Attendance at Education Policy Workshops, Dissertation Defense Presentations, and Professional Meetings:
In addition to required program components, students are encouraged and expected to engage in a variety of events and activities. These informal program components constitute an important part of a rich doctoral education: ongoing interaction with a group of fellow students around professional readings and experiences; attending brown bag sessions, seminars, colloquy, dissertation defenses, and other opportunities to learn from others outside the context of courses; and shadow- or apprentice-reviewing journal articles, conference presentations, proposals, and/or other professional documents.
The Education Policy program and Center, and the College of Education, offer many colloquia, workshops, and enrichment opportunities. First-year doctoral students are required to attend the formal series of Education Policy Workshops, which typically take place every other Friday during the academic year. Advanced students are expected to attend if possible. These workshops provide faculty and students and guests to present and discuss current issues, and to rehearse possible conference presentations and drafts of emerging scholarship in a very hospitable environment.
Most students will also participate in professional association meetings, especially at the national level but occasionally at the state or international level, where they will ultimately present research that they designed, carried out, analyzed, and wrote up. Academic and professional careers include such participation, so graduate students are expected to enter the program with a goal of making such presentations during their graduate careers. Students will early on begin attending national conferences as audience members, and eventually presenting at, for example, the annual meetings of the American Educational Research Association [AERA], the Comparative and International Education Society [CIES], American Political Science Association, Politics of Education Association, University Council of Educational Administration. American Educational Finance Association, American Economics Association, Frederick D. Patterson Research Conference, Education Law Conference, or the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. This sort of participation prepares students to understand the quality standards for submitting work for professional presentation as well as the expectations for presenting such work when their own proposals are accepted. As students proceed through the doctoral program, they are increasingly expected to be aware of cutting edge thinking and scholarship in education policy. Policy graduates from MSU lead many of the conversations in education policy, and faculty members expect that by the end of the program, students are ready to engage in such conversations at a high professional level.
In the letter of admission, each new student is given the name, university address, and telephone number of his/her temporary advisor and is asked to contact the advisor as soon as possible. Shortly after admission, advisors receive their new advisees' application files.
The temporary advisor discusses with the student the nature of the program and attempts to answer questions about:
- opportunities for assistantships,
- relocation to the East Lansing area (if necessary),
- institutional expectations regarding time limits to complete the comprehensive examinations (five years from the semester the students took the first advanced graduate course to appear on the formal "Program Plan") and the dissertation (three years from the date of passing the comprehensive examinations and no longer than eight years from entry into the program),
- the procedures and timing for selecting a permanent chairperson and other guidance committee members,
- and other details about the doctoral experience.
New students receive some information about faculty associated with the program and their interests, but many advisees could benefit from further information about faculty in the department and in other programs whose interests and commitments might connect with their own.
Temporary advisors may become the permanent chairpersons of their advisees' guidance committees. Whether they assume that eventual role or not, the temporary advisor assumes the chairperson's responsibilities until a guidance committee is formally selected, in most cases for a year or more. Temporary advising assignments should be treated by both students and faculty as just what the name suggests -- temporary arrangements. When a student is admitted to the program, the admissions group and coordinator assign a temporary advisor to that student based on general area of interest and current advising loads. This relationship helps get a student started in his or her studies, but there is no reason for either party to assume that this temporary advising connection should become permanent.
Once students start taking courses, meeting faculty, and exploring their interests, it is normal that they begin developing relationships with a variety of faculty members. As soon as students find someone with whom they would like to work in developing their program plan, they should initiate a formal change of advisor. This change merely formalizes a shift in advising roles that has already taken place. For a student to make such a choice is neither surprising nor insulting to the temporary advisor, because the assumption from the start is that students are likely to move on once they get their feet on the ground. To make the change official, the student needs to have both old and new advisors sign a Change in Advisor form. The end of the first year or the beginning of the second year is a natural time for students to think about making such a change. Students should feel free to initiate this kind of discussion with current and future advisors. Temporary advisors can help facilitate this process by suggesting to their advisees that they should think about advisor possibilities at this point. It would be a good idea not to delay this decision until the student is at the point of putting together a guidance committee and a program plan (which should be completed before the end of the second year in the program), because the new advisor will be an important help in working with the student to identify appropriate committee members and to map out a tentative plan. Of course, students can select their temporary advisor as their "permanent" advisor if they wish. But the key point is this is their choice, and faculty members should encourage them to exercise it in whatever ways best fit their professional and programmatic needs.
Also, it is worth keeping in mind that, despite the name we often use to identify this person, there is nothing permanent about the advisor that a student chooses to help him or her through the process of program planning and comprehensive exams. Here as before, it is quite normal for a student to choose a new advisor at the point when the student launches into a dissertation (and/or to select another person to serve as dissertation director). Temporary advisor, advisor, and dissertation director are three different roles and are potentially occupied by different faculty members during the course of a student's career in the doctoral program. It is useful for both faculty and students to consider this the norm and to encourage students to be deliberate in their choice at each of these stages. Students must officially register any changes in advisor, prior to the development of their Guidance Committee by completing a Change in Advisor form. Once a student has formed their Guidance Committee and entered their Program Plan into the GradPlan system, all committee membership changes occur within the GradPlan system, so that proper routing of forms occurs.
Permanent Advisor, Chair of Program Guidance Committee
Toward the end of the first year of study, or early in the second year, temporary advisors and their advisees work together to identify a permanent advisor/chairperson and additional guidance committee members. Although the temporary advisor will have been assigned to the student, the permanent chairperson of the committee is selected by the student and agreed to by both parties, based upon mutual interests and commitments.
Advisor and chair are two names for the same person. After the formation of a guidance committee, the advisor serves as chairperson of that committee. The committee and chair are responsible for working with the student on his or her program of study, up through the completion of coursework and the passing of the comprehensive examinations, events that typically occur in the third year in the program. If appropriate, a student may wish to change chairpersons after completing the comprehensive examinations in order to reshape the committee responsible for guiding the dissertation. A student might also desire to separate the responsibilities of the chair of the committee, and the director of the dissertation.
In order to help maximize the student's academic and professional growth, the advisor/chairperson is at minimum responsible for the following:
Assisting the student in selecting appropriate faculty members for the guidance committee. Aiding the student in scheduling and preparing for the three required official meetings of the student's committee: 1) approval of the Program Plan (Note: this form is only to be used for planning purposes. All Program Plans must be entered into the GradPlan system to be approved as official and accepted); 2) approval of the Dissertation Proposal; and 3) the final oral Defense of, or examination on, the Dissertation. Three committee members must be present to constitute an official meeting. (The advisor and some or all committee members may change from one of these occasions to the next.)
- Coordinating the activities of the student and guidance committee as they: plan the program, prepare for the comprehensive examination, develop questions for the examination, consider and revise the dissertation proposal, complete and write the dissertation, and prepare for the final oral examination.
- Resolving conflicting issues or problems that may arise between committee members and the student.
- Helping to identify and recruit new or additional guidance committee members, if necessary or appropriate.
- Helping the student to understand and fulfill all of the requirements and policies of the department, the college, and the university.
- Helping the student to prepare and file all of the forms and reports required to attain the degree.
- Preparing and filing the annual evaluation reports required by the Graduate School and the program for all graduate students.
- Helping the student to identify, pursue, and secure all of the academic, professional, research, and teaching opportunities that would appropriately contribute to his or her career aspirations.
Responsibilities of the unit administrator when a student and/or faculty advisor can no longer work together
If a student and/or an advisor discover that they can no longer work together productively, or either desires to end the advisee/advisor relationship, the Coordinator of the doctoral program should be informed by a letter, which also requests an appointment to discuss the situation so that the Coordinator is fully informed about the circumstances surrounding the decision to change the relationship. After this meeting, the Coordinator will inform the other party (i.e., the advisor if the student is seeking to end the relationship, the student if the advisor is seeking to cease advising) by letter of the wishes of the student or advisor to end the relationship. In all cases, the student will be asked in writing to meet with the Coordinator to consider advisory alternatives. Then, the program faculty expects the student to seek out a potential alternative advisor, continuing to do so until a replacement advisor is in place. This process would not be used in the course of regular changes in advisor or in moving from program advisor to dissertation director.
The guidance committee serves the student, the program, the college, and the university in setting standards and promoting the highest level of excellence in scholarship and professional accomplishments for each student. Each member of the committee will participate actively and fully throughout a student's program, from course planning through the defense of the dissertation. This committee should be formed during the student's second year of study.
The MSU Faculty Handbook defines a guidance committee as follows: "The guidance committee will consist of at least four Michigan State University regular faculty, at least three of whom, including the committee chairperson, possess an earned doctoral degree...." Regular faculty are those in the tenure stream. To gain further information on Guidance Committee membership, please consult the Academic Programs Catalog.
It is understood that students' pursuit of their research interests may generate topics for dissertation research for which adequate expertise is not available in the Education Policy program or College of Education. In those cases, the student and the permanent advisor could seek expertise from other MSU colleges and even other research universities and invite appropriate faculty at those institutions to participate. Their "presence" at dissertation oral defenses can be supported by telephone or videoconferencing; physical presence is desirable but not required. However, a student who invites a non-MSU faculty member onto his/her guidance committee must still satisfy the normal composition requirements for his/her guidance committee with four MSU faculty members.
