5 Module 4 Week 7: Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks An EdD capstone


Module 4 Week 7: Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks

An EdD capstone must be grounded in a theoretical or a conceptual framework. Beginning with the prospectus, you will be required to describe this framework in the scholarly literature that will ground the study (you will provide citations). Your theoretical or conceptual framework must align with the problem statement, purpose, and background of your study. This framework informs, and is informed by, the research question(s) and helps to identify research design decisions, such as the method of inquiry and data collection and analysis.

This week, you begin to identify the theoretical or conceptual framework through which you will operationalize your study and interpret its findings. You already have a theoretical or conceptual framework for your research but may not realize it. In the simplest terms, your framework is the unconscious lens, or worldview, through which you view your topic. Your challenge is to identify this background belief in the research literature and bring it to light.

Your research should include determining who originated the theory or concepts through which you view your problem. Also, review the most important research that has been conducted on this theory or concept, and consider how to relate it to your study.

Notes on the Reading

In the first reading, Single provides more practical advice in the writing process. Particularly helpful is her section on how to insert citable notes into a long outline.

Thomas provides an overview of the theoretical or conceptual framework. Theory can seem slippery. Different Professors and different authors may have varying interpretations of the same terms. Interestingly, these differing perspectives may both be correct! Thomas provides guidance on this.

Butin provides a clear and reasonable exposition of the nature of a theoretical or conceptual framework. If you are having trouble understanding the framework, read Butin first.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

Analyze frameworks in doctoral capstone study

Apply framework to a study

Apply knowledge of doctoral study

Discussion: Frameworks

A theoretical framework (quantitative) or conceptual framework (qualitative) is the lens through which you view and interpret your study. In a Walden capstone study, the framework serves to ground the study in a worldview and body of previous research. This includes naming the theorist, identifying the basic tenets of the theory, and explaining the theory’s relevance and alignment with the capstone’s problem, purpose, and research questions.

To prepare:

Review the Capstone Conceptual framework resources.

Consider whether your study is theoretical or conceptual.

Apply the Doctoral Capstone Rubrics and checklists to analyze and evaluate the quality of the study.

For this Discussion, review the following capstone:


Single, P. B. (2010). Demystifying dissertation writing: A streamlined process from choice of topic to final text. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Chapter 7, “Long Outline With References”

Section 7.2, “Transforming a One-Page Outline Into a Long Outline (pp. 116–121)

Thomas, G. (2017). How to do your research project: A guide for students (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Chapter 4, “Decide on Your Question—Again (pp. 97-102)

Butin, D. W. (2010). The education dissertation: A guide for practitioner scholars. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Chapter 4, “Structuring Your Research” (pp. 63–69)