A statement prepared based on the second CEE Leadership and Policy Summit at Lake Forest College, IL, June 2007
Overview of Doctoral Education in English Education
Professors of English Education work at colleges or universities to prepare, mentor, supervise, and offer professional development for preservice and inservice language arts teachers while engaging in research into curriculum and instruction of English. This research often connects studies in English, reading, literature, composition, and theory, with language arts teaching in the public schools and colleges. Stephen North claims that there are 3,500 institutions in the United States hiring English professors and only 140 that produce doctoral graduates (p.61). Similar numbers can be put forward regarding departments and colleges of Education. There are more universities with need for English education faculty than there are doctoral graduates being produced.
Our strand pursued a range of questions to consider relating to doctoral education in English education. Those questions could be identified in two broad areas:
- What should doctoral education in English Education consist of?
- How should CEE and the profession respond to a shortage of English educators with doctorates to fill faculty positions?
English Education professors have historically played a major role in the formation of English education as a discipline and in the activities and governance of the National Council of the Teacher of English, (NCTE), the International Reading Association (IRA), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and their affiliates. Because they are closely related fields, composition specialists often have responsibility for English education programs, and English Education has a component group in the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).
As English educators conduct research and write articles and books for scholarly journals and professional teachers, they shape the teaching of English, often emerging as key figures in local, state, and national debates and policy decisions. Typically these faculty have public school teaching experience, graduate and doctoral level degrees in English education, and extensive knowledge about the teaching of literature, language, and composition. In many institutions, methods courses taught by English education professors are required by state and national accrediting institutions, such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
These professors may become involved in the leadership of NCTE and IRA and active members in the Conference on English Education (CEE), their professional home. Indeed the CEE was founded, in part, to address the development of doctoral programs in English education (Webb, manuscript, chapter 10). Although professors do come to these responsibilities from various backgrounds, we believe that English education professors, whether located in English or in education departments, are best prepared in doctoral programs in English or literacy education because such preparation in the humanities (and, more specifically, English language and literature) provides English educators with the background to strengthen preservice teachers’ mastery of content-area knowledge in the English language arts.
The History of Doctoral Programs in English Education
(How do Eng Ed doctoral programs function? Where are they located and what are there epistemological foundations?)
The rich and evolving question of what doctoral programs in English education should consist of has seen only scant investigation in the literature since Dwight Burton’s article in the second CEE newsletter in 1968. No published books address this topic. (It does not come up in either Andrea Lunsford’s The Future of Doctoral Studies in English (1989) or in Stephen North’s Refiguring the Ph.D. in English Studies: Writing, Doctoral Education, and the Fusion-Based Curriculum (2000).) Although there was a discussion about doctoral education in English Education at the time of the founding of the CEE in the 1970s, the topic has hardly been addressed in the last thirty years. An article written in English Education by Martha Young in 2000 drawing on the work of a CEE commission discusses in broad terms the qualifications for English teacher educators. Another piece on mentoring of doctoral students by Stephen Koziol and his graduate students appeared in the same journal in 2003.
Yet, how doctoral programs in English education are constructed shapes the entire discipline of English education. Our interdisciplinary field draws on both social science and humanities paradigms, on qualitative, quantitative, and classroom-based research. Doctoral programs in English education and related fields are found in both colleges of education and English departments, and sometimes in joint or collaborative forms. These programs are configured in a variety of ways, stressing different approaches to research, different types of dissertations, and a variety of doctoral student experiences from school-based research, to teaching methods courses, to participation in community grant projects. Given the limitations of our time together at the CEE Summit in Lake Forest, we were not able to explore this important dimension of our charge. Our strand believes that continued conversation about the content, structure, and focus of doctoral degrees in English education and related programs needs to take place and become a regular feature of CEE meetings and publications.
The Current Shortage of English Education Doctoral Students and Faculty Members
(There is a shortage—why and how did this happen? What does it mean?)
