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My doctorate degree (Ed.D) was conferred by Nova Southeastern University's Doctor of Education program on August 17, 2014. It was a challenging test of perseverance that resulted in significant growth for me as an educator and educational leader.
Concentration: Instructional Leadership
Minor: Brain Based Leadership

Applied Dissertation
  • Title: Enhancing Student Self-Efficacy and Academic Achievement: The Impact of Student Self-Assessment

I am intrigued by the power of student self-assessment (SSA) to create greater student self-efficacy resulting in authentic ownership of the learning process, deeper understanding, development of positive life-long learning habits, and greater student personal fulfillment. The research employed Albert Bandura's foundational work in Social Cognitive Theory and self-efficacy. My master's work, an action research project on SSA, used the ongoing tool of Action Oriented Reflection that I developed, and showed statistically significant positive learning benefits. This work was expanded at the doctorate level and may contribute to the fields of self-efficacy and self-assessment. The doctoral study found that SSA did not have a significant impact on student mathematics self-efficacy, that the intervention did have a significant impact on female student achievement in mathematics, that the self-efficacy construct applies cross-culturally, and confirmed the findings of previous studies that self-efficacy and academic performance correlate.

Dissertation Elements:

  • Concept Paper (Chapters 1 and 2). Here is the title of my dissertation and the approved Concept Paper:


Final Course: Leading for Change

This culminating course wonderfully integrated the notions of leadership and effectively facilitating change in organizations. Both strategic and personal improvement change were addressed. The course also included 10 excellent Discussion Board threads which supported and extended course concepts and doctoral student collaboration.


  • The first major assignment addressed identifying a change problem and conducting a literature review to inform potential solutions. I chose to direct this effort toward my dual role at TASIS which will include investigating and implementing educational approaches to derive more holistic professional discourse and student holistic development.


  • The second major paper required a the development of a comprehensive change management plan to address a significant organizational need. I built upon Assignment 1, constructing a three-tiered plan to implement professional learning communities at TASIS.


  • The third major assignment shifted the focus from organizational to personal, in crafting a change management plan resulting in increased leadership performance. I used previous doctoral study questionnaires and instruments as data to inform the striking of an improved task-relationship balance.


  • The fourth and final paper synthesized all course learning. As this turned out to be my final doctorate program paper I included some appropriate reflections over the 32-month journey and some thoughts going forward.


Nova's Brain-Based Leadership minor consists of five courses:

1. Linking Learning and Leadership to Brain Research
  • The third major assignment was an Interactive Professional Development Workshop that included feedback from an earlier Presentation to Potential Donors for funding the Symposium in assignment 2. The Interactive Workshop is all about right brain engagement and development:


  • The second major assignment was the creation of a learning symposium where the emphasis is on right brain engagement. The symposium design was left to the creative insights of the author. My symposium idea is to have Daniel Pink deliver the keynote address at a rotating 13-session symposium, occurring at the school's Performing Arts Center, and involve middle school teachers and students, as well as all campus administrators:


  • The first major assignment in this course involved creating a case study where a governing body exhibited dysfunctional leadership behaviors explained in part through brain-based analysis. Improvement recommendations were included:


2. The Frontal Lobe as CEO of the Brain
  • The fourth major assignment involved evaluating and making recommendations for advancing our schools along Pink's Good to Great continuum. We collected survey data from colleagues, conducted interviews of school leaders, did literature review, and then developed a detailed evaluation of our schools, making specific recommendations for improvement on top priorities:


  • The third major assignment focused on the latest research that highlights the importance of the frontal lobes in executive-level neurological functioning and compares the frontal lobes to elements of human leadership. Considered the "conductor of the orchestra" or the "CEO," the frontal lobes are connected in a highly distributed fashion with every functional unit of the brain and serve as the command center:


  • The second major assignment involved an article by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz called The Making of a Corporate Athlete. Loehr and Schwartz argued that maintaining effectiveness as professionals in many fields is analogous to how elite athletes maintain competitive advantage. The authors suggested that both athletic and professional success are maximized from an integrated approach to performance management involving the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. This assignment involved writing a reflection paper and conducting a collaborative team discussion:


  • The first major assignment in this course consisted of analyzing a case study through the lens of Teaching Smart People How To Learn (by Chris Argyris of Harvard), developing a solution to the leadership and learning dilemma, and crafting a transcript of a dialogue we would have with a leader to help move the solution forward:



3. Leading Change and Transforming Performance with Neuroscience
  • The first major assignment consisted of four activities designed to help us to begin to understand our personal performance styles and preferences:


  • The second major assignment took us deep into our dominant brain preferences based on taking the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). This involved analyzing the resulting profile, including from a discussion with the course professor, and reflecting on how to maximize our professional effectiveness.


