Comprehensive Exam and Research Concept – PLCY 885

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

This course will focus on students completing a comprehensive exam, preparing a concept paper, and preparing for their dissertation.

Prerequisites:

Rationale

This course represents the culmination of all of the prior coursework successfully completed by the student.  The Comprehensive Exam is one of two unique experiences for all doctoral students.  The second, of course, is the dissertation.  But students cannot begin the dissertation process until they have successfully passed the comprehensive exam.  The exam itself is a cumulative exam which combines all that the student has learned in their degree with new research, analysis, and synthesis.  Students will also complete a concept paper which is designed to lay the foundation for their dissertation.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, the student will be able to:

  • Synthesize all major ideas learned in the program.
  • Discuss concepts related to the comprehensive exam and the dissertation.
  • Evaluate various research ideas for dissertation topics.

Course Assignment

Discussion Boards (3)

In Module/Weeks 3, 5, and 8, students will participate in reflective discussion board assignments, interacting with one another, sharing information about specific assignments, and finally, in Week 8, discussing possible dissertation topics. 

  • At a minimum, students should post one thread answering the assigned prompts.
  • Secondarily, students should reply thoughtfully to and engage with their classmates’ ideas and thoughts.
  • Rather than the traditional emphasis on a certain number of replies and posts at a certain word length, the emphasis here is on creating and contributing to a dialogue of ideas. Thus students will be graded for their willingness to interact.  The emphasis should, therefore, be on numerous, shorter, posts in the spirit of collaborative learning.
  • There are no research or source requirements.

Comprehensive Exam Outlines (3)

In preparation for the exam, students will create outlines for each cluster of doctoral courses for which they will be tested.  In Module 3, students will compare notes and outlines as part of an assigned discussion board activity.  

  • These outlines should derive from critical ideas from each course, including concepts from required readings, presentations, and perhaps even knowledge gleaned from completed assignments.
  • Remember, this assignment is meant to help you prepare for the comprehensive exam. You will be able to use these notes as you write your final exam, so make sure your notes are orderly. 
  • Though not required, students are welcome to create cognitive maps linking ideas from the various courses. Doing so might help students better synthesize important information.
  • There is no length requirement. 

Comprehensive Exam

In Module/Week 4, the student will be assigned incrementally 3 questions.  Each question represents a critical question/topic from one of the course clusters in his or her doctoral program.  Students must research and write on each assigned question and submit their 10-page papers in the respective order in which they are assigned.

  • Students will be assigned their questions incrementally, following the schedule listed above.
  • Students must submit each paper uniquely and following the deadline mentioned above.
  • NOTE: students may not collaborate with one another. Any collaboration, or any type of plagiarism, could results in the student failing the exam and being removed from the program.
  • 10, and only 10, double-spaced pages of content, not counting title page, abstract, or references
  • The exams must be submitted in Turabian format.

Concept Paper

You will write the Concept Paper and it should range from 25 to 30 pages of double-spaced content, not counting title page, abstract, or references. Minimum of 30 scholarly, peer-reviewed sources.  The Concept Paper lays the foundation for the applied dissertation process, providing an introductory form of communication between the doctoral student and the doctoral committee.  Essentially, the Concept Paper allows the doctoral student the opportunity to define a research focus and obtain early feedback on the research idea.  A well-planned Concept Paper will capture the interest of the dissertation committee and establish a clear plan for the student’s dissertation.

It will consist of the following:

  • Statement of Problem
  • Preliminary Literature Review
  • Research Questions/Hypotheses
  • Methodology Discussion Theory

The exams must be submitted in Turabian format.