Ph.D. in Education
Current Students: Student Assessment
Admission to the doctoral program is based upon an assessment of the student’s academic strengths, professional experience, and leadership potential, all of which affect the probability of successfully completing the doctoral program. Such success is dependent upon the doctoral student’s continuing growth in knowledge acquisition, concept synthesis, and integrative application.
Thus, periodic student evaluation while enrolled in the doctoral program is important in three ways: (1) it is beneficial to the student in assessing his or her progress; (2) it is essential in determining the student’s probability of successful program completion; and (3) it is critical to the maintenance of program integrity.
Within the doctoral program, course grades provide an important evaluative tool for students, as well as guidance for advisors. While doctoral students by their very admission into a doctoral program have demonstrated skills and knowledge beyond that of master’s level students, performance in individual courses with specific content and expectations can vary widely. Average doctoral work would, therefore, be at a “B” level, with work below that average graded below a “B”. In using course grades within the Ph.D. in Education Program, the following specific regulations apply.
Students in the Ph.D. in Education Program must:
1. Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 to graduate.
2. The academic standing of any graduate student who receives a grade of “C” or below or the grade of “U” (Unsatisfactory) on required graduate course work will be reviewed for possible action.
3. A student who earns three grades of “C” or lower while enrolled in the doctoral program is automatically dropped from the program. A student earning any grade of “D” or “F” is reviewed for termination. This does not include any grades of C that were earned prior to being formally accepted into the program, those grades of C will not be transferred in, but will not be included in the number of grades of “C” or lower earned in the program.
5. No grades below “C” will be accepted for graduation from the doctoral program or for Continuing Doctoral Status (CDS).
6. A student who receives two “U” grades or an “F” in EDUS 899: Dissertation Research will be terminated from the program.
B. Qualifying Exam
The purpose of the qualifying exam is to:
- assure that students have the appropriate foundational knowledge and skills necessary to progress through their doctoral program
- provide information to allow early identification of students who may not be sufficiently competent to continue in the program.
- to flag students who need further review to validate student competency from other sources of information as identified by the departments/tracks to determine if the student will continue in the program and if so, what additional courses or other experiences are required.
The qualifying exam of research and doctoral education foundations will provide a single measure of student knowledge, understanding, and application of the foundations and research/statistics/measurement areas. The exam will assess student competencies that integrate previously taken foundations and research courses (EDUS 660 and STAT 508 as program pre-requisites; EDUS 702, EDUS 703, STAT 608, and EDUS 710) and require students, on-demand, to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key concepts. Students take their qualifying exam after earning 15-18 credits, 12 of which include the classes listed above. The exam will be closed-book. Student will receive the questions at the beginning of the exam period and have three hours to provide their answers.
Content for the exam will come primarily from the following four courses:
EDUS 702-703: Foundations Component Objectives
- Acculturate beginning Ph.D. students into the realm of doctoral studies
- Encourage students to reflect on their place in their programs in particular and on the wider contexts within which their programs/fields are situated
- Expose participants to the field of epistemology, or the study of knowledge—particularly as it applies to educational research
- Provide interdisciplinary exposure by giving students opportunities to work with students from other programs
- Impart skills necessary for the conduct of research and scholarship.
- Study the major research paradigms and help students understand what they need to learn to be comfortable working in diverse paradigms
- Analyze ethical issues in research and scholarship
- Discuss various research methodologies, especially their ethical and political components
- Provide a setting where doctoral students from diverse specializations develop heightened sensitivity to the complex nature of contemporary education, especially urban and global issues in education (diversity, race, class, gender)
- Introduce students to the history and purposes as well as conventions and rules of the IRB process
EDUS 660: Research Methods in Education
The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the fundamental terms, concepts, and designs characteristic of both quantitative and qualitative educational research. The course emphasizes the learning and application of skills that will enable you to design your own research studies and critically evaluate published research articles in an effort to encourage data-driven reflection. Specifically you will be able to evaluate the: (a) the methodological procedures that an author followed, (b) the results that were reported, and (c) the practical significance of the study. These skills include not only the ability to comprehend common research designs, methods, and procedures but also the ability to interpret and communicate the research results clearly, concisely, logically and in a coherent manner. This course will:
- Introduce you to different types of approaches to research and methodological designs
- Enable you to understand, interpret and critically evaluate research articles
- Prepare you to design your own research investigations
Students will develop:
- An understanding of quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods approaches to research.
- The ability to select a research problem and formulate appropriate research hypotheses and/or questions.
- The ability to conduct a review of educational literature from texts, journals and computer library databases.
- Skills to write a synthesis of the literature as it relates to a specific research problem.