4. Leading for Engagement
  • The first major assignment was a case study analysis. I chose to analyze the engagement effectiveness of Shanghai American School's new mission and strategic planning process.


  • The second major paper focused on how doctoral students are inspiring engagement in their work setting. I completed a philosophical orientation questionnaire, planning style and lifeline exercises, and wrote an article on how I worked closely with my professional learning community team on piloting problem-based learning.


  • The third major assignment was creating a comprehensive engagement improvement plan in the work setting and thoughts on the future. Building on a literature review, I focused on cooperative learning and problem-based learning efforts with professional learning community team at SAS and early thoughts on engagement at TASIS.


  • The final paper was a summary of the journal kept throughout the course. The journal captures three major topical patterns (resonant leadership, instructional effectiveness, and student engagement) and a self-assessment.



5. Leading for Learning
  • This culminating course of the Brain Based Leadership minor sought to integrate learning from the previous four courses. The first major assignment involved extending a major assignment in a previous course to demonstrate how the doctoral student is teaching and leading others for success in the global knowledge economy. I chose to address designing and implementing professional learning communities at TASIS.


  • The second major paper built on the previous paper (called Assignment 3) and reported on the actual implementation of the chosen Cognitive Initiative, professional learning communities at TASIS. Evidence of implementation was defined as evaluation and feedback from two key leaders.


  • The third assignment consisted of two parts: presenting the Cognitive Initiative to two educational professionals and a reflection paper. Here they are:




  • As a culminating assignment the professor asked doctoral students to craft a Journal, in creative form, that captured our growth from earning a Brain Based Leadership minor. I wrote a story based on The Lego Movie.


  • The final assignment captured the Processing Sessions we completed (postings and peer responses) throughout the course.




In Nova's third doctorate core course, Leadership, we did a significant amount of reading, both of experts in the field as well as from the literature, and were provided opportunities to gather feedback on our leadership style and effectiveness, as well as write reflective assignments.
  • The fourth and final assignment was a PowerPoint on a book of our choosing that captured well the many topics we learned about in this course. I chose Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Learning by Richard DuFour and Robert Marzano:

We also prepared a one page book review, which is here:


  • The third assignment involves the creation of a PowerPoint that describes many facets of leadership, our work setting, and our individual style. My presentation is primarily image-based:


  • This second paper involves the creation of a personal Leadership portfolio:


  • This first paper is a case study I wrote on an instructional leader's dilemma:



For Nova's required research elective, I chose Statistical Methods, because my research questions and quasi-experimental methodology employ descriptive statistics and variance analysis to determine the impact of the Action Oriented Reflection intervention on student self-efficacy and mathematics achievement. Much of this course is based on learning how to effectively use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software so that as principal investigators we can make meaningful inferences about the findings of our research.
  • The sixth and final paper is on Non-parametrics:


  • This fifth paper is on ANOVA tests:


  • This fourth paper is on t-Tests:


  • This third paper is on Correlation and Significance:


  • This second paper is on Descriptive Statistics:


  • This first paper is on Sampling, Scales of Measurement, and a quantitative study review:



Concentration Courses:

1. Communities of Practice


  • Here is Written Assignment 3 on Professional Learning Communities Case Study #3, SAS focus on student learning, and student learning difficulties.


  • Here is Written Assignment 2 on Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Case Study #2, SAS collaboration/teaming, and professional development:


  • Here is Written Assignment 1 on PLC Case Study #1, SAS educational platform, and PLC survey:


2. Assessment Literacy





3. Assessment Centered Curricular Design
  • Here is the first assignment, a short self-assessment on the assessment practices I use:


  • The second assignment began the development of a detailed unit plan for a module I will teach this year. Included are the unit planning template (backward design-based), enduring understandings, standards, essential questions, knowledge, skills, and target audience relevance.


  • Here is the third assignment that built on Assignment 2 to include the evidence of student understanding - all the facets of assessment including diagnostic, formative, authentic, summative, and self assessment formats. The unit plan reflects these components. Ample and varied assessments are included in the appendices.


  • The fourth assignment built onto Assignment 3 to include the learning engagements that result in enduring understanding of concepts against the unit standards. A comprehensive appendix is provided including a unit calendar.



