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Special Education, PhD

Overview: 

The University of Arizona Special Education Program prepares doctoral students to become successful faculty in higher education. Through an apprenticeship model, doctoral students develop the research, personnel preparation, and professional skills needed for a productive career in higher education. We expect all students to engage in teaching and research while in the doctoral program.

During the qualifying exam, the student articulates his/her goal for the degree and presents and defends an original scholarly paper. The student and the major advisor also present a written plan of study that includes a schedule for coursework and each of several portfolio activities that are required. Each portfolio activity is implemented under the supervision of a faculty member. Different faculty may be connected with different portfolio activities.

At the doctoral comprehensive exam, faculty on the students’ doctoral committee use the attached rubrics to evaluate each product within the portfolio. Following the comprehensive exam, the student completes and defends an original piece of research. 

Expected Learning Outcomes: 
Graduate students in the Special Education PhD program will:
 
  • Demonstrate broad knowledge of the field
  • Critically analyze research in the field
  • Conduct original research
  • Communicate research results to researchers and practitioners

See attached rubrics for scoring the doctoral qualifying exam, doctoral comprehensive exam, written dissertation and the oral defense of the dissertation.

Assessment Activities: 

Students are evaluated at specific times during doctoral study.

Qualifying Exam (after 12 units of study)

At this meeting students are expected to

  • Articulate a reasonable set of goals for the degree
  • Present a paper on an issue in special education
  • Provide answers that connect theory, research, and practice

Comprehensive Exam (at end of coursework)

For the written comprehensive exam, the student completes a doctoral portfolio and presents it to the faculty. The portfolio must include evidence of teaching a university course, submitting a scholarly paper for publication, and making a scholarly presentation at a professional conference. Each student must also choose three of the following: (a) conduct a study, (b) publish a position paper or book review, (c) complete an internship or externship relevant to the program, (d) conduct a community school-based project, (e) develop a multi-media product for teaching, (f) deliver a workshop for practicing professionals, (g) write a literature review or critique, or (h) write a grant proposal. 

At the oral comprehensive exam, the student defends each product in the portfolio.

Dissertation

For the dissertation, the student conducts original research. At the oral defense, the student presents and defends the research findings. 

Learning Outcomes and Assessment Activities

 

Broad knowledge

Critical analysis

Original research

Communicate results

Qualifying exam

x

x

 

x

Comprehensive exam

x

x

 

x

Written dissertation

 

x

x

x

Oral defense of dissertation

x

x

x

x

 

Assessment Findings: 

 

The data reported below pertain to 3 students who took the Qualifying Exam, 2 who took the Comprehensive Exam, and 8 who submitted a written dissertation and orally defended the dissertation (all data are based on 4-point rubrics submitted previously). The data reporting period is May of 2014 through May of 2015.

 

 

 

Broad Knowledge

Critical Analysis

Original Research

Communicate Results

 

Qualifying Exam

 

4.0

 

4.0

 

 

4.0

 

Comprehensive Exam

 

4.0

 

4.0

 

 

4.0

 

Written dissertation

 

 

 

 

3.25/4.0

 

3.75/4.0

 

3.25/4.0

 

Oral defense of dissertation

 

4.0

 

4.0

 

3.5

 

4.0

 

 

Change in Response to Findings: 

The initial data collection period has just ended. Results will be presented to faculty at the retreat to be held in August of 2015. The discussion will target areas of strength as well as areas for improvement. We will also consider the degree to which the rubrics, as currently constructed, are supplying useful information for program evaluation and refinement. A cursory review of the current results indicates strong scores generally but comparatively lower scores for the written dissertation. Of the 8 dissertations submitted, 2 were approved without any revisions, and 6 were approved with minor revisions needed, most often in the Discussion section of the document.

Updated date: Fri, 05/29/2015 - 10:53