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Learning Goals for Examinations


First Doctoral Examination:
 
Students have a choice of one of 5 topics proposed for the First Exam which is a publishable quality literature review aimed at critically assessing published research in comparative psychology and animal behavior. The topics are proposed by a committee of 2 ABCP faculty members and a third GC CUNY doctoral faculty member or an outside member, who is a Psychology-EO approved scientist with a doctorate degree.
 
Literature review:
 
At the successful completion (i.e., passing) of the first doctoral exam the student will be able to:
 
1. Select a well-defined research question and contextualize that question within the broader field or discipline.
2.  Summarize published findings that are well accepted and contrast with those for which the evidence is weak, ambiguous or conflicting.
3. Identify the methodologies appropriate to resolving weak, ambiguous or conflicting evidence and indicate their weaknesses and strengths.
4.  Provide a conclusion with suggestions for future research that may further explore and/or disambiguate remaining issues germane to that topic/thesis.
5. Prepare a journal-specific style of a manuscript that is ready to submitted for peer review and eventual publication.

Second Doctoral Examination:  The primary goal of the Second Doctoral Examination is to determine whether the student has mastered the relevant research literature and acquired the research skills needed for proceeding towards thesis research.

At the successful completion (i.e., passing) of the second doctoral exam the student will be able to:

1.Formulate hypothesis-driven research summary, including hypotheses and predictions, contextualized within a key disciplinary area.
2. Generate research designs, including appropriate controls, research strategies, and select appropriate analytical and statistical approaches to test and accomplish those predictions and aims.
3. Summarize the key findings of their research and present a series of conclusions.
4. Display intellectual flexibility in dealing with alternative explanations of the data and potential pitfalls of the research design and methodology.

Doctoral Dissertation
 
In order to have successfully completed the dissertation the student will have
 
1. Designed an experimental, observational, comparative, and/or theoretical approach to a significant, unresolved research problem in animal behavior or comparative psychology.
2. Identified and initiated a research design appropriate to that approach, including critical controls.
3. Mastered the methodologies required for data collection.
4. Organized, analyzed, and presented the research data effectively in both oral and written forms.
5. Prepared publication-style manuscripts ready or submitted for or published after peer review as first-author papers in peer-reviewed journals.
6. Effectively defended the thesis in a public presentation and displayed an understanding of the current state of research in areas cognate to the thesis topic as assessed by the thesis committee.