- Knowledge of experimental, quasi-experimental and non-experimental research designs and their application to different research questions.
- An understanding of descriptive statistical techniques such as measures of central tendency, standard deviation and correlation.
- An understanding of the ethical principals that pertain to research involving human subjects and research conducted in educational settings.
- An appreciation for the conduct of research in education to improve practice; inform decisions, and contribute to better student outcomes.
- The ability to engage in data-driven reflection through the continued use of published educational research and/or practice-based activities.
- A viable research proposal.
EDUS 710: Educational Research Design
The purpose of this course is to examine complex quantitative designs and concepts that are commonly encountered in conducting quantitative research in applied social settings. The course assumes knowledge of fundamental principles of research, such as identifying research problems or questions, reviewing literature, sampling, choosing appropriate assessment techniques to gather information, simple research designs, internal and external validity, types of research, descriptive and inferential statistics, and a working knowledge of data analysis software such as SAS, SYSTAT, or SPSS. Specifically, there are two prerequisites for this course, EDUS 660, and STAT 608. These basic principles and skills are extended to the more complex situations that are frequently encountered in applied settings. The course is designed for doctoral students. An important goal of the course is to enable students to become critically reflective in the use of quantitative data for decision-making. More specifically, the objectives include student understanding and application of:
- the effects of sampling on nonexperimental and experimental designs
- data entry and SPSS software for data analysis
- advanced principles of measurement as related to research design
- statistical, internal, construct, and external experimental validity
- survey and nonexperimental designs
- experimental and quasi-experimental designs, including single and multiple factor designs
- multivariate research designs
- Type 1 and Type 2 errors in hypothesis testing
- Statistical analyses for single factor and multiple factor designs
- differences between statistical significance and effect size
The following are examples of the nature of the questions that could be asked. Not all questions would be included for any single exam. A single research article could be used for application of both foundations and research principles.
1. Short Answer Comprehension Questions: Sample
- What are some distinguishing characteristics of positivism, postpositivism, and nonpositivism as research paradigms?
- Explain how the NRC report (Shavelson and Towne, 2002) could be described as a document demonstrating how science, social policy and politics meet?
- Compare and contrast modern and postmodern worldviews.
- What role do “values” have in educational research? This is quite obviously a contested point, so please summarize competing positions on this question and be sure to include who might support the positions (i.e. researchers coming from particular perspectives or political positions or employing certain methodologies).
2. Application Question (s): Sample – Students will be presented with a description of a research study and the statistical results (note: this will be the same study used for the research component). Students will be asked:
- What research paradigm appears to be operational in this research endeavor?
- What evidence is there to support your answer?
- Select an alternative research paradigm to the one you identified above and consider how the research might differ if the researcher employed this different paradigm. For example, how would the adoption of say, a pragmatic, critical, race, ethnicity or gender-based perspective alter the research (note: this could be in terms of research questions, design/methodology and even findings)?
Shavelson, R., & Towne, L. (2002). Scientific research in education, Report of the National
Research Council’s Committee on Scientific Principles in Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
1. Short Answer Comprehension/Understanding Questions: Sample
- How do quantitative and qualitative research methods differ?
- What are appropriate uses of criterion-referenced and norm-referenced test scores?
- What information does the standard deviation and standard error of measurement provide?
- What ethical issues should researchers consider when conducting research in school-based settings?
- If you were developing a survey instrument what procedures would you employ to enhance the reliability and validity of measurement?
- What is the difference between true experimental and quasi experimental designs?
- What does the phrase “plausible rival hypothesis” refer to?
2. Application Question (s): Sample – Students will be presented with a description of a research study and the statistical results. Students will be asked to identify: research design, independent and dependent variables, extraneous and confounding variables, as well as the scale(s) of measurement that result from the data collection methods/measures. Students will be asked to provide an interpretation of the statistical results.
3. Journal Article Critique: Sample of questions:
- What is the problem under investigation and purpose of the study?
- What are the research questions?
- What approach to research is used (e.g. quantitative, qualitative, mixed-method)?
- What type of research design (e.g. experimental, quasi-experimental, descriptive) and data collection methods are used in the study? Why is this design appropriate to address the research questions?
- What are the main results and findings of the study? Do you think the conclusions reached by the researcher(s) are valid?
- What are the strengths of the study?
- How could the researcher(s) change the design, methods, or procedures to enhance the internal validity of the study?
- Do you think this study makes a contribution to the field? Consider the literature, the quality of the study as well as the practical significance of the findings in your response.