There is clearly a long-term need and developing crisis in the production of English education professors. Tenure track positions for professors of English education have for many years been short on applicants. As Baird Shuman wrote in 1972, “At the present time, it is a fairly well acknowledged fact that the Ph.D. in English is a glut on the market. However, the job market for the person with a doctorate in English Education is not quite so bad.” Or James Papp thirty years later (in 2001), “…Begs the question of why doctoral programs are not producing more people with comp, tech writing and English ed qualifications and why they continue to produce several hundred candidates with qualifications narrowly confined to, say, Victorian Literature (my own doctoral field) for every matching job.” Webb’s research (2005) into the job market for English education professors in English departments indicated that half of the positions went unfilled due to lack of candidates in 2001–2. Extensive and continuing anecdotal evidence from both universities seeking applicants and new PhD’s on the job market indicates that this shortage continues to exist.
As noted above, North claims that there are 3,500 institutions in the United States hiring English professors and only 140 that produce doctoral graduates (p.61). Similar numbers can be put forward regarding departments and colleges of Education. Whereas English professors in many specialties may enter a highly competitive job market, in the specific case of English education there are clearly far more universities with potential need for English education faculty than there are institutions producing doctoral graduates in this specialized area. If this market place is promising for new English education PhDs seeking positions either in English or education departments, it is, at the same time, troubling. As long as there is not a sufficient pool of PhD candidates, faculty positions in the field will erode, and the standards for the preparation of new English teachers will be jeopardized.
The shortage of faculty is leading universities to eliminate tenure lines in English education, replace regular faculty in English education with part time or adjunct faculty, and reduce hiring requirements in the field. Given the important work that English education faculty perform, the loss and downgrading of these positions has serious and disturbing consequences for our field. A shortage of English education PhDs undermines the vital link between universities preparing teachers and the public schools themselves. It diminishes the pool of highly qualified people to guide practicing teachers toward quality reading and research in English education and provide relevant inservice education. Many dissertations written by teachers in doctoral programs in English education in modified form have become published professional books powerfully influencing the profession. The shortage threatens teacher professional organizations such as NCTE that has relied heavily on people with PhDs in English education for direction and leadership.
Because of the diverse opportunities for those who earn doctoral degrees in English education, in public schools, in universities, in curriculum and administrative positions, in departmental leadership, etc., a “glut on the market” for the degree is unlikely. As Ben Nelms, an elder statesman in the profession, put it, a PhD in English education “virtually assures good employment opportunities for doctoral graduates who happen to finish at a time when college/university hiring is down . . . or who, for whatever reason (marriage, family, personal preference) are unwilling to move to the part of the country where positions may be available in any given year.” We believe that the shortage of new PhDs in English education has serious consequences for our academic field, and the CEE needs to undertake a sustained effort to recruit and support doctoral students in English education.
Reneergizing Our Field
(Now that we know there is a shortage, what might we do?—transition into rest of the belief statement supporting the life cycle approach of pre-, during-, and post-doctoral studies)
Participants in the Doctoral Strand at the CEE summit at Lake Forest, believe that doctoral education in English education can best be supported by close examination of three phases of doctoral education, recruitment and application, during the program, and exiting the program. This is consistent with the life-cycle approach outlined in “Becoming Centered: CEE Membership and Program Development” statement from the special issue of English Education, Reconstructing English Education for the 21st Century: A Report on the CEE Summit, especially pages 390–392.
