Small Group Research Project

Overall Purpose: The overall purpose of conducting research in education is to guide school psychologists in the process of employing evidence-based practices in educational settings. One of the primary roles of school psychologists is to evaluate research findings, translate these findings to practice, pursue action research, and conduct investigations and program evaluations for effective service delivery with children. To help achieve these ends, the student will be involved in a research project that is associated with the field of school psychology and contributes to their development as an applied scientist-practitioner in school psychology.

Course Sequence for Research Development: The school psychology program is developmental and attempts to provide formative courses to help you develop as a scientist-practitioner who can conduct research that is applied and pertinent to the field. For instance, during the first semester of the first year, all students will take a statistics course (EDP 667) to help build their knowledge for the type of measurement and statistical analyses needed for conducting formal and applied action research agendas. In the following semester, students will then take an Educational Research course (EDP 651) that will help them to understand the research process and begin small group research work. In the first summer, students will encounter the research seminar course (EDP 652) which is designed to help students further address the procedures and particulars of the small group research project. Then, in the first semester of the second year, students enroll in 3 credit hours of an Independent Study called “Research Project”. This is the course wherein students complete the Culminating Graduate Research Project, in small groups with a faculty research mentor. There will typically be 3-4 students working with each faculty research mentor. Individual responsibilities are identified, as well as regular group work and meetings, in pursuit of the final project. The project culminates in a presentation or publication submission. The project must then be defended to a 2-Person Committee, prior to graduating with the Educational Specialist degree.

Early Steps in the Small Group Research Project: In the first year of the program, students will have the opportunity to interact with school psychology and other departmental faculty regarding current research interests and opportunities. Specifically, students are introduced to approximately 3 faculty mentors who will mentor groups of 3-5 students through the research project process. Faculty mentors vary each year, as will the topics (e.g., mental health, PBIS, program evaluation, academic interventions). Individually, students complete a survey about their research interests and rank which group/faculty mentor they would like to work with. Faculty will create groups based on this feedback. Small groups will begin to work together as early as Spring 1. It is recommended that small groups complete the research project before the end of Year 2 (prior to internship). Small groups will formally defend the project in Year 2 or Year 3, which is a required step before conferral of the Ed.S. degree. Projects may include experiments, quasi-experiments, correlational studies, action research, single-subject designs, surveys, meta-analyses, content analyses, archival studies, and qualitative (e.g., interviews, focus groups) studies. Other types of research may also be acceptable.

Evaluation of the Small Group Research Project: Students will be provided with the rubric that will be used by the 2-Person Defense Committee when the final project is evaluated. The project must be of sufficient quality (ratings of “meets” or “exceeds expectations”) on the group portion of the rubric, as well as on the individual portion of the rubric.

At the time of the defense, the student is responsible for getting all necessary forms from the departmental administrative assistant and/or graduate school so that all the paperwork that needs to be filed will be available to be signed by the committee members at the conclusion of the meeting. It is essential to have these forms so that effective written communication between faculty and the graduate school can occur.

Human Subjects Research Training: To be able to conduct research with human subjects while at the University, it is imperative that all students go through Human Subjects training through the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB at Miami has a two-component educational program for addressing federal and university policies regarding the protection of research subjects. Each student should take this coursework during their first year in the program. Information about this process can be gained through a faculty member or online:

Additional Opportunities for Research Projects: Students do have the option to choose to work collaboratively with one or more faculty on other research projects. If you want to pursue this option, you will need to inquire directly with faculty. Additionally, small research groups may ultimately decide to present or publish multiple times as a group.

Additional Supports: Take advantage of resources available through the King library and Howe Writing Center. Of course, other faculty are additional potential sources of support. For APA style support, you should obtain a copy of the latest APA publication manual. In addition, you can contact specialists at the Howe Writing Center or use a reference such as the Purdue Online Writing Lab at We also recommend that you talk with former or current students who have completed the small group research project, as well as additional individual research projects. Finally, we hope your cohort will provide each other with encouragement along the way… you can be each other’s support network!