Students’ perceptions of the research component in an applied psychology master’s programme
Burger, Nicole Candice
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This study is aimed at exploring students’ perceptions of research as a component in an applied psychology master’s program. The perceptions of the students were explored through the lens of the self-determination theory (SDT) of Deci and Ryan (1985), particularly the basic psychological needs sub-theory. A qualitative approach was followed and a multiple case study design was applied. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 13 participants. The data were analyzed using the thematic analysis approach, which resulted in the finding of three themes and nine subthemes. The findings are discussed using the three basic psychological needs sub-theory to assess how the motivation of the participants was affected by either the thwarting or satisfaction of those needs. The basic psychological needs of the students were frustrated in specific instances during the research process, and for others these needs were fulfilled for the majority of the research process. Participants perceived the mini-dissertation as time consuming and financially and emotionally challenging but simultaneously as beneficial for personal and professional development. Participants were also challenged with difficult supervisory relations. The study could provide current applied psychology master’s training programs and their students with valuable information regarding challenges and shortcomings of the training programs. Researchers interested in the training of psychologists could also benefit from the information provided by this study.