8 Studies Specializations

Students will continue their progress beyond the core under the direction of a Studies Committee that will work to ensure that each student achieves a high standard of disciplinary sophistication in one of three studies specializations:

  1. Arts, Humanities, and Social Studies Education (AHSS)
  2. Science, Mathematics, and Technology in Education (SMT)
  3. Urban Education Policy Studies (Policy)

We believe that in-depth study in one of these studies specializations is necessary to provide students with the specific grounding in a particular research literature and analytical methodology needed for successful dissertation research and career advancement within the profession.

Upon completion of the core courses, students will be expected to pass the First Examination, which will be a rigorous written examination over the content of all five core courses. After passing the First Examination, students will choose their studies specialization and be guided in their further coursework by a Studies Committee. Each Studies Committee will include a majority membership of research specialists in the studies specialization, but also include at least one member of the faculty with primary expertise in a different field. The program Executive Officer will initially designate one Studies Committee for each studies specialization, with additional committees to be formed as the number of students in that area warrants.

Studies Committees will also be responsible for guiding students to develop the broad background needed to include perspectives from both curriculum studies and policy studies in their future research, and to gain needed competence in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Within these broad requirements, Studies Committees will approve elective courses individualized to the developing research interests of the student. One member of the Studies Committee will serve as the student's adviser.

Students' work in their studies specializations will center around a series of area seminars (see Section 9) that will introduce them to current issues and the current research literature in each of a succession of topics specific to the studies specialization. Students will normally take one area seminar in their studies specialization each term. In addition, or occasionally in place of an area seminar, students in all studies specializations will take program seminars, which will focus on the program's identified research priority areas (see Section 5) and will in all cases emphasize both policy studies and curriculum studies perspectives.

In consultation with their Studies Committee, students will also select at least one course in quantitative and statistical methods and one in qualitative-interpretive methods, beyond the core, from among those offered by the existing doctoral programs (see sample lists in Appendix B). These courses will be selected so as to provide analytical techniques appropriate to each students own emerging research interests.

Students will complete approximately 24 credits of elective courses, chosen from: recommended courses offered at The Graduate Center across its many doctoral programs; the area and program seminars in Urban Education; and reading courses and special topics courses under the supervision of a member of the doctoral faculty (subject to approval of their Studies Committee).

After the completion of at least 45 credits in the program, including both quantitative and qualitative research methods, students may apply to their Studies Committee to be recommended to take the Second Examination. The Second Examination will cover (a) quantitative and qualitative research methodology, (b) the content of the studies specialization, and (c) such additional topics as the Studies Committee may designate as appropriate preparation for an individual student's dissertation research. The purpose of the Second Examination will be to certify that the student is academically prepared to be advanced to candidacy. After passing the Second Examination, a student may submit a dissertation proposal to the Committee on Curriculum and Examinations, and be recommended for candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Dissertation proposals must carry the endorsement of a faculty sponsor, who will normally become the chair of the dissertation committee appointed by the program Executive Officer after the student is advanced to candidacy.

While pursuing their dissertation research, students will normally participate in a dissertation seminar in which there will be an opportunity for coordination and mutual support among students whose research projects may have bearing on one another, particularly across studies specializations. For instance, several dissertations may all examine different curriculum and policy issues relating to the same systemic reform project (e.g., the Urban Systemic Initiative in Mathematics and Science Education), or all bear on related applications of new information technologies in urban education, or study the viewpoints of teachers in different subject fields toward policy and resource distribution questions under new school-based management schemes. It is our belief that mutual support and collaboration among students at the dissertation stage is of great value and not often enough emphasized in formal programs of doctoral studies. This approach also continues our fundamental theme of the interdependence of curricular and policy research issues into the dissertation research itself. Major CUNY initiatives in the New York City schools and large-scale funded research projects of the faculty will often form the core of dissertation seminar groups.

A completed dissertation that conforms to all rules of the University and has been formally approved by the student's Dissertation Committee is required for the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must represent a significant and original contribution to research or policy analysis in the field of urban education.

A sample student program is shown in Table 3. The program shows a maximum reasonable rate of progress for full-time residency for the first three years. Part-time students would follow the program in the first two columns, but are expected to meet the University's residency requirement by completing at least 12 credits in each of two consecutive semesters, normally sometime before being advanced to candidacy. Full-time students who enter with a master's degree in education and are granted a significant number of graduate credits toward the Ph.D. degree have the possibility of reaching candidacy after four semesters.