  • The fifth assignment took us into the world of standardized testing in the United States. Issues addressed included the appropriate use of standardized testing, grade promotion/graduation, standardized data use in admissions, incentive versus punishment systems, and teaching to the test.


  • The sixth assignment, actually Assignment 7, involved assessing a unit summative assessment through the lens of a professional instrument developer. We performed an item and test analysis to determine the extent to which enduring understandings, essential questions, and Common Core standards were assessed. In addition, in order to assess cognitive distribution we analyzed the distribution of Bloom's Taxonomy levels across the assessment.


  • The seventh assignment, actually Assignment 6, provided the complete unit of instruction under development during this course. All elements (enduring understandings, essential questions, learning engagements, assessment, resources, and reflection) are included.

  • The eighth assignment involved creating and sharing unit overview PowerPoint presentations with classmates, followed by giving feedback to each peer based on the final report rubric.


4. Instructional Leadership
Arguably the centerpiece of the Instructional Leadership concentration, this course involved a significant workload.
  • The first assignment focused on influences related to effective teaching and being an effective teacher. Selected reading was critiqued, a literature review was conducted, a team Collaboration session was held, and a reflection was constructed.

  • The second assignment involved action research on an instructional model including the impact it had on teachers as well as student achievement. I chose Levels of Thinking and engaged colleagues on my professional learning community team.

  • The third assignment followed up on Assignment 2 and involved colleague observation, subsequent feedback, and the impact on teacher efficacy.


  • The fourth paper provided doctoral latitude in critiquing a journal article. I chose an article by Marzano on struggling students.

  • The fifth assignment was a paper on the driving force behind my becoming an educator as well as my moral imperatives for making a positive difference in the lives of my students.


Assignments six through eight were grouped with a focus on instructional strategies. I chose cooperative learning.
  • Assignment six provided a literature review on cooperative learning

  • Assignment seven was the development of a presentation and delivery of a lesson to teach course colleagues the essence of cooperative learning, as well as a reflection paper, and assignment eight was the submission of the work.




Assignments nine through eleven were grouped with a focus on an instructional skill. I chose critical thinking using effective
questioning techniques.
  • Assignment nine provided the literature review on critical thinking and questioning

  • Assignment ten was the development of a presentation and delivery of a lesson to teach course colleagues the essence of critical thinking and questioning, as well as a reflection paper, and assignment eleven was the submission of the work.


  • Assignment twelve asked doctoral students to reflect on the entirety of the course and address the following guiding question: How did I increase my knowledge base about instruction through this process? My paper focused on five key areas where my competence grew the most: levels of thinking, problem-based learning, English as an Additional Language learner needs, cooperative learning, and critical thinking and questioning




5. Professional Development
This course resulted in excellent understanding and application of key concepts on andragogy, the study of adult learning. Unique needs of adult learners was addressed as well as the creation of specific professional development plans. My plans addressed potential professional needs at TASIS for implementing professional learning communities.
  • The first paper captured an audit of the professional development practices at Shanghai American School


  • For the second major assignment teams of four doctoral students collaboratively conducted a literature review on specific areas of interest. My team chose collaborative problem solving as a professional development strategy. We found this worthwhile because this strategy includes professional learning communities, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), and online/hybrid professional development engagements.


  • The third major paper required the comprehensive development of a professional learning experience that integrated all key course concepts. Building on a thoughtful literature review I designed a five-session plan using Fullan's three-tier model of change (initiation, implementation, and institutionalization).


  • The fourth and final major paper synthesized doctoral student understanding of major course concepts by reflecting on the achievement of course objectives, the identification and discussion of three primary course takeaways, and thoughts on future application of new understanding.




In Nova's second doctorate core course, Methods of Inquiry, we began developing our dissertation Concept Paper. This is done in five assignments and requires extensive literature review and coordination with our dissertation Chair. Here is my first component, Statement of the Problem:

Here is my second component, Theoretical Perspective and Literature Review:

Next is my Purpose of the Study and Research Questions:


In Nova's first doctorate core course, Trends and Issues, we were given the opportunity to develop an annotated outline along our intended dissertation topic and I did so. The work is titled "A Comprehensive Approach to Understanding and Implementing Student Self-Assessment" and it, hopefully, covers reasonably well the literature to date in this very promising field and concludes by proposing specific classroom investigations. Here it is:

Doctorate program Personal Statement of Goals: