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GUIDE TO THE MAFP COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION COLLEGE OF COUNSELING, PSYCHOLOGY, AND SOCIAL SCIENCES Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
A guide to the preparation, administration, and evaluation of the comprehensive examination for the Master of Arts degree in Forensic Psychology (MAFP) intended to ensure quality, consistency, and continuity of comprehensive examinations across campuses of the institution. Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved ii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page OVERVIEW OF THE EXAMINATION PROCESS 1 Purpose of the Comprehensive Examination 1 Examination Preparation 1 Examination Enrollment 1 Eligibility Requirements 1 Registration Process 2 Examination Course 2 Examination Week 3 Examination Scoring 4 Rubrics 4 Readers 4 Examination Results 4 STRUCTURE OF THE MAFP EXAMINATION 4 Program Specific Learning Outcomes 5 Critical Thinking Skills 6 Use of Resources 6 Ethical Scholarship 7 PRESENTATION OF EXAMINATION RESPONSES 7 Basic Rules of Presentation 8 APA Format 8 Writing Style and the APA Manual 8 Formatting Aspects 9 Length of Responses 9 EVALUATION OF EXAMINATION RESPONSES 11 Scoring Criteria 11 Examination Grades 11 CR (Credit/Pass) 12 PR (Revise and Resubmit) 12 NC (No Credit/Fail) 12 Revision and Retake Opportunities 13 Revise and Resubmit 13 Remediate and Retake 13 Notice of Record Keeping 14 OVERVIEW OF THE EXAMINATION PROCESS The Guide to the Comprehensive Examination is designed to help students understand the examination process and maximize performance. The Guide outlines the policies and procedures that apply to the administration of the exam. Students should read the Guide carefully and consult with your academic advisor prior to registering for the exam. Purpose of the Comprehensive Examination The comprehensive examination concludes the formalized coursework of the MA degree program in Forensic Psychology at Argosy University. Successful completion of the examination provides evidence of students’ new learning, emerging skill sets, and accomplishments. Additionally, the exam assesses whether students are able to function at the level of expertise demanded of those with graduate degrees. Examination Preparation Students are advised to develop a study schedule to optimize performance on the comprehensive examination. Students should collect and collate all of their course readings, resources, papers, and other work products that can be used to guide responses to the comprehensive examination questions. Students are expected to provide carefully articulated and well-reasoned responses to examination questions, based on the theories, constructs, models, and applications presented in the various courses and projects in the degree program, and through independent reading and research. Examination Enrollment Eligibility Requirements Prior to taking the comprehensive examination, students must have successfully completed all required first-year and second-year courses, excluding the Forensic Seminar. Successful completion is defined as earning a grade of B- or higher in all coursework. Students taking the comprehensive examination must be in good financial and academic standing, with a GPA of no less than 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). Registration Process As students near the final course in their degree program, they should consult with their academic advisor/academic counselor about the comprehensive examination schedule and registration process. The comprehensive exam is typically offered each session. Students must follow the registration process and deadlines of their campus. Students who do not intend to take the examination at the assigned time should contact their academic advisor/academic counselor regarding their request. If the student is already registered for the exam, the student must also contact the comprehensive examination administrator and the registrar to withdraw. Notice of withdrawal must be made, in writing, at least one week prior to the release of the examination questions. In the case of a serious and unexpected emergency, the student must contact the designated comprehensive exam administrator, as soon as possible, before the release of the examination questions. Examination Course Students enrolled in the examination are attached to an online comprehensive examination course during the session of enrollment. Students gain access to the course on the first day of the session and are encouraged to utilize the resources available in the course prior to the testing period. The online course includes sample comprehensive examination questions, APA format information, scoring rubrics, information related to ethical scholarship, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and other resources to help students prepare for the exam. The online comprehensive examination course is the vehicle through which all student communication is facilitated during the session of testing, to include release of the examination questions and reporting of the examination results. Students maintain access until the last day of the term, by which time their examination results have been posted. The department chair or designated comprehensive exam administrator manages the online comprehensive examination course and process each session. Students with questions concerning examination procedures or examination course content should contact the comprehensive examination administrator of their campus. Examination Week Students have one week to complete and submit their responses to the examination dropbox in the online comprehensive examination course. The examination questions are not made available to