CID Summer 2005 Convening: Supporting Intellectual Community

Topic 4: Developing a Professional Identity within a Disciplinary Community

University of North Carolina - School of Education

This Snapshot describes how the doctoral program in the University of North Carolina School of Education (UNC SOE) helps students develop a professional identity as a member of a disciplinary community and as a steward of the discipline,

As stewards of the discipline, scholars have responsibilities to their departmental, university, and disciplinary communities as well as to society at large. Doctoral students develop a professional identity that allows them to represent the discipline in these communities.

UNC Chapel Hill School of Education
UNC Chapel Hill School of Education

Summary Description

Six years ago the UNC SOE decided to combine several PhD programs into one unitary PhD program with three distinct specialty areas: Culture, Curriculum and Change (CCC); Educational Psychology, Measurement and Evaluation (EPME); and Early Childhood, Families and Literacy (ECFL). Students become members of the disciplinary community through shared core courses. They develop a professional identity through two years of required writing seminars and the development of specific knowledge claims within each specialty area.

UNC SOE Degree Programs

SEAES Conference
SEAES Conference

Tools and Resources

Each student is matched with an advisor. The advisor assists the student in planning the Program of Studies. Students are expected to present at a local or national conference by the end of the second year in the PhD. Students learn which conferences are most highly attended by individuals representing their specific areas of interest. Every other year the UNC SOE hosts the Southeastern Association of Educational Studies (SEAES) conference.

SOE UNC Graduate School Website
Main website page for UNC School of Education.

Dissertation Guide
Guide to dissertaion paper submissions

Inquiry Groups
This is a link to Inquiry Groups offered at the UNC SOE.

SEAES Conference website
This is the website for the SEAES conference held at UNC in Spring 2003.

Goals for Students

Students should possess a multidisciplinary awareness and subfield identity. Through the course of the program, students should specify specific knowledge claims. In addition to knowledge claims, students should effectively learn the research methods appropriate to their unique knowledge domains. Students in the school of education should gain both a critical and a cultural approach to knowledge; students should understand how knowledge is situated in their domains and possess critical thinking skills.

Program Context

Lack of consistency across Ph.D. programs and a desire to promote multidisciplinarity led to the creation of one Ph.D. program with three areas of emphasis. This multidisciplinary approach provides students with a wider range of information to better navigate the large discipline of education. We strive to create relevant and useful core courses, writing opportunities, and opportunities for intellectual engagement (through inquiry groups, for example). Our current CID goals encompass devising a plan to create more effective teacher educators.

UNC SOE Doctoral Degree Programs
This is a link to the list of doctoral degree programs in the UNC SOE.

UNC SOE Inquiry Groups
This is a link to the website about the inquiry groups offered at the UNC School of Education.

Roy Charles
Roy Charles

Reflection by Roy Charles

I came to the UNC-SOE a year ago with over a decade of work experience in Higher Education and a strong sense of who I was and wanted to be as a professional. Through my coursework, research inquiry, interaction with faculty, and the CID meetings (where "what it means to be a trained professional" is discussed) I continue to refine my professional identity.

Reflection by Courtney George

I have been extremely fortunate in my doctoral journey. I have been surrounded by supportive professors who have taken the time to teach me about my profession -- how to act, move, think, and talk as a member of a variety of educational discourses. I have also found a group of friends and colleagues who, thorough work and play, are helping me find my place in a community of educators working for social justice.

UNC SOE Faculty
UNC SOE Faculty

How Do We Know?

Because students self identify their specialty areas and knowledge claims, the content assessment for each student is unique. There are two main methods of evaluation: student staffing and comprehensive exams. Faculty gather and discuss student progress in staffing meetings and provide necessary feedback to students. Each student must pass comprehensive exams. The exams are individualized for each student by the student-selected panel of committee members.

CID Meeting
CID Meeting

Unanswered Questions

Our discussions about what skills, knowledge, dispositions and experiences education students should have in order to develop a professional identity have led us to grapple with several tensions between being an education researcher and a teacher educator. How do we create the right mixture of research skills, content knowledge, and pedagogical understanding for the wide range of students representing distinct subfields in education? How do we balance the tensions between a multidisciplinary approach and a subspecialty?

George Noblit
George Noblit

Contact Information

George Noblit

Silvia Bettez

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