Systemic research is essential to improve the effectiveness of school systems and inform leadership decisions. This course is the first course introduced in the research sequence of the program. Exploration of problems and issues confronting school districts is pursued with the purpose of identifying a significant problem of practice for the research team and the individual doctoral research projects within the problem. Problems will present the complexities, the competing interests, and the systemic view characteristic of district leadership. The environment of the school district ? political, economic, legal, educational, social, and cultural ? will provide the context for the doctoral research problems. Under guidance of faculty and executive coaches, each candidate will identify the specific research problem to be investigated. Leaders of partnership districts will provide input to the problem and the needs assessment. The contract for an effective research team will be finalized with the roles of individual candidates clearly defined. The final component of the course focuses on evaluation and presentation of research results. The impact of the doctoral research experience on the candidates? professional growth is collectively considered within the cohort.