the Human Subjects Review Form ( http://humansubjects.stanford.edu/ ). Except for pilot work, the University requires the approval of the Administrative Panel on Human Subjects in Behavioral Science Research before any data can be collected from human subjects.
Registration (i.e., enrollment) is required for any quarter during which a degree requirement is completed, including the dissertation proposal. Refer to the Registration or Enrollment for Milestone Completion section for more details.
As students progress through the program, their interests may change. There is no commitment on the part of the student’s advisor to automatically serve as the dissertation chair. Based on the student’s interests and the dissertation topic, many students approach other GSE professors to serve as the dissertation advisor, if appropriate.
A dissertation proposal committee is comprised of three academic council faculty members, one of whom will serve as the major dissertation advisor. Whether or not the student’s general program advisor serves on the dissertation proposal committee and later the reading committee will depend on the relevance of that faculty member’s expertise to the topic of the dissertation, and his/her availability. There is no requirement that a program advisor serve, although very often he or she does. Members of the dissertation proposal committee may be drawn from other area committees within the GSE, from other departments in the University, or from emeriti faculty. At least one person serving on the proposal committee must be from the student’s area committee (CTE, DAPS, SHIPS). All three members must be on the Academic Council; if the student desires the expertise of a non-Academic Council member, it may be possible to petition. After the hearing, a memorandum listing the changes to be made will be written and submitted with the signed proposal cover sheet and a copy of the proposal itself to the Doctoral Programs Officer.
Review and approval of the dissertation proposal occurs normally during the third year. The proposal hearing seeks to review the quality and feasibility of the proposal. The Second-Year Review and the Proposal Hearing are separate milestones and may not occur as part of the same hearing or meeting.
The student and the dissertation advisor are responsible for scheduling a formal meeting or hearing to review the proposal; the student and proposal committee convene for this evaluative period. Normally, all must be present at the meeting either in person or via conference phone call.
At the end of this meeting, the dissertation proposal committee members should sign the Cover Sheet for Dissertation Proposal and indicate their approval or rejection of the proposal. This signed form should be submitted to the Doctoral Programs Officer. If the student is required to make revisions, an addendum is required with the written approval of each member of the committee stating that the proposal has been revised to their satisfaction.
After submitting the Proposal Hearing material to the Doctoral Programs Officer, the student should make arrangements with three faculty members to serve on her or his Dissertation Reading Committee. The Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form should be completed and given to the Doctoral Programs Officer to enter in the University student records system. Note: The proposal hearing committee and the reading committee do not have to be the same three faculty members. Normally, the proposal hearing precedes the designation of a Dissertation Reading Committee, and faculty on either committee may differ (except for the primary dissertation advisor). However, some students may advance to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status before completing their dissertation proposal hearing if they have established a dissertation reading committee. In these cases, it is acceptable for the student to form a reading committee prior to the dissertation proposal hearing. The reading committee then serves as the proposal committee.
The proposal and reading committee forms and related instructions are on the GSE website, under current students>forms.
Printing Credit for Use in GSE Labs
Upon completion of their doctoral dissertation proposal, GSE students are eligible for a $300 printing credit redeemable in any of the GSE computer labs where students are normally charged for print jobs. Only one $300 credit per student will be issued, but it is usable throughout the remainder of her or his doctoral program until the balance is exhausted. The print credit can be used only at the printers in Cubberley basement and CERAS, and cannot be used toward copying.
After submitting the signed dissertation proposal cover sheet to the Doctoral Programs Officer indicating approval (see above), students can submit a HELP SU ticket online at helpsu.stanford.edu to request the credit. When submitting the help ticket, the following should be selected from the drop-down menus for HELP SU:
Request Category : Computer, Handhelds (PDAs), Printers, Servers Request Type : Printer Operating System : (whatever system is used by the student, e.g., Windows XP.)
The help ticket will be routed to the GSE's IT Group for processing; they will in turn notify the student via email when the credit is available.
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- First Year (3rd Quarter) Review
- Second Year (6th Quarter) Review
- Committee Composition for First- and Second-Year Reviews
- Advancement to Candidacy
- Academic Program Revision
- Dissertation Content
- Dissertation Reading Committee
- University Oral Examination
- Submitting the Dissertation
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Sample PHD Education and Teaching Dissertation Proposal
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Using Sustainable ICT in Education: A Phenomenological Case Study of Professional Development Experiences of ELT Faculty at Tertiary Level in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Aims and objectives.
The proposed study’s primary aim is to examine how ICT deployments in educational institutions can be made sustainable to aid ELT instructors in English language instruction in the UAE. To achieve this aim, the proposed study has developed the following primary research question;
How can ICT efforts in tertiary level education be made sustainable for English language training?
The primary research question is accompanied by the following secondary research questions answered in the proposed study.
1. What is the extent of educational technology integration in English language teaching at the Tertiary Level in the UAE, and what factors contributed to the adoption of educational technologies to facilitate ELT practices?
2. Has the use of technology improved the overall English language learning experiences of the students?
3. What is the impact of using educational technology on teachers; what are their experiences, and how has this changed their perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs about the teaching and learning process?
