22 SES 07 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Qualifying examination is a requirement for doctoral students in many programs to continue to their PhD study. While the format of this examination changes in departments, it may include paper-pencil exam, verbal exam, or take home assignment, or some combinations of these options. Decisions about the format of the qualifying examination are generally made by a PhD committee in each department.
Doctoral students generally do not have clear knowledge of the content and standards of the qualifying examination. This uncertainty causes students to study too hard and disappoint after taking the examination because they use only a little part of their knowledge (Nerad & Cerny, 1997). Estrem and Lucas (2003) found out that only 43% of the 59 doctoral programs which they examined had explanations about the purpose of the examination. Unfortunately, 97% of them did not contain any information about the assessment. Researchers also emphasized that the efficiency of the assessments should be investigated. Frustenberg and Nichols-Casebolt (2001) conducted a study by using qualitative research methods and asked questions to directors of doctoral programs about qualifying examination. Two themes emerged from this data: first one is to provide opportunity for students to strengthen their knowledge and the second one is to provide support for students’ development in their dissertation. On the other hand, when directors were asked what should have been assessed in examination, some stated that the mastery of students’ knowledge should be assessed and some others focused on some specific knowledge. Another idea indicated the importance of the assessment of some skills such as analyzing, organizing, integrating different areas of knowledge and criticizing the given information. This study documented that the doctoral program directors did not have a common view of the content of the examination.
The present study intends to investigate the perceptions of PhD students and directors about the qualifying examination. PhD students’ experiences related to examination and perceptions of the directors enrolled in this process will be examined. In this study, following research questions will be sought:
· Is there any difference between students’ perceptions of the qualifying examination before and after taking the examination?
· Is there any difference between the students’ and directors’ perceptions about the qualifying examination?
· What are the perceived effect of the qualifying examination on students’ emotional stance, academic development, and life style?
Estrem, H, & Lucas, B. E. (2003). Embedded traditions, uneven reform: The place of the comprehensive exam in composition and rhetoric phd programs, Rhetoric Review, 22, 396-416. Frustenberg, A., & Nichols-Casebolt, A. (2001). Hurdle or Building Block: Comprehensive Examinations in Social Work Doctoral Education. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 21, 19-37. Miles, M.B. & Huberman, A.M.(1994). Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (2nd ed.).Thousand Oaks: Sage. Nerad, M. & Cerny, J. (1997). From facts to action: Expanding the educational role of the graduate division. In: Maresi Nerad et al. (Eds), Graduate Education in the United States (pp. 339-350). Greenwich, CTI: JAI Press.
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