Remember that Walden’s Title IV Code is 025042.
The early childhood field brings together professionals, families, programs, and agencies that impact every aspect of children’s lives from prenatal development through age 8. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) with a specialization in Early Childhood prepares you to lead and advocate effectively within this dynamic landscape, fostering positive outcomes for young children and their families.
In this specialization, you will explore the complex family, cultural, social, and socioeconomic influences that affect child development and learning as well as the history, ethics, and interdisciplinary nature of the field. While examining the trends and issues that affect young children, you will explore in-depth topics including family dynamics, risk factors such as poverty and trauma, and the factors that support resilience. Through case studies, you’ll deepen your understanding of how public programs, funding, and policies impact children’s lives. By studying current national and international research in the field, you can develop a global perspective on child development as well as quality programs, practices, and policies. Through your doctoral study, you can pursue your own original research.
Time to completion varies by student, depending on individual progress. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336.
Early childhood, as a field, refers to young children (prenatally through 8 years old) as well as those adults, programs, and agencies that have a significant impact on children’s development and learning. It is a field ripe with current research and opportunities to contribute to positive social change. This course explores the integrative and collaborative richness of the field from its history, values, and ethics to current issues and trends. As part of this foundational course, early childhood professionals learn the process of how to successfully complete their doctoral (Ed.D.) or education specialist (Ed.S.) degree, understanding how Walden supports them in developing (1) facility with Walden University’s online learning environment; (2) understanding the university’s and the program’s support systems, expectations, and outcomes; and (3) advanced graduate-level critical-thinking, research, and writing skills.
Why is the well-being of young children vital to learning and later success in life? Research continues to indicate that early influences are critical to the development of children’s brains and lifelong health. Scientific evidence also indicates that there is intrinsic value for young children in experiencing the joy and discovery of childhood. Such experiences not only generate later positive outcomes to society, but they also contribute to viewing life with optimism, learning social skills, and coping with stress. In this course, early childhood professionals study current national and international thinking with regard to early childhood development. Course content also includes global perspectives related to designing, implementing, and evaluating experiences for every child. Special attention is paid to brain research, factors that promote and impede development and learning, and effective assessment of development, learning, and teaching/programmatic practices.
In Applied Research in Education, educators will develop a broad understanding of theoretical frameworks and of the appropriate use of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Another focus of the course is also on methods designed specifically for studying human development and how individuals learn. Methods will be explored through studying the philosophy of research and particular research strategies, reviewing literature in the field, and through searching for and critically analyzing literature relating to learners’ individual interests.
Early childhood professionals understand that building reciprocal relationships with children’s families and community members is essential to promoting positive outcomes for children. Whether early childhood professionals intend to impact positive social change by working with children and families in early childhood settings or in related professions, understanding the complexities of such relationships and the skills of relationship building are essential. The focus of this course is on research-based knowledge of family dynamics and the vital role relationships play in children’s lives. Special attention is paid to relationship building through the lens of cultural responsiveness and by studying how identities are defined and evolve related to ethnicity, race, economic class, gender, and sexual orientation. Education professionals are challenged to delve deep into issues related to risk factors such as trauma, poverty, bias, stereotyping, and homelessness as well as to study factors that support resilience.
Healthy development of children from prenatal stages throughout early childhood does not depend on one group of people, one type of agency, or even a continuum of quality early childhood education. Rather, public policy, government processes, funding streams, and research from disciplines such as medicine, psychology, and public health all have an impact—positive and negative—on whether children and families thrive. In this course, educators examine existing early childhood systems—how they function and how they interact—with the goal of improving services for young children and families. Education professionals research and evaluate case studies to develop a deep understanding of the ways that systems are impacted by funding and public policy, determine services, function in today’s society, and ultimately affect the lives of young children and families.
This course builds on educators’ prior explorations of research design and methodology by providing hands-on, in-depth study of specific data collection and analysis skills needed for them to become producers of research. Education professionals will apply concepts and practice skills in research design, data collection, data analysis, and presentation of results. Practical exercises and discussion will emphasize both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
What knowledge, skills, and dispositions should early childhood leaders exemplify? The field needs leaders who (1) know the history and understand the values and ethics of the field; (2) who approach the present and the future as critical and creative thinkers committed to positive change; (3) who are advocates, researchers, relationship builders, data-driven decision makers, and managers of change with a keen understanding of diversity, humane interaction, organizational development, and system-oriented thinking. In this course, professionals engage in the study of leadership for positive social change in the early childhood field, which culminates in a capstone project that requires participants to apply the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of a leader to effect change in an early childhood setting of their choice.
The prospectus is a brief document that helps education professionals organize, delineate, and make decisions regarding their doctoral study and appropriate research methodology. In this course, education professionals design the prospectus in collaboration with their committee members. Education professionals learn best practices for developing the prospectus and analyze past examples. They refine their doctoral study questions and explore research methods and project types that they may incorporate into their study. Finally, they engage in the iterative process of writing the prospectus, incorporating feedback from peers and committee members. Ultimately, the prospectus is offered by education professionals as a document for review for consideration by potential mentors for their doctoral study, which is completed during EDUC 8090 - Doctoral Study Intensive.
Students demonstrate in the doctoral study their scholarly abilities to examine, critique, and synthesize knowledge so that new ideas can be tested; best practices identified, established, and verified; or theoretical or policy constructs evaluated and advanced. In all cases, the doctoral study is to be a rigorous, original inquiry that results in new knowledge, demonstrating its efficacy in the world of practice. The goal of the doctoral study is for the education professional to conduct an investigation that focuses on learning, teaching, and leading within a designated community. (Prerequisites: All other course requirements and the residency must be completed prior to registration in EDUC 8090).
Note: EDUC 8090 must be taken for a minimum of two terms for a total of 12 semester credits. If more time is needed to complete the doctoral study, additional terms of EDUC 8090 will be required to use university services and support. Additional credits for EDUC 8090 are not reflected in the overall credit requirements needed for graduation, but these additional credits will appear on the transcript.
The doctoral study demonstrates a student’s scholarly talents to examine, critique, and synthesize knowledge so that new ideas can be tested; best practices identified, established, and verified; or theoretical or policy constructs evaluated and advanced. In all cases, the doctoral study is to be a rigorous, original inquiry that results in new knowledge, demonstrating its efficacy in the world of practice. The goal of the doctoral study is for the educational leader to conduct an investigation that focuses on learning, teaching, and leading within a designated community.
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