A SURVEY OF GRADUATE STUDENTS' ATTITUDES TOWARD PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH
AuthorPerl, Karen Joyce Goodman
KeywordsClinical psychology -- Study and teaching (Higher)
Psychology -- Study and teaching (Higher)
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractGraduate students in clinical psychology are taught to conduct research with the expectation that, in the future, they will become producers of research. Few clinical psychologists, however, actually produce much research. In attempting to explain this failure to fulfill expectations, Pasewark has suggested (as one of several plausible hypotheses) that graduate training programs may, unintentionally, be discouraging students' interest in research. A pilot study by the present author supported this supposition. The present study was designed to evaluate the validity of Pasewark's hypothesis on a national level and to examine the research attitudes of clinical psychology graduate students in relation to those of other psychology graduate students. A four-page, predominately closed-ended questionnaire was constructed with items covering the following areas: students' career goals, involvment in research achievement, satisfaction with research training and feelings about graduate school in general. Fifty percent of U.S. psychology departments having clinical training programs approved by the APA were randomly selected for inclusion in the study. During the Fall semester of 1978, Department Chairpersons were asked to distribute questionnaires to students in their departments; 69 percent of those approached agreed to do so. Six Directors of professional training programs were also contacted and three agreed to participate. A total of 3,847 questionnaires were distributed. The overall return rate for students was 53 percent. This meant participation in the survey by approximately 19 percent of all psychology graduate students at universities offering APA approved clinical programs (N = 1,893). For the three professional schools, N = 139. Results of the survey suggest that, on the whole, graduate students in psychology are interested in conducting research. Generally, their interest in research grows with experience and exposure to the process of research. These findings are true for students in clinical psychology as well as for students in other specialties. Results, therefore, run counter to Pasewark's hypothesis. Nevertheless, compared to other psychology graduate students in an academic setting, clinical students are less interested in research. Those in non-applied areas of psychology are the most interested in research, followed by those in applied areas other than clinical. Students in professional training programs are the least interested in research of all groups studied; however, even they have not abandoned research altogether. Other significant findings which emerged from the study are as follows: (1) A student's career goals are related to the student's attitude toward research. (2) Clinical students' primary identification is as a practitioner. (3) Obtaining statistically significant results in one's research is related to a positive attitude toward research in general. (4) Students tend to project their own training needs onto others. (5) Using a Research Productivity Measure which was developed, the level of student research productivity in a department was found to be related to faculty research productivity. (6) A vocal minority of clinical students voiced extreme dissatisfaction with their graduate education. (7) Interest in research was found to be related to criticism of the questionnaire. The contributions of the present study are discussed in light of the psychological literature. Implications for graduate training are considered and directions for future research are suggested.
Degree ProgramGraduate College