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Educational Philosophy and Training Model

The educational and research philosophy of the Prevention Science Program is grounded in four key principles:

  1. First, consistent with the unifying themes of prevention science, we emphasize prevention training and a strengths-based approach. Our training spans education and prevention work relevant to children, adolescents, families, and adults within their diverse communities. We emphasize research that aids in the identification and reduction of risk factors, the enhancement of protective factors, and that contributes to the evidence base of practices that promote psychological and public health.
  2. Second, we strive to: (a) facilitate students’ conceptualization of science and evidence-based community preventative practice as complementary and interdependent; (b) provide students with training in philosophies of research and scientific inquiry that they can use to advance prevention research in diverse settings; and (c) foster students’ socialization and professional identity development as prevention scientists.
  3. Third, consistent with ecological (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) and systems (Bateson et al., 1979; Sexton & Lebow, 2014) models of human development, we infuse training with attention to the contexts and systems within which human behavior occurs. Assessment, prevention, intervention, and research are viewed within the unique social, historical, political, and cultural contexts in which they occur, and students are trained to consider these contextual factors in all aspects of their work.
  4. Fourth, we are guided by Prilleltensky’s (1994, 1997) critique of psychology, and aspire to take an emancipatory communitarian approach to our prevention work. We infuse attention to human diversity, multicultural competency development, and advancing social justice throughout students’ coursework, research, and professional opportunities. We consider it our responsibility as community-engaged prevention scientists to work toward social justice.

Program Goals & Competencies

  • Goal #1: Graduates can describe theoretical models, risk and protective factors,  preventive interventions (especially evidence-based interventions), and implementation practices related to prevention science programs and policies for diverse populations;
  • Goal #2: Graduates understand and adhere to the standards of knowledge for prevention science, including best practices in research design and methods, data analysis, interpretation,  dissemination, self-evaluation, and rigorous ethical practice;
  • Goal #3: Graduates are committed to multicultural competence, social justice, and enhancing human welfare in their scholarly work and practice related to prevention science;
  • Goal #4: Graduates display professionalism in their relationships with faculty, staff, peers, and community partners in diverse settings;
  • Goal #5: Graduates demonstrate in-depth knowledge in a specialization area of prevention science (e.g., advanced methodology, school-based health, applied developmental neurobiology).

Learning objectives for the Prevention Science doctoral program will focus on preparing students to achieve the following set of minimum competencies that accompany the stated program goals:

Competency 1: Students can design and carry out research studies that contribute to the literature on risk and protective factors associated with numerous positive and/or negative behavioral health outcomes across the lifespan.

Competency 2: Students can design and carry out research studies grounded in theoretical models of the mechanisms and processes by which risk and protective factors contribute to subsequent positive and negative behavioral health outcomes.

Competency 3: Students can design and carry out research studies that contribute to the evidence base for bi-directional ecological influences on positive and negative human behaviors.

Competency 4:  Students can describe the origins, foundations, and standards of prevention science.

Competency 5: Students demonstrate advanced skill in conceptualizing & evaluating interventions designed to address malleable risk and protective factors in ways that are theorized to reduce negative and promote positive behavioral health outcomes.

Competency 6: Students demonstrate knowledge of evidence-based practices in prevention science and health promotion in critiquing, designing, and carrying out research.

Competency 7: Students incorporate developmental, ecological, and epidemiological perspectives and models in research conceptualization, design, and critique.

Competency 8: Students demonstrate awareness and understanding of diversity and contextual issues such as culture, identity, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marginalization, poverty, inequality, religion and spirituality, in conceptualization and implementation of research and applied activities.

Competency 9: Students incorporate multicultural knowledge, theory, scholarship, and self-awareness in their design and implementation of research and applied activities, adapting their professional behavior and research practices in ways that are sensitive to and inclusive of the needs of the individuals and communities with whom they interact and work.

Competency 10:  Students demonstrate commitment to learning and enhancing multicultural competencies, including continued development of critical self-awareness across all professional activities.

Competency 11: Students demonstrate integration of prevention science and multicultural competencies in their ongoing research, program evaluation work, and implementation work.

Competency 12: Students integrate knowledge of research design, quantitative methods, data analysis, and multi-method, multi-agent assessment methods commonly used in prevention science into the design of research aiming to identify risk, promotive, and protective factors and the developmental salience of these factors.

Competency 13: Students demonstrate skill in presenting research and scholarship via formal academic presentations, professional conferences, and professional writing.

Competency 14: Students perform activities consistent with those identified as best standards of professional practice in prevention (i.e., the Society for Prevention Research Standards of Knowledge for the Science of Prevention), and can evaluate and compare the relative strengths and weaknesses of specific prevention research strategies given the overall aims of the work.

Competency 15: Students affiliate with and/or involve themselves in organizations and/or activities related to prevention science and health promotion (such as the Society for Prevention Research, the Society for Research on Adolescence, the Society for Research on Child Development, the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, etc.).

Competency 16:  Students develop and maintain effective professional relationships with others including faculty, research supervisors, collaborators, participants, agency personnel, peers, and staff.

Competency 17: Students collaborate with peers and others in the activities of research and scholarship.

Competency 18: Student attitudes and behaviors indicate a commitment to continuous learning and to ongoing professional development.

Competency 19: Students demonstrate an understanding of and responsiveness to feedback from faculty, supervisors, and peers.

Competency 20: Students demonstrate honesty, personal responsibility, and knowledge and appropriate application of relevant ethical and legal codes related to prevention science (e.g., APA Ethical Standards).

Methods by which the learning outcomes will be assessed

Student performance and competency development will be evaluated through course examinations, comprehensive examinations, course assignments, performance on graduate assistantships, advising feedback on professional and academic development as well as research production process, and annual student reviews. We will use specific Program Competencies described above as benchmarks for student performance and development.