GMercyU EdD Student Selected for Outstanding Dissertation Award

October 13, 2021
EdD Dissertation Award Winner 2021


Dawn Durham, a student in GMercyU’s EdD in Educational Leadership program, was selected by the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE) for their Outstanding Dissertation Award. The PAC-TE will honor Durham later this month at its annual conference.

Durham is currently an Educational Consultant for the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistant Network (PaTTAN). Her dissertation was entitled "Pre-Service Teacher Preparation in Pennsylvania: Alignment with the National Reading Panel Findings." Durham’s research focused on a large percentage of fourth grade students’ inability to meet state proficiency expectations in reading. Based on her findings, she offered suggestions for a multi-tiered approach to address it.

Durham credits the support and guidance of GMercyU’s faculty with helping her through the dissertation process.

“My time in the doctoral program at Gwynedd Mercy University afforded me the opportunity to cement myself as a practitioner and researcher,” said Durham. “It is in part because of the university’s dedication to each individual student’s success that I have succeeded in my doctoral program and dissertation research."

Durham also recently joined GMercyU as an adjunct professor. 

Synopsis of Durham’s Study
Students across Pennsylvania are demonstrating an inability to meet proficiency expectations in reading with merely 40% of fourth-grade students scoring at or above proficiency levels on the National Assessment of Education Progress. Emphasis has been on schools of education as one originating source of difficulty with reading instruction. Five universities and colleges in Pennsylvania were analyzed utilizing document analysis of undergraduate course syllabi, schedules, and final exams of 13 required undergraduate courses. The qualitative study illustrates participating schools of education are instructing on the pillars of reading in parallel and proportionately less than non-evidence-based practices. Suggestions for a multi-tiered effort to correct the course of teacher preparation as it relates to reading and reading acquisition are presented. 

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