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The DSW Portfolio

In place of the traditional dissertation, our practice-oriented doctoral program focuses on developing a portfolio of written products–anchored by and around the case study, and building towards an Engaged Scholarship Project, that we believe are more relevant and useful for working clinicians. Students will create and maintain their own professional WordPress project, to be interlinked with the DSW Website, as both a digital ‘home’ for their continued scholarship and a venue for conversation among peers, as they establish a unique web presence, and hone and refine critical digital literacy skill.

Year 1: Foundation Writing and Case Study

The first year writing practicum is a unique opportunity to engage in intensive guided reading, writing, and revision practices.

The main goals of the first year are:

  1. To gain a comprehensive understanding of what a case study is by way of example
  2. To learn reading comprehension and close reading through a combination of case study examples and theoretical framing texts
  3. To understand the pedagogy of case framing, which includes connective thinking, synthesis, and textual analysis
  4. To begin an annotated bibliography of module readings
  5. To participate in the process of composition through a series of short writing assignments that each student will revise in order to be proficient in an array of writing skills, such as thesis writing, paragraphing, narrativizing through creative craft elements, using traceable scholarship, developing research skills, employing APA format correctly, and demonstrating grammatical proficiency.

The first half of the first year writing program helps set the foundation for writing the DSW portfolio products: one pragmatic narrative case study, one qualitative paper and a multimedia project.

In order to achieve these goals, students will be introduced to the ways of scholarly research. Students will be instructed in the scholarly writing process, from conceptualization and literature exploration to the writing and publication process. Students will begin by preparing an in-depth literature review in the fall semester.  This review will then be used in the second semester to frame the students’ case study, which is due at the end of their first year. In addition to proseminar feedback, “one-on-one” conferences with DSW faculty are an opportunity for feedback about writing and development of the case study. Final case study papers should be of publishable quality and no more than 25 pages including abstract, title page, and references. We strongly encourage students to submit their final papers for publication consideration in peer-reviewed journals.

Year 2: Qualitative Inquiry

During year two, students learn the skills of qualitative inquiry, including research question formulation, study design, data collection and analysis, writing results, and preparing a scholarly manuscript reporting results. Students also learn how to assemble application materials to get research protocols evaluated and approved for review by the Rutgers University Institutional Review Board (IRB).

In the fall semester, students develop a literature review that forms the context for their qualitative project. This review is to include literature about the population or problem of interest, and identify gaps in the research or literature, and justify the method of qualitative inquiry the student chooses for their project.

Throughout the year, one-on-one conferences with DSW faculty are an opportunity to receive mentoring and guidance in completing the research process and written report.

By January, the student will start the IRB process and begin data collection. Students will execute a small scale qualitative study (5-7 participants) and submit the manuscript as a component of their portfolio. Papers should be of publishable quality and no more than 25 pages including abstract, title page, and references. We strongly encourage students to submit their final papers for publication consideration in peer-reviewed journals.

Year 3: Multi-Media Projects

While the study of cases remains a constant throughout the entire program, including year three, the build up of skills in producing the various elements of the Writing Portfolio in Years 1 and 2, along with the written products submitted to this point, function as the scaffolding towards a multi-media project.

Students will pursue the work of re-contextualizing their text-based case studies in the world of resources the web makes available. We will provide a rich, flexible template that will allow the students to devote all their energies to composing with the appropriate multimedia resources. Over time, we plan to expand the range of web-based publishing options so that, as future cohorts come up through the program, our most experienced and adventurous students can participate actively in both the composition of their case studies and the design of the web space used for showcasing their work. In any event, from the first cohort onward, our graduates will have learned how to compose with and for the screen and will leave our program prepared to share the fruits of their research with fellow practitioners the world over. In practice, this translates into requiring that the students produce their work in an online composing environment that supports the use of still and moving images, animation, graphics, and sound, as well as text.

There are a number of pedagogical reasons for having our students submit dissertations that are multimedia case studies. First, and foremost, our highest goal is to have the case studies engage with multiple contexts and for the case studies to be trans-disciplinary in their range of reference. While an exclusively text-based case study could meet this standard, the advantage of the multimedia case study is that it can engage with non-text-centric contexts and sources, including still and moving images, sound files, as well as all the ephemeral evidence available on the web itself, such as tweets, Facebook posts, and chat room exchanges. Second, we want our students to be composing in a format that is designed for immediate, global circulation. While any text-based case study that has been converted to a .pdf can meet this standard, the multimedia case study is designed from the outset for the screen and for a readership that assumes that any important contemporary document is born digital. Third, we want our students to all be literate in the culture’s most powerful means of communication and to be conversant with the challenges that digital technology poses for young and old alike.

In the third year, students will continue to add to their annotated bibliographies as they locate new resources for their multi-media projects.

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