Grading of Exam Questions
Grading of student answers will be completed by faculty who teach School of Education classes in Educational Foundations and Research. Results will be distributed to student advisors who will meet individually with students to discuss their performance and identify, if necessary, any follow-up steps. At this point, the final program of study will be completed and will include any of these follow-up classes and/or co-curricular activities. The final results and final program of study will then be forwarded to the Office of Doctoral Studies.
C. Continuing Doctoral Status
The purpose of Continuing Doctoral Status (CDS) is to provide an opportunity for the student, the advisor, and the Director of the Ph.D. in Education program to review and assess the student’s progress early in the program, and will determine whether or not the student will continue in or be dropped from the program. The conditions of the review are as follows:
1. Students who have passed the Qualifying exam and who have earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 by the end of the semester in which the 15th program hour is earned will be awarded CDS.
2. Students who have passed the Qualifying exam and who have not earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 – 3.29 by the end of the semester in which the 15th program hour is earned must have a joint conference with their advisor and the Director of the Ph.D. in Education program to develop a plan designed to achieve CDS. The conference and the plan will include:
a) A review of a statement written by the student concerning his or her progress in the program, citing strengths, and possible deficiencies, and suggesting ways to improve the GPA.
b) Specifying the required course work for achieving the 3.3 GPA required for awarding CDS. The student may also be required to enroll in and complete a writing skills course offered by the University or meet other appropriate requirements.
Consideration shall be given to satisfying other degree requirements, including the requirement of completing 12 credits per calendar year.
c) Establishing the time frame – not to exceed the next two consecutive
semesters – within which the student will complete courses and other requirements.
3. Students earning a cumulative GPA of 2.99 or lower in the semester in which the 15th program hour is earned and needs to take the Qualifying exam will be dropped from the program.
D. Comprehensive Examination
From its inception, the Ph.D. in Education Program has been designed to develop interdisciplinary conceptual skills beyond the traditional in-depth extension of the master’s program and to emphasize rigorous thinking and the capacity to integrate theory with practice. The comprehensive examination component of the program seeks to ensure that each degree candidate can demonstrate in writing, the ability to conceptualize, apply, and communicate information at an advanced, doctoral level.
1. The Comprehensive Examination Process
The process for developing, administrating, and grading the comprehensive examination are chosen by the faculty of the track. As such, this information is offered as an overview. Specifics about the exams should be obtained through a student’s advisor and/or track coordinator. Basic information about the comprehensive exam is as follows:
a. Registration for the Comprehensive Examination.
The initial comprehensive examination may only be taken after completion of all doctoral program course work, including EDUS 700: Externship, but excluding EDUS 890: Dissertation Seminar. All grades in coursework must be posted and all grades of “I” must be removed before a student may begin work on the comprehensive examination.
The decision concerning when to take the comprehensive examination should be made in consultation with the student’s advisor. Consideration should be given to a number of factors, including (a) the degree to which formulating a draft prospectus may assist in writing the examination; (b) the availability and scheduling of final program courses, including EDUS 890 and EDUS 899; and (c) the requirements for continuous registration and for sequencing of the seminar, prospectus review, and actual dissertation research hours. A student who wishes to take the examination must notify their advisory and/or track coordinator the semester prior to the semester in which he/she plans to take the examination. The registration deadlines* are as follows:
February 1st for Summer Session Administration
May 1st for Fall Semester Administration
October 1st for Spring Semester Administration
*Note: Registration for the examination constitutes an examination attempt by the student. Failure to take the examination will count as a failure of the examination and the student will have only one more opportunity to take the examination.
2. Comprehensive Examination Content
Specifics about acceptable content for the comprehensive exam for each track are outlined below:
a) Students in the Educational Leadership track will be required to complete a project that will include competencies in data analysis and this project will constitute the entire comprehensive exam.
b) Instructional Leadership track students will be given (4) four concentration questions that will be written by the Track Coordinator and faculty who teach in, or who are associated with the track in which the student is enrolled. Students will receive the four (4) questions 45 days prior to the date the comprehensive exam. Three (3) concentration questions will be selected at random for each student by the Director of Doctoral Studies.
c) Questions for students in the Instructional Leadership track will be forwarded to the Office of Doctoral Studies 52 days prior to the testing date for distribution to those students who are eligible for and register to take the comprehensive examination.
d) Research and Evaluation students will be given tailored questions one week prior to exam date that will require approximately 25 hours of preparation (once in the fall, once in the spring). Student’s written answers will be used as the basis for an oral exam approximately one week later.
e) Special Education and Disability Policy students will consist of three parts: a) a written discussion paper, to be submitted to a major journal in the field, the topic of which will be chosen by the student in consultation with his/her advisor; b) a written exam consisting of three questions chosen by the student’s advising committee and c) an oral presentation and examination, lasting approximately 90-120 minutes.
