Archive of Past Comprehensive Examinations

Educational Psychology & Learning, Technology and Culture
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Purpose. This page provides links to past questions on the program's comprehensive examinations.

Students preparing for the examination may find it useful to review previous questions but should understand that new questions are created for each administration. The examinations are listed in reverse chronological order. Specialization questions follow the common questions.

These questions may also be useful to beginning students as an indication of the kinds of complex thinking and writing the program seeks to develop.

From the program handbook:

"f. The Comprehensive Examination
After completing the research apprenticeship and at least 80% of the coursework specified in the program plan, the student may apply to take the comprehensive examination, administered at the beginning of fall and spring semesters each year. Each student writes responses to three questions. Two of these are selected by the student from a set of four common questions focused on core theory and research in educational psychology and technology. The third question is a specialization question assessing the knowledge in the students' area of concentration. Students are given 32 hours to respond to these 3 questions. All questions are prepared by LTC Program faculty and are not communicated to students in advance."

Administrative procedures:

The examination is administered as a two-day take-home examination.

Students pick up questions from the examination administrator at 9:00 on the first day.  Responses are returned to the examination administrator at 5:00 on the second day. 

Students may use whatever resources they wish (e.g., books, journal articles, notes from classes, libraries, personal journals and notes).  Students are not, however, permitted to discuss questions or their responses with anyone during the two-day examination.  Students may work in the setting of their choice.  Some students may wish to arrange to work in a private room on campus (e.g., a faculty office) to minimize distractions.  The student and his or her advisor are responsible for making such arrangements."

Common Questions (Click on Date to see exam.)
Click here for specialization questions below

August 2006  [Aroutis Foster, Lindsey Mohan, Yonghan Park, Stephen Vassalo, Amy Wells]
   A-1: Design Based Research: Describe key tenets, discuss theory building-innovation dual emphasis.
   A-2: Nature vs Nurture: What is this debate about, why is it important, and how would you address it?
   B-1: Validity: What is validity? What are the different meanings of validity?
   B-2: Methodology: Evaluate two articles in terms of research design; propose additional designs.

January 2006 [Nick Sheltrown, Leigh Wolf, Steve Wojcikiewicz]
   A-1: Research informs tools and interventions? Discuss one.
   A-2: Debates in educational inquiry: Discuss two important debates.
   B-1: The shadow of your theoretical perspective: Choose your favorite theory and discuss.
   B-2: Development and education: How does learning differ for learners of different ages?
   B-3: Technology and education: Do today's youth differ due to technology; which technologies for schools?

August 2005 [Buchanan, Green, Hilden, Moses, Phillips, Wells, Zhang]
  A-1: The work of a conceptual framework.
  A-2: The location of the mind.
  B-1: Research informing practice.
  B-2: How does sample size matter?

January 2005 [Collins, Edwards, Lai, Perry, Yan]
  A-1: Role of the environment in learning. 
  A-2: Interaction and learning.
  B-1: Communicating with practitioners about learning.
  B-2: The nature of educational research.

August 2004
  A-1: Critique article by Mayer critical of discovery learning.
  B-1: Learning and development or learning versus development?
  B-2: Educational psychology, educational technology, or both?

January 2004 [Burdell, Ignatova-Collings]
  A-1: Is learning social?
  A-2: A national clearinghouse? What is evidence-based, replicable, rigorous research?
  B-1: Propose two research designs and discuss.
  B-2: Choose three scholars you consider most important and discuss.

August 2003 [Chan]
  A-1: Discuss what you consider the most viable current paradigms in educational psychology.
  A-2: Learner as individual or learner as individual in context.
  B-1: Does educational technology facilitate or transform learning?
  B-2: Critique two examples of practice claiming to be inspired by a particular theory of earning.

January 2003. [Buckleitner, Lei, Pizzolato, Shi, Tower]
  A-1: Discuss shift from cognition in the heads of individuals to role of context and culture.
  B-1: Discuss roles of conceptual frameworks in educational research.
  B-2: Discuss two research designs and consequences of choosing a design.

August 2002
    No EdPsych/LTC students took the exam in this session.

January 2002
    A-1: compare, contrast, and apply: "cognitive" vs "situative" perspectives on learning
    B-1: multimedia representation of constructs and learning
    B-2: discuss learning in your domain of choice as enculturation or socialization (Resnick)

August 2001
   A-1: constraints of apprenticeship
    A-2: separability of teaching and learning (or development)
    B-1: assessment of learning in school settings
    B-2: select theory of learning and develop plan for using technology to support learning

August 2000
    A-1: role of context
    A-2: relationship between theory and empirical research
    B-1: relationship of theories of learning/development to the concept of identity
    B-2: multimedia environments and theories of learning
    B-3: tutoring critiqued through two theoretical lenses

