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COMPREHENSIVE EXAM QUESTIONS (CMP9500P) Question 1: Theory Psychological theories play a vitally important role in guiding research and organizing and making sense of research findings. In spite of the great importance of theory-building and theory testing to the field of psychology, there is no generally accepted conception of what a theory is. Because your dissertation must contribute to psychological theory, you must have a clear understanding of the variety of conceptions of theory, types of theories, and ways of contributing to theory and be able to justify how, exactly, your dissertation study contributes to theory. Part 1. Using Creswell (2009), Gelso (2006), Harlow (2009), Stam (2007), Stam (2010), Wacker (1999), Trochim and Donnelly (2008), and five additional peer-reviewed articles or scholarly texts, discuss scholarly views on what constitutes a psychological theory. As part of your discussion: a) compare and contrast at least three views of what constitutes a theory, including the view you will use in Part 3 of this question, b) distinguish scientific theory from other types of theories, and c) discuss how a theory and hypotheses are related. Part 2. Using Ellis & Levy (2008), Harlow, E. (2009), and five additional peer-reviewed articles, review the scholarly literature on the relationship between theory and research and the ways research (quantitative and qualitative) can contribute to theory. Discuss at least five ways research can contribute to theory. Part 3. Pick a particular theory (in one of the views of what constitutes a theory that you identified in Part 1) of current interest directly related to the topic area of your dissertation. A theory is currently of interest if there are articles published on it in the past five years. Using at least 5 (although you may use up to 10) published, peer-reviewed research articles: 1. Discuss how the theory explains human behavior. 2. Discuss and analyze the literature on three areas of controversy or unanswered questions related to the theory. The structure of your paper should be as follows: • Title page • Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper) • References (APA Style) Learning Outcomes: 1. Compose a theoretically sound and conceptually rich essay that demonstrates knowledge of fundamental subject areas of a Learner’s academic discipline and specialization.   Question 2: Practical Application Your dissertation research must contribute to psychological theory. Your research and the theory to which it contributes may or may not have a practical benefit or application. There is no doubt, however, that there is a theory in your dissertation topic area that does have a practical application. Part 1. Referencing at least five peer-reviewed journal articles or scholarly books other than or in addition to those required for Question 1, discuss views on the relationship between theory and application or practice. How can a theory guide or inform practice? What are the issues involved in translating theory into practice? Be sure to keep in mind the various conceptions of theory you discussed in Question 1. Part 2. Referencing at least five peer-reviewed journal articles, fully describe a theory of current interest in your topic area. A theory is currently of interest if there are articles published on it in the past five years. This theory can, but does not have to be, the same one you examined in Question 1, Part 3. Describe a current view of the theory, not the founder’s view or a classic view. Your answer should be no more than three pages long. Part 3. Identify at least five scholarly articles (published in the last 5 years) that address how the theory you discussed in Part 2 has actually been applied. (Draw on your response to Part 1 in order to say what you mean by an application of a theory to an actual problem or situation.) Critically evaluate the appropriateness of the uses to which the theory has been put. Consider, for example: Are the applications premised upon an accurate understanding of the theory and its scope? Do the applications “go beyond” what the theory claims? Is the reasoning linking application and theory sound? The structure of your paper should be as follows: • Title page • Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper) • References (APA Style) Learning Outcomes: 2. Critique existing research and design a methodologically sound approach to research in the Learner’s academic specialization(s). Question 3: Research The ability to read, understand, critique, and integrate research studies and to design a study to address a gap in the research literature is a vital for a doctoral learner. As you write your dissertation, you may be reading hundreds of studies, many of which you will evaluate as part of a coherent literature review. Select three empirical articles from peer-reviewed journals that: • you consider critical to your understanding of your area of dissertation research, and which • all address a particular phenomenon and attempt to contribute to theory about it (in some sense of theory you describe in Question 1). (A phenomenon is a fact or situation or event in the world. Theories are about phenomena. For example, post-partum depression, optical illusions, addiction, and spiritual development are phenomena.) Part 1 1. Describe each study, including: • the research problem, questions, and/or hypotheses • the research purpose • type of design and elements of the design (e.g., sample, data analysis, operationalization of constructs) • threats to validity and if and how they were addressed • the findings of the study (see the Results section of the paper) • the implications the author(s) drew from the findings (see the Discussion section of the paper) Include subheadings for each of these elements of each study to ensure that you address all of them. If you address more than these elements, add additional sub-headings. 