BCOE Outstanding Dissertation Award

Clarice C. and Leland H. Bagwell College of Education
Outstanding Dissertation Award 2023-24

Purpose of the BCOE Ed.D. Degree Programs: The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree programs offered by the Bagwell College of Education (BCOE) prepare professional educators who are practitioner scholars, content knowledge specialists, and instructional leaders who innovate, critically reflect, and effectively teach and lead within diverse P-20 educational settings. These doctoral programs prepare graduates to investigate theoretical constructs related to teaching, leading, and learning through applied research that advances knowledge and informs educational practice and/or policy. 

Purpose of the BCOE Outstanding Dissertation Award: The BCOE Outstanding Dissertation Award is presented annually to a doctoral student who has earned the Ed.D. and whose dissertation exemplifies high quality empirical educational research, informs educational policy and/or practice, and embodies the purpose of the BCOE Ed.D. degree. 

The Award: One scholar will be acknowledged as the outstanding dissertation award winner each academic year at the spring BCOE Honors Celebration.  The winner will be presented with an outstanding dissertation award plaque. The winner will also be featured in an article in the BCOE Annual Report.  All nominees will receive a letter of recognition from the Dean. 

Nomination Process: The Chair of a student’s dissertation committee must nominate a dissertation for consideration for the BCOE Outstanding Dissertation Award. Each Dissertation Chair nominating a dissertation must provide the Award Committee with a two-page letter detailing the strengths of the dissertation and why it should be considered “outstanding,” based on the award criteria contained within this document. Once nominated by his or her Dissertation Chair, the student must submit all requirements listed below. If the Dissertation Chair is no longer available, a dissertation committee member may fulfill this role. 

Eligibility: To be eligible for the award, nominated students must have successfully completed the dissertation and deposited into Digital Commons during the previous two calendar years (e.g., to be eligible for the 2023 award, the dissertation must have been completed January 1, 2022-December 31, 2023). Once they have won the award, students are not eligible for resubmission.

Submission Requirements: Once nominated, students must submit the following by the deadline:

  • A two-page nomination letter from the Dissertation Chair,
  • A two-page cover letter from the student explaining how the dissertation meets the award criteria,
  • The dissertation title and abstract, and
  • A link to the complete dissertation in Digital Commons. If for some reason the dissertation is not available in Digital Commons, a pdf of the complete dissertation may be uploaded in the online application portal.

Deadline to Submit: February 26th, 2024 at 5:00pm

Award Committee: The BCOE Outstanding Dissertation Award Committee will consist of seven members:  an elected representative from each of the five doctoral degree-granting departments (i.e., Educational Leadership, Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Inclusive Education, Instructional Technology, and Secondary and Middle Grades Education); an elected representative from the Teacher Leadership doctoral program; and the Associate Dean.  All committee members are eligible to vote.  Each committee member must have full Graduate Faculty Status and should have expertise in research design and methods.  Ideally, committee members should have prior experience in reviewing research as part of a peer review process.  If a representative that meets these criteria is not available, the department or program may choose to elect a proxy from another department.  The committee will elect a chair each year. To ensure continuity, committee representatives will serve staggered two-year terms, with one-half of the committee elected each year.  For the inaugural year of the award committee, three members will be elected for a one-year term and three members will be elected for a two-year term.  The BCOE Student Development and Awards Committee (SDAC) will determine a fair means for staggering the committee members’ terms for the inaugural year.  The SDAC will serve as the oversight committee for this award, and the Award Committee will make recommendations annually to SDAC regarding award guidelines and committee procedures.

