These documents were created as one part of a required three-part dissertation in the National Louis University (NLU) Educational Leadership (EDL) Doctoral Program. The National Louis Educational Leadership EdD is a professional practice degree program. (Shulman, et al., 2006) For more see:

For the dissertation requirement, doctoral candidates are required to plan, research and implement three major projects, one each year, within their school or district with a focus on professional practice. The three projects are:

  • Program Evaluation
  • Change Leadership Plan
  • Policy Advocacy Document

For the Program Evaluation candidates are required to identify and evaluate a program or practice within their school or district. The “program” can be a current initiative; a grant project; a common practice; or a movement. Focused on utilization, the evaluation can be formative, summative or developmental. (Patton, 2008). The evaluation must directly relate to student learning.

In the Change Leadership Plan candidates develop a plan that considers organizational possibilities for renewal. The plan for organizational change may be at the building or district level. It must be related to an area in need of improvement, and have a clear target in mind. The candidate must be able to identify noticeable and feasible differences that should exist as a result of the change plan. (Wagner, et al., 2006)

In the Policy Advocacy Document candidates develop and advocate for a policy at the local, state or national level using reflective practice and research as a means for supporting and promoting reforms in education. Policy advocacy dissertations use critical theory to address moral and ethical issues of policy formation and administrative decision making (i.e., what ought to be). The purpose is to develop reflective, humane and social critics, moral leaders, and competent professionals, guided by a critical practical rational model. (Browder, 1995)

Works Cited

Browder, L.H. (1995). An alternative to the doctoral dissertation: The policy advocacy concept and the policy document. Journal of School Leadership, 5, 40-69.

Patton, M. Q. (2008). Utilization-focused evaluation (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Shulman, L.S., Golde, C.M., Bueschel, A.C., & Garabedian, K.J. (2006). Reclaiming education’s doctorates: A critique and a proposal. Educational Researcher, 35(3), 25-32.

Wagner, T., et al. (2006). Change leadership: A practical guide to transforming our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Browse the Educational Leadership Dissertations Collections:

Professional Practice Dissertations

Other Dissertations

FL MED Educational Leadership Capstones