The purpose of this dissertation in practice was twofold; The first purpose was to design a Professional Development (PD) program for a specialized group of civilian employees working in a large military organization, and the second purpose was to evaluate and refine that PD program using mixed-methods empirical research. The study focused on a group of approximately 100 Instructional System Specialists and Research Psychologists. These employees are highly educated, with the majority holding advanced degrees in their respective fields, yet they lacked a clear path to career development within their organization. Following the tenets of design-based research, a PD program was developed for these employees based on design principles drawn from a review of extant literature. The program artifacts included a set of assessment rubrics to assess the employees' knowledge and skills, a curriculum design plan to inform curriculum development efforts, and a policy manual to guide program implementation. Once these artifacts were drafted, they were refined through several cycles of formative evaluation. Throughout each phase of the research, quantitative and qualitative data showed strong, positive stakeholder support for the program. Qualitative findings contributed substantially to formative evaluation and revision of the program, although quantitative data did not show a statistically significant improvement from initial draft to final revision. These findings are interpreted to indicate that the program was well-design, even at initial draft, and there was little need for measurable improvement. The methods described in this study resulted in a sound, research-based PD program, and these design-based research methods can be generalized to be used in similar situations. As such, this study adds to our body of knowledge in the areas of curriculum and instructional design, and it serves as an applied example of design-based research in an authentic setting.


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Graduation Date





Boote, David


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


Learning Sciences and Educational Research

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction




CFE0008872; DP0026151



Release Date

December 2021

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)