Taken in sum, our changing understanding of the English Education doctoral degree as well as the immediate and long-term outlook for the job market in our field leads us to recommend three immediate actions that CEE should pursue and which will be elaborated throughout the rest of this document:
- Actively Recruit and Support Doctoral Candidates in English Education
- Mentor Doctoral Students during their Programs
- Facilitate English Education Doctoral Students through the Job Search and during Entry into Faculty Positions
1. Actively Recruit and Support Doctoral Candidates in English Education
To recruit and support doctoral students in English education the CEE needs to develop materials to help prospective students understand why and how to choose doctoral studies in English education, identify and mentor candidates, and help them identify and select appropriate doctoral programs. We recommend that a website, or section of the CEE website be created for these specific purposes. Additional recommendations are specifically spelled out below:
Develop Materials to Help Prospective Students Understand Why and How to Choose Doctoral Studies in English Education
- Create statements: Describe the purposes and outcomes of doctoral study, fellowships, the job market
- Develop list of doctoral programs (continue creating list)
- Make available copies of The Doctoral Degree in English Education, publish, list in NCTE catalog, summary on website, online
- CEE members write an article for English Journal and state journals about pursuing a doctoral degree
- Link to CEE website; CEE-GS website
- Make efforts to recruit diverse student populations and international students; create diversity statement specifically related to recruiting doctoral students
- Examine study abroad opportunities
Identifying and Mentoring Candidates
- Twice yearly email to CEE Members urging them to identify potential candidates and direct them to doctoral study
- Write an article/ad for professors of MA students who might identify candidates for English Education
- Regular box in English Education that points them toward the doctoral section of the website
- Utilize NCTE resources for identifying candidates
- NCTE Inbox (3 times per year advertising doctoral programs)
- Email to CEE members with links to CEE website/info about programs
- Link to/from NCTE Website
- State NCTE Affiliates
- Reach out to other organizations and notifying them of other websites (we want a link on their website/state affiliate sites, email information to key contacts)
- Conference on English Leadership
- Conference on College Composition and Communication
- MLA (Doctoral Students Website)
- National Writing Projects, especially those affiliated with doctoral-granting universities
- Phi Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi, ASCD, NEA, AFT?
Choosing a Specific Program
- Steve’s (forthcoming) essay on his application process
- Develop materials that help prospective students select programs
- Research and Teaching Opportunities
- Create support for completing Application Materials
2. Mentor Doctoral Students during their Programs
To support doctoral students during their studies the CEE needs to attend to their entrance into the discourse and professional structures of the field, their engagement with the broad range of doctoral student course work and activities, the writing of the dissertation, and preparation to enter into the job market. Recommendations are specifically spelled out below:
Entrance into the discourse and professional structures of the field:
- Higher Education Overview (Life in the Academy)
- Journal Titles to Review
- Both the heavy hitters and other journals
- What to read, what to subscribe to
- Overview of each journal
- Key/landmark articles within the journals
- Key journals
- English Education
- English Journal
- Research in the Teaching of English (RTE)
- Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
- Journal of Popular Culture
- Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ)
- Written Communication
- Journal of Literacy Research
- College English
- Educational Researcher
- College Literature
- ALAN Review
- Coursework Overview
- The Nature of English Education (Department of English/College of Education)
- Qualitative Classes
- Quantitative Classes
- Reading Research Studies
- Discipline Specific: Education
- Teacher Education
- Discipline Specific: English
- Lit Crit
- Entering into a mentoring seminar early in the process
- Situating Yourself as a Researcher
- Taking methods courses and thinking about your position in the field
- Shifting the nature of your career from K–12 teaching to educational research
In the Process of a Doctoral Program:
- Literature Review
- Selecting an Adviser
- Selecting a Committee
- Graduate assistantships or teaching assistantships
- Opportunities to teach methods courses
- Alternative types of dissertations/research with samples from texts and links to dissertation abstracts
- Graphic Novel
- Encourage graduate student participation in the Ramon Veal seminar
- Applying for Spencer Fellowships
Throughout a Doctoral Program:
- Place to share Ph.D. student writing
- Collaboration site for graduate research, conferences, and travel
- Publication Opportunities
- Presentation Opportunities
- Publishing Tips
- Connection to Other Professional Organizations
- Online Mentor
- Incorporating Technology
Exiting a Doctoral Program:
- Creating a CV
- Creating a Cover Letter
- Interview Tips
- Job Talks
3. Facilitate English Education Doctoral Students through the Job Search and during Entry into Faculty Positions
To support doctoral students as they exit their programs and begin the profession the CEE needs to attend to helping doctoral students prepare for the job search, begin their new jobs and adopt new professional personas, and develop their research and publication agendas. Recommendations are specifically spelled out below:
- Monitor job openings and fellowship opportunities
- Creating a CV
- Creating a Cover Letter
- Interview Tips
- Job Talks
- Collect resources to support graduate students’ employment search process (including a short set of advice)
Beginning a New Job/Adopting a Professional Persona
- Arrange senior-level professors to serve as mentors to beginning faculty members.