This means that if a student wants to include on the committee an MSU faculty member who is not in the tenure stream or a faculty member from another university, the committee must be expanded to five or more people. The four regular faculty members need not all be from the program or College of Education; indeed, faculty from other departments and colleges can provide enormous benefits to our students, and the chairperson should not hesitate to recommend adding staff from other units to the guidance committee. The four members may be augmented by additional faculty from other groups, including adjuncts, emeriti, and faculty from other universities. Representatives from such groups, however, may not substitute for the four regular faculty members.
The guidance committee members should possess interests compatible with those of the student, and should have strengths to contribute to the student's academic, professional, and scholarly growth. Changes in membership of the committee may be initiated by the student, with the concurrence of the program coordinator and acknowledgment of the committee members. Similarly, faculty members may be added to, or may resign from, guidance committees with the concurrence of the program coordinator and acknowledgment of other committee members.
Often the makeup of the student's committee will change at the point of transition into dissertation work. Dissertations ordinarily benefit from specific faculty strengths (in certain methodological or substantive areas, for example), and changes in the committee are logical after the program of study and comprehensive examinations are completed. If a different dissertation committee is established, changes should be made before the proposal is approved. Guidance Committee Membership is entered into the GradPlan system, and changes in membership are recorded by entering into the GradPlan system and ending one faculty member's membership and adding the replacing faculty. Program Plans need to be entered into the GradPlan system in the second year of study. At that time Guidance Committee Membership is entered, so that the Program Plan can route electronically through the GradPlan system for approval.
Advisors are responsible for evaluating the progress of their advisees each spring, according to Graduate School policy. The program coordinator will send the appropriate evaluation materials to each student in the program. This evaluation provides an opportunity for students to communicate their accomplishments, to express concerns about their growth and development, and to discuss potential opportunities for teaching, research, and other professional activities that the advisor and student believe are important to pursue.
Policy on Academic Standards
The Michigan State University policy on academic standards and evaluation states:
A 3.00 cumulative grade-point average in the degree program is the minimum University standard, but colleges, departments, or schools may establish a higher minimum standard. However, attainment of the minimum grade-point average is in itself an insufficient indicator of potential for success in other aspects of the program and in the field. The guidance committee and academic unit are jointly responsible for evaluating the student's competency (as indicated by, e.g., grades in core and other courses, research performance, and development of professional skills) and rate of progress (as indicated by, e.g., the number of courses for which grades have been assigned or deferred). Written evaluations shall be communicated to the graduate student at least once a year, and a copy of such evaluations shall be placed in the graduate student's file. A student whose performance does not meet the standards of quality will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program, and appropriate action will be taken by the college, department, or school.
In accordance with this policy, the annual evaluation should be viewed as a positive occasion to foster student/advisor dialogue and to help students think through where they've been during the year, where they're going next, and what they need to get there. The process of student evaluation should permit considerable advisor latitude and professional judgment rather than require extensive rules and regulations. The minimum academic standards and resulting consequences are provided for the rare cases in which standards may not be met. In such cases, the policy is designed to assure equitable consequences for all students.
Students in the program are expected to be aware of and to conform to the professional standards adopted by the American Educational Research Association, as well as the organizations that serve specialty areas of education policy in which the student might participate. Violation of any of the AERA ethics is a serious matter that would be dealt with by referral to the Coordinator of the doctoral program, who would investigate the situation to present the case to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for action.
Academic Progress in Coursework
The following standard defines what constitutes acceptable academic progress in coursework for Ph.D. students in the Education Policy program and identifies consequences for students who fail to meet the standard. Students are held accountable for meeting the standard each semester and may be subject to action at the end of any semester in which the standard is not met.
All students are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 and to complete all deferred and incomplete grades in a timely manner. Only students failing to meet this standard will be designated as the focus of one of three levels of concern and may be subject to remedial actions noted in the following sections.
- Level 1 Concern: Any student receiving less than a 3.0 in any course or accumulating a total of two or more incomplete/deferred grades at any point will be required to discuss his/her situation with his/her advisor. It is expected that the faculty member in whose class the student received the unacceptable grade will have some involvement in this part of the evaluation process. In order to remove the designation of Level 1 Concern, the student must satisfactorily address the conditions which occasioned the designation. In some cases, the student may be required to develop a formal plan to address the problems.
- Level 2 Concern: Any student accumulating a total of two or more grades below 3.0 or three or more incomplete/deferred grades will be required to discuss his/her situation with his/her advisor and to have his/her case reviewed by the coordinator of the Ph.D. Program. In all cases, the student will be required to develop a formal plan to address his/her problems. In addition, in the semester following the next semester of study, the student will not be permitted to have a combined assistantship and course load exceeding 100 percent (e.g., 6 credits and 1/2 time assistantship, 9 credits and 1/4 time assistantship) until all incomplete grades have been cleared. For example, if a student receives the designation of Level 2 Concern at the end of the fall semester, this restriction will apply beginning in the subsequent summer semester.
- Level 3 Concern -- Academic Probation: If a student accumulates a total of three or more grades below 3.0, or if the student fails to clear incomplete grades in a timely manner, the student may be subject to dismissal. Such circumstances will require a formal review by a committee appointed by the program coordinator in consultation with the student and advisor, to determine the likelihood of a reversal of circumstance. During this review, the student will have the opportunity to meet with the coordinator, both with and without his/her advisor present.
According to university regulations, if a student's cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0, the student will be designated as being on academic probation. Any student so designated will be required to discuss his/her circumstances with his/her advisor and to develop a plan to address his/her academic problems. The university will remove the student from probation when his/her cumulative average rises to 3.0 or above. If the student's cumulative average does not rise to 3.0 or above within one year, he/she may be subject to dismissal. In such a case, a formal review will be required.
Academic Progress in Research
Since progress in research may be demonstrated through several different types of activity (e.g., assistantships, dissertation, individual efforts) in which not all students have similar experiences, for the purposes of annual evaluation, attention to this area is restricted to progress in dissertation research. For students in the post-comprehensive phase of their programs, students and advisors should discuss progress during the annual evaluation conference and, if necessary, generate appropriate means to further the student's progress. In rare cases when the student has not had a dissertation proposal approved within three years of passing the comprehensive examination, a formal warning will be issued by the program coordinator. Further action may be warranted if the student does not subsequently complete an acceptable dissertation proposal within an appropriate period of time.
Annual Evaluation Procedures
The annual evaluation process must be completed prior to April 30, each academic year. All Ph.D. students should complete an Annual Evaluation form, submit the form to their advisors, and make an appointment to discuss their evaluation. Students are required to enter all RCR training into the RTTS system and submit the report page to their advisor along with their annual review. Advisors should complete the advisor section of the Annual Review form prior to meeting with the student, and both student and advisor should sign both forms at the end of the evaluation conference. Both the signed Annual Review and RTTS report must be delivered to room 205 Erickson Hall by the deadline. Spring graduates must submit their RTTS report, but are not required to complete an Annual Review form. Fall and Summer graduates must submit both documents.
Annual progress reviews are the responsibility of the permanent faculty advisor, working with the guidance committee. The graduate student will provide his or her advisor with an annual progress report. The student should provide evidence of his or her accomplishments in the following areas: publication of papers, professional presentations, participation in funded grants, and assistantship and/or teaching assignments. The student should also discuss his or her progress in achieving academic goals and identify areas of difficulty. The faculty advisor and graduate student will meet to discuss the student's report, after which the advisor and the graduate student will sign the completed annual progress report, which will be placed into the graduate student's file. The annual evaluation by the advisor will usually be coordinated with the review of the student's progress by the guidance committee when it meets to approve the program plan and dissertation proposal. Recommendations based on this review will be communicated in writing to the student by their advisor within two weeks of the meeting and that report will be placed in the graduate student's file. Graduate students who wish to appeal any part of the faculty advisor's evaluation may do so in writing to the program coordinator. The permanent advisor or the graduate student may request a meeting of the guidance committee to address and attempt to resolve concerns raised by the evaluation of the annual review. A written report on such appeals will be filed together with the annual progress report in the student's file.
One copy of the form should be given to the student, and one copy should be placed in the advisor's file. The student will deliver a copy of the signed evaluation to the program coordinator. In the event that the student does not make an appointment with the advisor in a timely fashion, it is the advisor's responsibility to remind the student prior to the deadline.
In the rare cases when students do not meet the standard, the advisor will notify the coordinator of the program according to the following guidelines:
- Level 1 Concern: The advisor will notify the coordinator of the Ph.D. program in writing when the student's status has changed (i.e., when the Level 1 designation should be removed). A copy of the notification will be provided to the student.
- Level 2 Concern: The advisor will provide a written report to the coordinator describing the student's situation and his/her plan to address the problems. A copy of the report will be given to the student, which he/she may amend if desired.
- Level 3 Concern: The advisor will provide a written report to the coordinator of the Ph.D. program, with a copy to the student. When the form is received, the program coordinator will constitute a review committee in consultation with the student and advisor.
The dismissal of a student from the Education Policy Program is a significant event for both the student and the program faculty and represents the faculty's decision that the student has not demonstrated an adequate level of competency in either academic or in other critical areas of professional conduct. A dismissal action is generally the final outcome of several informal and formal communications with the student regarding his or her unsatisfactory progress through the program and, when appropriate, special efforts at helping the student meet program requirements and objectives. The final decision regarding whether or not a student should be dismissed from the program or under what conditions a student making unsatisfactory progress will be allowed to continue is a decision that rests with the Education Policy faculty.
