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Design and Assessment of Professional Educational Programming for Graduate Students at a Research Extensive University

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Type: Article
Author(s): Sunni Newton, Lydia Soleil, Tris Utschig, and Donna Llewellyn
Published: Proceedings of the 2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
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This paper describes the design and assessment of a new professional development program for graduate students at a research extensive university. The program addresses two needs that have been identified by the graduate student government at this university - more explicit training to teach effectively, and career advice for those wanting an academic career. This program, Tech to Teaching, is funded by NSF and is designed to link existing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education projects at the university to produce a collective result that is greater than the sum of its parts. The grant also promotes collaboration within this research extensive university and with nearby institutions in order to give graduate students the skills and experience they need to successfully transition to a faculty member position.

There is both a formal structured “certificate” program and less structured a la carte options. There are two tiers of the certificate program. The first tier includes a graduate level course on the fundamentals of teaching and learning and a teaching practicum whereby graduate students work with a mentor and take on some of the duties of teaching a course, such as preparing and delivering several lectures, helping write assignments and exams, etc. For the second tier, graduate students take a graduate level course in course design and then take full responsibility for teaching a course, either at Georgia Tech or a nearby college, with the support of a mentor. A la carte options include workshops focused on the academic job search and career options, academic communication skills, and teaching topics as well as graduate courses in academic communication. Individual career, teaching and communication consultations are also available. The design of the certificate program borrowed features of the Preparing Future Faculty model and other Teaching Certificate Programs across the country and the integrated course design model from Fink’s “Creating Significant Learning Experiences” was used to plan the courses and is taught in both courses. Concepts from “Learner-Centered Teaching” by MaryAnn Weimer are also integrated into the course and taught in both courses.

Student perceptions about the program’s pilot offerings have been assessed via student course/instructor opinion surveys, a student focus group, and workshop feedback forms. Additionally, course syllabus and workshop content have been analyzed for alignment with project goals. Finally, participation rates in the program are being tracked via course enrollment and workshop attendance numbers.

Overall, this program, which mainly targets the teaching-related aspect of a faculty career in higher education for graduate students, was eagerly received and highly rated across all program elements at this research extensive university. Additionally, other grant funded projects involving STEM education across the campus are being linked with elements of this project. This paper will explain the process that was used to develop the program, describe synergies being created from links to existing programs, and present assessment data from the first year of implementation.


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Tech to Teaching