- Provide a means for new faculty members at different institutions to network/offer support to each other.
- Offer one session on graduate student issues at convention each year.
- Offer one session for new faculty at convention each year. Or, offer support similar to what is done for new classroom teachers attending convention for the first time.
- Academic Vocabulary: ABD, Adjunct, Lecturer, Assistant/Associate Prof.
Researching and Publishing
- Encourage new faculty participation in the Ramon Veal seminar.
- Provide resources in support of graduate students’ publication efforts.
Conclusion: (Re)Defining the Role of Doctoral Studies in English Education
To begin addressing these concerns the Doctoral Stand working in close collaboration with the CEE Graduate Student Organization has prioritized needs and developed an Immediate Action Plan (see below). We believe the specific proposals of the Immediate Action Plan be brought to the CEE Executive Committee and adopted by them at their next meeting in fall of 2007 in New York City. We also believe that the unpublished manuscript edited by Allen Webb and including 16 chapters by 35 different contributors does include many chapters addressing the content of English education doctoral programs and could also serve as an important resource to recruit new doctoral students and support them through their programs. Publication and marketing of this book should be supported by the CEE. Given the lack of attention to doctoral education, this book provides a needed service to the English education community. Making comprehensive information about doctoral degrees in the field available to a broad audience is a critical step in addressing both the quantity and quality of English teachers, leaders, and faculty.
As representatives of CEE, we believe that facilitating the recruitment and development of doctoral students is imperative to the sustainability of our organization and discipline. This point is most evident by the startling statistics involving the national shortage of English Educators, unfilled job searches, and lost tenure-track job lines. Therefore, we propose the following ways that the CEE can assist the recruitment and development of doctoral education in English Education:
- A start-up stipend ($2,500) for the CEE-GS to develop the CEE-GS portion of the new CEE website, office costs (e.g. photocopying), and recruitment efforts;
- A yearly stipend ($1,000) for the CEE-GS to maintain their portion of the website and cover other expenses;
- Appointing one member of the CEE-Executive Committee, as part of her or his duties, as the CEE-GS Liaison;
- Create a seat on the CEE Executive Board for a CEE-GS representative who will also act as the CEE-GS chair;
- A reserved CEE session at NCTE operated by CEE-GS to discuss doctoral student issues;
- A table and banner at NCTE operated by CEE-GS to recruit doctoral students and CEE-GS members;
- Devote a special issue of EE to doctoral studies once every two to five years;
- Gather a literature review of research related to doctoral issues and disseminate findings to CEE members in order to conduct future research related to doctoral issues;
- Create a CEE doctoral completion fellowship, dissertation award, conference travel awards, and research mini-grants for CEE-GS members;
- Increased communication from CEE to its members and other organizations pertaining to the issue of doctoral education, specifically: twice yearly email to CEE Members urging them to identify potential candidates and direct them to doctoral study; Regular “box” or advertisement in English Education and English Journal for professors of MA students, K–12 teachers, and/or graduate students that points them toward the doctoral website; NCTE Inbox (3 times per year advertising doctoral programs); Email to CEE members with links to CEE website/info about programs; Link to/from NCTE Website (for K–12 teachers to be able to access)
- Reach out to other organizations and notifying them of other websites (we want a link on their website/state affiliate sites, email information to key contacts), including: Conference on English Leadership, Conference on College Composition and Communication, MLA (Doctoral Students Website), National Writing Projects, especially those affiliated with doctoral granting universities, Phi Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi, ASCD, NEA, AFT, IRA.
The strand wishes to thank the organizers of the CEE Summit II for creating a context for extensive and important work and reflection on the present and future of our discipline, in particular for attention paid to the crucial role of doctoral studies in English education.
Summary of Belief Statements
- English education professors, whether located in English or in education departments, are best prepared in doctoral programs in English or literacy education because such preparation in the humanities (and, more specfically, English language and literature) provides English educators with the background to strengthen preservice teachers' mastery of content-area knowledge in the English language arts.
- Continued conversation about the content, structure, and focus of doctoral degrees in English education and related programs needs to take place and become a regular feature of CEE meetings and publications.