January 2000

August 1999: Banghart, Lycke, Roberts, Saito
    A-1: discuss learning situated in heads of individual learners vs. situated in material, social and cultural contexts
    A-2: critique Cobb's argument that claims of constructivist curricula, etc confuse theory with practice
    A-3: continuity over time vs discontinuity as a theme in study of human development
    B-1: talk to K-12 audience about computer technology and learning subject matter and problem solving
    B-2: discuss replicability as defined in studies situated in naturalistic settings

January 1999
August 1998
January 1998

August 1997
    A-1: ethical and moral issues in classroom research
    A-2: research as a social/moral activity versus a technical activity
    B-1: role of culture in learning and development
    B-2: relationship of theories of learning (constructivist, for example) to instructional practice

January 1997

February 1996
    A-1: compare and contrast Vygotskian and Piagetian conceptualizations of development
    A-2: contrast and critique behaviorist, information processing, Piagetian, and sociohistorical perspectives
    B-3: effects of theory on understanding of learning and development
    B-4: how three factors (individual, contextual, and cultural) affect learning and development

Specialization Questions

Aroutis Foster. Discuss role of games in learning.  Advisor: Mishra.  August 2006.

Lindsey Mohan. Discuss scientific literacy & literacy practices in science education. Advisor: Smith. August 2006.

Yonghan Park. Discuss relationship between motivation and literacy achievement. Advisor: Duke. August 2006.

Steven Vassalo. Discuss research on self-regulated learning. Advisor: Putnam. August 2006.

Amy Wells. Discuss role of new technology in field of library and information science. Advisor: Spiro. August 2006.

Nick Sheltrown. Discuss scholars' views on technology and media. Advisor: Spiro. January 2006.

Leigh Wolf. Review research on preparing teachers to integrate technology. Advisor: Mishra.  January 2006.

Steve Wojcikiewicz. Compare and contrast learning in and out of school. Advisor: Putnam. January 2006.

Kym Buchanan. Discuss research on the role of games in learning and instruction. August 2005.

Katherine Hilden. Discuss progress in understanding the development of reading comprehension. August 2005.

Anne-Michelle Moses. Discuss children's literacy development in context of television viewing. August 2005.

Michael Phillips. Consider the relationship between context, cognition, and motivation. August 2005.

Amy Tracy Wells. Discuss intersection of library science & cogitively based educational psychology. August 2005.

Shenglan Zhang. Discuss research on comprehension of hypertext. August 2005.

Carol Burdell. Compare and contrast definitions of gender and sex in study of mathematics learning. Spring 2004.

Natalia Ignatova-Collings. Review research on computer-assisted second language learning. Spring 2004.

Christine Chan. Propose and justify an interface for an online test of 8th graders map reading. Fall 2003.

Shufang Shi. Review research on effectiveness of after school programs. Spring 2003.

Cathy Tower. Discuss "what develops in writing development" from a developmental perspective. Spring 2003.

Jing Lei. Review research on online distance learning with focus on student-teacher interaction. Spring 2003.

Shane Cavanaugh: Discuss frog dissection from Deweyan perspective. Spring 2002.

Ted Hall: Apply technology to improve learning of African-American students. Spring 2002.

Amanda Jansen Hoffmann: Design study of student beliefs about mathematics. Spring 2002.

Steven Hundersmarck: Design study of teacher interns becoming teachers. Spring 2002.

Martina Augustin:  Critique "learning to teach" in St. Lucia. Fall 2001.

Diane Hamm:   Critique three conceptualizations of reading comprehension. Fall 2001.

Andrew Henry:  Elaborate on the scaffolding construct in relation to educational technology. Fall 2001.

Lisa Sensale:  Critique the reading assessment based reform efforts of 3 states. Fall 2001.

Carolyn Jaynes:  Alignment of assessment, curriculum, and theories of learning. August 2000.

Lorin Sheppard: Motivational issues in design of self-instruction modules for medical students. August 2000.

Rick Banghart:  August 1999.

Kara Lycke:  Education and ontogeny: Issues of identity in learning and development.  August 1999.

Ebony Roberts:  Equity in education: Minority student experience.  August 1999.

Shizuko Saito:  Mathematics in and out of school.  August 1999.

Bonita Miller: Historical changes in perspectives on the concept of "reading readiness".  January 1998.

Kevin Pugh:  Propose a theory of "transfer of learning" and how it could be tested.  January 1998.

Joan Hughes:  Proposal for a motivationally-sound program for teacher professional development. August 1997.

Su Jones:  Proposal for Web-intensive environment for learning mathematics in a K-12 school.  August 1997.

Becky Wai-Ling Packard:  Mentors roles in women's pursuit of careers in science.  August 1997.

Tat-Ming Sze:  "Mathematical problem solving" in theory and practice.  August 1997.

Valerie Worthington:  Technology as a cultural tool.  August 1997.

Lina Wu:  Proposal for integrating technology into a K-12 school.  August 1997.

Meg Ropp:  January 1996.

Jim Bowker:  October 1995.