students until the week of testing. The questions become visible on the morning the exam is scheduled to begin. Once the exam questions are released (visible in the course), students are responsible for downloading a personal copy, which can be used to work offline. This is an important safeguard to ensure that an interruption in internet service does not impede access to the exam questions. Students are responsible for maintaining the security and confidentiality of the examination questions during and following testing. Students must complete and submit the exam during the session registered. Failure to do so is considered a failure of the examination attempt. In the case of a medical or other personal emergency, the student must make a good-faith attempt to notify the examination administrator prior to the start of the examination period. In all cases, notification must occur at the earliest reasonable opportunity, considering the particular emergency. Documentation of the emergency must be submitted to the comprehensive exam administrator as soon as possible. Examination Scoring Rubrics The comprehensive examination is scored in accordance with graduate level expectations of performance using established metrics specific to the examination questions and learning outcomes of the MAFP program. Rubrics for the comprehensive examination are available to students in the online comprehensive examination course. Students are held to the same standards of success regardless of campus or location. Readers The comprehensive examination is scored by an approved and trained faculty member who serves as the reader/evaluator. Examination review is confidential and no studentidentifying information is provided to the reader. Likewise, the identity of the readers is not provided to the student. Examination Results Results are communicated to students by the last day of the term in which the student is enrolled in the examination. Examination results (grades) are posted in the gradebook of the online comprehensive examination course and/or may be communicated by email. STRUCTURE OF THE MAFP EXAMINATION The MAFP comprehensive examination evaluates cumulative knowledge of the curriculum with emphasis on demonstrating competency in program learning outcomes. The exam consists of five domains (learning outcomes), each with two assignments. Further, each assignment may have multiple questions. The assignments and questions are developed to align with the articulated standards of the university and with the program outcomes of the MAFP program. The questions on the comprehensive examine vary with each administration; however, the questions fall into five categories, consistent with MAFP program outcomes. 1. Psychological Theory and Practice 2. Legal Theory and Application 3. Research and Evaluation 4. Interpersonal Effectiveness 5. Leadership, Consultation, and Ethics The MAFP comprehensive examination questions require students to apply new learning and new skill sets to a problem. Students must demonstrate their ability to generate solutions indicative of their understanding of the literature in the Forensic Psychology field. Students will integrate research, theory, philosophy, current issues, and best practices into their responses. The examination provides an opportunity for the student to document his or her mastery of the curriculum, knowledge base, and skill sets across the curriculum. Program Specific Learning Outcomes At Argosy University, student achievement is evaluated through direct measurement of performance on program-specific learning outcomes. The comprehensive examination is a direct indicator of the accomplishment of master’s program competencies and learning outcomes. The comprehensive examination is scored using the expected learning outcomes delineated for the forensic psychology program. 1. Psychological Theory and Practice – Apply theoretical concepts and methodological approaches of psychology to forensic practice 2. Legal Theory and Application – Apply theories related to the interaction between the criminal and civil legal systems and psychology. 3. Research and Evaluation – Critically evaluate the existing literature and body of knowledge in assessment, evaluation, and research methods in forensic practice. 4. Leadership, Consultation, and Ethics – Use leadership, consultative, and ethical knowledge, skills and attitudes to succeed in forensic practice. 5. Interpersonal Effectiveness – Achieve personal development and demonstrate positive relationship skills via effective communication, respect for others, and awareness of their impact on others. Critical Thinking Skills It is imperative to utilize critical thinking skills in the construction of satisfactory response on the comprehensive examination. Critical thinking involves more than a skill in describing a body of information. Critical thinking and reasoning includes skills in deductive and inductive reasoning, hypothesizing, and critiquing. These skills, like any other, must be practiced in order to master them. Critical thinking/problem solving competencies are core to satisfactory performance. Demonstration of critical thinking skills includes clarity, succinctness, completeness, internal logic, and relevance. Students should look for evidence of these qualities in their responses. Use of Resources Students are permitted to use written resources (i.e., notes, books, research articles, etc.) to form responses to the examination questions. References and sources should be appropriate to the question, and sources should be used to supplement and support the reasoning, presentation, and conclusions of the student’s response. Use of a standard spell check and grammar check available through the student’s word processing software (i.e., Word) is