Rethinking the dissertation : a case study on the state of acceptance of new media projects as Ed.D. capstone experiences.
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Meira, Adeline Torres.
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This dissertation explored the state of acceptance of new media projects as Ed.D. capstone experiences and the rationale for the acceptance, rejection, or undecided participants’ positions on this subject. Many authors argue that a traditional dissertation, because of its form and reachability, does not fit the heterogeneous nature of the educational field. New media, which can take many forms, is a 21st century affordance that already permeates the everyday lives of graduate students. Consequently, the theoretical frameworks that guided this dissertation were: (1) multimodal literacy theory, which argues that technological progress has affected the way people communicate and that addresses the multimodalities that are required to teach and learn in the 21st century; and (2) connected learning theory, which supports the use of new media to foster environments for meaningful experiences and for growth. Participants in this study were members of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED), and are thoughtfully engaged in the dialogue about the improvement of their Ed.D. capstone experiences. For this multiple-case qualitative case study, 58 questionnaires were given, 32 responses were collected followed by relevant document review and 15 semi-structured phone interviews. The findings indicate that new media projects are still often rejected as Ed.D. capstone experiences because of faculty unfamiliarity, government sanctions and because in the participant’s views a traditional dissertation means research study. This study also indicates that rigor is the crucial factor in determining the acceptance or rejection of new media projects as Ed.D. capstone experiences. Recommendations include educating faculty about new media and its potential benefits for educational research, conducting research on the construct of rigor as it relates to graduate capstone experiences, and exploring how non-traditional formats of capstone experiences are developed and supported by dissertation mentors and committees.