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College of Doctoral Studies begins review of PhD in Psychology Program

By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau

Michael Berger

As the first students in Grand Canyon University’s PhD in psychology enter their dissertation phase, the College of Doctoral Studies has embarked on a comprehensive review of the three-year-old program, its four emphases and 35 courses.

“We generally like to give our programs a higher-level review every three years,” said Dr. Michael Berger, the college’s associate dean. “In addition, much has changed in the field, from instructional design and strategies to the technologies available to us to provide the classes, and so it’s time.”

A team of representatives from the college, instructional designers and psychology practitioners outside GCU met for the first time this month. They will assess the Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology, and its specializations in Integrating Technology, Learning and Psychology; Performance Psychology; Cognition and Instruction, and Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

The team will review, among other data, the program’s objectives, assessments of student success, curricula, instructional materials, and feedback from faculty, learners and others. The PhD in General Psychology currently has about 1,000 students.

One of the major elements in the review will focus on whether a residency program should be offered within the PhD, Berger said. Currently, residencies are required only of students in the Doctor of Education (EdD) degree programs.

“In talking to potential and current learners, we have learned that some want a collaborative place where, for a week, they could come and talk face-to-face with other learners as they begin their dissertations,” Berger said. “The possibility of attending a sort of dissertation ‘boot camp’ to work on those skills is something that learners have responded to very positively in our other programs.”

A little more than a year ago, the college launched two new emphases in the PhD in General Psychology to keep pace with the advances in technology and psychology.

Scholars in the emphasis in Integrating Technology, Learning and Psychology look at how students interact with technology, from social media and multimedia to tablets and apps, and how it impacts their learning and information absorption, Berger said.

Those in the Performance Psychology specialization study how individuals in high-pressure arenas, such as athletics, start-up businesses or performing arts, function under the stresses of these positions and how they can be enabled to excel.

Recommended changes to the doctoral program are expected this spring, with any implementation in the fall of 2014, Berger said.

Contact Janie Magruder at 639.8018 or janie.magruder@gcu.edu.

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