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As my eyes move to the top shelf in my office, the picture of my Cohort VII family smiles down on me as its members keep constant vigil. I am drawn to a quote by the Nobel Laureate, William Golding,“My yesterdays walk with me, they keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulders,”( www.brainyquote.com/quotes/m/megcabot228055/.html ). The impact of my cohort experience began one night, sitting at a table with 11 strangers, who were about to take the journey of a lifetime. Even now, almost 3 years later, the picture of these hearty travelers brings back memories, feelings, and experiences that I hope shadow me for years to come.

Concluding Thoughts

The intent of this individual reflection was to explore the cohort leaning model as personally experienced and the impact this group experience had on those who undertook the journey of acquiring a doctorate degree. Becoming aware of learning as a community experience that was bound together by a common goal will influence the doctoral program, the aspiring candidates, and the instructional methods.

The eight question qualitative data collected sought to reinforce the shared experiences of the cohort members by gaining information regarding the impact of collegial experiences, the creation of a sense of family, the role transformation of the instructor, and the development of lasting relationships.

Woven throughout the experience of the cohort model were opportunities for shared course work and collective learning events that were vital to both the success of the candidates and the completion of the degree. The candidates who sought the degree through this model were provided continual support and assistance as they developed their own sense of self-confidence. Equally, instructors who were willing and to become facilitators and co-learners in this educational process fostered the development of a successful cohort group. By examining the impact of the cohort model on achieving the doctorate degree in education, the strengths of the candidates as individuals and as group members can be recognized and fostered. Collegiality, mentoring, and creating lasting support systems are only a few of the gains members can experience from committing to the cohort model. With this understanding of the inner workings of a cohort learning model and the relationships that develop through it, aspiring candidates can successfully attain the doctoral degree.


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Author Biography

Janet L. Tareilo is currently an assistant professor at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA). This is her first year as a full-time professor after serving as an adjunct professor for the university for two. During the time she has been with SFA, she has written projects for NCPEA-Connexions, a chapter in an upcoming book regarding social justice, presented at the NCPEA Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, and has begun the process of writing a book about surviving the principalship. At this time, she also serves as a reviewer for NCPEA Connexions Project.

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Source:  OpenStax, The handbook of doctoral programs: issues and challenges. OpenStax CNX. Dec 10, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10427/1.3
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