2. Critically evaluate each study: Does the author make a compelling case for the meaning and significance of the findings? Part 2. Write a literature review that explains what is known and not known about the phenomenon based on a critical evaluation of the three studies. In other words, based on a critical evaluation of the three studies, explain what is known and not known about the phenomenon addressed in the articles. Part 3. Develop a research question that addresses one of the unknowns you identified in Part 2, and sketch a quantitative or qualitative study that can answer the question about what is unknown and contribute to theory (in some sense of theory you discuss in Question 1). Address: • the research purpose • type of design and elements of the design (e.g., sample, the type of data you need to collect and how you will collect it, data analysis) • the strengths and weaknesses of your envisioned design and methods • quantitative: threats to validity and how your design will address them • quantitative: the constructs you will measure and what you will do in order to determine how to operationalize them (you need not identify specific measures) • qualitative: your means of ensuring the quality of your findings • justification for why your chosen design and methods are more appropriate for your research question than alternatives you have considered • your methods of data analysis • how the data you collect will enable you to answer your research question and contribute to theory Draw on the additional resources for this course for guidance in understanding the concepts needed to address this question (e.g., internal validity, threats to validity, and operationalization). Use subheadings to identify each section of the answer. The structure of your paper should be as follows: • Title page • Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper) • References (APA Style) Learning Outcomes: 3. Apply relevant theory and research from the Learner’s specialization coursework to real life situations where he or she solves specific problems and discusses implications.   Question 4: Ethics As you know, scientific research must be conducted in accordance with ethical principles. The ethical principles of psychological research are defined in: Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct Standard 8: Research and Publication http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx The National Academy Of Sciences, National Academy Of Engineering, and Institute Of Medicine Of The National Academies have a more detailed and comprehensive set of ethical guidelines for scientific research: On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research: Third Edition (2009). 
Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12192 [Follow the instructions to download the free pdf file or click link to read the full text online.] Write a paper in which you discuss how you will ensure that all aspects of your doctoral research, from literature review to conducting research, to writing the dissertation manuscript will be done with care and integrity and will meet the ethical standards of scientific research. Reference the two publications above and at least five additional peer-reviewed articles or scholarly books. You must justify all the steps you will take to ensure the ethical integrity of your dissertation project and not simply describe standard practice. You must show that you have your own clear set of ethical principles and that you know how to apply them to your work. You must do more than just paraphrase ethical guidelines. You must explain specifically how you will apply published ethical guidelines and concepts to what you will do in your research (as you envision it at this point). Be sure to address the following: • Plagiarism • Risk assessment • Informed consent • Privacy and confidentiality • Data handling and reporting • Mistakes and negligence • Working with a Mentor • Northcentral University requirements for IRB approval • Use of editors and consultants Conclude your paper with your thoughts on the following statement: Ethical scientific researchers have a commitment to all who are touched by their research—participants who share their lives and time, mentors and advisors, reviewers, future readers, and supporters and cheerleaders on the journey—to take care and do their work well. The structure of your paper should be as follows: • Title page • Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper) • References (APA Style) Submit all four questions under cover of a title page that follows the format of the sample title page in the course resources. Learning Outcomes: 4. Integrate knowledge of ethical practices with principles of professional practice as it applies to specific scenarios within the Learner’s academic discipline and specialization.