Table 3. Sample Student Program
  All students All students Full-time only Full-time only
Semester 1 Core 1 Core 2 Elective Elective
Semester 2 Core 3 Core 4 Elective Elective
Summer Core 5      
Semester 3 Area Seminar 1 Methods 1 Elective Elective
Semester 4 Area Seminar 2 Methods 2 Program Seminar Elective
Semester 5 Area Seminar 3 Program Seminar Elective (Elective)
Semester 6 Area Seminar 4 Elective (Elective) (Elective)
Semester 7 Dissertation Sem.      
Semester 8 Dissertation Sem.      

Arts, Humanities, and Social Studies Education

Arts, Humanities, and Social Studies (AHSS) education research is the study of what defines us as human, and how human culture and society is constructed and maintained, particularly through the institution of schooling. AHSS research focuses on the human fundamentals: language and literacy, communication and representation, creative and critical thinking, imagination and reflection, civility and collaboration, cooperation and individuation.

The tradition of study in AHSS is well-established, including many subfields, but all of the research is directed toward a key set of research outcomes aimed at defining and discovering cultural imperatives, enhancing the creative and critical skills of the citizenry, and promoting education for the commonweal. Each of these areas of investigation rests in the context of the myriad, and sometimes conflicting, expectations for the preservation and transformation of the artistic, cultural, social, and political traditions of the nation.

Research in AHSS education takes as its purpose the study of the initiation of children and adolescents into the knowledge, skills, and values of the established culture, the investigation and alteration of the school curriculum in light of changing cultural conditions and expectations, the study and reformation of pedagogy to enhance AHSS teaching in the schools, the investigation of appropriate design and content for the education and development of AHSS teachers, the development of models for assessing AHSS teaching, and the refinement of research methodology in the various AHSS fields of study.

Although studies in AHSS tend to be directed at disciplinary frames for study, the opportunities for interdisciplinary research are rich; indeed, most research envisioned for the Ph.D. in Urban Education will require investigation under an interdisciplinary umbrella. Examples of key interdisciplinary questions likely to drive much of AHSS research in the program follow. In addition, prospective members of the faculty have identified a wide range of important research questions in various subfields of AHSS education (Report of the Faculty Advisory Committee on Arts and Humanities Education, 1998).

AHSS Research Focus Areas

Language, Media, and Culture

How do students gain proficiency in, respond to, communicate and represent knowledge, understanding, and values through multiple symbol systems in school and society? What are the language and literacy demands of the school curriculum and special needs of students who are not fluent in standard English? How do new technologies expand the range of representational options available to students and teachers, and what are the implications for developing critical multimedia literacies? What are the implications of a curriculum focused on esthetic education for teacher preparation and student learning in all subject areas?

The Roles of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Studies Teacher

How do AHSS teachers develop identities and learn professional roles through cultural study, assessment, definition, and transformation, and how does this development of identities and roles contribute to the production of pedagogical and curricular research and reformation?

Cognition and Understanding in AHSS Education

What are the nature and construction of knowledge in AHSS, and what are the effects of pedagogical frames such as situated cognition, metacognition, relational knowledge, self-regulated learning, ways of knowing, and democratic learning in the attainment and refinement of artistic, social, and cultural knowledge, skills, and values?

Contexts of Learning in AHSS Education

What are the historical, cultural, economic, social, geographic, political, technological, and institutional constraints and opportunities for the development of group and cultural identity (language, gender, class, ethnicity), knowledge and use of AHSS and the assessment of AHSS schooling in the 21st century?

Pedagogical Negotiation of Community Expectations

What new state and community expectations will AHSS pedagogy need to negotiate given developing trends for the 21st century, including high-stakes testing and increased credentialing, high-technology developments in cybernetics and artificial intelligence, globalization of political economy, and the transformation of "human nature" through social policy developed from scientifically rationalized research?


Science, Mathematics, and Technology in Education

Research in Science, Mathematics, and Technology in Education aims to reconceptualize and improve the teaching of the natural sciences and mathematics in K-16 education, and to study the theory and practice of using new information and communication technologies in education.