Reasons for dismissal from program
At any point during the student's matriculation through the Education Policy Program, the faculty retains the right to review student circumstances or personal performances that may negatively affect the student's competencies for independent professional and scholarly work. Reasons for termination may be divided into two general categories: academic dismissals and disciplinary dismissals. These will be discussed separately.
Academic Dismissals: Failure to maintain academic standards may occur as the result of unsatisfactory grades in academic coursework, failure to make satisfactory progress in completing program requirements, and/or unsatisfactory performance on Comprehensive Examinations.
At a graduate level, a grade of 3.0 represents work that adequately meets course objectives. A grade of 2.5 or 2.0 represents work that is below expectations to an increasing degree but that still is sufficient to qualify for graduate credit. Such a grade is cause for concern, however, both because it represents weak mastery of the material and because students must achieve an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher in order to qualify for graduation.
It is also important to remember that the University establishes timelines for completion of courses and of degree programs. Eight years are allowed from the time that a student begins the first course on his or her doctoral degree program until completion of all requirements for graduation. Students are provided with grade reports at the end of each semester by the University, so they are always apprised of their academic standing. The accumulation of multiple Incomplete or Deferred grades is another significant basis of concern about progress.
Disciplinary Dismissals: The following are offered as examples of circumstances or performances that may be the basis for dismissal action: academic dishonesty; criminal misconduct; unethical practices and/or unprofessional conduct.
Due process rights of the student and faculty will be upheld by following the procedure outlined in the document, Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities.Dismissal Procedures
To protect student due process rights as well as the rights of faculty to uphold the academic and professional standards, the following steps will be taken as part of the proceedings that may eventuate in the student's dismissal from the Education Policy Program for disciplinary reasons:
- Student will be informed in writing by the program Coordinator (registered mail) of any charge, event, performance, or circumstance that may threaten the student's immediate status within the program. Such charges or complaints may emanate from members of the program faculty, from other University faculty or personnel, from other students, or from professionals and agents outside of the University community.
- As part of the above communication, the Coordinator may initially advise the student to seek an informal resolution of the charge or complaint with the accusing party and to inform the Coordinator of the outcome of this action within 30 days.
- If, however, informal methods of problem resolution are inappropriate or not satisfactory, the Program Coordinator will inform the student (in writing), the student's advisor and other interested parties that the student's status in the program may be in immediate jeopardy and that a formal meeting of the program faculty will be necessary to review the nature of the threat to the student's status and to arrive at a decision regarding dismissal. The program Coordinator may invite any persons judged to have relevant information to submit their information either in person at this meeting or in writing prior to the meeting. In advance of the meeting the student will be given copies of all written materials under consideration. The student and his/her counsel (as defined in Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities (GSRR 5.4.10) would be invited to attend this meeting and to present testimony. In addition, the student may invite other individuals who have relevant testimony to attend the meeting or to present written information. The student will provide the program Coordinator with a list of these individuals at least five days in advance of the scheduled meeting.
- Following the presentation of testimony and evidence, representatives of the program faculty will convene separately to deliberate and to arrive at a decision regarding the student's standing in the program. The decision may result in either (1) a dismissal of the charges or threats against the student and a restoration of the student's good standing in the program, (2) a judgment to allow the student to continue in the program pending satisfactory completion of or compliance with specified conditions, or (3) immediate dismissal of the student from the Education Policy Program.
Following completion of the program faculty's decision-making, the program Coordinator will inform the student and the student's faculty Advisor (in writing) of the faculty's decision and, if appropriate, clearly specify what if any conditions must be satisfied by the student to maintain his or her standing within the program. The student will also be advised that if he or she wishes to grieve the outcome of the faculty's decision, the grievance procedures specified in the GSRR should be followed.
The student, advisor/chair, and guidance committee share responsibility for planning a program of coursework that both provides the student appropriate academic knowledge and scholarly perspectives and skills, and satisfies the curricular requirements of the program. This plan should be agreed upon, signed, approved, and filed by the time the student has completed approximately one-half of the courses in his or her program.
The tentative plan, which the student and advisor/chair prepare, should be reviewed by the full committee, revised if appropriate, and then entered into GradPlan for approval. After all committee members approve the plan, it will move on electronically to the program coordinator, department chair, and assistant dean for approval. A plan is not official until all sign-offs are complete in the GradPlan system.
The plan should be organized and presented to conform to the requirements of the program:
Requirements - Effective Spring 2017
|1. Education Policy Core. All of the following courses:
|EAD944*||Social Context of Education||
|EAD947*||Comparative International Education Policy||
|EAD942*||Economic Analysis in Education Policy Making||
|EAD943*||Politics of Education||
|2. Educational Inquiry and Research. All of the following courses:
|EAD946A*||Regression Analysis for Education Policy||
|EAD946B||Econometric Analysis for Education Policy||
1 to 3
* Courses required in student's first year. Must be completed prior to taking part one of comprehensive exams in late summer following student's first year.
|3. Concentration in Education Policy
|Four additional courses designed to advance the concentration in policy studies and to achieve competence in an approved policy discipline (i.e., political science, economics, sociology, comparative studies, evaluation). One of the four courses must be EAD949 Advanced Seminar in Education Policy (this course will be a rotating topics course).||
|The student's guidance committee must approve the additional three policy concentration courses.||
|4. Education Policy Workshops
|In your first year (fall and spring) you will be required to attend monthly Ed Policy workshops.|
|EAD/TE/CEP999 (maximum of 30 allowed)||24|
When students submit a committee-approved program plan to the doctoral coordinator for signoff, they must attach a page to this university form containing the following additional information:
- a list of course numbers and titles (with specific topics included for generic course titles, such as 982, 990, and 991), organized under headings by program requirement, listed above.
- for courses already completed or in process, the name of the instructor and the grade received.
The program plan is always subject to future additions, deletions, or substitutions, as long as the revisions satisfy program requirements. The earliest course on the plan can be no more than eight years older than the oldest course on the plan; all courses, therefore, must be taken within an eight-year period of time. Students circulate proposed changes among all committee members for their consideration, using the GradPlan. Any change may be approved by a simple majority of the guidance committee, but all members must sign the change(s) form before forwarding it to the program coordinator.
As part of the college requirement in inquiry and research, every doctoral student must complete a research practicum (i.e., CEP/EAD/TE 995).
There are various ways of fulfilling the practicum requirement. In general, the practicum is to be a small research project, designed and completed by the student with the support of his/her practicum advisor and a "committee of scholars." The following section addresses many of the key questions that students may have regarding the research practicum requirement: (1) Why do you have a research practicum requirement, (2) What are essential features of a research practicum? (3) What constitutes a community of scholars? (4) What are some possibilities for your community of scholars? (5) Who must indicate final approval of my research practicum plans? Complete and submit the Research Practicum form.
1. Why do we have a research practicum requirement?
One of the major aspects of doctoral education is developing capabilities for maintaining a line of research of interest to you. Toward this end, there are three requirements that comprise the research requirements. First, there is the inquiry course (CEP930), an introduction into the purpose and nature of different types of inquiry. Second, there are research methods courses where students study a particular methodological approach (e.g., quantitative methods [CEP932 and CEP933], or qualitative methods [TE931, EAD955B] ). Third, there is the research practicum (i.e., CEP/EAD/TE 995), designed to provide students with an initial experience in conceptualizing, conducting, and evaluating a research study; or the opportunity to build upon previously initiated research.
2. What are essential features of a research practicum?
In December, 1990, the Graduate Education Policy Committee of the college approved a document outlining general guidelines for the College of Education research practicum requirement for all Ph.D. programs. Listed below are several features based on these guidelines that help to characterize and define the research practicum experience:
A. The practicum is designed as an early research experience that would involve you in identifying a question or issue of interest, designing and conducting the study, and analyzing and reporting the findings. The practicum should occur after completing the first two requirements in the research experience (i.e., the inquiry course, the methodology course), and preferably prior to comprehensive examinations.
B. It is assumed that participation in a practicum will provide you with a range of opportunities relevant to conducting education research: The research practicum will support you in learning to:
C. The research practicum should be developed and conducted within a community of scholars, a group of people (i.e., students and faculty) with whom you can share ideas, elicit feedback, provide support, and so forth. It is not designed to be an independent study in which you would work with a single faculty member without the support of additional members of a research community. If you are considering a seminar group that exists primarily for another purpose, ask yourself the following question, "Will this community of scholars be able to focus on my learning as a researcher?" The answer to this question will help guide your final decisions in identifying your community of scholars.
1. pose significant questions grounded in existing theory and inquiry,
2.select and use methods appropriate to the question and research context,
3. gather appropriate evidence,
4. subject the evidence to careful analysis,
5. reassess prior assumptions and conceptualizations in relation to evidence gathered and ongoing analysis,
6. respond to input and critiques from other scholars and provide advice and comments for others' research,
7. organize oral and written presentations, and
8. revise presentations in response to fair and open critiques.
D. The research practicum requirement is reflected on your program through 1-4 enrolled credits under a course number "995." It is likely that you will enroll in a 995 option during a single semester. Since this is part of your program, you may find it useful to discuss your plans for the research practicum with the individual members of your guidance committee.