COMPREHENSIVE EXAM QUESTIONS (CMP9500P)

 

Question 1: Theory

 

Psychological theories play a vitally important role in guiding research and organizing and making sense of research findings. In spite of the great importance of theory-building and theory testing to the field of psychology, there is no generally accepted conception of what a theory is. Because your dissertation must contribute to psychological theory, you must have a clear understanding of the variety of conceptions of theory, types of theories, and ways of contributing to theory and be able to justify how, exactly, your dissertation study contributes to theory.

 

Part 1. Using Creswell (2009), Gelso (2006), Harlow (2009), Stam (2007), Stam (2010), Wacker (1999), Trochim and Donnelly (2008), and five additional peer-reviewed articles or scholarly texts, discuss scholarly views on what constitutes a psychological theory. As part of your discussion: a) compare and contrast at least three views of what constitutes a theory, including the view you will use in Part 3 of this question, b) distinguish scientific theory from other types of theories, and c) discuss how a theory and hypotheses are related.

 

Part 2. Using Ellis & Levy (2008), Harlow, E. (2009), and five additional peer-reviewed articles, review the scholarly literature on the relationship between theory and research and the ways research (quantitative and qualitative) can contribute to theory. Discuss at least five ways research can contribute to theory.

 

Part 3. Pick a particular theory (in one of the views of what constitutes a theory that you identified in Part 1) of current interest directly related to the topic area of your dissertation. A theory is currently of interest if there are articles published on it in the past five years. Using at least 5 (although you may use up to 10) published, peer-reviewed research articles:

 

1. Discuss how the theory explains human behavior.

 

2. Discuss and analyze the literature on three areas of controversy or unanswered questions related to the theory.

 

The structure of your paper should be as follows:

  • Title page
  • Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper)
  • References (APA Style)

Learning Outcomes:

1.  Compose a theoretically sound and conceptually rich essay that demonstrates knowledge of fundamental subject areas of a Learner’s academic discipline and specialization.

 

 

Question 2: Practical Application

 

Your dissertation research must contribute to psychological theory. Your research and the theory to which it contributes may or may not have a practical benefit or application. There is no doubt, however, that there is a theory in your dissertation topic area that does have a practical application.

 

Part 1. Referencing at least five peer-reviewed journal articles or scholarly books other than or in addition to those required for Question 1, discuss views on the relationship between theory and application or practice. How can a theory guide or inform practice? What are the issues involved in translating theory into practice? Be sure to keep in mind the various conceptions of theory you discussed in Question 1.

 

Part 2. Referencing at least five peer-reviewed journal articles, fully describe a theory of current interest in your topic area. A theory is currently of interest if there are articles published on it in the past five years. This theory can, but does not have to be, the same one you examined in Question 1, Part 3. Describe a current view of the theory, not the founder’s view or a classic view. Your answer should be no more than three pages long.

 

Part 3. Identify at least five scholarly articles (published in the last 5 years) that address how the theory you discussed in Part 2 has actually been applied. (Draw on your response to Part 1 in order to say what you mean by an application of a theory to an actual problem or situation.) Critically evaluate the appropriateness of the uses to which the theory has been put. Consider, for example: Are the applications premised upon an accurate understanding of the theory and its scope? Do the applications “go beyond” what the theory claims? Is the reasoning linking application and theory sound?

 

 

 

The structure of your paper should be as follows:

  • Title page
  • Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper)
  • References (APA Style)

 

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

2.  Critique existing research and design a methodologically sound approach to research in the Learner’s academic specialization(s).

 

Question 3: Research

 

The ability to read, understand, critique, and integrate research studies and to design a study to address a gap in the research literature is a vital for a doctoral learner.  As you write your dissertation, you may be reading hundreds of studies, many of which you will evaluate as part of a coherent literature review.

 

Select three empirical articles from peer-reviewed journals that:

  • you consider critical to your understanding of your area of dissertation research, and which
  • all address a particular phenomenon and attempt to contribute to theory about it (in some sense of theory you describe in Question 1). (A phenomenon is a fact or situation or event in the world. Theories are about phenomena. For example, post-partum depression, optical illusions, addiction, and spiritual development are phenomena.)