permitted. Students are not permitted to use any human resources (i.e., another student, instructor, editor, etc.) for assistance. Likewise, no part of the exam (i.e., questions, responses) should be submitted to any website (e.g., Turnitin, Safe Assign, etc.). Submission of the exam to the dropbox will generate a plagiarism evaluation by Turnitin.com, checking the paper for similarity with other sources. Submission to any other website will affect the originality report, and violates security of the examination questions. Ethical Scholarship Comprehensive examinations are subject to the same university academic honesty and plagiarism policies and practices as stated in the university catalog. Students who engage in plagiarism or academic dishonesty of any kind will be dismissed from the university. The comprehensive examination must reflect the student’s original work and must be produced exclusively by that student. Submission of the exam to the dropbox will automatically generate a plagiarism evaluation by Turnitin.com, checking the paper for similarity with other sources. Consequently, students should not submit the exam to any other Turnitin account. The Turnitin originality report will not be viewable by students. It will be evaluated by exam administrators. Exams that contain plagiarism will not be forwarded for scoring. PRESENTATION OF EXAMINATION RESPONSES Students are expected to provide carefully articulated and well-reasoned responses to examination questions, based on the applications, practices, theories, constructs, and models presented in the various courses and projects in the Forensic Psychology program, and through independent reading and research. Responses should reflect an intellectual and practical understanding of topic areas addressed. Basic Rules of Presentation When responding to the examination questions, some basic considerations must be followed. 1. Start a new page for each examination question. 2. Post the question or topic for each heading at the top of the new page. 3. Use the parts of the questions or topic as the headings. 4. Answer all of the heading questions. 5. Provide an introductory statement to each question and summarize briefly the main points of the response in the conclusion. 6. Use correct writing skills including mechanics, usage, grammar, and spelling. 7. Apply APA style conventions for citations, quotations, references, sub-headings, and formatting using the most current edition of the APA Style Manual. APA Format The fundamental guide for the writing style is the university-approved edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (i.e., APA Manual). Responses to each question must be presented using the most current APA guidelines. Sources must be documented using standard citations for scholarly references. Writing Style and the APA Manual The student is responsible for familiarity with the university-approved edition of the APA Manual and for following the formatting guidelines contained within the Manual. The APA Manual includes directions for: 1. reporting of numbers (sections 4.31-4.40) 2. construction of tables and figures (sections 5.07-5.30) 3. levels of headings (sections 3.02-3.03) 4. use of non-gender-biased language (section 3.12-3.17) 5. continuity in presentation of ideas (section 3.05) 6. writing style suggestions (sections 3.06-3.11). Formatting Aspects Students should compose a well-written and organized essay in response to each of the exam questions. Essay should be written clearly and concisely, citing appropriate and current literature. Students should avoid sexist idiom and allusions and remember to demonstrate multicultural competence as appropriate. Formatting aspect for the paper include the following. 1. Font for the comprehensive exam responses should be 12 point in size and should be double-spaced on the page with 1-inch margins. 2. Use of seriation must follow APA requirements (see Section 3.04). Lowercase letters in parentheses are used within a paragraph or sentence to identify three or more elements in a series. To identify separate paragraphs in a list, Arabic numbers followed by a period are used. The numbers are lined up on the left margin, indented .2, and text should line up under the text (per this example). 3. Note that there are two spaces after punctuation marks at the end of a sentence, although there is one space after periods that separate parts of a reference citation and periods of the initials in personal names (Section 4.01). 4. Careful attention must be paid to the levels of headings (see APA Manual). Heading placement is similar to outlining a document. Each level subsumes the level below it. Length of Responses A fundamental requirement of a quality academic product is conciseness and clarity of delivery. Responses must be complete to the question posed but should not try to cover every aspect of every possible interpretation of the question. The length of the exam responses should be limited to a maximum of 10 pages, per domain. A title page and reference section should also be included for the exam, but is not counted in the page length. EVALUATION OF EXAMINATION RESPONSES At Argosy University, student achievement is evaluated through direct measurement of performance on program-specific learning outcomes. The comprehensive examination is a direct indicator of the accomplishment of master’s program competencies and learning outcomes. The comprehensive examination is scored using the expected learning outcomes delineated for the forensic psychology program Scoring Criteria The examination measures mastery of program-specific learning outcomes and in accordance with graduate level expectations of performance. In addition, student examinations are evaluated using the following criteria: 1. Organization – A meaningful and logically developed argument is embedded in the response. 