3. What constitutes a community of scholars?
A community of scholars consists of a group of people (i.e., students and at least one faculty member) interested in discussing and helping each other to learn the practical application of research theory and methods, and with specific regard to the research practicum requirements where, ideally, at least two members of the community are fulfilling the research practicum requirement. There are several bases on which a group might form. Similar interests (e.g., questions, methodology, approach to analysis) is one reason a group might decide to work together. Alternatively, a group with diverse questions and research approaches could benefit from discussing the contrasts in their work. Groups who are interested in exploring cross-cutting themes (e.g., related to questions or methodology) could also be an appropriate context for supporting each others' learning. Because of the nature of a research practicum -- a context in which you are learning about the practical application of research theory and methods to further your own learning -- it is important for you to participate in a group that can provide that kind of support and focus.
4. What are some possibilities for your community of scholars?
Within the College of Education, options for fulfilling the research practicum involve different ways of meeting the goals above, to recognize that students may enroll in the practicum seminar at different stages in the development of a research study. For example, some students may enter the practicum seminar with collected data to analyze; some may enter needing to establish their research question; some may need a supportive community to consider ways to publicize their study, both orally and in writing. In other words, the practicum should provide a variety of supportive experiences because students will be at different phases of their research study. You should begin to explore available 995 opportunities before the semester when you plan to enroll, since the options will vary for a given semester.
The following are representative of appropriate 995 options:
A. Enrolling in a variable credit CEP/EAd/TE 995, with an identified faculty member, convened during a particular semester around a particular theme (e.g., common research methodology, common research site). If the student enrolls in a distinct CEP/EAD/TE 995 class it should be for three credits, to recognize the scale and value of the faculty supervisor’s contribution.
B. Enrolling in a variable (1-4) credit CEP/EAD/TE 995, with an identified faculty member, that is convened to run in parallel with an existing discourse community within the college (e.g., Education Policy Center Workshops, Math Study Group, Literacy Colloquy). You may approach a faculty member within the community to serve as your practicum supervisor, and the faculty member would then submit a brief plan to doctoral program coordinator, establishing that you will have a community of scholars to support you through your research practicum and that you will be able to meet the expectations for completing all phases of the project as listed above. The number of credits should reflect the amount of new work that a student would anticipate doing in order to fulfill the practicum requirement. For example, if a student had already developed questions and gathered data, and therefore would only be subjecting the analysis, interpretation, and presentation to the practicum group, the student might enroll for just one credit. Alternatively, if a student was starting essentially from scratch, with no data collected or analyzed, it would be appropriate to enroll for three credits.
C. Enrolling in an existing course, selected from those identified as having potential to fulfill the research practicum requirement. Relevant courses would be those that focus on issues related to the design and completion of a research study and which would provide students with a community of scholars with whom they could meet the goals outlined above.
D. Departments will staff specific 995 sections that will enroll a variety of students. Students may simply enroll in this section as a way of structuring their practicum experience.
E. Credits: You should sign up for a number of credits in 995 that properly reflects the amount of faculty effort involved in your practicum. If you sign up for the 995 course, you should treat it as a regular course and sign up for three credits.
5. Who must indicate final approval of my research practicum plans?
Your guidance committee must approve the research practicum plan, including: (1) the topic and (b) the overall plan for participating in a community of scholars. The supervising faculty member is responsible for assuring the student has the opportunity to fulfill the research practicum plan and for evaluating the students' performance in fulfilling all the requirements of the practicum experience. The program coordinator must approve all practicum proposals except for those completed as part of the regular 995 course.
The comprehensive examination is intended to encourage an integrative understanding of the knowledge base in the student's disciplinary area and to serve as documentation of student progress. The comprehensive examination provides an occasion that allows students to review and integrate a large fund of knowledge into a meaningful perspective. Within the Education Policy Program the comprehensive examination is specifically designed to examine the student's ability to integrate the body of knowledge and competencies critical to their future roles as education policy scholars and analysts.
The examination consists of two parts.
Part I is the program-level examination, which consists of two common extemporaneous questions designed to address issues relevant to the doctoral program as a whole and on which all students, regardless of their emphases or concentrations, should be conversant. It is based upon first-year common coursework. All students will be expected to take Part I of the examination in late August, following their first year in the program -- during which they should have completed the following courses: TE901, EAD942, EAD943, CEP932, CEP933, and ED928. Any student seeking an exception or deferral of this part of the exam must submit a formal request in writing to the program coordinator no later than the start of the summer semester following the first year of coursework. The faculty intends to offer this common part of the examination only once per year, in late August.
Part II consists of one individualized scholarly assignment designed to tap the students' knowledge in their specific field of expertise.
Part I of the examination takes place in late August, just prior to the beginning of the student’s second year. Students need to be enrolled for the upcoming fall semester in order to take the August Comprehensive Exam. It takes place on a single day: the student responds to one question during a three-hour session in the morning and another question during a three-hour session in the afternoon. Each Student responds on a computer and the answers are submitted electronically to the program coordinator at noon and again at 4:00 p.m. for distribution to the examination readers. Typically the readers will notify the coordinator of the results of the evaluation no later than 24 days after the examination day. The coordinator will communicate the results to the advisor and the student shortly thereafter. A student who is asked to revise his or her responses to Part I of the examination will be given specific feedback by the examination readers and a timeline for submitting the revision.
Part II of the examination takes place typically at the end of the second year or start of the third year. Students need to be enrolled for the semester of the exam. In order to take Part II, the student must have passed Part I, have a formal Guidance Committee in place, have filed the Program Plan, and have completed at least 75 percent of the coursework listed on the Plan. Students will ordinarily be expected to complete Part II within 14 days. Although Part II is a take-home exercise, and it might be useful to have conversations with colleagues about questions, students will submit work that is exclusively their own: students are not permitted to have others read, edit, or revise their responses. Typically, the response is a paper of about 20 pages double-spaced. Members of a student's guidance committee evaluate responses to Part II. Typically, students will receive their final evaluations within three weeks of submitting their responses. Students who need to retake or revise Part II will be informed of this by their advisor and negotiate what they need to do with members of their guidance committee.
In order to pass the comprehensive examination, students must pass both parts of the examination. If a student passes one part of the examination but fails the other part, the examination has not been passed. Students will be eligible to retake the part of the examination that they failed during the next semester, if their advisor agrees. If the student fails the examination two times, a plan of study and preparation must be developed in collaboration with the advisor and approved by the program coordinator before sitting for the examination a third and final time. A student who fails the examination on the third attempt will not be allowed to continue enrolling in the program. A copy of the comprehensive examination evaluation rubric is available online.
For various reasons, students may need to interrupt enrollment in the program. They may need to attend to other professional responsibilities temporarily, or they may have amassed the necessary course and dissertation credits and need to work on their theses away from campus. Interruptions of this sort are understandable, and as long as they do not seriously inhibit the completion of all degree requirements it is not necessary to delay readmission to the program. The college’s general position is that if a student has interrupted enrollment for one year or less, readmission to the program is automatic. If enrollment is interrupted for an entire academic year (3 consecutive semesters) an electronic Application for Readmission must be completed at the Registrar's website.
In any case, students are still responsible for meeting the university's timelines for completing degree requirements. All of the comprehensive examinations must be passed within five years and all remaining requirements for the degree must be completed within eight years from the time of a student's first enrollment in the program. Should the degree requirements not be completed within this eight-year period, all of the doctoral comprehensive examinations must be passed again. In extraordinary cases it is possible to petition to have the university's timelines extended in order to complete some phase of program work. Students needing extensions should work closely with their advisors in completing the Request for Extension of Time to Complete Degree Requirements form available from the Student Affairs Office. In order to gain an extension, the student and advisor must make a strong case that the student is making progress toward completion of the degree and enclose a detailed schedule that demonstrates the steps to be taken to reach completion.
The purpose of the dissertation is to learn how to carry out an ambitious scholarly project from beginning to end, with the support of an advisor and guidance committee. This is an opportunity for students to deepen their specialty areas, identifying important problems in the specialty area, learning about research related to that problem, and using understandings about methods to craft an inquiry that is original and meets high professional standards. The dissertation also demands excellent integrative writing skills, writing that portrays completely and honestly how the investigation was conceived, carried out, and strengthens understanding of significant issues in education policy. The program faculty expect most dissertations to result in published articles, monographs, or even a book, with the project providing an excellent launching point for additional research, should the student decide to pursue a research career.
After the student has passed the comprehensive examination, he or she draws upon prior and ongoing work to formulate a dissertation proposal. Students customarily work with their advisors and appropriate other faculty in drafting and revising their proposals before submitting a formal version to their dissertation committee for review and recommendations.
The guidance committee chairperson may also serve as the director of the dissertation. But this is not mandatory. Students should secure dissertation directors who will make the most beneficial contribution to the conceptualization and writing of the dissertation. Depending on the strengths and interests of their existing program guidance committee members, consequently, students may wish to ask additional faculty to serve on their dissertation committees, or to delete some members, or to change chairs, or retain the committee chair but have another regular faculty member direct the dissertation.
Depending on the substance and methodology, some dissertation projects will require human subjects clearance from the university. A student's advisor and the college representative to the University Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (UCRIHS) ordinarily help the student prepare and file the clearance application.