- The shortage of new PhDs in English education has serious consequences for our academic field and the CEE needs to undertake a sustained effort to recruit and support doctoral students in English education.
- Doctoral education in English education can best be supported by close examination of three phases of doctoral education, recruitment and application, during the program, and exiting the program.
- To recruit and support doctoral students in English education, the CEE needs to develop materials to help prospective students understand why and how to choose doctoral studies in English education, identify and mentor candidates, and help them identify and select appropriate doctoral programs.
- To support doctoral students during their studies, the CEE needs to attend to their entrance into the discourse and professional structures of the field, their engagement with the broad range of doctoral student course work and activities, the writing of the dissertation, and preparation to enter into the job market.
- To support doctoral students as they exit their programs and begin the profession, the CEE needs to attend to helping doctoral students prepare for the job search, begin their new jobs, and adopt new professional personas, and develop their research and publication agendas.
- CEE Executive Committee officers should be available to contact college deans and department heads to encourage these administrators to devote hiring lines to faculty positions in English education. In these conversations, CEE officers should emphasize the pressing need for more English educators and the favorable job market for graduates whose PhD is in English education
Burton, Dwight. “Report of a Preliminary Survey on Doctoral Preparation in English Education.” CEE Newsletter (1968): 1–8.
Franklin, Phyllis; David Laurence and Elizabeth B. Welles, Eds. Preparing a Nation’s Teachers: Models for English and Foreign Language Programs. New York: MLA Press, 1999.
Koziol, Stephen. “On Learning to Teach English Teachers: A Textured Portrait of Mentoring.” English Education. 36.1 (October 2003): 6–34.
North, Stephen, Barbara A. Chepaitis, David Coogan, Lale Davidson, Ron MacLean, Cindy L. Parrish, Jonathan Post, Beth Weatherby. Refiguring the Ph.D. in English Studies: Writing, Doctoral Education, and the Fusion-Based Curriculum. Urbana: NCTE Press, 2000.
Knoblauch, Cy. “Recruiting English Majors: One View from a Public University.” ADE Bulletin. No. 128, Spring 2001, 20–24.
Lunsford, Andrea, Helene Morgan, and James Slevin. The Future of Doctoral Studies in English. New York: MLA Press, 1989.
Papp, James. “Introduction: A Co?” ADE Bulletin 129 (2001): 14–17.
Shuman, R. Baird. “The English Education Doctorate in the Decade Ahead.” English Education 3.2 (Winter 1972): 78–87.
VanAntwerp, Jill, and Allen Webb, with Tony Perry, Kia Jane Richmond, and David Schaafsma. “Becoming Centered: CEE Membership and Program Development” statement from the special issue of English Education 38.4 July 2006, “Reconstructing English Education for the 21st Century: A Report on the CEE Summit,” 384–393.
Webb, Allen. “English Education Job Crisis,” Associated Departments of English (ADE) Bulletin, 137, Spring 2005.
Webb, Allen, ed. The Doctoral Degree in English Education. Manuscript.
Young, Martha. “Preparing English Teacher Educators: Defining A Process.” English Education 32.3, (2000): 226–236.
This document was created in part as a result of the 2007 Conference on English Education Leadership and Policy Summit, Don Zancanella, CEE Chair, and Dawn Abt-Perkins, CEE Leadership and Policy Summit Chair.
Participants and authors in the “What should doctoral programs in English education consist of?” thematic strand group of the CEE Summit included:
Co-Conveners: Todd DeStigter and Allen Webb
Steve Bickmore, Riverton High School
Todd Goodson, Kansas State University
Pam Hartman, Ball State University
Troy Hicks, Michigan State University
Susan Hughes, Emory University
Robert Petrone, Michigan State University
Sheryl Rinkol, Arizona State University
Judy Sewell, Kent State University
¥Ruth Vinz, Teachers College Columbia University
¥Sue Weinstein, Louisiana State University
¥ Did not attend the CEE Summit but participated in online discussions.
If you wish to respond to this CEE belief statement, please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org and specify which statement you are commenting on in the Subject of your email.