DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH EXPERIENCE EXPECTATIONS FOR Ph.D. STUDENTS (Approved 10/6/97)
Within Educational Psychology and its allied professional fields (e.g., Counseling Psychology, School Psychology, Special Education, Career Development Education, Gifted and Talented Education, School Counseling), scientific inquiry (i.e., research) is the most powerful and prominent method for creating new knowledge and testing extant theories. The skills and attitudes of scientific inquiry are also essential to the development and delivery of sound professional services, and directly benefit the clients and constituencie
s served. Some Ph.D. students will go on to become researchers and teachers, others will go on to become clinicians, administrators, program evaluators, or to fill other professional roles, but all will need the skills and attitudes of scientific inquiry.
Doctoral students must therefore develop the ability to use the methods of scientific inquiry to evaluate information in their field. They must become informed consumers, able to critically evaluate theoretical models and insights, research evidence, and the assumptions, arguments, and interpretations of scholarly discourse.
We also value research as a tool for identifying and solving problems encountered in professional practice.
The scientist-practitioner is able to apply the scientific method to recognize and understand problems, formulate plans
and strategies for addressing them, and evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken.
We also believe that the Ph.D. degree in School Psychology should indicate the student’s ability to generate and disseminate (e.g., through professional conferences and journals) new knowledge that contributes to our understanding of important theoretical and/or practical issues and questions in the area of inquiry. This implies both that students are well versed in the knowledge base in their specialty area, and that they have developed facility with all aspects of the research process. It implies that our graduates should be able to function as researchers both independently and collaboratively.
These values guide the following expectations.
Doctoral programs should be designed to foster, and advisors should ensure, that students have continuous involvement in research from the beginning of the doctoral program. Involvement in ongoing research projects should present the student with a variety of research roles representing increasing levels of expertise and responsibility as the student progresses. Student research involvement should promote the development and
integration of the full spectrum of research skills, including: identifying research needs; formulating research questions; developing a sound design; choosing or creating appropriate procedures and measurement instruments; carrying out procedures, treatments, and interventions with fidelity; collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data; and presenting findings and conclusions cogently in both oral and print forums.
Emphasis should be placed on the development of research skills that have applied relevance for the student’s probable professional activities. That is, students should be provided with opportunities to develop research skills that can be applied to their role as an expert clinician, program administrator, or other practitioner.
Research mentoring should be provided over the length of the program of study, engaging the student in critical dialogues and providing the guidance needed to move from apprentice to expert researcher. It is fair to view the dissertation as evidence of competence as an independent research only if it is preceded by extended and multiple opportunities for guided instruction and practice with feedback.
The Department expects graduate faculty to provide meaningful, guided opportunities for students to experience all phases of the research enterprise, from problem conceptualization to dissemination. Faculty performance in teaching is evaluated, in part, on the basis of faculty performance in fostering graduate students’ development as researchers.
Students’ research involvement and evolution should be reviewed annually by the student’s doctoral committee and/or program committee, which should provide the student written feedback about his/her progress toward meeting the research expectation. Prior to submitting a dissertation proposal, the student must provide evidence of accomplishment as a researcher in all phases of research, from conceptualization to dissemination. Such evidence will usually include presentations at meetings of professional associations and authorship-level involvement in scholarly publications.
Dissertation proposals will be evaluated on the basis of their potential to advance knowledge and understanding by addressing issues and questions of theoretical and/or practical significance to the student’s field. Both the proposal and the dissertation itself must provide evidence that the student has successfully completed the research apprenticeship and acquired the knowledge and skills needed to function as an independent scholar or scientist-practitioner.
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