The committee will meet formally to discuss the proposal, ask questions of the student, and evaluate the proposed project in terms of its quality, originality, scope, and appropriateness. The committee will accept the proposal, ask for revisions, or, in rare cases, turn the proposal back to the student for considerable rethinking and rewriting (and another proposal meeting). Three committee members must be present for the proposal meeting to be valid. When they approve of the proposal, the committee members sign the Dissertation Director & Proposal Approval form and forward it to the program secretary who delivers it to the Graduate Records Office.
Before completing the dissertation, students must have registered for at least 24 dissertation credits (EAD/TE999), and no more than 30. If a student will exceed 30 dissertation credits, they must complete a Dissertation Credit Limit Waiver Form (found on the Graduate Student Forms page under "Forms for Ph.D. Students") and submit it to the program secretary who will route it for approval. Students who are enrolling in dissertation credits for the first time must select EAD999. All 24-30 dissertation credits must be taken in the same department.
Once the dissertation is complete, the student and committee schedule a final oral examination at a mutually acceptable time. Students should submit final versions of their dissertations to their committee members at least two weeks prior to the final oral examination date. Once the oral defense is scheduled, the student should prepare the Record of Dissertation and Oral Examination Requirements for Doctoral Degree Candidate form and take it to their defense for signatures. To ensure fairness in the examination procedure and maintenance of academic standards, the Dean of the College or the Coordinator may appoint an outside member to the examining committee. The outside member of the committee will read and critique the dissertation, will participate in the oral part of the exam, and will submit a report to the Dean and the Coordinator.
A student must be enrolled during the semester they orally defend their dissertation. The University Calendar and Graduate School Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Important Dates websites specify a series of dates each semester that should be consulted when scheduling the examination, completing revisions, and submitting the final copies of the dissertation.
After the dissertation has been successfully defended, the student must secure the signatures of all committee members on the Record of Dissertation and Oral Examination Requirements for Doctoral Degree Candidate form linked above. Not every member of the committee has to attend a defense. Sometimes a member on sabbatical, for example, will participate by speakerphone. Even if one member is unable to participate in person or by phone, the defense can still take place, as long as that committee member has given comments and a vote to the chair in advance. In this case, the chair can sign for that committee member in absentia or e-mail the program secretary or dissertation director giving them permission to sign the form on their behalf. A committee member who wishes to dissent from the majority decision on the dissertation's oral defense must submit a statement explaining his or her reasons to the dean of the college.
After the final revisions are complete, the student should follow university guidelines regarding the production of the dissertation. The Graduate School provides forms and guidelines pertinent to producing the dissertation, copywriting the thesis, submitting the product to ProQuest, and other technical matters. The ProQuest submission process must begin at least one week prior to the Graduate School submission deadline to allow time for reformatting.
If a student has supplementary materials they wish to submit to ProQuest, they must be acceptable by ProQuest and comply with ProQuest's criteria and storage limits. All supplementary materials need the written approval of the dissertation director. The MSU library may accept supplementary materials approved by the dissertation director per the collection criteria. Please direct questions about submission of these materials to the Assistant Director for Digital Information.
University Committee for Research Involving Human Subjects
For full information on University Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (UCRIHS), please go to the website for UCRIHS.
The address for UCRIHS:
Michigan State University
University Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (UCRIHS)
202 Olds Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 355-2180
Fax: (517) 432-4503
What is UCRIHS?
UCRIHS is an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Federal and University regulations require that all research projects involving human subjects be reviewed and approved by an IRB before initiation. Under the regulations, research is defined as a formal investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. A human subject of research is an individual (1) from whom an investigator obtains data by interaction or intervention, or (2) about whom the researcher obtains confidential information.
All research involving human subjects or human materials must have prior approval by UCRIHS. This includes investigations conducted by faculty, students, staff or others on the premises of Michigan State University as well as investigations conducted elsewhere by any representative of Michigan State University in connection with that individual's institutional responsibilities, unless the investigation is conducted under a cooperative research agreement as per 45 CFR 46.114. The type of UCRIHS review required (exempt, expedited, or full board) depends upon the classification of the research proposal as to the levels of risk to subjects.
How the UCRIHS Review Process Works:
The review process begins when an investigator submits a complete on-line application to the UCRIHS office. UCRIHS assigns the application an IRB log number. Depending upon the level of risk to subjects in the protocol, UCRIHS assigns the protocol to one of three review categories (exempt from full review, expedited review, full review) and sends it to one, two or five reviewers, respectively. If the reviewer (or reviewers) is satisfied that the rights and welfare of the human subjects are adequately protected, he or she approves it. However, if the reviewer has concerns, the reviewer returns written comments to the UCRIHS office for transmission to the investigator. The investigator must then send a response to each comment, on line to UCRIHS, which will forward it to the reviewer(s). If the proposal is either an exempt or expedited proposal, an approval letter can be issued as soon as the reviewer (or reviewers) approves. When a proposal receives a full (five-member subcommittee) review, an approval letter is issued after the proposal is discussed and approved by vote of the full committee at its monthly meeting.
There is a tutorial available online. Students must complete the tutorial in order to submit UCRIHS material for institutional approval.
All faculty members advising students in research are expected to communicate with their students the importance of being in complete compliance with UCHRIS (University Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (UCRIHS) and to read in detail the most recent instructions from UCRIHS. All faculty teaching graduate students in courses also are to emphasize complete compliance with UCRHIS principles and policies. Faculty teaching courses are also urged to determine when and how UCRHIS principles can be covered in graduate courses.
Any research that is conducted by a graduate student in Education Policy that is not in compliance with UCRIHS regulations cannot be used to fulfill course or degree requirements. Should a student conduct research that is not in compliance with UCRIHS, at a minimum, the work will have to be repeated with no adjustment for time lost in carrying out the research that was not in compliance. Faculty members consider UCRIHS compliance to be very important. A very serious violation of UCRIHS standards by a student, or repeated violations, would result in a referral to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, who will refer the case to a college-level hearing board, as specified in University policy. Serious and/or repeated violations of UCRIHS policies could result in sanctions up to and including dismissal from the graduate program.
Upon entering the program, students should go to the UCHRIS web site and read about the important committee. They should take the UCRIHS training, which requires about a half hour, before involvement in any research that might conceivably involve human subjects.
It is critical to remember that absolutely no research data can be collected until a project is in complete compliance with UCRIHS and collecting data before receiving such approval is a serious ethical breach. Once a student files with UCRIHS, if the student receives any feedback that they do not understand, they should immediately consult with a member of the Education Policy faculty or the UCRIHS staff for guidance as to how to proceed. Again, for emphasis, absolutely no data can be collected with our UCHRIHS approval. If any such data is collected it cannot be used for any degree purpose.
After the oral examination of the dissertation has been passed, the committee chairperson completes final certification forms, which are sent by the Graduate Records office, 205 Erickson. These forms certify that the student has completed all courses listed on the program plan; has enrolled for at least 24 dissertation credits; has fulfilled the residency requirement; has completed a dissertation, and has passed an oral examination based primarily on the dissertation; has completed all requirements within eight (8) years of admission to the doctoral program (or has appropriate extensions on file); and has a grade point average of no less than 3.0 in graduate courses taken at MSU.
In order to have their degree conferred, a student should review their program plan in GradPlan to be sure that what is on file matches the agreed upon courses, have completed comprehensive exams (both parts) no more than five years prior to graduation, have the correct committee members and chair(s) entered in GradPlan, entered their IRB number (if they used human subjects) in GradPlan, applied for graduation on the Registrar's Office website, and entered their dissertation title in GradPlan. It is also important to review the degree information listed in GradPlan to be sure that all degrees previously awarded have award dates, if not, a transcript from that institution showing the degree conferred date may be necessary. Check with the program secretary if an award date is missing. If you are also admitted to a Graduate Certificate or Graduate Specialization program, you must consult the program's website and submit a completion review form. Specializations will appear in the program code list on the Registrar's site when applying to graduate. Be sure to also apply to graduate from the specialization, if you've completed the requirements. Beginning in the Fall of 2016, degrees will be conferred exclusively through GradPlan (GradAudit).
Grievance Procedures for Graduate Students
At some point during one's graduate program at MSU, a student may wish to register concerns, complaints, or grievances with the administration of the Program, Departments offering courses, the College, or the University. Whenever possible, we would hope to handle these concerns in an informal and timely manner. As soon as a question or concern is raised, the student should contact the program Coordinator and/or the Chair of the department offering the problematic course. Depending on the nature of the concern, the matter may be resolved through informal negotiation and contact with the involved parties. However, if the concern or complaint is of a more serious nature and the student is not satisfied with the resolution determined via these informal discussions and actions, the student may need to file a formal complaint with the program or department.
The Education Policy program adheres to the procedures established for the College of Education, found at the following site: http://www.educ.msu.edu/college/resources/Graduate-Student-Hearing-Procedures-Departments.pdf
Guidelines for Integrity in Research and Creative Activities
The conduct of research and creative activities by faculty, staff, and students is central to the mission of Michigan State University and is an institutional priority. Faculty, staff, and students work in a rich and competitive environment for the common purpose of learning, creating new knowledge, and disseminating information and ideas for the benefit of their peers and the general public. The stature and reputation of MSU as a research university are based on the commitment of its faculty, staff, and students to excellence in scholarly and creative activities and to the highest standards of professional integrity. As a partner in scholarly endeavors, MSU is committed to creating an environment that promotes ethical conduct and integrity in research and creative activities.
