Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations


The Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations prepares graduates to provide instructional leadership for linguistically and culturally nonmainstream learners whose research will contribute to knowledge in the field. The driving purpose of the program is to bring the best of relevant contemporary scholarship to bear on creating learning environments that improve the academic performance of all students and to meet the particular needs of these new learners.

Diverse group of students sitting in class

The program requires elements common to all doctoral studies:

  • Research Methods
  • Comprehensive Examinations
  • Research Seminar
  • Dissertation



  • Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Educational Research: EDU-543 (3 credits)

    Provides an interactive learning environment that will enable students to acquire knowledge, skills and abilities required for the analysis, interpretation and evaluation of educational research. In addition, the course will enable students to cultivate the skills necessary for engaging in their own creative and meaningful research. [ 3 credits ]
  • Educator As a Change Leader: EDU-615 (3 credits)

    Explores the dynamics of innovation and change in organizations and institutions, the conceptualization, planning, and management of innovation and change, and various decision-making and problem-solving strategies. [ 3 credits ]
  • Education and Policy Analysis For Changing Schools: EDU-622 (3 credits)

    Creates awareness of recurring issues and tensions inherent in providing educational opportunities in a democratic society. Examples are: impact of linguistic and cultural diversity on equity, ethical issues confronting teachers and policy-makers, tensions between individual and collective interests, limits of democratic authority and equality of educational opportunity in a democratic society. This course introduces the process by which such policies are accomplished: identifying context and relevant antecedents, framing of problems and solutions within policies, policy implementation and anticipating and responding to policy consequences. The course includes theoretical and applied readings on state and national policy issues as they affect the educational environment and the learning needs of mainstream and non-mainstream students. [ 3 credits ]
  • Learning, Language and the Brain: EDU-647 (3 credits)

    Demonstrates how new brain imaging capabilities illustrate the ways the brain acquires knowledge and stores memories. This seminar course examines current brain-inaction research and the insights this information provides for effective instructional practices with special attention to language acquisition and manipulation. Students design, conduct and discuss research projects addressing aspects of brain functioning and the consequences for learning. [ 3 credits ]
  • Legislative and Legal Decisions Affecting Changing School Populations: EDU-660 (3 credits)

    Applies analytical and legal reasoning skills to issues emerging from implementation of recent legislation setting standards for: achievement expectations for specific student populations, mandatory testing requirements, teacher quality and licensing, instruction for students for whom English is a second language and related issues. Using the case study approach, students apply the precedents established in previously studied landmark cases to cases and problems currently pending, or soon to come, before district courts and the Supreme Court. Emphasis is placed on alternative dispute resolution in a wide variety of situations that present the possibility of litigation with focus on issues affecting changing student populations. [ 3 credits]
  • Digital Game-Based Learning and Design: EDU-665 (3 credits)

    This course provides an overview of the learning theories, best practices, and classroom application models involved with incorporating educational games and simulations into learning environments. The use of current and emerging technologies found in the gaming arena will be explored and documented for classroom application. This course brings together cultural, business, government and technical perspectives on developing and integrating electronic gaming techniques and technologies to enhance and enrich learning. Course participants will develop an understanding of the current trends (technical and sociological) in computer and console gaming, and what can be learned and applied from the world of gaming to positively affect teaching and learning. They will also experience an authentic creative process when they explore the game design process. [ 3 credits ]
  • Changing School Population in Historical Perspective: EDU-672 (3 credits)

    Considers the immigrant experience as integral to major developments in the history of American education. The United States has been called "a nation of immigrants," and John Dewey has defined the school as a society in miniature. This course traces the influence waves of immigration have had on American attitudes and institutions of education from colonial times to the present as successive generations have responded to the pedagogical, economic and political implications inherent in the changing demographics of American schools. The course provides insights into the aims, challenges and priorities for curriculum and instruction as A merican schools have confronted such issues as learning differences, gender, race, ethnicity and social structures in changing populations of learners. The course traces the history of complex interactions as multicultural and multilingual students, teachers, staff, parents, community leaders and others have sought to create schools as learning communities. [ 3 credits ]
  • Global and International Perspectives in Education: EDU-674 (3 credits)

    Prepares students for learning and teaching for the 21st century with new methodologies, new skills and new approaches in an increasingly interdependent world. These interdependencies include: international communications systems providing worldwide access to information, global economic situations that impact career and work, ideological contests that are global in nature and significance, and the challenge of global disparity in standards of living and access to resources. Inquiry into the nature of these interdependencies enables educators to make decisions impacting curriculum and instructional methodology appropriate for preparing all students for intelligent participation in the contemporary world. [ 3 credits ]
  • Democracy and Education: Philosophical Perspectives: EDU-675 (3 credits)

    Analyzes the major philosophical perspectives that have formed and continue to inf luence American attitudes toward the enterprise of schooling and toward the roles and responsibilities of schools in the United States. Selections address education both as a public responsibility and as an individual pursuit. Students also examine the unique moral, ethical and educational issues raised by the linguistically and culturally pluralistic nature of society in the United States. Through reading, study, analytic discussion and reflection students identify more clearly their own philosophies of education with regard to serving non-mainstream learners and the ethical principles that guide their professional decisions. [ 3 credits ]
  • Educational Applications of Multimedia: EDU-676 (3 credits)

