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Assessment Of A Prestigious Engineering Graduate Teaching Fellowship Program

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Collection

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Improving the Teaching Skills of Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

11

Page Numbers

13.237.1 - 13.237.11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/4118

Download Count

14

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Paper Authors

biography

Maura Borrego Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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MAURA BORREGO is an assistant professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Dr. Borrego holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University. Her current research interests center around interdisciplinary collaboration in engineering and engineering education, including studies of the collaborative relationships between engineers and education researchers. Investigations of interdisciplinary graduate programs nationwide are funded through her NSF CAREER award.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assessment of a Prestigious Engineering Graduate Teaching Fellowship Program Abstract

A traditional hierarchy exists in graduate education in which research assistantships are more desirable than workshop leaderships. Unfortunately, this means that some of the best and brightest doctoral students who go on to be faculty never gain teaching experience before they become assistant professors. To counteract these effects, a prestigious graduate teaching fellowship program has been developed at a large state university on the east coast. Incoming doctoral students compete for these coveted assistantships, which award students with a tablet PC, augmented stipend, and increasing teaching responsibility over three years. As this program is in its second year, the quantitative data to support its success in attracting and preparing top graduate students for faculty positions is yet unavailable. In the meantime, we collected and analyzed qualitative data about the students’ experience as workshop leaders in College of Engineering first-year courses to determine whether the goal of high-quality mentored teaching experiences is being met. We found that the workload in the freshman courses is similar to teaching assistant workloads in other departments, but that workshop leaders have (and enjoy) more responsibility. Workshop leaders found far greater value in weekly meetings than in training at the beginning of the semester. To varying degrees, these weekly meetings also serve as peer mentoring and community building activities among the teaching teams assigned to each course. There is little communication between graduate students assigned to different courses, even among Graduate Teaching Fellows. Written, qualitative faculty evaluations were very useful to workshop leaders, while quantitative student evaluations using a standardized form were not reflective of the responsibilities of workshop leaders. Recommendations include expanding the faculty teaching mentor role, redesigning the student feedback form, and adding social activities across course assignments.

I. Introduction

Those holding academic faculty positions within a college or university are expected to be active in teaching, research, scholarly publication, and outreach. Doctoral education programs have historically emphasized preparation for research and scholarly publications and perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent for outreach. However, the vast majority of candidates who complete a doctoral program in engineering have minimal preparation and experience in being an educator in the classroom. In this paper, we describe one program designed to directly address this deficiency in doctoral student preparation: the College of Engineering Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF) Program at a large state university on the east coast. The primary objective of the GTF program is to better prepare interested doctoral students for the rewarding lifetime career of an academic in a university setting, with central programmatic focus on the instructional aspects of being a faculty member. As this program is in its second year, the quantitative data to support its success in attracting and preparing top graduate students for faculty positions is yet unavailable. In the meantime, we can collect and analyze qualitative data about the students’ experience in the program to determine whether its goal of high-quality mentored teaching experiences is being met. Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTFs) spend their first year teaching in the common first-year engineering courses, which is the focus of this assessment.

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