Innovative ideas and advances in research and creative activities have the potential to generate professional and public recognition and, in some instances, commercial interest and financial gain. In rare cases, such benefits may become motivating factors to violate professional ethics. Pressures to publish, to obtain research grants, or to complete academic requirements may also lead to an erosion of professional integrity.
Breaches in professional ethics range from questionable research practices to misconduct. The primary responsibility for adhering to professional standards lies with the individual scholar. It is, however, also the responsibility of advisors and of the disciplinary community at large. Passive acceptance of improper practices lowers inhibitions to violate professional ethics.
Integrity in research and creative activities is based not only on sound disciplinary practice but also on a commitment to basic personal values such as fairness, equity, honesty, and respect. These guidelines are intended to promote high professional standards by everyone: faculty, staff, and students alike.
Integrity in research and creative activities embodies a range of practices that includes:
- Honesty in proposing, performing, and reporting research;
- Recognition of prior work;
- Confidentiality in peer review;
- Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest;
- Compliance with institutional and sponsor requirements;
- Protection of human subjects and humane care of animals in the conduct of research;
- Collegiality in scholarly interactions and sharing of resources;
- Adherence to fair and open relationships between senior scholars and their coworkers.
Honesty in proposing, performing, and reporting research
The foundation underlying all research is uncompromising honesty in presenting one's own ideas in research proposals, in performing one's research, and in reporting one's data. Detailed and accurate records of primary data must be kept as unalterable documentation of one's research and must be available for scrutiny and critique. It is expected that researchers will always be truthful and explicit in disclosing what was done, how it was done, and what results were obtained. To this end, research aims, methods, and outcomes must be described in sufficient detail such that others can judge the quality of what is reported and can reproduce the data. Results from valid observations and tests that run counter to expectations must be reported along with supportive data.
Recognition of prior work. Research proposals, original research, and creative endeavors often build on one's own work and also on the work of others. Both published and unpublished work must always be properly credited. Reporting the work of others as if it were one's own is plagiarism. Graduate advisors and members of guidance committees have a unique role in guiding the independent research and creative activities of students. Information learned through private discussions or committee meetings should be respected as proprietary and accorded the same protection granted to information obtained in any peer-review process.
Confidentiality in peer review. Critical and impartial review by respected disciplinary peers is the foundation for important decisions in the evaluation of internal and external funding requests, allocation of resources, publication of research results, granting of awards, and in other scholarly decisions. The peer-review process involves the sharing of information for scholarly assessment on behalf of the larger disciplinary community. The integrity of this process depends on confidentiality until the information is released to the public. Therefore, the contents of research proposals, of manuscripts submitted for publication, and of other scholarly documents under review should be considered privileged information not to be shared with others, including students and staff, without explicit permission by the authority requesting the review. Ideas and results learned through the peer-review process should not be made use of prior to their presentation in a public forum or their release through publication.
Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. There is real or perceived conflict of interest when a researcher has material or personal interest that could compromise the integrity of the scholarship. It is, therefore, imperative that potential conflicts of interest be considered and acted upon appropriately by the researcher. Some federal sponsors require the University to implement formal conflict of interest policies. It is the responsibility of all researchers to be aware of and comply with such requirements.
Compliance with institutional and sponsor requirements. Investigators are granted broad freedoms in making decisions concerning their research. These decisions are, however, still guided, and in some cases limited, by the laws, regulations, and procedures that have been established by the University and sponsors of research to protect the integrity of the research process and the uses of the information developed for the common good. Although the legal agreement underlying the funding of a sponsored project is a matter between the sponsor and the University, the primary responsibility for management of a sponsored project rests with the principal investigator and his or her academic unit.
Protection of human subjects and humane care of animals in the conduct of research. Research techniques should not violate established professional ethics or federal and state requirements pertaining to the health, safety, privacy, and protection of human beings, or to the welfare of animal subjects. Whereas it is the responsibility of faculty to assist students and staff in complying with such requirements, it is the responsibility of all researchers to be aware of and to comply with such requirements.
Collegiality in scholarly interactions and sharing of resources. Collegiality in scholarly interactions, including open communications and sharing of resources, facilitates progress in research and creative activities for the good of the community. At the same time, it has to be understood that scholars who first report important findings are both recognized for their discovery and afforded intellectual property rights that permit discretion in the use and sharing of their discoveries and inventions. Balancing openness and protecting the intellectual property rights of individuals and the institution will always be a challenge for the community. Once the results of research or creative activities have been published or otherwise communicated to the public, scholars are expected to share materials and information on methodologies with their colleagues according to the tradition of their discipline.
Faculty advisors have a particular responsibility to respect and protect the intellectual property rights of their advisees. A clear understanding must be reached during the course of the project on who will be entitled to continue what part of the overall research program after the advisee leaves for an independent position. Faculty advisors should also strive to protect junior scholars from abuses by others who have gained knowledge of the junior scholar's results during the mentoring process, for example, as members of guidance committees.
Adherence to fair and open relationships between senior scholars and their coworkers. The relationship between senior scholars and their coworkers should be based on mutual respect, trust, honesty, fairness in the assignment of effort and credit, open communications, and accountability. The principles that will be used to establish authorship and ordering of authors on presentations of results must be communicated early and clearly to all coworkers. These principles should be determined objectively according to the standards of the discipline, with the understanding that such standards may not be the same as those used to assign credit for contributions to intellectual property. It is the responsibility of the faculty to protect the freedom to publish results of research and creative activities. The University has affirmed the right of its scholars for first publication except for "exigencies of national defense." It is also the responsibility of the faculty to recognize and balance their dual roles as investigators and advisors in interacting with graduate students of their group, especially when a student's efforts do not contribute directly to the completion of his or her degree requirements.
Misconduct in Research and Creative Activities
Federal and University policies define misconduct to include fabrication (making up data and recording or reporting them), falsification (manipulating research materials, equipment or processes, or changing or omitting data such that the research is not accurately represented in the record), and plagiarism (appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit). Serious or continuing non-compliance with government regulations pertaining to research may constitute misconduct as well. University policy also defines retaliation against whistle blowers as misconduct. Misconduct does not include honest errors or honest differences of opinion in the interpretation or judgment of data.
The University views misconduct to be the most egregious violation of standards of integrity and as grounds for disciplinary action, including the termination of employment of faculty and staff, dismissal of students, and revocation of degrees. It is the responsibility of faculty, staff, and students alike to understand the University's policy on misconduct in research and creative activities, to report perceived acts of misconduct of which they have direct knowledge to the University Intellectual Integrity Officer, and to protect the rights and privacy of individuals making such reports in good faith.
Graduate students are expected to behave in a professional manner. Discussions of professional expectations including academic honesty, plagiarism, MSU policies can be found at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Education Policy student are expected to consult the following resources and abide by all guidelines in the documents.
MSU policy related to the use of humans for research via the University Committee for Research Involving Human Subjects
The American Psychological Association's Publication Manual, which includes guidelines on plagiarism
The Office of the Ombudsman's guidelines on plagiarism
All University Policy on Scholarship and Grades, including guidelines on plagiarism
"Guidelines on Authorship," Endorsed by the University Research Council, January 15, 1998
"Research Data: Management, Control, and Access Guidelines," Endorsed by the University Research Council, February 7, 2001.
MSU Faculty Handbook, Chapter VI, "Research and Creative Endeavor-Procedures Concerning Allegations of Misconduct in Research and Creative Activities."
Teaching assistants are briefed during their orientation to graduate study about their rights and responsibilities under the MSU-GEU contract.
Education researchers come from many disciplines, embrace several competing theoretical frameworks, and use a variety of research methodologies. AERA recognizes that its members are already guided by codes in the various disciplines and, also, by organizations such as Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). AERA's code of ethics incorporates a set of standards designed specifically to guide the work of researchers in education. Education, by its very nature, is aimed at the improvement of individual lives and societies. Further, research in education is often directed at children and other vulnerable populations. A main objective of this code is to remind us, as education researchers, that we should strive to protect these populations, and to maintain the integrity of our research, of our research community, and of all those with whom we have professional relations. We should pledge ourselves to do this by maintaining our own competence and that of people we induct into the field, by continually evaluating our research for its ethical and scientific adequacy, and by conducting our internal and external relations according to the highest ethical standards.
The standards that follow remind us that we are involved not only in research but in education. It is, therefore, essential that we continually reflect on our research to be sure that it is not only sound scientifically but that it makes a positive contribution to the education enterprise.
Guiding Standards: Responsibilities to the Field
Preamble To maintain the integrity of research, education researchers should warrant their research conclusions adequately in a way consistent with the standards of their own theoretical and methodological perspectives. They should keep themselves well informed in both their own and competing paradigms where those are relevant to their research, and they should continually evaluate the criteria of adequacy by which research is judged.
Education researchers should conduct their professional lives in such a way that they do not jeopardize future research, the public standing of the field, or the discipline's research results.
Education researchers must not fabricate, falsify, or misrepresent authorship, evidence, data, findings, or conclusions.
Education researchers must not knowingly or negligently use their professional roles for fraudulent purposes.
Education researchers should honestly and fully disclose their qualifications and limitations when providing professional opinions to the public, to government agencies, and others who may avail themselves of the expertise possessed by members of AERA.
