Mathematics Education Ph.D. Qualifying Examination
Doctoral students must demonstrate that they have acquired a comprehensive grasp of the field of mathematics education and expertise in conducting research in mathematics education through a qualifying examination before they are admitted to formal candidacy. The qualifying exam is taken prior to the dissertation proposal defense. It fulfills one of the requirements for doctoral candidacy.
Ordinarily, the exam is taken upon completion of the four mathematics education seminars and of the Qualifying Study. This usually occurs during the summer after the second year of full-time study.
The exam is composed of two parts, a written exam and an oral defense of the written exam. The written exam consists of responses to two questions plus the written report of the Qualifying Study. The two questions are general questions in the areas of learning, instruction, curriculum, or teacher education in mathematics education. The emphasis in these questions is on integrating the material covered in the four core mathematics education seminars. The response to each question is limited to six double-spaced typewritten pages (excluding references). Responses to the two questions are completed within seven days. These responses and the written report of the Qualifying Study are submitted together. An oral defense of these items is scheduled after the committee members have read the exam. Students should not share their exam questions or responses with others until after receiving official notification of the committee’s pass/fail decision.
Students who wish to take the exam should inform their advisor by April 1 (for the summer session) or November 1 (for the winter session).
The faculty committee that will prepare and read the exam is composed of the student’s dissertation advisor plus two additional faculty in mathematics education. The additional faculty will be advisors for other students taking the exam at the same time or faculty who have taught the mathematics education seminars.
The written exam and oral defense will result in one of three ratings for each of the two question responses and for the written report of the Qualifying Study.
- Pass. In this event, the response has been accepted. If all written materials are accepted, this is deemed “Passing the Qualifying Examination,” and the student may proceed with proposal work leading to candidacy.
- Fail. Responses that are rated fail cannot be revised. If either question response or the written report of the Qualifying Study receives this rating, the result is “Failing the Qualifying Examination.” In this situation, the committee will identify a set of structured activities for the student to address the concerns that were raised by the faculty. After completing the activities, the student may take a second exam consisting of activities that address the area(s) of concern. The same committee will review the written response(s) and, at the committee’s discretion, schedule an oral defense. A second failure means that the student has failed the qualifying examination and cannot advance to candidacy.
- Revise and resubmit. For written materials that are rated revise and resubmit, students have a set amount of time (e.g., six weeks) to revise the material, addressing the concerns that were raised by the faculty. A revision will result in a pass or fail decision by the committee based on the written response(s) (no oral defense).
Students will be informed of the results within one week of the oral defense of the exam.
 The stipulations for admission to doctoral candidacy at the University of Delaware are that the student has (1) had a program of study approved, (2) completed one academic year of full-time graduate study in residence at the University, (3) passed the program’s qualifying examination, (4) shown the ability to do research, and (5) had a research project accepted by the advisory committee with human subjects approval (if appropriate for the research).