Educational Psychology & Counseling Department

Learning Environments & Educational Studies (LEEDS)

Program Coordinator

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, PhD
Professor & Program Coordinator
513 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-3542

Program Secretary

Christine Tidwell
506 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-3542

LEEDS Student Handbook


The Learning Environments and Educational Studies (LEEDS) concentration leads to a PhD in Education at the University of Tennessee. The LEEDS doctoral concentration explicitly links the fields of cultural studies (e.g., philosophy, history, and sociology of education), human learning and development, and instructional design and technology to prepare graduates to work in high level professional careers in a wide range of settings such as higher education, K-12 education, community-based agencies and community-based participatory research, research institutions and other applied educational, social and political settings.

The mission of the doctoral concentration in Learning Environments and Educational Studies (LEEDS) in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling is to ground students in theoretical, philosophical and research foundations of human learning and development, cultural and social contexts of educational environments (both formal and informal), the design process of technology-supported learning environments, and skills for inquiring into and critiquing these environments.

About Learning Environments and Educational Studies


Those of us working in the areas of cultural studies, human learning & development and instructional technology have a shared goal of understanding, designing, critiquing and researching a variety of diverse contexts of learning – from distance education courses to public school classrooms to community tutoring programs. Meeting this goal requires a thorough understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts in which learning occurs, as well as knowledge of theoretical and philosophical foundations of these contexts.

For example, the field of instructional design and technology, far from being concerned solely with mastering the latest technologies, provides educators with a systematic process for the thoughtful use of a variety of tools (technological or otherwise) to mediate and support learning in a variety of contexts. Theories of human learning and development are fundamental to understanding how learning takes place across the lifespan and how this may differ from context to context and person to person. This understanding then informs the subsequent design and critique of these environments. Moreover, teaching and learning systems do not exist in a vacuum, and cultural studies provides researchers and practitioners with tools to understand systemic inequities through social, philosophical, and political theory and to support targeted groups through service learning and academic outreach, research and scholarship, and critical pedagogical practices.

Our doctoral concentration in Learning Environments and Educational Studies (LEEDs) explicitly links these fields to prepare graduates to work in high level professional careers in a wide range of settings such as higher education, K-12 education, community-based agencies and community-based participatory research, research institutions and other applied educational, social and political settings.

Intended Audience

Our program is specifically tailored for those who are interested in meeting the needs of targeted students, who want to gain expertise in facilitating effective learning environments and/or develop a thorough understanding of cultural and social contexts of educational environments (both formal and informal), including innovative technologies and their impact on teaching and learning environments. While in the program you can expect to gain expertise in the design of learning environments in a variety of contexts – from K-12 to higher education to corporate sectors. Our program is designed to provide many opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. The three specializations make it possible for you to pursue particular areas of interest. For example, if you choose to specialize in human learning & development, taking courses in cultural studies will help you deepen your understanding of the social context that produces and hinders learning. If you choose to specialize in cultural studies, taking courses in instructional technology will help deepen your understanding of how to design learning environments. If you specialize in instructional technology or cultural studies, taking courses in human learning and development will enhance your understanding of current learning theories and the knowledge base of educational psychology.


Program Features
  1. Advancement of participatory theories of learning, praxis, social justice & innovative technology
  2. Community-centered seminar participation
  3. Explicit community and curricular commitments to international and
    intercultural learning
  4. Mastery of two areas of specialization
  5. Research team participation
  6. Opportunities for teaching experience in higher education
Upon completion of the doctoral program you will have gained:
  1. A primary specialization in cultural studies, human learning and development or instructional technology as well as a secondary specialization in an area that will support your individual interests;
  2. Competency and experience in qualitative, quantitative and/or program evaluation methods of inquiry; and
  3. Experience designing, facilitating and inquiring into learning environments as part of an instructional team.
Application Requirements

Application materials to Graduate Admissions must be received by December 15th.  Additional applications received by April 15th will be considered only if space is available in the program. To ensure consideration of your application, it is strongly recommended to submit all materials by December 1st. Applications received after December 15th and prior to April 15th will only be reviewed if openings remain after those meeting the first deadline have been reviewed and decisions reached about the number of students joining the program.

If you have general questions about the application process, contact Christine Tidwell.

LEEDS Advising Worksheet
The LEEDS Seminar

LEEDS first and second year students will enroll each spring for a three-credit hour LEEDS seminar. This experience will provide an introduction to LEEDS vision, mission, faculty, and students, as well as scholarship within LEEDS and related disciplines. Their first fall semester at UT students will enroll in the EPC one-credit hour departmental seminar (EP601), begin their coursework, engage in social activities to develop relationships within the LEEDS program area, and become acclimated to UT. To facilitate this process, incoming LEEDS students will be assigned an advanced LEEDS student as a mentor early in the first semester by the LEEDS Coordinator, in consultation with LEEDS faculty.
During the spring semester first and second year students will focus on LEEDS-related scholarship activities in a three-credit hour seminar. During this semester the second year students likely will be working with faculty on research and/or participating in research groups, and they will report on that work in LEEDS seminar.

Fall, Year 1

Spring, Year 1

Fall, Year 2

Spring, Year 2

EP601 Doctoral Seminar
Student mentoring

LEEDS Seminar,
Part 1
Three credit-hour seminar

Second year students encouraged to participate on research teams, optional for first year students

LEEDS Seminar,
Part 2
Three credit-hour seminar

During each spring semester every LEEDS faculty member will be invited into one class to discuss his/her/zir scholarship/research interests for at least one hour.
Each semester of seminar will be three-credit hours, and it will be designed as a two-part sequence. In order to ensure that all students can access the seminar, it will be offered on Monday nights (same night as other program seminars in the department). The two semesters of seminar will vary in content and skills focus but will be connected in a meaningful way to make the content relevant as all students will take seminar twice.
Because this course is “shared” in the sense that it provides an introduction to LEEDS faculty, students, and content, scholarship, and is intended to help build a sense of cohesiveness within LEEDS, faculty who teach it are encouraged also to create an open-ended informal questionnaire for students to complete each semester, then share those student evaluation data with LEEDS faculty.

EPC Financial Aid Information
Includes EPC GA Application form, departmental fellowships/scholarships, and links to other funding sources around UT Knoxville.


Ashlee B. Anderson

Yvette Prinsloo

Yvette Prinsloo

Vertical photograph of Craig D. Howard.

Craig D. Howard
assistant professor


Barbara Thayer-Bacon


Lisa Yamagata-Lynch

OIT Workshops – the UT Office of Information Technology offers various free workshops open to students.

Listed below are Academic Journals, Professional Organizations & Associations, and Conferences associated with the LEEDS program areas and recommended by current LEEDS faculty and students.

Academic Journals
Professional Organizations & Associations

 Updated 02/26/2018

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