Localized Problems: A Primer for EdD Students

Posted March 2, 2018

If you are planning to do an EdD study, one of the first things that is required is for you to establish a local problem. Local problems often differ from generic problems found in most dissertations in that they are specific to the setting of your study. There are inherent differences between the two, as local problems, generally speaking, do not have vast amounts of empirical research to back them up. The exception to this is if you are conducting your study in a large urban area (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Miami, etc.), wherein you will have to narrow down your problem to one that has not been done before. By their nature, large urban areas are generally over-researched for localized problems.

The most important thing to remember when choosing a localized problem is that it must be documented. This seems counterintuitive to the point I made previously that localized problems generally lack empirical research; however, there is a way to get around this. When establishing your localized problem, you are looking for official documentation that determines that there is a problem. This can be school report cards, pass/fail rates, graduation rates, campus climate surveys, student resource officer reports, district-level standardized test scores, and other metrics of student success. All schools have these, so it is really a question of where to look rather than what is available. However, I caution against using the opinions of school employees as evidence of a local problem, as anecdotal evidence does not usually have the merits of established documentation (i.e., there is usually not any proof other than the person’s word). Keep this in mind as you work to establish a local problem as the basis for your study.

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