f) Urban Services/Adult Learning – The comprehensive exam will consist of two parts: an oral exam, and an extensive literature review, submitted as a written paper. Part I: A 60-90 minute oral examination of the student’s ability to respond to questions posed by a faculty committee comprised of at least one Adult Learning faculty member and at least one faculty member from Educational Foundations department. Part II: Preparation of an extensive literature review, including seminal works, and an overview of the proposed dissertation research topic. Guidelines for the paper will be determined by the faculty advisor. It will be at the discretion of the advisor, as doctoral committee chair, to determine if the student should complete the dissertation seminar, or begin work on the dissertation immediately upon successful completion of the comprehensive exam. Comprehensive exams will be scheduled and administered by the Adult Learning Program Coordinator during either spring or fall semesters, but not during the summer. Students may undertake the comprehensive exam during either of the following times: a) during their final semester of coursework, provided they are enrolled in no more than 3 credit hours during their final semester. Otherwise, students should wait until completion of their coursework to take the comprehensive exam. b) prior to, but not during, the dissertation seminar.
g) Urban Services/Health Promotions – Students may undertake the comprehensive exam during either of the following times: a) during their final semester of coursework, provided they are enrolled in no more than 3 credit hours during their final semester. Otherwise, students should wait until completion of their coursework to take the comprehensive exam. b) prior to, but not during, the dissertation seminar. The Comprehensive exams will consist of two parts: Part I: A 60-90 minute oral examination of the student’s ability to respond to questions posed by a faculty committee comprised of at least one Health Promotion faculty member and at least one faculty member from the Educational Foundations department. Part II: Preparation of an extensive literature review, including seminal works, and an overview of the proposed dissertation research topic. Guidelines for the paper will be determined by the faculty advisor.
3. Preparation for the Comprehensive Examination
Each student will be provided equal access to resources and faculty in preparation for taking the examination. The examination officially begins with the distribution of the questions. The student is expected to prepare for the written examination himself/herself without consulting with other students, faculty, or non-published resources. Failure to adhere to this rule will constitute a failure of the examination.
a) Educational Leadership students will turn in their project when they have completed all courses. (no other information listed for preparation of students in the 48 credit program)
b) The Track Coordinator for Instructional Leadership will meet about 45 days prior to the scheduled examination date with all students in that track who are registered to take the examination. At this meeting the Track Coordinator may answer questions related to the test; e.g., the concepts the readers may look for when reading student responses, additional resources that students may consult, and suggestions for preparing for the examination.
c) Research and Evaluation students see Comprehensive Examination Content above.
d) Special Education and Disability Policy – students will begin the process by scheduling a meeting with his or her advisor. The comprehensive examination may occur during the semester of enrollment in EDUS 890, or prior to that semester, after all coursework has been completed.
e) Urban Services/Adult Learning – no information at present
f) Urban Services/Health Promotions – no information at present
4. Method of Administration
Administration of the comprehensive exam is determined by the track coordinators, and is subject to change. Students should contact their advisor and/or track coordinator for specific instructions about the examination.
5. Grading of the Examination
a) Educational Leadership faculty will grade the exam/project.
b) Instructional Leadership faculty will be responsible for grading the Concentration questions. All questions will be graded Honors, Pass, or Fail. All students must receive a grade of at least Pass on all questions in order to pass the examination.
d) Research and Evaluation faculty will be responsible for grading the oral exam. Students are graded Pass/Fail/Honors.
e) Special Education and Disability – a student’s advisory committee will be responsible for grading the written and oral components of the examination. Students are graded Pass/Fail/Honors. Upon discretion of the review team, a failing exam may be re-taken once.
f) Urban Services/Adult Learning – Students will be evaluated on adult learning content knowledge and appropriate research strategies through a series of questions determined by the review team. Assessment of the oral exam will be honors, pass, or fail. Upon discretion of the review team, a failing oral exam may be re-taken once.
Evaluation will be Honors, Pass, or Fail for the written literature review.
g) Urban Services/Health Promotions – no information at present.
h) A student may retake parts or all of the examination only one time.
i) The student who successfully completes the comprehensive examination becomes eligible to present a prospectus for formal review and approval provided all other requirements for the dissertation prospectus are met.
All examination questions and responses are placed in the student’s file in the Office of Doctoral Studies.
- Prospective Students
- Current Students
- Dissertation Stage Students
- Important Dates
- Rehabilitation & Movement Sciences
- Contact the office of Doctoral Studies