Award Committee Process:  Nominations for the Outstanding Dissertation Award are reviewed annually by the Award Committee during the spring semester to determine whether a nominated dissertation meets the award criteria and qualifies for the award.  As part of their review process, committee members will determine a means to ensure interrater reliability.  In any given year, the Award Committee may decide not to give an award.  If the Award Committee decides to give an award, an attempt will be made to reach a consensus concerning the rank ordering of the nominees.  If a consensus on the rank ordering cannot be reached, the final ranking shall be determined by a majority vote.  Once the final rank ordering is determined, the Award Committee shall forward the name of the award winner and a copy of the dissertation identified as “Outstanding” (ranked #1) to the Dean.  In the event that a member of the Award Committee has served as Dissertation Chair and written a letter of nomination for a dissertation, that person shall recuse himself/herself during any discussion or deliberations concerning that dissertation.  The Associate Dean will arrange the online application submission process and will maintain a database of applicants and awardees annually.  The Associate Dean will also ensure that the award application process and winner(s) are promoted on the BCOE website and elsewhere.

BCOE Dissertation Award Criteria:

  •  Significance of the Study
    • Contributes meaningful knowledge on a significant educational problem or issue within the field
    • Evidence of planned or actual dissemination of results (e.g., conference presentation, invited talk, local workshop, and/or publication)
  • Quality of the Theoretical Framework(s)
    • Evidence of an appropriate theoretical frame that grounds the study and convinces readers of the study’s theoretical importance and rigor

  • Quality of the Review of Literature
    • Well-grounded in extensive scholarly literature
    • Synthesis of relevant literature provides a new perspective and clearly indicates knowledge gaps

  • Soundness of the Research Design
    • Design is rigorous and appropriate for the research purposes
    • Demonstrates a strong understanding of and applies relevant methodologies
    • Includes a conceptual framework that serves as an umbrella or map to connect and relate all the elements of the research design
    • Evidence of careful and systematic analysis of data

  • Importance and Relevance of the Findings
    • Findings are well-supported by the data
    • Conclusions and recommendations suggest meaningful solutions to complex problems of practice
    • Study has potential to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families, educational organizations, and communities

  • Excellence of the Scholarly Writing
    • Argument unfolds clearly and logically
    • Data are used effectively to support claims/findings
    • Writing is well-organized, clear, engaging, and free of error
    • Writing is consistent with APA format and style

  • Embodies the Purpose of the Ed.D. in the Bagwell College of Education
    • Study investigates theoretical constructs related to teaching, leading, and learning 
    • Includes applied research that advances knowledge and informs educational practice and/or policy

Note: For final scoring, the submitted documents will be weighted as follows: Dissertation 85%, Chair’s Nomination Letter and Student Cover Letter 10%, and Dissertation Abstract 5%.

The dissertation must have been completed January 1, 2022-December 31, 2023.

Deadline to Submit: February 26th, 2024, at 5:00pm. Compile all materials in one PDF and email to clane@kennesaw.edu

Timeline for the 2023-2024 Award


January 29, 2024

Call for Nominations announced.

February 26, 2024

Applications due by 5:00 p.m.
Email to: mdriver6@kennesaw.edu

February 27 - March 18th, 2024

Review period for Award Committee

March 22, 2024

Award Committee provides recommendation to Dean

March 29, 2024

Dean notifies award winner and his/her dissertation chair

April 1, 2024

Dean’s Office arranges for order of dissertation award plaque and notifies remaining nominees and their dissertation chairs of results

April 12, 2024

Dean sends letter of recognition to all nominees

April 15 – May 1, 2024

Award Committee provides feedback on award guidelines and committee process to SDAC

May SDAC Meeting, 2024

Award Committee members elected for next year

Late April-Early May, 2024

Dissertation Award winner recognized at the BCOE Honors Celebration

BCOE Dissertation Award Subcommittee Members for 2023-2024 Award :

  • Soon Lee, Elementary and Early Childhood Education (Chair; 2021-2023)
  • Jen Wells, Educational Leadership (2022-2024)
  • Rachel Gaines, Secondary and Middle Grades Education (2023-2025)
  • Julie Moore, School of Instructional Technology and Innovation (2023-2025)
  • Vidya Munandar, Inclusive Education (2021-2023)
  • Melissa Driver, Associate Dean for Curriculum Catalyst and Innovations

Past Winners of BCOE Outstanding Dissertation Awards