Dissertation Award


Outstanding Dissertation Award


All nominations and supporting materials must be submitted electronically to NAPDS Awards committee no later than Nov. 2, 2018. Submissions should be sent to: Awards@napds.org


The award shall consist of an award of $500 and a plaque commemorating the award. The recipient shall also be provided with a one-year membership to the NAPDS.

The recipient will be invited, at the NAPDS Conference 2019 in Atlanta, GA (a) to present a summary of her/his doctoral research and (b) to facilitate a mentoring session for doctoral students/candidates.

The recipient will be invited to serve on the award committee for the following year.


The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding recent doctoral candidates in an education field (or closely related field, e.g., school psychology) whose research contributes significantly to an understanding of some aspect of Professional Development Schools. The award is intended to encourage participation of individuals with new doctorates in the activities of the association by providing a forum for presentation of their research that uses or reflects the NAPDS 9 essentials of what it means to be a professional development school.


Participation in the NAPDS Doctoral Dissertation Award is limited to those who have completed their doctorates within 3 semesters (Fall 2017-Summer 2018) prior to the nomination submission date (November 2, 2018).

Participation is not restricted to NAPDS members.

Dissertations submitted shall fall within the scope of Professional Development Schools research, with demonstrated relevance to the 9 essentials.


All eligible institutions of higher education having doctoral program are eligible to nominate individuals for the award. Individual doctoral students or recent graduates may self-nominate. There is no limit on the number of entries from a particular college/university. Dissertations previously nominated will not be reconsidered.

All nominations and supporting materials must be submitted electronically to the NAPDS no later than Nov. 2, 2018. Submissions should be sent to: Awards@napds.org

Applicants for the Award

The packet of materials submitted by the nominee shall include:

  • An abstract of the dissertation, inclusive of necessary tables and/or figures.

The abstract should include the following. The abstract should be not longer than 25 double-spaced pages, 12 point font, and include the following:

  1. full dissertation title;
  2. statement of the study’s purpose;
  3. research questions, if applicable;
  4. significance of the study;
  5. theoretical or conceptual underpinnings;
  6. methods – research design/approach, sampling, data collection procedures or data sources used, and data analysis;
  7. summary of key findings;
  8. the impact on the PDS literature;
  9. implications for practice, policy, and/or future research related to Professional Development Schools;
  10. A copy of the signature sheet from the dissertation, including completion date; and
  11. The nominee’s current curriculum vitae.
  • Nomination letters shall include:
  1. if a self-nomination, two additional letters from the dissertation chair and/or committee members or
  2. if nominated, the nomination letter plus one additional letter from the dissertation chair or committee member.

All support letters should not be included in the packet but must be sent directly to the NAPDS (Awards@napds.org) by the date indicated above. All letters of support should include the name, email address, and appropriate phone number of the letter writer.

The NAPDS shall maintain an archival file of all entries and copies sent to the committee members and shall not return any materials to the nominee.

Selection Criteria:

The committee shall base its evaluation of the dissertation research submitted on the following criteria:

  1. importance of the topic to theory development and/or practical applications of the 9 essentials;
  2. soundness of methodology;
  3. organization and clarity of the presentation; and
  4. quality of data (as applicable).

Selection Process:

There will be one recipient selected. In the event that the committee decides that none of the submitted dissertations should be recognized, no award may be given that year.

The committee shall communicate the committee’s decision to the chair of the NAPDS Awards Committee who will then present it to the Leadership Team of the NAPDS for their approval.

The Doctoral Dissertation Award Committee chair shall provide a 50-250 word abstract, stating why the award was given. This abstract will be used to publicize the award. Material for this abstract can be taken from the rationales/comments provided by the members of the committee.

The chair of the NAPDS Awards Committee shall notify the author of the winning dissertation, in advance of the annual PDS National Conference.

Presentation of the Award:

The chair of the NAPDS Awards Committee and the chair of the Doctoral Dissertation Award Committee shall present the award to the winner.


The award shall be publicized in the publications of the NAPDS, on its website, and in other appropriate NAPDS venues.

The Award Committee:

The NAPDS Doctoral Dissertation Award Committee shall be composed of members who serve for three years. The chair of the Doctoral Dissertation Award Committee is appointed by the chair the NAPDS Awards Committee in consultation with the NAPDS Leadership Team.

In the absence of qualified nominations, the committee, in consultation with the chair of the NAPDS Awards Committee, may solicit additional nominations and extend the deadline for nominations

Past Winners:

2018 Mary Elizabeth Higgins, Pennsylvania State University, “The Influence of Practitioner Research on Teacher Candidates’ Beliefs”

2017 Kelly Mark, Pennsylvania State University, “Understanding mentoring practices in a professional development school partnership”

2016 Mary Jayne Coon-Kitt, Pennsylvania State University, “Inquiring about student work in a professional development school context:  A case of cross-role triads”