4. What is the future of educational technology as a strategy for enhancing English learning processes in the UAE?
The research question and aim will be achieved through achieving the following objectives;
1. Use primary and secondary research to collect data and information on the proposed topic of study.
2. Examine how ICT can be made sustainable in cost, policy, resources, and re-purpose.
3. Analyse the instructor’s experience of using ICT in English language training.
4. Examine factors that facilitated the adoption of educational technologies to promote ELT practice in the tertiary level English language learning institutions in the UAE
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is placed strategically for trade, allowing multiple languages to thrive in its vicinity. English medium instruction is one of the core concepts upheld in federally funded tertiary education institutes (Rogier, 2012). To extend and provide improved English instruction, it is essential to incorporate ICT and other technologies for teaching and learning the English language.
Sustainability is often described as an education ecosystem’s ability to maintain scholastic processes, functions, diversity, and productivity into the future. To look at it at a practical level, ELT faculty needs to introduce information and communication technologies in existing educational ecosystems so that they may absorb it and own the change (Howard et al., 2016).
As per the current understanding, no literature examines sustainable technology integration in English language training in the UAE (Howard et al., 2016). The current status of technology/ICT can be reviewed at the tertiary level to recommend strategies that further its beneficial use by conducting the proposed study. It is also essential to investigate how ELT faculty in the UAE can use ICT for training students in the English language.
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The proposed research looks to adopt a qualitative phenomenological case study approach. The phenomenological method is used to understand the topic of interest from the everyday knowledge and perceptions of specific respondent groups (Vinke et al., 1998). By using this approach, researchers have an initial understanding of the topic. They are interested in developing an in-depth comprehension or clarification of potentially conflicting or equivocal information from previous data (Stake, 1995).
Denscombe (2004) argues that it is not primarily concerned with explaining the causes of things; instead, it describes how things are experienced first-hand by the typical world. Yin (2003) argues that the case study is a particular style of educational research appropriate for investigating professional development instructors and teachers’ concepts. Stake (1995) asserts the benefit of using a qualitative case study methodology, which arises from emphasising each case’s uniqueness and the educator’s subjective experience.
The proposed research intends to explore the different perspectives of professionals in teaching at the tertiary level in the UAE regarding their experiences as ELT faculty and how technology and ICT use in education can enhance English language learning. The focus group interview will be used in the current study to collect data from a diverse group of people.
Freebody (2004) asserts that the use of focus groups in education research gives opportunities to compare and contrast interpretations, develop unforeseen findings, and aids in exploring findings that would either be considered anomalous or disconfirming of initial impressions. Lindlof and Taylor (2002) argue that group discussions produce data and insight that would be less accessible without interaction in group settings. Listening to others verbalise experiences stimulates memories, ideas, and experiences in those participating.
The proposed study looks to use purposive sampling when choosing the school and the focus group participants, a strategy used by Punch (2005). The tertiary school selected for the proposed research will be chosen based on the staff experience in working as ELT faculty and having experience with using technology for education. Recommendations for selecting the school will also be taken by several tertiary level teachers working at institutions in the UAE.
The study proposes to have ten focus group interviews that will last one hour. Based on the availability of participants, the total number of people interviewed will be determined. However, it is proposed to use fifty (50) participants to take part in the groups. Participants will be included in the focus group if they are ELT faculty at the education institution and have had experience using technology/ICT for English language instruction, particularly in UAE.
The proposed study will use thematic analysis to evaluate the data obtained. Thematic analysis is used to identify, analyse, and report patterns or themes within data (Braun and Clarke, 2006). The analysis technique minimally organises and describes the data set in rich detail. It further interprets various aspects of the research topic (Braun and Clarke, 2006).
Denscombe, M. (2004) The Good Research Guide For Small Scale Social Research Projects. (2nd Edn) Berkshire: Open University Press.
Freebody, P. (2004) Qualitative Research in Education-Interaction and Practice. London: Sage Publishers.
Howard, A., Basurto-Santos, N. M., Gimenez, T., Moncada, A. M. G., McMurray, M., and Traish, A. (2016). A comparative study of English language teacher recruitment, in-service education, and retention in Latin American and the Middle East. British Council. ELT Research Papers 16.02, 3-72.
Lindlof, T. R., & Taylor, B. C. (2002). Qualitative Communication Research Methods, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Punch, K. (2005) Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. London: Sage Publishers.
Rogier, D. (2012). The effects of English-Medium instruction on the language proficiency of students enrolled in higher education in the UAE. Exeter University, student dissertation.
Stake, R.E. (1995). The Art Of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Vinke, A.A., Snippe, J., & Jochems, W. (1998). English-medium content courses in non-English higher education: A study of lecturer experiences and teaching behaviours. Teaching in Higher Education, 3(3), 383-394.
Yin, R.K. (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA; London: Sage Publications
Frequently Asked Questions
How to write a phd dissertation proposal.
To write a Ph.D. dissertation proposal:
- Choose a research topic.
- Develop a clear problem statement.
- Outline objectives and methodology.
- Review literature.
- Present a timeline.
- Seek feedback from advisors.
- Revise and finalize the proposal before submission.
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