2. Comprehensiveness – The question is thoroughly answered. 3. Substance – An in-depth presentation and understanding of the topic, supported by the analyses and application of relevant theories and research literature. 4. Relevance – Relevant material that is responsive to the question without digression from the main points or that is off-topic or is superficial. 5. Cogence – A depth and breadth of insight, reasoning, and understanding exhibited through the integration of thought and argument. Examination Grades Students in the MAFP program taking the comprehensive examination may earn a grade of CR (Credit), PR (Revise and Resubmit), or NC (No Credit) based on the criteria below. Examination results are posted in the gradebook of the online comprehensive examination course. In cases where student performance is determined to fall short of minimum acceptable standards, detailed comments are provided to assist students either in revising their responses or in preparing for a second attempt. CR (Credit/Pass) A grade of CR (credit) is recorded on the official transcript when students pass the comprehensive examination. A passing score is defined as earning 30 points or greater on the total exam score, with no more than two criteria earning a score of 2 points, and no criteria earning a score of 1 point. PR (Revise and Resubmit) A grade of PR (revise and resubmit) may be initially earned by students who earn a total exam score of 26 – 29 points, with no more than 3 criteria earning a score of 2 or less. A grade of PR requires the student to rewrite and resubmit deficient exam responses (see Revise and Resubmit section below). A PR grade is a temporary grade during the rewrite process to be replaced by a CR or NC grade after the revision is submitted and scored. NC (No Credit/Fail) A grade of No Credit (NC) is recorded on the official transcript when the student fails the comprehensive examination. A failing score is defined as earning 25 or fewer points on the total exam score or earning a score of 2 points of less on four or more criteria. Exams earning a failing grade will be reviewed by a second reader to confirm the grade. Student who fail the exam will be provided specific feedback including a copy of the examination, with written comments that provide explicit feedback regarding deficits and improvements needed to pass the exam. Students who earn a failing score on their first or second attempt have and an opportunity to retake the examination in a subsequent session after completion of a remediation plan (see Remediate and Retake section below). Students have a maximum of three attempts to pass the comprehensive examination. Failure to pass on the third attempt results in dismissal from the degree program and Argosy University. Revision and Retake Opportunities Revise and Resubmit Students who earn a grade of PR are offered the opportunity to rewrite deficient response(s) that earned a score of less than 3. Students have up to five days (upon email notification of required revisions) to revise their response(s) and resubmit the exam. No additional coaching or support is permitted because the student is still within exam parameters. Failure to meet the revision deadline results in a grade of NC (failure). Students have only one opportunity to rewrite the deficient portion(s) of their examination for re-evaluation. The revised responses are forwarded to the faculty reviewer, who has seven days upon receipt of the exam to score the revised response(s). If the revised portion(s) earn(s) a passing score, a grade of CR (Credit) is recorded on the official transcript. If the revised response(s) fail(s) to earn a passing score, a grade of NC (no credit) is recorded on the official transcript. Students earning their first or second failure should contact the comprehensive examination administrator regarding a remediation plan before scheduling their next attempt (see Remediate and Retake section below). Remediate and Retake Students who fail their first or second administration of the comprehensive examination are given the opportunity to take a new examination during a subsequent session. The same examination framework is used in the new exam administration, but the questions will differ. The student must meet with his/her academic or faculty advisor to discuss the difficulties he/she had with the examination. The student is expected to form a remediation plan, developed in collaboration with the department chair, faculty advisor, or other designated individual, prior to scheduling another attempt. The remediation plan must include a plan of study and study schedule. The goal of the remediation plan is to provide students with feedback and support to strengthen their likelihood of passing the exam on the next attempt. Students should check with their faculty advisor for information regarding specific remediation, writing, and/or tutoring opportunities that may be available at their campus. A remediation plan may require a student to take additional courses, pursue special writing instruction, or obtain other special training to address weaknesses identified. Any special remediation requirements will be at the student’s expense. Students who fail the comprehensive examination on the third attempt are dismissed from the degree program and Argosy University. Students with extenuating circumstances and/or who demonstrate they have just cause to file an appeal should consult the process outlined in the Argosy University Academic Catalog. Notice of Record Keeping The university retains electronic copies of comprehensive examinations and related documents for six months.
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