Comprehensive Exam

A. Consider the challenges associated with measuring fidelity of implementation. Describe the origin of the concept and current conceptualizations. Explain various ways in which fidelity of implementation has been operationalized in the education literature. What are some of the complexities associated with measuring fidelity of implementation? What, if any, are the implications of fidelity of implementation for understanding internal validity, external validity, and causal inference? Finally, what are the implications of fidelity of implementation for practice and policy at the federal, state, and/or local levels?

B. Describe the various ways that teacher quality has been operationalized to date. For each, what evidence is available of impact on student achievement? What evidence of measurement quality (i.e. reliability and validity) exists for measures of teacher quality?

C. Selection bias poses a significant challenge to studies of teacher impacts on achievement. Given that teachers are not randomly assigned to schools, and students are not randomly assigned to teachers, what research designs can be useful for evaluating teacher impacts and attempts to improve those impacts?

D. Define social competence in typically developing two and three year old children. What are the most common deviations from “the typical” in terms of special education intervention? How does social competence relate to social skill development and self-regulation? How might this be different for atypically developing children of this age?

E. Single subject research designs are often used to examine the effectiveness of educational interventions with young children with disabilities. Like group designs, single subject research design can be conducted with sufficient rigor to draw firm conclusions about treatment effectiveness. In recent years, researchers have increasingly recognized the importance of establishing treatment fidelity. Define what is meant by treatment fidelity in the single subject research design literature. Explain how treatment fidelity is related to the quality of the research design, the dependent variable, the independent variable, external validity, and internal validity.

F. What is the role of connectedness in adolescent girls’ development, and what are its theorized effects on self-esteem and risk-taking behaviors? Describe how connectedness is operationalized and distinguished from similar constructs such as relatedness, belonging, attachment, and social support.

G. Discuss the use of after-school programs, including but not limited to sports programs, to facilitate the development of connectedness in adolescents. How has connectedness been operationalized in studies of/research on programs, interventions, and after-school settings? What best practices have been suggested for programs to help facilitate connectedness and its associated outcomes and what are the potential limitations of work in this area to date?

H. What does existing literature tell us about the roles of and interaction between contextual and individual risk factors for antisocial behavior? Specifically, what are key theoretical contentions and what is the related empirical support for neighborhood level, school setting, and family level (including family relationship qualities and parenting practices) interacting with individual characteristics in predicting antisocial behavior exhibition?

I. Examine the evidence for the value of multiple level programs over focused single level efforts noting the strength of the evidence and identifying key constraints and needed next studies to advance understanding about this.

J. Education policy researchers are facing a bit of a puzzle. Statistical and anecdotal evidence indicates that teachers are the single most important determinant of student outcomes under the influence of school systems. Yet, few, if any, value-added analyses find any teacher attributes or interventions lead to improved student achievement. Using your understanding of the process of educating children, the methodological issues in identifying causation, the structure of value-added empirical models and the content of most data bases employed in value-added analysis, explore why these efforts have yielded so little evidence of ways that policy could improve teachers or teaching. Illustrate your points with specific examples and reference to the literature.

K. Historically, research on socialization during adolescence has focused on either aspects and influences of parental relationships or aspects and influences of peer relationships. Bringing together the empirical and theoretical literatures from these two areas, discuss the demonstrated and potential moderating role of parental relationships in the peer influence process. Include both risk and protection in your discussion.

L. Considering Rich Lerner’s model of Positive Youth Development (PYD) and its proposed “5C’s”, use the empirical and theoretical literature to explain peer influence as part of that model or as a route through which positive development can occur within the 5 C’s model. Within your discussion consider the implications of that influence and its pathways for intervention programs.

1. In 1989, a forum in the William and Mary Quarterly invited the participating scholars to reflect on the state of early American women’s history “Beyond Spheres.” Using this phrase as a jumping-off-point, reflect on the status of the field circa 1988 – i.e. what these historians would have been considering and responding to – and review the field’s post-1988 developments, particularly with respect to the notion of separate spheres. Does it remain a pertinent trope for the study of early American history?

2. Consider the following quotation from Jane DeHart Mathews and Linda Kerber on women in American politics (1982). Evaluate their perceptiveness, clarity, accuracy, and (if you want) wisdom. Consider both the historical and historiographical issues this statement raises: “A distinctive feature of women’s reformist politics has been the way in which women have made their domestic experience into a political issue and, through this transformation, enhanced both their domestic and public roles.” (United States Cultural and Intellectual History Since the 17th Century Comp Exam, T. J. Jackson Lears, Rutgers, from Steven Kreis )

3. The antislavery community of the antebellum era and the feminist movement of the mid-twentieth century commonly equated the social and economic status of women and African Americans. To what degree did this equation hold true in each era, and what were its shortcomings, again, in each era? (May 2002 Princeton University US History Senior Comprehensive Exam)

4. How did slavery and the African slave trade affect men and women differently and how did constructions of race and gender affect each other? Discuss how historians have combined gender and race in the historiography of slavery and/or gender. (Author: historycomps.com administrator)

5. Some historians contend that early modern North America can best be understood as a series of actual and conceptual “gender borderlands,” occupied by European, African, and Native American inhabitants. Explain this concept and evaluate how, and how successfully, scholars have used it. What are the model’s strengths and weaknesses, according to your analysis of recent scholarship? Does it signal a continuation of early American women’s history, as practiced over the preceding twenty-five years, or mark a departure from earlier works? (January 2008 American University US I History Comprehensive Exam)

6. The recent passing of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese reminds us that prior to her work only a few scholars addressed the issue of gender in slavery studies. Explain some of the insight that Fox-Genovese, Deborah White, and several other scholars brought to our understanding of slavery by examining the institution through the lens of gender. (January 2007 American University US I History Comprehensive Exam)

7. An argument can be made that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 (1983) and Kathleen Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (1996) mirror the changing trajectory of the field: from Women’s history to the history of gender. Describe the differences of focus between these two books and then project outward to describe how these books reflect the differing emphases between women’s and gender history. (August 2005 American University US I History Comprehensive Exam)

8. Kathleen Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs is often noted as a book that in employing gender as a mode of analysis consequently has reframed our understanding of the central developments in early American history. In your essay discuss the merits of this assessment. More specifically, what did Good Wives contribute, and how? Then position the book in terms of other work on women, gender and/or sexuality published both before and after Good Wives. (April 2005 American University US I History Comprehensive Exam)

9. Recent scholarship has asserted that race and gender have been mutually constitutive in many eras of American history. Explain how constructions of gender and race influenced the making and remaking of social hierarchies in the colonial era and in the early nineteenth century. (April 2008 American University US I History Comprehensive Exam)

10. One of the contributions of women’s history to the larger corpus of antebellum studies has been to gender various experiences. Choose one such experience (such as slavery) and explain this development. (April 2008 American University US I History Comprehensive Exam)