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Two-project Option

TWO-PROJECT OPTION COMPREHENSIVE EXAM:

Each student will form a Comprehensive Exam Committee that is comprised of their advisor and two other faculty members from the program. In the Two-project Option, students will undertake two parts to the comprehensive exam. Part I is the Control of Literature and Part II is the Control of Research. Part I, Control of Literature, is a structured, critical review of literature in the field. Part II, Control of Research, is a complete proposal for an empirical research study. Part I must be passed before Part II, and students must successfully pass both the oral and written aspects of both Part I and Part II in order to pass the comprehensive exam.
 

Part I, the Control of Literature:

Part I of the Two-project Option, the Control of Literature, is designed to evaluate students’ knowledge of, and ability to navigate and report, the literature base of the field. It is a critical review of the research literature in the area in which students intend to do their own research, and should provide evidence of their conceptual framework. The review shall focus on the theoretical frameworks and research problems that guided the studies reviewed and how those theoretical orientations influenced both the methods and the findings of the research. It should pull together the existing scholarship on an educational topic and begin to understand trends in that body of work. The review should describe how the issue is conceptualized within the literature, how research methods and theories have shaped the outcomes of scholarship, and what the strengths and weaknesses of the literature are. The review should address how the research can be extended / augmented either from similar or different theoretical perspectives and methods. In short, this paper should be able to identify a “gap” in the literature, whether it is of a theoretical or methodological nature, or a more general lack of some other aspect of the knowledge base of the field. It is not a review of everything published in a field, but is instead a purposeful examination of the literature that can uncover missing or underdeveloped aspects of the field’s knowledge base.

A suggested organization for Part I, the Control of Literature, is illustrated in the table below:

An Organizational Suggestion for
 
Two-project Option, Part I Control of Literature
 
1)      APA title page This is a separate page with the running head, title, author’s name, author’s affiliation
2)      Abstract A brief summary of the contents of the manuscript, between 200-250 words
3)      Introduction
The overview of the topic provides the focus and rationale of the Control of Literature paper
4)      Theoretical Framework
This section will define your theoretical framework and review the major theories that framed the scholarship you reviewed
5)      Integrative Review
How the issue is conceptualized within the literature
How research methods have shaped the outcomes of scholarship
How theories have shaped the outcomes of scholarship
Strengths and weaknesses of the literature
6)      Focus on Research Studies
Identification of landmark research studies
Synthesize and compare the findings of appropriate studies (not the authors’ conclusions)
Identify the main trends and less common or unique findings, and cite specific studies as examples
7)      Gaps & Limitations
In this section, identify gaps and limitations in the literature. Focus primarily on:
Identify areas that have not yet been adequately researched
How the theories and/or methods of previous studies may have limited their validity or reliability
Cite individual studies to illustrate your main points, but do not evaluate each study individually. The purpose of this subsection is to evaluate the overall body of research in the area you’ve chosen.
8)      Conclusion
 
Conclude this part of your paper with a synthesis that stresses main trends, key findings, and the most important gaps and limitations in the studies. Explain why these gaps and limitations should be addressed in future research.
9)      References
Provide a full APA formatted reference section for each reference cited in the body of the paper
 
En route to completing this paper, and as part of this process, students should construct:
  • A general statement regarding the nature and scope of the literature focus. This will be submitted to the Control of Literature Committee for approval, usually in the semester in which a student will complete 18 semester hours.
  • An annotated bibliography of the sources reviewed for eventual use in the final paper. This is a process step and feedback about the appropriateness of the breadth and depth of the sources reviewed can be provided by the student’s advisor. The suggested timeline for this is at the completion of 18 semester hours.


After completing the Control of Literature document, the student submits the document to the Control of Literature Committee a minimum of two weeks before the oral defense of the document is scheduled.

At the conclusion of the oral defense of the Control of Literature document, there are three decisions the committee can choose:
1. Accept
2. Accept with Minor Revisions—advisor signs off
3. Reject with Re-write—another committee hearing
4. Fail (after #3)

After a successful completion of Part I, the Control of Literature, the student embarks on Part II, the Control of Research, described below.