Education researchers should attempt to report their findings to all relevant stakeholders, and should refrain from keeping secret or selectively communicating their findings.
Education researchers should report research conceptions, procedures, results, and analyses accurately and sufficiently in detail to allow knowledgeable, trained researchers to understand and interpret them.
Education researchers' reports to the public should be written straightforwardly to communicate the practical significance for policy, including limits in effectiveness and in generalizability to situations, problems, and contexts. In writing for or communicating with non-researchers, educational researchers must take care not to misrepresent the practical or policy implications of their research or the research of others.
When education researchers participate in actions related to hiring, retention, and advancement, they should not discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, physical disabilities, marital status, color, social class, religion, ethnic background, national origin, or other attributes not relevant to the evaluation of academic or research competence.
Education researchers have a responsibility to make candid, forthright personnel recommendations and not to recommend those who are manifestly unfit.
Education researchers should decline requests to review the work of others where strong conflicts of interest are involved, or when such requests cannot be conscientiously fulfilled on time. Materials sent for review should be read in their entirety and considered carefully, with evaluative comments justified with explicit reasons.
Education researchers should avoid all forms of harassment, not merely those overt actions or threats that are due cause for legal action. They must not use their professional positions or rank to coerce personal or sexual favors or economic or professional advantages from students, research assistants, clerical staff, colleagues, or any others.
Education researchers should not be penalized for reporting in good faith violations of these or other professional standards.
Guiding Standards: Research Populations, Educational Institutions, and the Public
Preamble Education researchers conduct research within a broad array of settings and institutions, including schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and prisons. It is of paramount importance that educational researchers respect the rights, privacy, dignity, and sensitivities of their research populations and also the integrity of the institutions within which the research occurs. Educational researchers should be especially careful in working with children and other vulnerable populations. These standards are intended to reinforce and strengthen already existing standards enforced by Institutional Review Boards and other professional associations. Standards intended to protect the rights of human subjects should not be interpreted to prohibit teacher research, action research, and/or other forms of practitioner inquiry so long as: the data are those that could be derived from normal teaching/learning processes; confidentiality is maintained; the safety and welfare of participants are protected; informed consent is obtained when appropriate; and the use of the information obtained is primarily intended for the benefit of those receiving instruction in that setting.
Participants, or their guardians, in a research study have the right to be informed about the likely risks involved in the research and of potential consequences for participants, and to give their informed consent before participating in research. Educational researchers should communicate the aims of the investigation as well as possible to informants and participants (and their guardians), and appropriate representatives of institutions, and keep them updated about any significant changes in the research program.
Informants and participants normally have a right to confidentiality, which ensures that the source of information will not be disclosed without the express permission of the informant. This right should be respected when no clear understanding to the contrary has been reached. Researchers are responsible for taking appropriate cautions to protect the confidentiality of both participants and data to the full extent provided by law. Participants in research should be made aware of the limits on the protections that can be provided, and of the efforts toward protection that will be made even in situations where absolute confidentiality cannot be assured. It should be made clear to informants and participants that despite every effort made to preserve it, confidentiality may be compromised. Secondary researchers should respect and maintain the confidentiality established by primary researchers. In some cases, e.g., survey research, it may be appropriate for researchers to ensure participants of anonymity, i.e., that their identify is not known even to the researcher. Anonymity should not be promised to participants when only confidentiality is intended.
Honesty should characterize the relationship between researchers and participants and appropriate institutional representatives. Deception is discouraged; it should be used only when clearly necessary for scientific studies, and should then be minimized. After the study, the researcher should explain to the participants and institutional representatives the reasons for the deception.
Educational researchers should be sensitive to any locally established institutional policies or guidelines for conducting research.
Participants have the right to withdraw from the study at any time, unless otherwise constrained by their official capacities or roles.
Educational researchers should exercise caution to ensure that there is no exploitation for personal gain of research populations or of institutional settings of research. Educational researchers should not use their influence over subordinates, students, or others to compel them to participate in research.
Researchers have a responsibility to be mindful of cultural, religious, gender, and other significant differences within the research population in the planning, conduct, and reporting of their research.
Researchers should carefully consider and minimize the use of research techniques that might have negative social consequences, for example, experimental interventions that might deprive students of important parts of the standard curriculum.
Educational researchers should be sensitive to the integrity of ongoing institutional activities and alert appropriate institutional representatives of possible disturbances in such activities, which may result from the conduct of the research.
Educational researchers should communicate their findings and the practical significance of their research in clear, straightforward, and appropriate language to relevant research populations, institutional representatives, and other stakeholders.
Informants and participants have a right to remain anonymous. This right should be respected when no clear understanding to the contrary has been reached. Researchers are responsible for taking appropriate precautions to protect the confidentiality of both participants and data. Those being studied should be made aware of the capacities of the various data-gathering technologies to be used in the investigation so that they can make an informed decision about their participation. It should also be made clear to informants and participants that despite every effort made to preserve it, anonymity may be compromised. Secondary researchers should respect and maintain the anonymity established by primary researchers.
Guiding Standards: Intellectual Ownership
Preamble Intellectual ownership is predominantly a function of creative contribution. Intellectual ownership is not predominantly a function of effort expended.
Authorship should be determined based on the following guidelines, which are not intended to stifle collaboration, but rather to clarify the credit appropriately due for various contributions to research.
a. All those, regardless of status, who have made substantive creative contribution to the generation of an intellectual product are entitled to be listed as authors of that product.
b. First authorship and order of authorship should be the consequence of relative creative leadership and creative contribution. Examples of creative contributions are: writing first drafts or substantial portions; significant rewriting or substantive editing; and contributing generative ideas or basic conceptual schemes or analytic categories, collecting data which require significant interpretation or judgment, and interpreting data.
c. Clerical or mechanical contributions to an intellectual product are not grounds for ascribing authorship. Examples of such technical contributions are: typing, routine data collection or analysis, routine editing, and participation in staff meetings.
d. Authorship and first authorship are not warranted by legal or contractual responsibility for or authority over the project or process that generates an intellectual product. It is improper to enter into contractual arrangements that preclude the proper assignment of authorship.
e. Anyone listed as author must have given his/her consent to be so listed.
f. The work of those who have contributed to the production of an intellectual product in ways short of these requirements for authorship should be appropriately acknowledged within the product.
g. Acknowledgement of other work significantly relied on in the development of an intellectual product is required. However, so long as such work is not plagiarized or otherwise inappropriately used, such reliance is not ground for authorship or ownership.
h. It is improper to use positions of authority to appropriate the work of others or claim credit for it. In hierarchical relationships, educational researchers should take care to ensure that those in subordinate positions receive fair and appropriate authorship credit.
i. Theses and dissertations are special cases in which authorship is not determined strictly by the criteria elaborated in these standards. Authorship in the publication of work arising from theses and dissertations is determined by creative intellectual contributions as in other cases.
j. Authors should disclose the publication history of articles they submit for publication; that is, if the present article is substantially similar in content and form to one previously published, that fact should be noted and the place of publication cited.
While under suitable circumstances, ideas and other intellectual products may be viewed as commodities, arrangements concerning the production or distribution of ideas or other intellectual products must be consistent with academic freedom and the appropriate availability of intellectual products to scholars, students, and the public. Moreover, when a conflict between the academic and scholarly purposes of intellectual production and profit from such production arise, preference should be given to the academic and scholarly purposes.
Ownership of intellectual products should be based upon the following guidelines:
a. Individuals are entitled to profit from the sale or disposition of those intellectual products they create. They may therefore enter into contracts or other arrangements for the publication or disposition of intellectual products, and profit financially from these arrangements.
b. Arrangements for the publication or disposition of intellectual products should be consistent with their appropriate public availability and with academic freedom. Such arrangements should emphasize the academic functions of publication over the maximization of profit.
c. Individuals or groups who fund or otherwise provide resources for the development of intellectual products are entitled to assert claims to a fair share of the royalties or other profits from the sale or disposition of those products. As such claims are likely to be contentious, funding institutions and authors should agree on policies for the disposition of profits at the outset of the research or development project.
d. Authors should not use positions of authority over other individuals to compel them to purchase an intellectual product from which the authors benefit. This standard is not meant to prohibit use of an author's own textbook in a class, but copies should be made available on library reserve so that students are not forced to purchase it.
Guiding Standards: Editing, Reviewing, and Appraising Research
Preamble Editors and reviewers have a responsibility to recognize a wide variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives and, at the same time, to ensure that manuscripts meet the highest standards as defined in the various perspectives.
1. AERA journals should handle refereed articles in a manner consistent with the following principles:
a. Fairness requires a review process that evaluates submitted works solely on the basis of merit. Merit shall be understood to include both the competence with which the argument is conducted and the significance of the results achieved.
b. Although each AERA journal may concentrate on a particular field or type of research, the set of journals as a whole should be open to all disciplines and perspectives currently represented in the membership and which support a tradition of responsible educational scholarship. This Standard is not incompatible with giving serious consideration to innovative work and should not be used to discourage perspectives not yet fully established in traditional scholarship.
c. Blind review, with multiple readers, should be used for each submission, except where explicitly waived. (See #3.)
d. Judgments of the adequacy of an inquiry should be made by reviewers who are competent to read the work submitted to them. Editors should strive to select reviewers who are familiar with the research paradigm and who are not so unsympathetic as to preclude a disinterested judgment of the merit of the inquiry.
e. Editors should insist that even unfavorable reviews be dispassionate and constructive. Authors have the right to know the grounds for rejection of their work.
