Examining cohort models in the education doctorate

Andrew S. Leland (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, Illinois, USA)
William A. Firestone (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Jill A. Perry (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and CPED, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Robin T. McKeon (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

ISSN: 2398-4686

Publication date: 14 August 2020



This study aims to present a thematic analysis on cohort-based teaching and learning from four education doctorate degree programs. Recommendations are then presented to other scholars engaging in research on cohort-based, graduate degree programs.


Yin’s (2018) embedded, multiple case study approach guided the design of this study. Data collection consisted of three- to four-day site visits to each program and included the following data sources: program documents (e.g. handbooks, syllabi and third-party evaluations), class observations and semi-structured interviews with students, faculty and program directors.


This study describes how collaboration and collective learning were key components in each program’s coursework and milestone expectations, arguing that such an emphasis contributed to opportunities for collaboration and collective learning experiences.


Research has documented a number of outcomes associated with cohort-based programs in terms of group dynamics. The authors examine this quality further by showing how specific structures and practices within each program’s cohort model supported not only peer collaboration but also overall student learning.



This work was supported by the W.T. Grant Foundation under Grant #186233.


Leland, A.S., Firestone, W.A., Perry, J.A. and McKeon, R.T. (2020), "Examining cohort models in the education doctorate", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 249-262. https://doi.org/10.1108/SGPE-01-2020-0004

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