Elaine Cook

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?

I completed a Masters Degree in School Leadership and Management at Stirling. During the graduation ceremony I had a conversation with Dr. Alison Fox of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Alison encouraged me to consider an education doctorate. I have a professional role in education within a Scottish local authority and thought that the practical aspects of a Doctor of Education programme would enhance my career abilities and stimulate my continuing academic interest.

What attracted you to Stirling?

Having taken my Masters course I was already familiar with Stirling and was very impressed with the strength and depth of the professors and lecturers: Tara Fenwick; Julie Allan; Mark Priestley; and Richard Edwards, to name but a few. I also had knowledge and experience of other universities. Stirling’s Faculty of Social sciences was highly rated (Research Assessment Exercise) and to me the obvious choice.

What did you enjoy most about your time at the University Stirling?

I have a very demanding and consuming career in education. My involvement in the course provided an extra dimension and gave me another perspective in my professional role. As a part-time student I enjoyed visiting the University and the discussions I had with my supervisors and other students in my cohort. I enjoyed preparing and presenting my research at conferences and listening to the presentations from my fellow students and interacting with them and the academic staff.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

I especially enjoyed reaching the point of submitting my completed thesis to the University. The discipline of writing a thesis of relevance to my job and of practical value was tremendously rewarding. I received invaluable advice and guidance from my principal supervisor Professor Tara Fenwick for whom I have enormous admiration and respect. My additional supervisors, Alison Fox and Valerie Drew, were also of great help.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?

My doctoral journey has definitely enhanced my ability to do my job and increased my understanding of an area for which I have specific responsibility, i.e. raising attainment in secondary schools within my local authority. I am much more analytic in defining and approaching challenges and in ensuring I am making clear evidenced-based decisions. I have increased my participation in professional and interdisciplinary projects, some of which involve the Faculty of Social Sciences and academic staff from other universities.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

The Stirling campus is very attractive, the library and other facilities are excellent and the support I have received during my studies has been outstanding. I know the Stirling Faculty of Social Sciences was the right choice for me and would urge others to come and enjoy it too.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

A wonderful experience, assisted by dedicated and talented staff ,that has given me a real sense of achievement. I can truly describe my doctoral journey as transformational.

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

I continue in a senior education role within my local authority. The practical and academic aspects of my doctorate have certainly improved my job performance and career prospects.