Curriculum and Instruction Cross-Disciplinary Team

Apply to the Ph.D. in Education

The Ph.D. in Education: Curriculum and Instruction

As part of the PhD in Education, this Cross-Disciplinary Research Team conducts research in the field of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I). This includes the study of problems such as:

  • How to identify and develop the unique abilities of all learners.
  • Discovering the critical features of learning in different spaces.
  • Explaining how learners respond to different models of instruction.
  • Establishing what students should be taught and why.

Topics like these are more relevant and important than ever as new conditions of learning are actively shaping learning among increasingly diverse students. However, the field needs more than local solutions to time, and context bounded problems, it needs research that builds on prior knowledge and that creates enduring solutions with broad impact. Thus, we prepare C&I researchers who can apply both theory and cutting-edge research methods to bring appropriate empirical evidence to tests of mechanisms and explanations for today’s learning problems, inequitable outcomes, and systemic patterns of causes and effects. Program graduates are poised to move into academic and research positions in universities, government agencies, and professional research organizations with missions to improve education opportunities and outcomes.

As a student in the Ph.D. in Education Curriculum and Instruction CRT, you will be expected to participate in research by bringing your experience in education to an interdisciplinary research group. A C&I PhD faculty mentor with experience in cross disciplinary studies of learners, teaching, and curriculum in your area of study will guide you in your development. It is expected that during your time as a student you will have opportunities to participate in research design, as well as engage in systematic data collection and analyses as you develop your research skills. The C&I PhD faculty mentors and research team members you will work with have disciplinary expertise in mathematics, science, arts, social sciences and the humanities, and they apply that expertise in studying teaching and learning, and developing and testing education products while they aim to advancing curricular knowledge in the field.

The Ph.D. in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, will be granted to doctoral candidates that develop and conduct original research in the field of C&I. To that end, your studies will immerse you in both theory and the practice of rigorous research while you develop your research approach, design and methods. The empirical investigation you conduct will contribute to the field’s understanding of learning processes, instructional interactions, or curriculum effects in your area.

Apply to the Ph.D. in Education: Curriculum and Instruction CRT

We are accepting applications to the Ph.D. in Education, Curriculum and Instruction Cross Disciplinary Team for the following topics:

STEM Research Problems

How does curriculum and instruction translate scientific research from the laboratory into learning experiences that impact students’ understanding of science?

This project focuses on urban high school students’ development of biomedical and socioscientific knowledge as it interacts with new and emerging knowledge from biomedical research laboratories. This research is a collaborative effort between C&I PhD faculty (Grooms & Pyke), faculty from GW’s School of Medicine and Health Science, and Researchers from Children’s National Center for Translational Research. This project provides biomedical laboratory research experiences, develops new curriculum to foster students’ and teachers’ understanding and enactment of biomedical science ideas and practices, and conducts research on outcomes. Of particular interest is research on urban high school students’ cognition about the nature of science and the scientific knowledge being created in their community. Further, the research labs at Children’s National Hospital provide timely connections and exposure to relevant sociocultural issues that link science and society, namely disproportionate access and impacts related to health care and environmental quality for different communities within the D.C. area.

How does spatial ability and spatial literacy support learning in STEM?

There is renewed attention to spatial ability today, especially as it relates to college and career readiness in STEM, in particular in the areas of engineering design and virtual learning. While spatial reasoning is being increasingly documented as a core component of many academic programs and future careers, and research evidence points toward the benefits of training in spatial ability, relatively little has been done at the level of K-12 schooling to modernize curriculum, improve instruction, and address spatial reasoning gaps in student development. At present, there is an opportunity for someone interested in the role of spatial ability, innovation, and summative social learning; this work is conducted in collaboration with GW faculty in the social cognition lab. There is also start-up work aiming at identifying how spatial skills develop in interaction with virtual phenomena. The long-term goal being a proposal for external funding to support studies in this area. This work would entail collaboration with psychology, human development, and STEM faculty, preparing a literature review, and piloting a research on spatial ability and virtual instruction.

How does the combination of science teacher reflective practice and their use of student performance data enhance three-dimensional science learning?

Districts and schools are emersed in the challenge of navigating the new instructional expectations and standards to support a re-envisioned view of teaching and learning within science classrooms. Building on the curriculum development work of a current NSF funded project, Integrating Chemistry and Earth (ICE), the multi-disciplinary team of researchers, school district administrators, and teachers is preparing for expanded work to explore the impacts of teacher reflection and analysis of student performance data on teachers’ conceptions and practice of three-dimensional teaching and students’ three-dimensional science learning. This project will require intensive data collection related to teacher practice, teachers’ pedagogical reasoning, as well as teachers’ interpretations of student work samples. While this project will focus on teachers and students in Baltimore, MD, involvement in this work would allow collaboration with scholars from across multiple institutions with a wealth of research experience in diverse science classrooms from across the country.

