Northcentral University Comprehensive Exam
Question 1: Theory Theories play a vitally important role in guiding research and organizing and making sense
of research findings. In spite of the great importance of theory-building and theory testing
within your field of specialization, there is no generally accepted conception of what a theory
is. Because your dissertation must contribute to theory, you must have a clear
understanding of the variety of conceptions of theory, types of theories, and ways of
contributing to theory and be able to justify how, exactly, your study contributes to theory.
Using Gelso (2006), Harlow (2009), Stam, H. (2000, 2010), Wacker (1998), and five
additional peer-reviewed articles from your specialization, discuss scholarly views on the
nature and types of theory. Compare and contrast at least three views of what constitutes a
theory, including the view you will use in Part 3 of this question. Be sure to distinguish
theory from related concepts, such as hypothesis, paradigm, model, and concept.
Using Ellis & Levy (2008), Harlow, E. (2009), and five additional peer-reviewed articles,
review the scholarly literature on the relationship between theory and research and the
ways research (quantitative and qualitative) can contribute to theory. Discuss at least three
ways research can contribute to theory.
Pick a theory (in one of the views of what constitutes a theory that you identified in Part 1) of
current interest directly related to the topic area of your dissertation. A theory is currently of
interest if there are articles published on it in the past five years. Using at least 10
published, peer-reviewed research articles:
1. Explain how the theory adds or may add to our understanding of your field and/or
2. Discuss and analyze the literature on two areas of controversy or unanswered questions
related to the theory.
The structure of your paper should be as follows:
Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of
References (APA Style)
1. Compose a theoretically sound and conceptually rich essay that demonstrates knowledge
of fundamental subject areas of a student’s academic discipline and specialization. SBoTM
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Question 2: Practical Application Your dissertation research must contribute to theory. Your research and the theory to which it
contributes may or may not have a practical benefit or application. There is no doubt,
however, that there is a theory in your di...
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