Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination assesses the student’s knowledge in research design, the field content and theory of educational technology, and the specialization areas related to her/his dissertation topic. Generally, the exam is accomplished within a year of completing required coursework except the advanced seminar, and is scheduled in consultation with the student’s dissertation chair. The Graduate Division requires either a written or oral examination before moving to candidacy. This examination is a department-controlled process; only LTEC faculty is required in the decision to pass the student.

The LTEC PhD comprehensive examination requires students to draft a major literature review (typically this will be the second chapter of the dissertation) and develop a short prospectus for their dissertation research. The literature review must follow all style guidelines for the dissertation and the APA 7 Manual of Style. The review must cover both theory and primary research with a focus on peer-reviewed publications. The typical literature review is a well-written synthesis with a focus on recent developments in the field couched within historical traditions as well as the theoretical frameworks and philosophy of the discipline. For those doing the alternative-format dissertation, a comprehensive literature review is still required. During the process of writing the literature review and prospectus, students are enrolled in the advanced LTEC doctoral seminar (LTEC 760) for writing support and to understand expectations. In addition, each student works closely with the chair of her/his doctoral committee on developing a high quality research design and literature review on the unique topic of her/his dissertation.

Once written, the student defends the work during the comprehensive oral examination by the LTEC faculty who will be on the dissertation committee. The defense may be in person or online. The committee deliberates and votes on whether to pass or fail the student upon completion of both the written and oral exam. A student who fails the examination may try a second time per the UH Graduate Division policy, but after a second failure is dismissed from the program.

Because many faculty are nine-month employees who do research in the summer, the comprehensive exam may only be taken in fall or spring semesters with rare exceptions.