Potential Students: FAQ

Potential Students: Frequently Asked Questions

Will you be accepting any new graduate students for September, 2023?

I am hoping to accept 2 new Master’s students in either MERM or CNPS to start in Sept., 2022. I am not really looking for any new doctoral students so an applicant would have to be an especially promising applicant and very good fit with my lab and current research interests.

Are you willing to accept any current Dept. of ECPS graduate students for thesis supervision this year (Sept., 2022-Aug., 2023)?

Possibly. I am willing to accept no more than 1 Master’s student currently in the CNPS program for thesis supervision. It is important, however, that their research interests be a good fit with my lab.

Are there topics you are most interested in supervising?

I currently have active programs of research related to response processes in validation (including use of eye tracking), the evaluation of positive/negative worded and keyed items, and survey data quality (e.g., inattentive responding, fraudulent responding, bots); I am especially interested in working with students who want to pursue these areas of study. More generally, I am open to most topics related to measurement issues, test validation, mental health & depression, homelessness, substance use issues, quality of life, subjective age identity, neuropsychological assessment, or development of scales and measures. Most of my work focuses on adults – ranging from young adults to older adults – although research in children and adolescents related to the above topics may also be of interest.

What do you look for in a student?

I look for students who are excited about conducting, or learning how to conduct, good research. When reviewing new students’ applications, I look for strong academic performance in their undergraduate and, if appropriate, Master’s course work. When GRE scores are considered, I primarily look for high GRE-Verbal performance, which I find is often predictive of my students’ writing ability. When considering whether or not to supervise particular students (who are new or already accepted into a Program), their general fit with my research interests and projects is very important. Generally, it is my expectation that my students will attend full-time and will become actively involved in the lab.

What is your perspective on student supervision?

I believe in, and adhere to, a research mentorship model. I prefer to supervise a relatively small number of students, but closely. I like to supervise students within my general areas of expertise because I believe that students best learn from their supervisor if that person has an expertise in the thesis topic. Generally, I expect Ph.D. students to be far more independent than Master’s-level students. Although students approaching me to supervise their Master’s or Ph.D. theses may have relatively well-formed thesis topics or questions already, this is not an expectation and I think there is an advantage to students being willing to explore new research ideas. I also think it is really important that students interact with each other within a research context and thus prefer students to actively spend time in the lab. These days, many students in the lab interact regularly via Zoom. This provides not only important emotional support but often results in an exciting synergy of research ideas, problem-solving skills, and key relationships that may result in future employment opportunities and lifelong friendships. My students are also given the opportunity to obtain research experience or conduct research within the lab, but outside of their thesis requirements. This is particularly the case for MERM students. While course work introduces students to various research designs, methodologies, and statistical tools, skill in research primarily comes through practice.

What is your academic background (or what were your degrees in)?

All of my academic and research training is in Psychology. I have an Honours B.A. in Psychology from Carleton University, a M.A. in Psychology with specialization in Lifespan Development and Aging from the University of Victoria, and a Ph.D. in Psychology with specialization in Human Assessment (neuropsychology, personality, geriatrics) from Carleton University. I completed a pre-doctoral practicum in Geriatric Assessment at the Ottawa Civic Hospital and a pre-doctoral internship in Neuropsychological Assessment at Elisabeth Bruyere Health Centre in Ottawa.

What do the MERM and CNPS designations beside your name on the Faculty List for the Department mean?

Within the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education (ECPS), I am primarily affiliated with the Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology (MERM) Program. I also am affiliated with the Counselling Psychology (CNPS) Program because my research interests in adulthood and clinical topics are often of interest to students in that program and because I teach several courses required by CNPS (and SCPS) students. Importantly, however, my research interests span many of the Programs within the Department.

In what Programs can you supervise graduate students’ theses?

Graduate students’ theses can be supervised by any tenured or tenure-track faculty member within the Department of ECPS. In most cases, the students that I supervise will be applying to, or already registered in, one of the following Programs:

  • Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology (MERM)
  • Counselling Psychology (CNPS)

Please visit the Past Graduate Students page to see the titles and topics of theses I have supervised in the past.

Do you only supervise research that has a quantitative focus?

Not necessarily. In my own research, I use whatever methodology – quantitative, qualitative, or a combination – that best answers my research question. Generally, my students are accorded the same freedom – with the expectation that the research question will drive the methodology and not the other way around. However, I will not supervise Master’s theses using qualitative research unless the student has taken more than one course focusing entirely on qualitative methods and analysis. Analysis of qualitative data is often far more challenging and time-consuming than most students realize. In my view, many Master’s students (a) do not have adequate course work and experience at this level to effectively conduct this type of research, and (b) underestimate the difficulty and time required to properly conduct such research.

Where can I obtain funding for my studies and/or thesis research?

There is some limited funding available to attract new graduate students with exceptional academic ability who apply to our programs in the Department. Graduate students who are already in the Department may apply for University Graduate Fellowships (UGF) provided that they are also applying for funding from NSERC, SSHRC, or CIHR (if appropriate). The Office of Graduate Programs and Research (OGPR) also provides information about scholarships and financial support. All graduate students are strongly encouraged to apply for external funding. Funding is far more limited for international students. Below is a list of external funding agencies that should be considered but one must be a Canadian citizen or be a permanent resident to apply: