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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

Fall 2014

First Advisor

Claire Hamilton

Second Advisor

J. Kevin Nugent

Third Advisor

Matthew Davidson

Subject Categories

Higher Education and Teaching

Abstract

Advances in developmental and neuroscience research, calls for educational reform, and an emphasis on interdisciplinarity have generated interest in how science might inform educational practice and policy, resulting in the emerging field of mind, brain, and education (MBE). A primary goal of the field is to connect the cognitive and developmental sciences, biology, and education to develop a scientific grounding for educational practice and policy. Interdisciplinary MBE graduate programs seek to train a new generation of interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners. The purpose of this case study is to investigate students’ perceptions of their experiences developing interdisciplinary understanding in an MBE graduate program; how these perceptions vary based on student characteristics; and, to explore student perceptions of the potential and limitations of MBE to address educational problems. The findings suggest students gain interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in the program; are able to synthesize and produce integrative understandings to apply to problems in education; and, that the MBE program positively affects their appreciation for interdisciplinary research and their readiness to collaborate on interdisciplinary research. The results suggest students perceive the diversity of the knowledge, skills, and backgrounds of the cohort and participation in a lab/research experience are among the most supportive aspects of their experience in interdisciplinary learning and understanding, as well as in their future interdisciplinary work. Students leave having thought critically about a wide variety of tensions, uncertainties, and power imbalances in the interdisciplinary work of MBE and feel prepared to participate in collaborative research and begin the slow, and significant, process of change to improve education. The study is unique in exploring student perceptions of an MBE program and contributes to the literature on students’ development of interdisciplinary understanding and on educators’ beliefs about the potential of MBE to influence educational practice and policy. The study offers insight to institutions and individuals interested in developing interdisciplinary programs to advance the field of MBE and address some of the complex issues facing education today.

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