Philosophy for Student Evaluations

The Comprehensive Evaluation of Student-Trainee Competence in Professional Psychology Programs1

The following policy was adapted from the American Psychological Association Student Competence Task Force of the Council of Chairs of Training Councils on December 4, 2003 and is the governing policy for our training program in terms of the evaluation of student competencies:

I. Overview and Rationale
Professional psychologists are expected to demonstrate competence within and across a number of different but interrelated dimensions. Programs that educate and train professional psychologists also strive to protect the public and profession. Therefore, faculty, training staff, supervisors, and administrators in such programs have a duty and responsibility to evaluate the competence of students and trainees across multiple aspects of performance, development, and functioning.

It is important for students and trainees to understand and appreciate that academic competence in professional psychology programs (e.g., doctoral, internship, postdoctoral) is defined and evaluated comprehensively. Specifically, in addition to performance in coursework, seminars, scholarship, comprehensive examinations, and related program requirements, other aspects of professional development and functioning (e.g., cognitive, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, technical, and ethical) will also be evaluated. Such comprehensive evaluation is necessary in order for faculty, training staff, and supervisors to appraise the entire range of academic performance, development, and functioning of their student-trainees. This model policy attempts to disclose and make these expectations explicit for student-trainees prior to program entry and at the outset of education and training.

In response to these issues, the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC) has developed the following model policy that doctoral, internship, and postdoctoral training programs in psychology may use in their respective program handbooks and other written materials (see graduate/cctc.html). This policy was developed in consultation with CCTC member organizations, and is consistent with a range of oversight, professional, ethical, and licensure guidelines and procedures that are relevant to processes of training, practice, and the assessment of competence within professional psychology (e.g., the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, 2004; Competencies 2002: Future Directions in Education and Credentialing in Professional Psychology; Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, 2003; Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology, 2003; Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists, 2002).

II. Model Policy
Students and trainees in professional psychology programs (at the doctoral, internship, or postdoctoral level) should know—prior to program entry, and at the outset of training—that faculty, training staff, supervisors, and administrators have a professional, ethical, and potentially legal obligation to: (a) establish criteria and methods through which aspects of competence other than, and in addition to, a student-trainee's knowledge or skills may be assessed (including, but not limited to, emotional stability and well being, interpersonal skills, professional development, and personal fitness for practice); and, (b) ensure—insofar as possible—that the student-trainees who complete their programs are competent to manage future relationships (e.g., client, collegial, professional, public, scholarly, supervisory, teaching) in an effective and appropriate manner. Because of this commitment, and within the parameters of their administrative authority, professional psychology education and training programs, faculty, training staff, supervisors, and administrators strive not to advance, recommend, or graduate students or trainees with demonstrable problems (e.g., cognitive, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, technical, and ethical) that may interfere with professional competence to other programs, the profession, employers, or the public at large.

As such, within a developmental framework, and with due regard for the inherent power difference between students and faculty, students and trainees should know that their faculty, training staff, and supervisors will evaluate their competence in areas other than, and in addition to, coursework, seminars, scholarship, comprehensive examinations, or related program requirements. These evaluative areas include, but are not limited to, demonstration of sufficient: (a) interpersonal and professional competence (e.g., the ways in which student-trainees relate to clients, peers, faculty, allied professionals, the public, and individuals from diverse backgrounds or histories); (b) self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-evaluation (e.g., knowledge of the content and potential impact of one's own beliefs and values on clients, peers, faculty, allied professionals, the public, and individuals from diverse backgrounds or histories); (c) openness to processes of supervision (e.g., the ability and willingness to explore issues that either interfere with the appropriate provision of care or impede professional development or functioning); and (d) resolution of issues or problems that interfere with professional development or functioning in a satisfactory manner (e.g., by responding constructively to feedback from supervisors or program faculty; by the successful completion of remediation plans; by participating in personal therapy in order to resolve issues or problems).

