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What I Heard at Council of Graduate Schools Meetings…

flying through learning

Graduate schools are different at the same time they are much the same.  Still, coming from an Irish perspective there was much for me to learn as I attended Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) regional meetings in the spring of 2017.

Suzanne Ortega’s plenaries

“It is a travesty of graduate education that the highest percentage of doctoral students disengage after being raised to candidacy” and that those students from underrepresented populations and international students are more likely to struggle at this time.  “Our students are our jewels, take good care of them.”  These students may be hard work and work we were not prepared to take on but it is important work, to their parents, their communities.  We need to help them complete their dreams.

Graduate education depends on more people understanding its importance. 

The Ethic of Care, Graduate Education 2017


I am a graduate of Teachers College, which is to admit that my personal context creates the passion about the topics I focus on here. To go to TC is to have travelled in the halls of the great thinkers – those who have helped education, and the theoretical debates still in evidence, evolve. Perhaps it is to instill and ideal that we all should work hard to make those same levels of contribution.

The year is 1918 And two of the “great minds” at TC take different approaches to promoting change within education: John Dewey on the pragmatic side, writing about the ethics of leading a person or culture through education, and Edward Thorndike, imposing the scientific method for the first time and experimenting with measuring humanity through surveys. These theoretical positions rage today in graduate education, but I wonder if many of us have considered expenditures on big data vs relational learning as part of a historical dichotomy that has raged for over a century?

Graduate Student (User) Experience is the New Socialization


50 years ago, organizational development began to work with socialization theory.  It was quickly picked up and has continued as a major theoretical construct in higher education, employed most often in research on graduate retention and completion.  Literally thousands of researchers have found the theory useful (See References). Retention and completion are topics which can be addressed from multiple positions, i.e.: supervisor/student relationships (Abernathy, et al, 2008; Barnes, et al, 2010; Pyhältö, et al, 2012; Vekkaila, et al, 2013), work-life balance issues (Eisenbach, 2013; Mantai & Dowling, 2015) or the varying experiences of special populations (Daniel, 2007; Ellis, 2001; Felder, et al, 2014; Hsu, 2010; McKinley & McKinley, 2011).  All of them have found this theoretical base useful.

That HE currently demonstrates a distance between understanding the graduate student experience and how finances are invested for development purposes, becomes evident when you look at the results from a comparative survey on graduate student use of mobile technologies. Graduate students reported that they use their mobile devices in the following ways: 76% manage their schedules, 64% read literature for their dissertation or thesis, 59% take notes, 45% capture data, and 40% receive push notifications for degree work and attend webinars.  In contrast, university administrators reported that 78% purchased learning management systems and 54% bought technology for plagiarism protection, all the rest (approximately 20% each) were investing in CRM and course repurposing, with only 14% providing data analysis tools, the only tool specifically aimed at helping graduate completion (James, 2016b).

Are there other aspects of user experience in technological settings, that HE should reconsider?  This article postulates that ... 

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