    Provides an introduction to designing and planning multimedia projects in the K-12 setting through collaborative inquiry. Topics to be introduced include storyboarding, photo editing, and incoprorating multimedia elements into selected software programs. Throughout the course, presentation best practices that transcend the selection of a multimedia tool will be the focus. Students will read some of the latest research covering the impact of multimedia development and its implementation for 21st century teaching, learning and assessment. [ 3 credits ]

  • Research Design: EDU-695 (3 credits)

    Examines and analyzes principles of research design in education. This will include a review of research tools and resources and an overview of quantitative and qualitative approaches as applied to educational issues. Students will be expected to identify elements of exemplary research models and to present a sample design in one of these modes. [ 3 credits ]
  • Language and Intercultural Communication for Changing Populations: EDU-697 (3 credits)

    Examines the nature of language as the instrument of communication that expresses cultural and societal modes of thinking, customs and values. Participants analyze their own and others' socio-cultural perceptions, values and behaviors in order to gain insight into student behaviors and develop strategies that facilitate effective instruction and learning for all students. The study of linguistic patterns enables teachers and other educational leaders to gain global insights into the role of language in fostering individual and cultural identity. This course focuses on sociolinguistics and the social contexts in which language is used. [ 3 credits ]
  • Linguistic and Cultural Diversity: EDU-698 (3 credits)

    Assists educators in better understanding the nature of language and language acquisition in the context of their relevance for education. First and second language acquisition will be studied in detail, primarily from a cognitive perspective with emphasis on the analysis of the diverse variables that play a role in language acquisition and how these affect literacy development. The focus of this course will be on the study of language development of K-12 students who are linguistic minority students, including those for whom Standard English is a second dialect and those for whom it is a second language. [ 3 credits ]
  • Methods of Quantitative Research: EDU-701 (3 credits)

    Introduces the student to statistics and statistical reasoning, uses of location and dispersion measures, regression and correlation, formation of hypotheses tests and analyses of variance and contingency tables. Applies statistical concepts to research design and educational measures including description statistics, presentations of data, estimation and hypothesis testing. Practice entering, analyzing, and interpreting data using statistical software, such as SPSS, is integrated throughout the semester. [ 3 credits ]
  • Methods of Qualitative Research: EDU-703 (3 credits)

    Explores qualitative methods currently used in educational research. Students examine the paradigms drawn from philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology and comparative studies as they rely on narrative rather than quantitative ordering of data. [ 3 credits ]
  • Dissertation Seminar: EDU-705 (3 credits)

    Supports each degree candidate in identifying a dissertation topic, conducting a comprehensive review of the literature relevant to the topic, and developing the dissertation proposal. The proposal presents the formal plan for research and includes an introduction, review of the literature and research methodology. In this collegial setting, seminar members present their findings, share research data and dilemmas, and participate in critically examining and analyzing their own and one another's progress. [ 3 credits ]
  • Dissertation Seminar: Methodology: EDU-706 (3 credits)

    The overall goal of this course is to provide the student with the opportunity to extend skills learned in prior coursework in the dissertation program, and their prior experiential learning, leading to the development of a dissertation proposal. Student will extend prior coursework in theory, skills at developing literature reviews, and the appropriate use of research designs to develop a research design assessing the efficacy of an educational or educationally related project targeted to the student's substantive question of inquiry. Attention will be focused upon developing the skills and knowledge needed to formulate dissertation research questions in order to design a piece of research that is original, credible and important to the field. [ 3 credits ]


Introductory Research Course (3 Credits)

EDU 543 - Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Educational Research (3)

Language and Learning (12 credits)

EDU 647 - Learning, Language and the Brain (3)
EDU 676 - Educational Applications of Multimedia (3) or
EDU 665 - Digital Game Based Learning and Design (3)
EDU 697 - Language and Intercultural Communication for Changing Populations (3)
EDU 698 - Linguistic and Cultural Diversity (3)

Philosophical Perspectives (12 credits)

EDU 672 - Changing School Populations in Historical Perspectives (3)
EDU 674 - Global and International Perspectives in Education (3)
EDU 675 - Democracy and Education: Philosophical Perspectives (3)
IDS 500 - The Human Spirit and the Liberal Arts (3)

Changing Populations (9 credits)

EDU 615 - Educator as a Change Leader (3)
EDU 622 - Education and Policy Analysis for Changing Schools (3)
EDU 660 - Legislative and Legal Decisions Affecting Changing School Populations (3)

Research Core (9 credits)

EDU 695 - Research Design (3)
EDU 701 - Methods of Quantitative Research (3)
EDU 703 - Methods of Qualitative Research (3)

Special Interest Area (6 credits)

Select two courses related to an area of special interest within the broad domain of instructional leadership and improving learning for changing student populations.

What to Expect Studying at Notre Dame of Maryland University

With award-winning teacher certification programs nationally recognized by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, you can expect to benefit from small class sizes, expert faculty, and practical field experiences.


The dissertation is the culmination of your doctoral studies. Through the Dissertation Seminar(s), you will receive assistance in the process of preparing your dissertation proposal.

In this scholarly work of original and independent research, you will:

  1. Address a problem or issue relevant to education;
  2. Conduct research that is quantitative, qualitative, or historical/philosophical (depending on the chosen subject); and
  3. Develop a dissertation that adds to the knowledge in the field.


Dissertation Handbook (PDF)

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