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Elementary Education (Ed.D.)

(Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction)


Specializations: Elementary Education PK-6, Reading/Literacy, and/or Teacher Education 

Campus: Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus

Instructions: Residential/On Campus 

The Elementary Education Program is designed to support the development of a strong knowledge base across all of these areas.

24 Research and Dissertation Hours

Funding through Assistantship

100% Faculty Commitment

Intensive Research Opportunities

Our Elementary Education Program

Powerful teaching results from the interplay of in-depth knowledge of, inquiry into, and reflection upon: (a) children and child development, (b) teaching and learning processes in general and in specific content areas, and (c) the children themselves and the contexts of their lives at home and at school. The Elementary Education Program is designed to support the development of a strong knowledge base across all of these areas. 

Why Study Elementary Education Here?

We engage teacher candidates in the examination of a variety of instructional approaches based on sound theoretical and research-based underpinnings; provide teacher candidates with experiences that are active, interactive, and/or collaborative. In addition, there are a variety of opportunities to reflect upon, respond to, synthesize, and apply information; involve teacher candidates in ongoing inquiry about children, teaching, and learning. Inquiry experiences are particularly focused on the development of teachers who possess the knowledge and courage to examine the complexities of classroom life and make sound choices that will support children's development and learning.

What You'll Study

The Elementary Education faculty offer doctoral degree programs in Curriculum and Instruction. These Ph.D. or Ed.D. programs can include emphasis/specialization in: (a) Elementary Education PK-6, (b) Reading/Literacy, and/or (c) Teacher Education. Students are prepared for teaching and research positions in academic environments such as colleges, universities and school districts. The Literacy and Elementary Education Doctoral Programs provide a context for graduate education that is rigorous, collegial, and cooperative.

Career and Professional Development

Elementary Education Program faculty and staff strive to identify and recruit talented and knowledgeable elementary teacher candidates, especially from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.The Elementary Education program provides students with  a variety of field experiences and other simulations that allow them to develop and practice teaching skills, particularly focusing on practices that support learning for diverse elementary students.

Blacksburg Campus

This degree program is offered at the Blacksburg campus. The Blacksburg campus offers students the full services of the university, including an extensive library, technology support, and the Graduate Life Center. 

Our Faculty 

Research Interests:

  • Literacy studies at the elementary level
  • Literacy teacher education
  • Literacy education in developing countries
  • Literacy studies for minority students

Mary Alice Barksdale, Associate Professor

Mary Alice Barksdale, Associate Professor

Research Interests:

  • Sociocultural factors influencing students’ participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Research Interests:

  • Text Difficulty and Readability
  • Reader-text Matching
  • Beginning Reading
  • Phonics and Word Study

Heidi Anne Mesmer, Associate Professor

Heidi Anne Mesmer, Associate Professor

Research Interests:

  • Mathematics Education
  • Quantitative Literacy
  • Mathematics Beliefs and Attitudes
  • Children’s development of fractions concepts
  • Teaching and learning of probability and statistics

Jesse L Wilkins, Professor

Jesse L. Wilkins, Professor

Elementary Education Research Highlights

Brand, B., Kasarda, M., & Williams, C. (in press). Inquiry by Engineering Design: Applying the Sixth "E". Technology and Engineering Teacher.

Mesmer, H. (2016). Text matters: Exploring the lexical reservoirs of books in preschool rooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 34(1), 67-77, 497.

Triplett, C., & Barksdale, M. A. (2015). Preservice teachers’ perceptions of struggling readers. Journal of Reading Education.

Wilkins, J. L. M. (2015). Standards-based mathematics curricula and the promotion of quantitative literacy in elementary school. International Journal of STEM Education, 2:19.

Students interested in applying to the Elementary Education (Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction) should contact Dr. Mary Alice Barksdale, by email at

Visit our office at 226 War Memorial Hall (0313), 370 Drillfield Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061
Domestic Application
Spring: January 5
Summer I: May 1
Summer II: June 1
Fall: August 1
International Application
Spring: September 1
Summer I: January 5
Summer II: February 1
Fall: April 1
*Deadline for early decision admission with Graduate Assistantships consideration for Fall: February 1


Donna Fogelsong
Program Leader
Public Safety Building
Suite 201
330 Sterrett Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

School of Education (SOE) Programs

School of Education
Public Safety Building
Suite 201 (0313)
330 Sterrett Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061