Fundamental to research concerns in SMT education today are such issues as:

Practitioners of SMT education are arguing today for greater emphasis in the education of all students on facility with quantitative reasoning and the integrative use of multiple forms of representation: verbal-conceptual, visual-diagrammatic-graphical, and mathematical (numerical and symbolic). Science and mathematics education at all levels are being transformed by high-speed computing, which in turn poses new challenges for SMT educators to discover the most effective ways of integrating these new technologies into the teaching and learning of science and mathematics.

This program does not aim to be a specialist Ph.D. program in science or mathematics education, nor in educational technology. Its strengths will lie in its emphasis on examining the intersections of curricular, instructional, and policy issues in SMT education, and on the broad multidisciplinary training of its students in the research methods and conceptual perspectives of the social sciences. Its graduates will be well-prepared both in a specialist discipline within mathematics, computer science, or the natural sciences and in educational and social science research and policy analysis perspectives.

To focus the initial research agenda of the studies specialization, we have identified the following areas.

SMT Research Focus Areas

Teacher Preparation and Student Achievement

Preparation of teachers for K-12 SMT education; implications of new curriculum standards and higher expectations for student achievement; partnerships and collaboration between schools and universities; integrating SMT education with learning in other subject areas.

New Technologies for Science and Mathematics Education

Opportunities and challenges of new information technologies for the teaching and learning of science and mathematics, and the preparation and development of teachers in SMT education; evaluating critiques of technology in science and mathematics education; educational relevance of changing relations of science, mathematics, technology, and society in historical and contemporary perspective; policy issues in the use of new information technologies in K-16 education.


Urban Education Policy Studies

The Urban Educational Policy Studies (Policy) studies specialization will provide opportunities for doctoral candidates to become knowledgeable about key urban public education policy issues in the United States. The studies specialization's central focus will be studying the interaction and conflict among the various social, philosophical, political, and economic forces that impact urban public education in America, and to identify effective policy strategies for enhancing student achievement in city schools. Students will acquire the diverse knowledge and research skills they need to analyze, within an integrated sociopolitical and pedagogical framework, the educational dilemmas that result from the complex interplay of forces at work in urban areas, and to suggest alternative strategies to bring about their resolution.

Work in this studies specialization will be grounded in studies of the philosophical, economic (including vocational), political and social (especially social mobility) antecedents of contemporary American education. Students will examine how the universe of potential students comes into being and is transformed over time, the factors that influence school attendance, the competition and allocation of students among private and public schools, and how public policy and private decisions define educational opportunities, the characteristics of schools, the nature of instruction, and, in general, determine the shape of the educational landscape in our cities.

Students will make use of Urban Education case studies (some of which will be developed by program faculty and students), policy simulation exercises, and structured field experiences, including internships, in the schools and other education-affiliated agencies in the New York metropolitan area. Topics to be studied will include the politics of local education, school governance, equity and resource allocation, student access to educational opportunities, alternative educational programs, assessment and evaluation of student learning outcomes, and the web of relationships that link educational policy to curriculum and instruction.

All students will participate in an internship as part of Core 5, Educational Policy. Students who elect the Policy studies specialization will have additional opportunities for internships and participant observations during the time that they are engaged in their elective course studies. Such field experiences, under the direction of a faculty adviser and the Studies Committee, will serve to ground theory and concepts of educational policy-making in real-world contexts, and will help candidates to identify the research problems they will address in their dissertations.

The conceptualization and evaluation of alternative education policy frameworks will be the central research focus of the Policy studies specialization, as well as a central consideration in the research agendas of the other studies specializations. The research agenda of this program can help to build an informed consensus in support of new educational paradigms, regenerate loyalty to public education, and offer guidance in the difficult task of implementing enhanced forms of public education.

Studies Committees overseeing the work of students in the Policy Studies specialization will insure that students complete sufficient coursework prior to the Second Examination to master specific discipline-based policy analysis techniques relevant to their likely dissertation topic. The Studies Committee may require a student to take one or more courses outside the program, in place of Area or Program seminars, as necessary, to meet this objective. All courses taken outside the program, in order to count towards fulfilling program requirements (including electives) must be approved by the studentís Studies Committee. The Second Examination will include a component to confirm the above requirement.

Area seminars in Policy Studies will provide students not only with introductions to current urban education policy issues, but also with expertise in the methods of policy analysis applied to education. 


Policy Studies Research Focus Areas

Urban School Restructuring and Reform

Educational Opportunity for All

Public Involvement in Urban Education