1. This document was developed by the Student Competence Task Force of the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC) ( and approved by the CCTC on March 25, 2004. Impetus for this document arose from the need, identified by a number of CCTC members, that programs in professional psychology needed to clarify for themselves and their student-trainees that the comprehensive academic evaluation of student-trainee competence includes the evaluation of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and professional development and functioning. Because this crucial aspect of academic competency had not heretofore been well addressed by the profession of psychology, CCTC approved the establishment of a "Student Competence Task Force" to examine these issues and develop proposed language. This document was developed during 2003 and 2004 by a 17-member task force comprised of representatives from the various CCTC training councils. Individuals with particular knowledge of scholarship related to the evaluation of competency as well as relevant ethical and legal expertise were represented on this task force. The initial draft of this document was developed by the task force and distributed to all of the training councils represented on CCTC. Feedback was subsequently received from multiple perspectives and constituencies (e.g., student, doctoral, internship), and incorporated into this document, which was edited a final time by the task force and distributed to the CCTC for discussion. This document was approved by consensus at the 3/25/04 meeting of the CCTC with the following clarifications: (a) training councils or programs that adopt this "model policy" do so on a voluntary basis (i.e., it is not a "mandated" policy from CCTC); (b) should a training council or program choose to adopt this "model policy" in whole or in part, an opportunity should be provided to student-trainees to consent to this policy prior to entering a training program; (c) student-trainees should know that information relevant to the evaluation of competence as specified in this document may not be privileged information between the student-trainee and the program and/or appropriate representatives of the program.

This policy is implemented in the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Training Program through a number of specific mechanisms, occurring at various points in a student’s training. These major evaluation feedback mechanisms, described below, include:
 Annual Student Report
 Competency & Disposition Evaluation
 Doctoral Practicum Student Evaluation
 Comprehensive examinations
 Doctoral Internship Student Evaluation
 AU Dissertation Defense Evaluation Rubric
 Grade Point Average

Departmental Student Evaluations and Feedback Loop
All students in the Counseling Psychology Program are evaluated by the faculty in the Department of Graduate Psychology & Counseling for their goodness of fit in their program of study.  Students will be evaluated a minimum of once a year to ensure that adequate progress is made toward meeting program requirements. A combination of course grades, evaluations of practicum and internship experiences, comprehensive exams, and research and dissertation progress will be used to evaluate the professional growth of the student and their progression through the program. Students are evaluated in the areas of: interpersonal and professional competence, self-awareness, self-reflection and self-evaluation, openness to processes of supervision, and resolution of problems or issues that interfere with professional development or functioning in a satisfactory manner.

Evaluation Criteria – Academic/Professional Competencies
Students are evaluated on the following criteria:
 Courses Completed: including grades, number of incompletes, learning experiences or personal products.
 Practice: including application of work in courses, progress towards practicum competencies, internship and experience with multicultural populations.
 Research and Writing: including research team involvement, progress towards dissertation, or other extracurricular writing experiences.
 Conferences & Workshops: including all professional conferences or meetings attended (local, state, and national).
 Presentations given: including topics, dates, and occasions of presentations made at professional meetings, conferences.
 Professional Service/Other Professional Activities: including significant educational activities, such as committee work, manuscript reviewing, or professional memberships not covered in other areas.
 Multicultural Competence (awareness, knowledge, and skills) in practice and research.
 Four evaluative areas described above.
 Articulation of professional goals for next 12 months in four goal areas (i.e., academic coursework, practica/internship, research including presentations and publications, and other professional activities).