 

Part 1

1. Describe each study, including:

  • the research problem, questions, and/or hypotheses
  • the research purpose
  • type of design and elements of the design (e.g., sample, data analysis, operationalization of constructs)
  • threats to validity and if and how they were addressed
  • the findings of the study (see the Results section of the paper)
  • the implications the author(s) drew from the findings (see the Discussion section of the paper)

Include subheadings for each of these elements of each study to ensure that you address all of them. If you address more than these elements, add additional sub-headings.

2. Critically evaluate each study: Does the author make a compelling case for the meaning and significance of the findings?

Part 2. Write a literature review that explains what is known and not known about the phenomenon based on a critical evaluation of the three studies. In other words, based on a critical evaluation of the three studies, explain what is known and not known about the phenomenon addressed in the articles.

 

Part 3. Develop a research question that addresses one of the unknowns you identified in Part 2, and sketch a quantitative or qualitative study that can answer the question about what is unknown and contribute to theory (in some sense of theory you discuss in Question 1). Address:

  • the research purpose
  • type of design and elements of the design (e.g., sample, the type of data you need to collect and how you will collect it, data analysis)
  • the strengths and weaknesses of your envisioned design and methods
  • quantitative: threats to validity and how your design will address them
  • quantitative: the constructs you will measure and what you will do in order to determine how to operationalize them (you need not identify specific measures)
  • qualitative: your means of ensuring the quality of your findings
  • justification for why your chosen design and methods are more appropriate for your research question than alternatives you have considered
  • your methods of data analysis
  • how the data you collect will enable you to answer your research question and contribute to theory

Draw on the additional resources for this course for guidance in understanding the concepts needed to address this question (e.g., internal validity, threats to validity, and operationalization).

Use subheadings to identify each section of the answer.

 

The structure of your paper should be as follows:

  • Title page
  • Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper)
  • References (APA Style)

 

Learning Outcomes:

3.  Apply relevant theory and research from the Learner’s specialization coursework to real life situations where he or she solves specific problems and discusses implications.

 

 

Question 4: Ethics

 

As you know, scientific research must be conducted in accordance with ethical principles. The ethical principles of psychological research are defined in:

 

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct

Standard 8: Research and Publication

 

http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx

 

The National Academy Of Sciences, National Academy Of Engineering, and Institute Of Medicine Of The National Academies have a more detailed and comprehensive set of ethical guidelines for scientific research:

 

On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research: Third Edition (2009). 
Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy

http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12192   

[Follow the instructions to download the free pdf file or click link to read the full text online.]

 

Write a paper in which you discuss how you will ensure that all aspects of your doctoral research, from literature review to conducting research, to writing the dissertation manuscript will be done with care and integrity and will meet the ethical standards of scientific research. Reference the two publications above and at least five additional peer-reviewed articles or scholarly books.

 

You must justify all the steps you will take to ensure the ethical integrity of your dissertation project and not simply describe standard practice. You must show that you have your own clear set of ethical principles and that you know how to apply them to your work. You must do more than just paraphrase ethical guidelines. You must explain specifically how you will apply published ethical guidelines and concepts to what you will do in your research (as you envision it at this point).

 

Be sure to address the following:

 

  • Plagiarism
  • Risk assessment
  • Informed consent
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Data handling and reporting
  • Mistakes and negligence
  • Working with a Mentor
  • Northcentral University requirements for IRB approval
  • Use of editors and consultants

 

Conclude your paper with your thoughts on the following statement:

 

Ethical scientific researchers have a commitment to all who are touched by their research—participants who share their lives and time, mentors and advisors, reviewers, future readers, and supporters and cheerleaders on the journey—to take care and do their work well.

The structure of your paper should be as follows:

  • Title page
  • Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper)
  • References (APA Style)

 

Submit all four questions under cover of a title page that follows the format of the sample title page in the course resources.

 

Learning Outcomes:

4.  Integrate knowledge of ethical practices with principles of professional practice as it applies to specific scenarios within the Learner’s academic discipline and specialization.

 

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