Department of Psychology at Illinois State University

 

Objectives and Competencies

The Graduate Programs in School Psychology at Illinois State University strives to provide quality training to develop a broadly educated school psychologist. The doctoral program, compared to the specialist program, provides more advanced training in applied skills and has a heavier emphasis on scientific inquiry. Given the comprehensive nature of the doctoral program and the level of training provided, graduate students will be referred to as doctoral trainees. Upon graduation, doctoral trainees are prepared to work as school psychologists in a wide variety of settings including schools, colleges and universities, mental health centers, hospitals, and independent practice settings.

The purpose of the doctoral program is to educate trainees who will promote the highest quality psychoeducational and mental health services for children and families. The program is based on the scientist-practitioner model of psychology. Our goal is to educate psychologists who integrate scientific principles with their applied clinical skills to improve the lives of children and families. This integrated approach to science and practice promotes the development of complimentary skills fostering psychological investigation, intervention, and evaluation. As scientist-practitioners, our alumni are able to distinguish fact from opinion in the application of psychological principles to human behavior, use existing theory and techniques to develop innovative practice in the field of school psychology, and develop research to address applied issues.

Graduates are educated to assume leadership positions in professional psychology. As health care providers, graduates deliver a variety of psychological services directly to children, parents, and families. Graduates may be supervisors of other school psychologists and administrators responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of educational and mental health programs. As educators, some graduates will supervise and educate students enrolled in pre-service training at universities to advance the state of scientific knowledge. Regardless of the setting, our graduates are able to function as scientist-practitioners well versed in collaborative problem-solving.

Theoretical Orientation

The overarching theoretical orientation represented in the doctoral program is the developmental-ecological model originally developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner. This orientation to understanding human growth, development, learning, and maladaptive behavior is integrated throughout all courses in the doctoral program. This orientation assumes professional services are nested within systems that include society (macrosystems), schools as organizations (ecosystems), and classrooms, families, and individual students (microsystems). Sources of problems and potential solutions lie within the various systems influencing the child and family. Doctoral trainees are trained to understand behavior, and to assess and intervene at various levels (i.e., school, family, and/or the individual). By ascribing to a developmental perspective, trainees are equipped to recognize the influence of these system changes as children mature.

In addition, doctoral trainees are immersed in the discipline of developmental psychopathology. As such, they are familiar with clinical work and research designs that focus on multiple pathways of development, and view professional practice from a risk and resilience perspective. They seek to find variables that moderate children’s multifinal trajectories, thereby identifying potential buffers or protective factors that may inform prevention and intervention.

Objectives and Competencies

Goal I: To prepare competent school psychologists who possess integrated knowledge across the basic areas of psychology.

Objective 1: Doctoral trainees will acquire a solid foundation in the biological basis of behavior.
Competency: Demonstrate competence in using basic biological principles to understand and explain human behavior.

Objective 2: Doctoral trainees will acquire a solid foundation in basic developmental principles.
Competency: Demonstrate competence in using basic developmental principles to understand and explain human behavior.

Objective 3: Doctoral trainees will acquire a solid foundation in basic learning principles.
Competency: Demonstrate competence in using basic learning principles to understand and explain human behavior.

Objective 4: Doctoral trainees will acquire a solid foundation in basic personality theories.
Competency: Demonstrate competence in using basic personality theories to understand and explain human behavior.

Objective 5: Doctoral trainees will acquire a solid foundation in basic social psychological principles.
Competency: Demonstrate competence in using basic social psychological principles to understand and explain human behavior.

Goal II: To educate competent school psychologists who can deliver effective mental health services to children, adolescents, and families. These services include assessment, intervention, consultation, prevention, and clinical and administrative supervision. The knowledge and skills in these areas are exhibited in settings chosen by the graduate which may include schools, hospitals, university based clinics, mental health settings or independent practice.

Objective 1: Assessment: Doctoral trainees will acquire skills in culturally responsive assessment to address mental health and learning problems in children, adolescents, and their families.
Competencies:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of the multiple developmental, cultural, and contextual factors influencing behavior related to assessment;
2. Identify referral concerns;
3. Understand the strengths and limitations of available instruments consistent with best practice;
4. Select, administer, and interpret evidence-based instruments and procedures for assessment and
5. Communicate (orally and in writing) results effectively to concerned parties, such as children, parents, and teachers.

