Education Specialist Thesis Requirements

Ed.S. Capstone Project Options

Students will have two  options for completion of a culminating, or "capstone" requirement: The Ed.S. thesis or the Ed.S. Action Research Project.

Ed.S. Action Research Project

The Ed.S. Action Research Project offers students an opportunity to apply their research and evidenced-based knowledge and skill set to real world problems in the school settings in which they are serving. The Action Research Project, much like the Ed.S. Thesis, requires students to identify a faculty advisory committee consisting of a research adviser and two additional committee members. Following approval of the Action Research proposal by the committee, IRB approval is required prior to data collection and analysis. Action Research Projects may take a variety of forms, but must identify a real world problem specific to the setting the student is currently working in, and must include an evidence basis for the selected project or intervention, pre- and post- data, as well as a defined methodology for the project.

Upon completion and analysis of the project, students must present an oral defense to their advisory committee before final approval of the project. Project completion and a final approval is contingent upon student submission of the project to a relevant regional or national conference (i.e., a poster presentation at WSPA or NASP).

Education Specialist (Ed.S.) Thesis Requirements

Students in the Education Specialist (Ed.S) degree program in School Psychology need to complete a Specialist Thesis. Students may enroll in SPSY 870 Specialist Thesis in School Psychology once they have been accepted into the Ed.S. Degree program, have completed EDUC 740 Research Methods, and have the approval of the School Psychology Program Director. Students may enroll for a minimum of 3 credits and a maximum of 6 credits.

To assist students in the Specialist Thesis process, a Research Packet is available from the Graduate School or online. The packet explains the Specialist Thesis process, delineates the steps toward completion of the Ed.S. thesis, provides suggested timelines and gives examples of formats used for consent forms, abstract and thesis structure. Students should obtain a copy and read through it carefully.

Selecting a Research Adviser and Committee

Students choose a research adviser and two committee members from the Graduate Faculty (a list of current Graduate Faculty members is available from the Graduate School or online here). Your program adviser, the Program Director and the Department Chair can provide input as to your research adviser and the make-up of your committee. The research adviser does not necessarily have to be a School Psychology Faculty member. Most students choose to continue working with the research adviser who supervised their Plan B Thesis. At least one of the committee members must be a school psychology program faculty member. It is the student's responsibility to arrange with the faculty members of his or her choice to serve on the committee. Complete the Appointment of Research Advisor form, obtain necessary signatures (research adviser, committee members, department chair, and school psychology program director), and return the form to the Graduate School. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School reviews the form and formally appoints the committee. This needs to be completed before you can register for SPSY 870 Specialist Thesis in School Psychology.

Paperwork required for the Specialist Thesis

With the assistance of their research adviser, students complete the Preliminary Statement of Research: Approval of Research Topic and Protection of Human Subjects form and return it to the Graduate School. If the study involves collecting data from humans the Protection of Human Subjects in Research Form [DOC] will also need to be completed. This form and the required attachments are then turned in to the Graduate School.

Format of the Specialist Thesis

The Specialist Thesis is a research project that involves the selection of a problem, a review and critical analysis of the literature and relevant research, the development of a sound research plan and methodology, data collection, and interpretation and discussion of findings.

The paper is structured as follows:

Chapter I: Introduction

Problem Statement
Rationale, Purpose, and Significance of the Study
Research Questions, Objectives or Hypotheses

Chapter II: Literature Review

Review of literature and relevant research
Critical analysis of literature and research

Chapter III: Methodology/Procedures

Research Design
Subject Selection
Data Collection Procedures
Data Analysis

Chapter IV: Results

Overview of research plan and methodology
Summary of research results relevant to problem statement, research questions or hypotheses

Chapter V: Summary and Discussion

Summary of the Study
Discussion of Findings
Implications and recommendations for future research

It is recommended that the student use APA Style in writing their Specialist Thesis. The student will need to arrange with their thesis adviser and committee members periodic progress reviews of the project.

Oral Defense of the Specialist Thesis

The student will submit a final draft to his or her research adviser and committee members at a reasonable time period (a minimum of at least three weeks) prior to the scheduled oral defense. The student must schedule the oral defense at a mutually acceptable time for the adviser, committee members and student. The committee members are responsible for reading the final written draft and conducting the oral examination. A student may be asked to make adjustments or corrections to the written draft and resubmit a new copy at the oral defense. If the student's written thesis is acceptable and the oral defense successful, the committee will sign the final copies of the Specialist Thesis. If the student's thesis and/or oral defense are not acceptable the student will be asked to make corrections and resubmit the thesis for oral defense.

Submission of the Specialist Thesis to the Graduate School

It is recommended that students prepare two paper copies of the research paper to be signed by the research adviser and committee members. Students must submit one original signed copy to the Graduate School along with an electronic copy (floppy disk, CD-Rom, Zip Disk). The other copy is retained for the student's records. The electronic copy needs to be in Microsoft Word 6.0 or higher. A microprocessing fee will be assessed. In addition, the completed and signed Specialist Thesis needs to be accompanied by the Submission of Final Research Report form. The Specialist Thesis must be turned in by 4 p.m. on the last day of the term in which the student intends to graduate.