Part II, the Control of Research:

Part II of the Two-project Option, the Control of Research, is begun after successfully completing Part I of the comprehensive exam, the Control of Literature segment. In the Control of Literature segment students demonstrated their knowledge of, and ability to navigate and report, the literature base of the field. Likewise, in the Control of Research segment students demonstrate their knowledge of, and ability to navigate and report, empirical research processes appropriate for their own research goals and interests. Thus, the overriding purpose of this aspect of the Comprehensive Exam is to evaluate students’ knowledge of empirical research processes, especially in terms of readiness to undertake original research, a hallmark of the transition to doctoral candidacy. Students will construct an original research question and write a detailed research proposal for a study that can answer or inform that research question. The elements of that proposal are outlined in the table below:

An Organizational Suggestion for :
 
Two-project Option, Part II Control of Research
 
See APA Publication Manual, 6 th Edition, for a description of Manuscript Elements that can provide additional information to that provided below.
 
 
1)      APA title page
This is a separate page with the running head, title, author’s name, author’s affiliation
 
2)      Abstract
A brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of the manuscript, between 200-250 words.
 
3)      Introduction
Presents the specific problem being studied and describes the research strategy. Includes:
 i)             problem statement
ii)             purpose of the study
 
4)      Theoretical Framework
This section describes the paradigm within which you are undertaking the study; the “lens” through which you view and understand the phenomena.
 
5)      Review of the Literature
This does not need to be an exhaustive review of all literature related to your study, but rather connects your study to other research historically/traditionally in a way that gives proper credit to work that has gone before and in a way that sets the stage for this study. The review should include limitations of the literature, especially in terms of the current research base.
 
6)      Research Question(s)
The specific research foci of this study, that the data analysis will inform.
 
7)      Research Design
i)              Methods
This section describes how the study will be conducted, and should provide enough information to allow another research to replicate your study. Depending on how you format your research design section, the Methods section could be an overview or a statement/description of the methodological frame.
 
ii)             Participants
This is a thorough description of the participants in your study, including demographic and other aspects important to the study, and important to understanding who the participants are in general. Sampling procedures, participant requirements, and other characteristics should be included, as appropriate for your study.
 
iii)            Instrumentation
This is a description of the research tools which will be used to collect and analyze your data.
 
iv)            Data Collection
As appropriate for your study, this section is a description of methods you will use to collect data, issues that presented themselves during data collection, and other aspects centering on collecting the data.
 
v)             Data Analysis
This section is a description of data analysis procedures, timelines, and other issues related to data analysis.
 
8)      Results
(Specific to this Two-project Option, Part II Control of Research)
Extrapolate from your research question and research design to provide a summary of what your predicted results would be, if you were to implement this project
 
9)      Discussion
In this section you will evaluate and interpret the data you would collect and analyze, en route to forming a conclusion. Your research questions should be explicitly referred to. Include examination, interpretation, and qualification of your results, and inferences and conclusions you can make. Include the significance of the study.
 
10)   Limitations of the Study
In this section you will explicitly state any limitations of data collection, population sample, methods or other aspect of the study.
 
11)   References 
Provide a full APA formatted reference section for each reference cited in the body of the paper.
 
12)   Appendices
This section includes any materials that are too large or otherwise inappropriate for the body of the paper.
 

En route to completing this paper, and as part of this process, students should construct:
  • a short problem statement and a set of research questions regarding an area of research for their research proposal. This will be submitted at least two weeks prior to the first meeting with their committee. At that meeting, the committee provides feedback on the problem statement and research question and gives the green light to write the proposal.


After completing the Control of Research document, the student submits the document to their committee a minimum of two weeks before the oral defense of the document is scheduled.

At the conclusion of the oral defense of the Control of Literature document, there are three decisions the committee can choose:
1. Accept
2. Accept with Minor Revisions—advisor signs off
3. Reject with Re-write—another committee hearing
4. Fail (after #3)


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