Objective 2: Intervention: Doctoral trainees will acquire skills in culturally responsive intervention to address mental health and learning problems in children, adolescents, and their families.
Competencies:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of the multiple developmental, cultural, and contextual factors influencing behavior related to intervention;
2. Identify targets of intervention;
3. Understand the strengths and limitations of available evidence-based interventions consistent with best practice;
4. Select, administer, and provide evidence-based interventions consistent with assessment data;
5. Develop and evaluate evidence-based direct interventions; and
6. Communicate (orally and in writing) results effectively to concerned parties, such as children, parents, and teachers.

Objective 3: Consultation: Doctoral trainees will acquire skills in culturally responsive consultation to address mental health and learning problems in children, adolescents, and their families.
Competencies:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of the multiple developmental, cultural, and contextual factors influencing behavior related to consultation;
2. Identify targets of intervention;
3. Establish effective, collaborative relationships with consultees including teachers, parents, and administrators consistent with best practice;
4. Plan and evaluate evidence-based indirect-service interventions based on the consultation plan developed with teachers, administrators, parents, or systems; and
5. Communicate (orally and in writing) results effectively to concerned parties, such as children, parents, and teachers.

Objective 4: Prevention: Doctoral trainees will acquire skills in culturally responsive prevention to promote mental health and positive social, emotional, and academic development.
Competencies:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of the multiple developmental, culture, and contextual factors influencing behavior related to prevention;
2. Assess and identify needs consistent with best practices; and
3. Select, implement, and evaluate evidence-based prevention programs.

Objective 5: Supervision: Doctoral trainees will acquire skills in culturally responsive clinical and administrative supervision.
Competencies:
1. Establish effective culturally responsive supervisory relationships;
2. Develop a personal philosophy and model of supervision that can guide future administrative and clinical supervision activities;
3. Implement effective supervisory methods;
4. Implement effective methods of evaluating supervisee growth;
5. Implement legal-ethical practice related to the administration of school psychological services and clinical supervision; and
6. Implement self-evaluation (of the supervisor) in the supervisory process.

Goal III: To socialize trainees to professional psychology and the specialty of school psychology.

Objective 1: Doctoral trainees will receive professional socialization to scientist-practitioner model of practice in the field of psychology, and school psychology in particular.
Competencies:
1. Adopt the scientist-practitioner orientation in their clinical work and research activities; and
2. Demonstrate knowledge of research design, interpretation, and application to the role and function of a school psychologist.

Objective 2: Doctoral trainees will receive professional socialization to the field of psychology, and school psychology in particular.
Competencies:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of the history and systems of psychology and the specialty of school psychology;
2. Demonstrate knowledge of legal issues including eligibility criteria for special education services based on federal, state, and district policies, and ethical principles impacting the professional practice of school psychology;
3. Demonstrate knowledge of multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary team functioning;
4. Demonstrate knowledge of and sensitivity to cultural diversity and individual differences; and
5. Demonstrate knowledge of current professional issues and roles in the field (e.g., supervision).

Goal IV: To educate school psychologists to be competent consumers, distributors, and producers of research.

Objective 1: Doctoral trainees will acquire doctoral-level knowledge of research methodology to be an effective consumer and distributor of research.
Competencies:
1. Understand various research methodologies, including applied approaches such as evaluation of school-based programs;
2. Demonstrate competence in understanding and interpreting statistics;
3. Demonstrate competence as an informed consumer of the scientific and professional research literature and the skills and attitude of a life-long learner; and
4. Demonstrate competence in integrating, applying, and sharing with colleagues across disciplines the research literature related to professional practice.

Objective 2: Doctoral trainees will acquire doctoral-level knowledge of research methodology to be an effective producer of research.
Competencies:
1. Seek answers to empirical questions by extrapolating from theory and research literature and by conducting their own studies and program evaluations;
2. Design, conduct, interpret, and disseminate the results of educational and psychological research and program evaluation as a means of contributing to the knowledge base of the profession;
3. Demonstrate competence in statistics and related computer applications; and
4. Demonstrate competence in dissemination of scholarly work orally and in writing (e.g., conference presentations, in-service workshops, publications).