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Master's Degree Program

Foundations

The HGSE Ed.M. is built on a strong foundation of comprehensive knowledge that will give you the capacity to drive change across the education sector. Through our four Foundations courses — How People Learn; Evidence; Equity and Opportunity; and Leading Change — you will gain core skills central to the profession of education. With innovative instructional approaches and tools, these foundational courses will foster discussion and analysis of complex education issues and enable you to apply your learning to real-world scenarios. 

You will build on these foundational experiences as you progress toward your master’s degree and develop personal and professional pathways that align with your chosen area of impact. Through our Foundations, you'll build knowledge in critical areas in education, insights from developmental self-work, and interpersonal skills that will help you communicate, collaborate, and engage in dialogue with fellow cohort members who bring different backgrounds and perspectives to HGSE.

All students working towards an Ed.M. degree are required to take the Foundations courses, which consist of 12 of the 42 credits needed to graduate. Individuals in the residential Ed.M. program will commence their foundational studies with How People Learn, an online course that runs June–July and requires a time commitment of roughly 15-20 hours of work per week. The three other Foundations courses are anticipated to take place primarily on campus in August. Students enrolling in the residential Ed.M. program should plan to be in the Cambridge area by August 1 to attend these required classes. The timing of the Foundations courses for the online Ed.M. program is still being determined.

An overview of HGSE's Foundations courses

Meira Levinson, Faculty Co-Lead of Equity and Opportunity
 

 

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How People Learn

Education is not “one size fits all” — namely, what works for one age, one type of learner, and one context does not necessarily work in another setting. Our first foundation course, How People Learn, explores the core concept of education, including how people develop through their lifespan; how learners understand and make sense of material; and how you can successfully design, lead, and create systems to support learning and growth.  

How People Learn is HGSE’s first “born-digital” class, meaning the experience takes full advantage of all that digital learning has to offer. Complete with multimedia experiences, digital conversations, and individualized content, the course is fully online and can be completed at a distance during June and July of your enrollment year. It is grounded in field studies — authentic problems of practice drawn from international and U.S. sites — that relate to learners of various ages, from early childhood to adulthood. Based on your professional interests and expertise, you can choose which field studies to pursue and how you would like to explore the specific problem of practice they present.

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Evidence

The second in our foundations sequence, Evidence, builds from the competencies developed in How People Learn and turns to critical questions you will face in the field: In a landscape where studies emerge each day, how do we become critical consumers of new information and distinguish myth from fact? How do we make decisions that generate the best possible outcomes for our learners?

At HGSE, we believe you need to understand how to gather evidence, how to evaluate evidence, and how to best deploy it in service of improving learner outcomes. While Evidence is not a statistics course, ideas such as using descriptive data and causal data are introduced, along with fundamental questions about what “counts” as data at all. The course focuses on the analysis of evidence, which requires you to understand how to:

  • Organize evidence by questions, use, and research paradigms
  • Learn frameworks for assessing the quality of evidence
  • Apply these frameworks in case-based discussions

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Equity and Opportunity

Our third foundational offering focuses on Equity and Opportunity. You will start by taking Equity and Opportunity: Identity in Context, which will immerse you in academically and personally rigorous inquiry about one of the following dimensions of social identity: race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, class, language, dis/ability, or citizenship and nationality. You will engage deeply with key concepts around equity, systems of power and oppression, cycles of socialization, identity, and transformation within the context of education. You will also have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with others, while reflecting on your own educational experiences and actions across cultures and contexts.

You will continue your personalized Equity and Opportunity learning by selecting one or more “Special Topics in Educational Equity and Opportunity” courses that align with your program, concentration, or professional work. By the end of the yearlong learning arc, you will have developed core knowledge and skills to advance educational equity and opportunity in diverse contexts across the United States and around the globe.

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Leading Change 

In order for you to lead teams, champion initiatives, and move critical work forward to improve outcomes for all learners, you must understand how organizations and systems work — and how to generate change within them. Whether you are interested in working in a school, a school district, a nonprofit organization, a university, an entrepreneurial venture, a technology firm, or the national government, Leading Change will provide you with powerful learning experiences, concepts, and tools for leading and managing change.

Building on learning from How People Learn, Evidence, and Equity and Opportunity, you will learn how to move initiatives forward at the individual, group, and systems level. Since change is rarely accomplished in isolation, Leading Change will focus on techniques designed to build effective teams and cultivate a better understanding of organizational behavior.

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