Doctor of Education in Distance Education (EDDE) 805

Research Seminar I

Course cover

Delivery Mode: Grouped study with Internet component

Credits: 3 - Core Course

Prerequisite: None

Availability: Fall

Only students admitted into the doctoral program may take this course.


EDDE805: Research Seminar I (3 credits) is the first of two senior-level research seminars, in which students are provided with a supportive environment to engage in active discourse about their dissertation research. Proposal writing and advanced research methods and analyses are addressed, culminating in the production of a full first draft of their doctoral research project proposal for submission to their supervisory committee for confirmation of their candidacy.

Course Goals

Consistent with the course title, the purpose of EDDE 805 is to provide students with the opportunity to discuss with their instructor and their peers the elements of their proposed research project, particularly the underlying concepts and principles, the possible findings, the literature from which their chosen topic is derived and their work in progress. Students are required to participate successfully in intellectual debate and discussions with their peers and instructors, to prepare for and discuss the process and principles of writing the proposal and dissertation, and to participate in advanced reading and oral and written review of the literature relevant to their area.

Specifically, at the conclusion of the course students should be able to:

  • Draw on, or contribute to, as required and appropriate, the social and interpersonal resources of the student cohort, to support the personal, social, intellectual and learning needs of the EDDE 805 course group while planning and writing the draft dissertation proposal;
  • Discuss analytically (compare, contrast, critique, and evaluate) the content of the readings and other topics and resources that constitute the course subject matter including dissertations and theses written by others and contributions of classmates and faculty, through various synchronous and asynchronous processes and activities;
  • Describe and critically examine personal and professional beliefs and practices, in light of the findings, principles, concepts, and viewpoints found in the literature relating to research project design, and proposal and dissertation planning, organizing, writing and presentation;
  • Apply to personal practice, and specifically to the written proposal, appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from various sources, including reading, observation, discussion, and critical analysis and reflection;
  • Participate in various course activities: produce written treatments of course topics, as assigned or as personally designed, and submit these in a manner timely for consideration by the seminar group and for assessment by the course instructor(s); lead synchronous seminar sessions and asynchronous discussions; support and respond to other members of the cohort, as required and appropriate;
  • Produce a draft of their dissertation proposal of a length, quality and intellectual rigor that is sufficient to satisfy their supervisory committee and the requirements of confirmation of doctoral candidacy.

Course Outline

Unit A.  Principles and practicalities of preparing for your research

  • Supervisor-student relationships/expectations
  • Organizing your time and bio-rhythms
  • Organizing your research project/timelines
  • Requirements for a dissertation proposal

Unit B.  Components of a proposal & a dissertation

  • Purposes of a proposal
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Finding your niche: the literature review
  • Comparative models of literature review

Unit C.  Purposes and models of proposals and dissertations

  • Planning your proposal:  what kinds of research study?
  • Qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches to proposal & dissertation writing
  • Steps in the process: what to put where & how to express it?

Unit D.  Writing your proposal

  • What are the defining characteristics of a good proposal?
  • What are the defining characteristics of a good dissertation?
  • Guidelines for organizing and writing

Unit E.  Presenting your ideas: audience & examiners

  • Presenting your ideas: orally and in writing
  • Considerations of the impact of your writing & presenting
  • Broader considerations of your research to the community

Learning Resources


Krathwohl, D., & Smith, N. (2005). How to prepare a dissertation proposal: Suggestions for students in education and the social and behavioral sciences. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press.

Seale, C. (2012). Researching Society and Culture. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Other Resources

In addition, numerous online texts, journal articles and other readings will be used for each of the units.

Student Assessment

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1: Short presentations in two-weekly synchronous sessions facilitated by the instructor (schedule to be determined in week 1).

In each synchronous session between weeks 3 - 11, two students will present a review and respond to questions on these reviews of two outstanding dissertations relevant to their field of research, for 20 minutes each.

Reviews should include consideration of specific points of quality or lack thereof, the good/bad aspects, and what information, research processes, ideas, theoretical approaches or organizational structures could or couldn’t be used by presenters in their own projects. As a result of this review, each presenter should produce a list of distilled/deduced criteria for what constitutes a good quality thesis/dissertation. These criteria, together with a two page summary of their reviews should be posted to the Moodle site at least one (1) week before their scheduled presentation date to give other students time to read, reflect and prepare responses and/or questions.

In each of these sessions, other students will present a 5-10 minute oral review of an article they have read relevant to their project/area of research and present “work in progress” in their own research preparation, planning, implementation, analysis, writing etc. It is envisaged that the literature review and proposal assignments, as they are developed, will also form part of this presentation and discussion.
Assignment 2:  First draft of literature review towards the proposal and dissertation (with peer review/discussion as appropriate and timely in the synchronous sessions and discussion forums). This draft should be between 12-15 pages and comprise a reflective, considered review and comparative discussion of the seminal works the student is drawing upon for the theoretical underpinning of the research study as well as other interesting and informative works (books, journal articles, government or institutional documents, online material) that are significant to the student’s area of research and the formulation of the research study. 30%
Assignment 3:

Part 1: First good draft of dissertation proposal to be posted to both the instructor and other students on the EDDE 805 Moodle site, at least two weeks before end of semester (midnight Friday of Week 11 of the course). This proposal should be between 20-30 pages in length, excluding list of references. A refined version of this draft will be submitted to both the EDDE 805 instructor and the student’s supervisor after incorporation of peer and instructor feedback which will be given during discussion in the forum in the last two (2) weeks of semester (see Part 2 below).

Part 2: Respond to, critique and give feedback on the proposals of at least two other students in the discussion forum in the last two weeks of semester and respond reflectively to the feedback from others on students' own proposal. This reflections and responses will then feed back into students’ refinement of their proposals for ultimate re-submission to the EDDE 805 instructor and their supervisors in preparation for their candidacy examination.
35% (Part 1) 15% (Part 2)
Total 100%

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Updated August 02 2017 by Student & Academic Services