C&I CRT will also consider applicants with an interest in:

  • Integrating cross-disciplinary research practices, frameworks, and findings in the development of curriculum—for both schools and community-based educational contexts—toward social, cultural, environmental, and civic advancement?
  • By what means might the exemplary visual and performing arts programming in Washington, D.C. be best integrated in local and national curriculum and learning?

Admission Requirements


Master’s degree in Education, Curriculum and Instruction, or a related field.


Official transcripts from every institution attended whether or not a degree was completed; graduate and undergraduate.

Standardized Test Scores

Official GRE Test scores not older than five years. International students must also submit TOEFL scores not older than two years. TOEFL score minimum for admission is 100 on the Internet-based or 600 paper-based; IELTS of 7.0. The institutional code is 5246.

Recommendations Required

Three (3) letters of recommendation, with one preferred from a professor in the applicant’s Master’s degree program.

Statement of Purpose

An essay of 1200 words or less, through which the candidate clearly identifies the purpose in undertaking cross-disciplinary graduate study in teaching and learning that includes: (a) rationale for seeking a Ph.D. in the curriculum and instruction; (b) articulation of personal research interests and how those align with those of the faculty in the program; and (c) how the applicant’s background and related qualifications prepared for this work and align with long term goals.

Curriculum Vitae

Current curriculum vitae.

Writing Requirement (Optional)

Candidates are encouraged to submit a current writing sample. The sample should reflect the candidate’s abilities to articulate complex ideas and to utilize evidence in support of his/her arguments. The writing sample should also provide evidence of the candidate’s research skills and engagement with scholarship.


Interview by faculty. Applicants should be prepared to discuss the alignment of their research interests with those of the program faculty,

Application Deadline

  • The deadline to apply for the Fall 2021 semester has passed, however it may still be possible to apply. Please contact if you are interested in applying for the Fall 2021 semester.

For more information on any of these requirements, please visit our Admissions FAQ page.


Required courses in Educational Foundations (12 credits)

SEHD 1800 Experimental Course/Foundations of Education I and II (taken twice; 3 credits each time)SEHD 1800 Experimental Course/Pro-Seminar (taken twice: 3 credits each time)

Research (12 credits)

EDUC 8120 Group Comparison Designs and Analyses (3 credits) EDUC 8122 Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)

6 credits from the following: EDUC 8130 Survey Research Methods (3 credits) EDUC 8131 Case Study Research Methods (3 credits) EDUC 8140 Ethnographic Research Methods (3 credits) EDUC 8142 Phenomenological Research Methods (3 credits) EDUC 8144 Discourse Analysis (3 credits) EDUC 8170 Educational Measurement (3 credits) EDUC 8171 Predictive Designs and Analyses (3 credits) EDUC 8172 Multivariate Analysis (3 credits) EDUC 8173 Structural Equation Modeling (3 credits)SEHD 1800 Experimental Course/Advanced Research Method (3 credits) Or other research and analysis courses outside of GSEHD approved by the advisory committee and the instructor

Curriculum and instruction courses (12 credits)

CPED 8330 Foundations of Education Research in Curriculum and Instruction (3 credits) CPED 8331 Seminar in Teaching (3 credits) CPED 8334 Seminar in Learning (3 credits) CPED 8325 Curriculum Theory (3 credits)

Cross-disciplinary concentration (12 credits)

Graduate-level courses determined in consultation with the advisor at the time of admission. Course selections are determined by the focus of the cross-disciplinary research team and the specific interests of the student.

Dissertation research (12 credits)

SEHD 8998 Pre-Dissertation Seminar (3 Credits)SEHD 8999 Dissertation Research (6 credits)

The successful completion of:

  • Second-year research project
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Oral dissertation proposal defense
  • Dissertation
  • Dissertation oral defense
Associate Professor
(202) 994-2011
Associate Professor
(202) 994-6821
Associate Professor
(202) 994-0997
Assistant Professor
(202) 994-2007
Associate Professor
(202) 994-4516

In the News

Dr. Jonathan Eakle and doctoral student Erin Bailey (Curriculum and Instruction) published an article in Qualitative Inquiry entitled, “Playing Baroque Lines with Deleuze, Guattari, and Klee in an Art Museum.”

Dr. Tiffany Sikorski is part of a cross-school team that was just awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the project, Service Learning Projects to Improve Engineering Students' Civic Engagement and Capacity for Innovation. The project will mentor students in civic responsibility, empathy, and social innovation as part of their learning to be future engineers.

Dr. Tiffany Sikorski was quoted in the GW Today story about GSEHD's project with Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School entitled, "GW Helps Local School Develop School-Wide STEM Curriculum."

Dr. Lottie Baker presented a talk at the International Symposium for Languages for Specific Purposes (ISLSP) & CIBER Business Language Conference, held in Charlotte, NC, March 5-7.

For more information, please request information or contact our admission office at or 202-994-9283.