2. AERA journals should have written, published policies for refereeing articles.
3. AERA journals should have a written, published policy stating when solicited and non-refereed publications are permissible.
4. AERA journals should publish statements indicating any special emphases expected to characterize articles submitted for review.
5. In addition to enforcing standing strictures against sexist and racist language, editors should reject articles that contain ad hominen attacks on individuals or groups or insist that such language or attacks be removed prior to publication.
6. AERA journals and AERA members who serve as editors of journals should require authors to disclose the full publication history of material substantially similar in content and form to that submitted to their journals.
Guiding Standards: Sponsors, Policymakers, and Other Users of Research
Preamble Researchers, research institutions, and sponsors of research jointly share responsibility for the ethical integrity of research, and should ensure that this integrity is not violated. While it is recognized that these parties may sometimes have conflicting legitimate aims, all those with responsibility for research should protect against compromising the standards of research, the community of researchers, the subjects of research, and the users of research. They should support the widest possible dissemination and publication of research results. AERA should promote, as nearly as it can, conditions conducive to the preservation of research integrity.
1. The data and results of a research study belong to the researchers who designed and conducted the study, unless specific contractual arrangements have been made with respect to either or both the data and results, except as noted in II B.4. (participants may withdraw at any stage.)
2. Educational researchers are free to interpret and publish their findings without censorship or approval from individuals or organizations, including sponsors, funding agencies, participants, colleagues, supervisors, or administrators. This understanding should be conveyed to participants as part of the responsibility to secure informed consent.
3. Researchers conducting sponsored research retain the right to publish the findings under their own names.
4. Educational researchers should not agree to conduct research that conflicts with academic freedom, nor should they agree to undue or questionable influence by government or other funding agencies. Examples of such improper influence include endeavors to interfere with the conduct of research, the analysis of findings, or the reporting of interpretations. Researchers should report to AERA attempts by sponsors or funding agencies to use any questionable influence.
5. Educational researchers should fully disclose the aims and sponsorship of their research, except where such disclosure would violate the usual tenets of confidentiality and anonymity. Sponsors or funders have the right to have disclaimers included in research reports to differentiate their sponsorship from the conclusions of the research.
6. Educational researchers should not accept funds from sponsoring agencies that request multiple renderings of reports that would distort the results or mislead readers.
7. Educational researchers should fulfill their responsibilities to agencies funding research, which are entitled to an accounting of the use of their funds, and to a report of the procedures, findings, and implications of the funded research.
8. Educational researchers should make clear the bases and rationales, and the limits thereof, of their professionally rendered judgments in consultation with the public, government, or other institutions. When there are contrasting professional opinions to the one being offered, this should be made clear.
9. Educational researchers should disclose to appropriate parties all cases where they would stand to benefit financially from their research or cases where their affiliations might tend to bias their interpretation of their research or their professional judgments.
Guiding Standards: Students and Student Researchers
Preamble Educational researchers have a responsibility to ensure the competence of those inducted into the field and to provide appropriate help and professional advice to novice researchers.
1. In relations with students and student researchers, educational researchers should be candid, fair, non-exploitative, and committed to their welfare and progress. They should conscientiously supervise, encourage, and support students and student researchers in their academic endeavors, and should appropriately assist them in securing research support or professional employment.
2. Students and student researchers should be selected based upon their competence and potential contributions to the field. Educational researchers should not discriminate among students and student researchers on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, marital status, color, social class, religion, ethnic background, national origin, or other irrelevant factors.
3. Educational researchers should inform students and student researchers concerning the ethical dimensions of research, encourage their practice of research consistent with ethical standards, and support their avoidance of questionable projects.
4. Educational researchers should realistically apprise students and student researchers with regard to career opportunities and implications associated with their participation in particular research projects or degree programs. Educational researchers should ensure that research assistantships be educative.
5. Educational researchers should be fair in the evaluation of research performance, and should communicate that evaluation fully and honestly to the student or student researcher. Researchers have an obligation to report honestly on the competence of assistants to other professionals who require such evaluations.
6. Educational researchers should not permit personal animosities or intellectual differences vis-à-vis colleagues to foreclose student and student researcher access to those colleagues, or to place the student or student researcher in an untenable position with those colleagues. The Ethical Standards of the American Educational Research Association were developed and, in June 1992, adopted by AERA to be an educational document, to stimulate collegial debate, and to evoke voluntary compliance by moral persuasion. The Ethical Standards were revised in 1996 and in 2000. Accordingly, it is not the intention of the Association to monitor adherence to the Standards or to investigate allegations of violations to the Code.
American Educational Research Association
1230 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 223-9485 Fax: (202) 775-1824
The program maintains records documenting each student's progress through the doctoral program. These records, which are stored centrally in the Coordinator's area, include the program plan, guidance committee form, comprehensive examination completion form, dissertation paperwork, annual review documents, portions of the original application to the program, and other materials that are deemed necessary. Additionally, to facilitate student advising, advisors may keep in their offices separate files containing such items as their advisees' grade transcripts, comps responses, and dissertation drafts. All student records are kept in secure filing cabinets or private offices to protect students' privacy and confidentiality; only program faculty and staff will have access to this material.
Students may request to examine their own files; this request should be directed to the student's advisor or the Program Coordinator. The only material that will be withheld is that which the student has clearly waived his or her right to examine, e.g., confidential reference letters. (Other than the latter, files generally include records of which students already possess copies). Once students graduate, the program maintains a permanent file.
Steps to Degree Completion: Program Timeline
|Temporary faculty advisor assigned||Assigned at admissions; incoming student's research interests matched to faculty member's interests||Admissions letter from Education Policy office|
|Complete or secure waiver for first-year required coursework||TE901, EAD942, EAD943, CEP932, CEP933, ED928.|
|Complete Annual Review||Before April 30th of each year.||Annual Progress Report|
|Complete Part I of the Comprehensive Examination||Late August, just prior to beginning of second year.||Comprehensive Examination Evaluation Rubric|
|Complete Reserach Practicum||The completion of CEP/EAD/TE 995 is the final course in the research course series. To be taken/completed after CEP930, CEP932 and your 3rd research course.||Research Practicum|
|Select a permanent advisor||End of 1st year / Beginning of 2nd year of study: Student requests a regular faculty member (in the tenure stream) to become his or her permanent advisor and the chair of his or her guidance (program) committee; this request is based upon mutual interests and commitments. May retain temporary advisor as permanent advisor.||Change of advisor form|
|Form a guidance committee||During 2nd year of study: Student selects appropriate faculty members to comprise his or her guidance (program) committee, with the assistance of his or her advisor.||Guidance Committee Membership form|
|Change in guidance committee members||When necessary, complete form when changing members of the guidance committee.||Changes in Guidance Committee Membership form|
|Complete a proposed program plan of study||By the end of second year. Student and advisor prepare a tentative plan, which must be reviewed/revised by the guidance committee and approved by the program coordinator and the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. Once a plan is agreed upon by the Guidance Committee Chair/Advisor, student logs into GradPlan and enters their plan, which routes to committee, program coordinator, and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs for approval.||To prepare for entry into the GradPlan system, use this Program Plan form|
|Complete Education Policy capstone course in evaluation and analysis||ED976: End of second year, when all required courses completed.|
|Complete Comprehensive Examination Part II||End of second year; no later then early third year. At the beginning of the semester in which the student plans to take the Comprehensive Examination, Part II, s/he must communicate their intent to their guidance committee chair and the program director. If the student does not pass this final part of the two-part examination, he or she may retake the failed section in the next semester, with the agreement of his or her advisor.|
|Select dissertation director and dissertation committee members||After passing the comprehensive examination: Student requests appropriate faculty members to comprise his or her dissertation committee. The dissertation director and committee members may or may not be the same as the guidance committee chairperson and members.||Dissertation Director Approval form|
|Dissertation Proposal Approval||After passing the comprehensive examination: Student drafts and revises the proposal with his or her advisor and other faculty before submitting a formal proposal to the disseration committee for approval.||Dissertation Proposal Approval form|
|Obtain UCRIHS approval for dissertation if using human subjects||Student's advisor and a representative to the UCRIHS help the student to prepare and file the UCRIHS clearance application.||UCRIHS Application|
|Conduct original research for dissertation.||Enroll in at least 24, but no more than 30, credits of TE999 or EAD999 before completing dissertation.|
|Apply for Graduation.||At the beginning of the semester that you plan to defend your dissertation, please apply for graduation.||Graduation Application|
|Oral dissertation defense||Student consults the University Calendar for examination dates and agrees with the dissertation committee members on an acceptable time. Student submits a final version of the dissertation to the committee members at least two weeks prior to the oral defense date.||Notice of Doctoral Dissertation Oral Examination|
|Submission of dissertation||After successful dissertation defense: Student should consult the Graduate School website for instructions on producing the dissertation.||Graduate School|
|Final Certification||After passing the oral examination on the dissertation: Committee chairperson completes form certifying that the student has met all program requirements and sends the form to the Student Affairs office.|
All forms can be found on the Education Policy Program Forms page.
To download a version of this timeline, click here.