Comprehensive Experience

Candidates are eligible to commence the qualifying experience after the completion of 75% of required coursework including MATH 825, EDFD 820 and EDFD 821. Below are two options available to students. Students entering the program after January 1, 2017 must follow Option A. All others can choose between Options A and B, though Option A is recommended. The main difference between the two options is the order of events, as well as the number of presentations the candidate must give. For both options, students work with a committee. The committee must approve the student’s work at every stage.

The following diagram summarizes these differences:

Form Committee
Comps Option A
  1. Integrative Essay
  2. Meet with Committee
  3. Reach Candidacy
  4. Literature Review
  5. Meet with Committee
Comps Option B
  1. Literature Review
  2. Integrative Essay
  3. Present Literature Review
  4. Reach Candidacy
Proposal
Present Proposal
Dissertation
Present Dissertation
Graduate!

Option A

  1. Candidate receives integrative essay prompts from committee chair and has three weeks to complete integrative essays.
  2. Candidate submits responses to the integrative essays to his/her entire committee.  The committee has two weeks to review the integrative essays.  A day is set for a committee meeting with the student to defend the integrative essays.  Committee members pass or fail the candidate, notifying him/her immediately of the decision. 
  3. If the candidate passes, he/she reaches candidacy and can begin work on the literature review.  The approval of dissertation committee form should be completed at this point.  If the candidate fails the qualifying experience, he/she may attempt it one additional time.
  4. Candidate works on the literature review.  ]
  5. Once approved by the committee, the committee meets with the candidate to defend the literature review.  

Option B

  1. Candidate prepares literature review in consultation with chair and committee members. Candidate sends literature review to entire committee for initial approval. Each member of the committee has two weeks to review the literature review and will consult with one another to decide if the candidate has approval to continue on to the integrative essay. The chair will notify the candidate of the committee’s approval of the literature review. 
  2. Once the candidate receives initial approval from their committee, he/she notifies the dissertation chair for written prompts for the integrative essay. Candidate has three weeks to complete integrative essay. Candidate submits the integrative essay to his/her entire committee.  Each member of the committee has two weeks to review the integrative essay and will consult with one another to decide if the candidate has approval to more forward to the presentation stage. The committee advisor will notify the candidate of the committee’s approval of the integrative essays and presentation date is set.
  3. Candidate gives presentation of the literature review.
  4. Committee members pass or fail the candidate, notifying him/her immediately of the decision.  If the candidate passes, he/she can begin the dissertation process.  The approval of dissertation committee form should be completed at this point.  If the candidate fails the qualifying experience, he/she may attempt it one additional time. Candidate begins work on the dissertation proposal. 

Descriptions of Tasks

Integrative essay. The purpose of the integrative essay is to enable students to demonstrate their theoretical and practical understandings of the core competencies needed to obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education.  Through the integrative essay, candidates consider the wide body of literature related to mathematics education and demonstrate their assimilation of the relevant literature through coherent written expression.  Candidates are given twowritten prompts chosen by the chair and approved by the committee.  These prompts are confidential.  Candidates have three weeks to prepare responses to the two prompts.  Each response should be 16 pages (double-spaced) in length not including references.  

Literature review. Candidates conduct a review of the literature related to a particular topic in mathematics education and then synthesize that review to produce a critical analysis of the relevant literature. Candidates should choose a topic related to their potential dissertation topic.   Although the work prepared for the literature review may become the basis of the candidate’s dissertation, it should be distinguished from the proposal stage, where the candidate presents his/her research questions and research design.  Candidates are encouraged to conclude their literature review by highlighting gaps in the extant literature and using the literature to propose future directions of research in the area.  The literature review must follow current APA guideline and explicitly address the following overarching questions:

  1. What theories and methodologies have researchers used to study your topic? How have these theories evolved through the history of mathematics education?  Are these theories compatible or incompatible?
  2. What are the seminal works?  What are key findings from these and other papers on the topic and how have researchers used these findings to further study the topic? If key findings have not supported further research describe possible reasons for this.
  3. What are the gaps in the current literature and areas for further study? 

Presentation for Option B. Candidates present their literature review (Part A of their written work) at a departmental seminar.  The audience for the seminar will include faculty, undergraduate and graduate students and others from outside MSU who may be interested in applying to the doctoral program. The candidate presents his/her literature review for 30 minutes, followed by questions from the audience for an additional 15 minutes.  Because this part of the qualifying experience is intended to emulate conference presentations and because it is important to be able to present material in a succinct way, these time limits will be strictly enforced.  Following the seminar, the committee remains to ask the candidate questions related to the integrative essay and any additional questions in regard to the literature review or the presentation. The candidate is not allowed any materials besides copies of the literature review and two integrative essays. After up to one hour of discussions, the candidate leaves the room and the committee members meet to discuss the presentation and the integrative essay responses. 

For all stages of the dissertation, candidates are encouraged to expect at least two weeks for faculty members to provide feedback.