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School Psychology Program

Program Description

Philosophy and Model

The scientist-practitioner model forms the basis for the philosophy of education for both the M.S. and Ph.D. programs. The scientist-practitioner model is not a bipartite one, but rather school psychology presentationcomprises an integrated philosophy of professional education derived from the conceptualization of school psychologists as data-oriented problem solvers and transmitters of psychological knowledge and skill. The Programs are committed to the synthesis of science with practice, providing academic and experiential opportunities throughout a unified course of study. The Programs strive to engender the philosophy that the scholarly and research roles of school psychologists are inextricably linked to their clinical and applied roles, and discourage the viewpoint that these roles are separate ones in professional practice.

Although students receive preparation relevant to current job proficiency, the philosophy that guides the scientist-practitioner model of the programs is that of education for professional competency and continuing development. Most didactic courses include research and applied components and, in some instances, receive preparation in statistics and research methodology, including techniques relevant to field research and quasi-experimentation, as well as more traditional and classical experimental designs. Moreover, the scientist-practitioner model is fostered through required participation in faculty-sponsored research groups and supervised practica. All these experiences provide vehicles to encourage a scientific, scholarly approach to problem solving in psychology and education.

The programs recognize the growing importance of understanding and serving the needs of individuals of all ages, from diverse cultural, linguistic, and ethnic groups, of all abilities and disabilities; and with different lifestyles. Additionally, a major focus of the programs is on conceptualization of the client within diverse social and cultural contexts and at the differing levels of individual, group, population, organization, or system. This organizational and systems focus is emphasized both in the direct, as well as the indirect service-delivery approaches that are presented. An appreciation for the advantages of indirect over direct approaches is cultivated. Students are encouraged to consider a wide range of orientations, for instance, behavioral, cognitive, developmental, family-systems, humanistic, and psychodynamic, that are modeled and taught by faculty within the programs and Department. Consistent with the scientist-practitioner model articulated by our program, the overriding emphasis is on theoretically and empirically based problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Despite the similarities of their underlying philosophies, there are some major differences between the M.S. and Ph.D. Programs in School Psychology. For example, the M.S. program is organized around "entry level" professional preparation as a school psychologist. This three-year program provides the skills and knowledge necessary for a practicing psychologist in the schools and includes an internship. In contrast, for the Ph.D. program, students receive more extensive research preparation and experience. The goal of the Ph.D. program is to prepare future psychologists to assume leadership and problem-solving roles in broadly defined educational and social systems serving children.

An appreciation for the advantages of indirect over direct approaches is cultivated. Students are encouraged to consider a wide range of orientations, for instance, behavioral, cognitive, developmental, family-systems, humanistic, and psychodynamic, that are modeled and taught by faculty within the programs and Department. Consistent with the scientist-practitioner model articulated by our program, the overriding emphasis is on theoretically and empirically based problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Our Mission

The mission of the School Psychology Program is to promote the healthy psychological development of all children through the preparation of professional psychologists who are scientist-practitioners, competent to enhance the functioning of individuals and systems within the diverse and inter-related social contexts of school, family, and community. The program strives to provide a quality graduate education guided by high standards and sound pedagogy, and based on a curriculum requiring mastery of the most current knowledge in psychological science, empirically supported professional practices, and research methodologies. Graduates are prepared to serve in leadership roles as scientific problem solvers, whose practice and research will inform policy and advance the application of psychology to the prevention and treatment of developmental problems. Our programmatic mission is consistent with and guided by the broader missions of the Psychology Department and the overall land and urban grant charge of the university.

The mission of the Psychology Department at the University of Rhode Island is to generate knowledge of basic psychological processes and contextual influences on psychological and physical functioning, to apply knowledge to promote health and welfare in a pluralistic society by enhancing the functioning of individuals and social systems, to translate knowledge into science based programs, policies and professional practices responsive to societal needs, and to transmit knowledge through educational programs which inform individual development, provide understanding of human behavior, and prepare scientist-practitioners to become future leaders and innovators. In the accomplishment of this mission we value the fundamental rights, dignity, and worth of all people, in achieving our goal to create a climate of understanding and respect among diverse individuals. We are committed to fostering and integrating multiculturalism at both a didactic and personal level, and promoting conflict resolution in a just and responsible fashion that avoids or minimizes harm while respecting the rights of all individuals. The School Psychology program is an integral part of the Psychology Department and as such, contributes to the department's overall mission in an active way. Our program's purpose is guided by the departmental mission as it applies to children, families, schools, and communities.