Criteria for Maintaining Satisfactory Status in Academic and Professional Competencies
Students are evaluated in each of these categories, and their progress is judged as exceptional, proficient, satisfactory, emerging, unsatisfactory, or not observed. Counseling Psychology faculty may seek information from other professors who have instructed or supervised the student, including practicum and internship supervisors. The following criteria are offered as guidelines for judging student progress. While students are not expected to excel in every area, faculty look for excellence in scholarship, research potential, and professionalism.
 Student has completed coursework in a timely manner with high grades (A or A-). Student has submitted articles for publication or proposals for presentations.
 Student has been actively involved with research projects in addition to his/her own dissertation project.
 Student’s practicum competency evaluations are “4 or 5”out of a scale from 5 to 1 as evaluated by practicum supervisors.
 Student has published (either jointly or has been sole author) a manuscript, position paper, or other scholarly publication.
 Student is an active member of the Society of Counseling Psychology of the American Psychological Association.
 Student has attended a national conference/meeting, and has participated with either joint or sole presentation.
 Student performance in the four evaluative areas above is noted to be exceptional.
 Annual Student Evaluation report is clear, specific, and purposeful.
Proficient and Satisfactory:
 Student has completed coursework in a timely manner with at least a B+ average.
 Student has received at least “3” rating in all competencies in Practica/internship evaluations on a scale from 1(poor) to 5 (excellent)
 Student has participated on a research team.
 Student has made adequate and timely progress on dissertation or exams (comprehensive exams or oral dissertation defense).
 Student has attended a local, state, or national conference/meeting.
 Student is a member of the Society of Counseling Psychology of the American Psychological Association (APA)
 Student performance in the four evaluative areas above is noted to be without problem.
 Student has submitted Annual Student Evaluation.
Emerging and Unsatisfactory Progress:
 Student has not maintained a B average (less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale).
 Student has received 1 or 2 on competency ratings in Practica settings on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).
 Student has minimal or no attendance or active participation on a research team.
 Student has not submitted any proposal for presentations.
 Student is not a student affiliate of APA and the Society of Counseling Psychology
 Student has not made adequate progress on dissertation or exams (failed comprehensive exams or oral dissertation defense).
 Student has not been enrolled in her/his program of studies during the past semester.

Grade Point Average
Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.30 (4.0 point scale) while in the program.  Classes which receive a grade below B- must be repeated.  If the overall GPA drops below 3.30, the student will be placed on Probationary Status. 

Plan of Action when Unsatisfactory Ratings are Given
If a student receives unsatisfactory ratings on their annual evaluation or other evidence of unsatisfactory levels of competence emerges during the student’s academic program, the core Counseling Psychology faculty will meet and develop a plan to assist the student to remedy the deficiency. One of the following 2 steps will be taken:
1. If the unsatisfactory performance is a minor departure from acceptable levels or represents a single deviation from a record of satisfactory or excellent level of competence, the faculty’s concern will be noted either on the yearly evaluation form or through a Notice of Concern. The nature of the deficiency and any recommendations for improvement will be presented. A meeting will be scheduled with the student and the Advisor to discuss the deficiency and the recommendations for improvement. If a Notice of Concern is written, it will be kept in the student’s file. Progress on the deficiency will be reviewed by the Advisor as stipulated in the Notice of Concern and a notation of satisfactory progress will be noted when the deficiency is remedied.
2. If the unsatisfactory performance represents a serious deficiency in performance or occurs subsequent to the issuance of a Notice of Concern for a prior deficiency, the core Counseling Psychology faculty will meet to develop a draft Remediation Plan for the student. The Advisor will then schedule a meeting with the student to discuss the deficiency and the draft Remediation Plan. In concert with the student, a final Remediation Plan will be written. The Plan will include specific actions to be taken by the student and a timeline for completion of the remediation activities. The final plan will be signed by all parties involved in the meeting and will be kept in the student’s academic file. The Advisor will be responsible for monitoring student progress at least once per semester. A second meeting with the student and Advisor will be held at the deadline for the Remediation Plan. If the student has complied with the plan and met its expectations, a follow-up notice will be placed in the student’s file. If the student has not satisfied the requirements of the Remediation Plan, the student will be given an opportunity to explain the reasons for the incomplete results. The faculty will then meet to discuss the next steps. Depending on the situation the faculty may vote any of the following options: extend the deadline, revise the remediation activities, or act to recommend that the student take other action, such as requesting a leave of absence from the program in order to resolve the difficulties. Student may also be dropped from the program if the Notice of Concern had those stipulations.

Ongoing Evaluation of Student Progress
For the purposes of ongoing evaluation, the decisions and actions outlined above may also be initiated by the faculty at any time during the academic year. In other words, such actions and decisions are not confined to the yearly meeting.