San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.356.1 - 25.356.26
Creating and Sustaining Productive Research Groups in Graduate Engineering Departments: Results from a Faculty and Future Faculty WorkshopIn July 2011, 45 engineering graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty members andadministrators from 33 universities across the country met to discuss how to foster successfulengineering graduate research groups. Research groups, in which two to twenty (or more)graduate students are advised by one professor, are the most typical mode of research training forengineering master’s and PhD students. Students in the same group often share equipment andlab, or office space. The close collaboration between graduate students often leads to themlearning as much from each other as they do from their advisor. As a result, students in asupportive and productive research group are more likely to persist in a challenging graduateprogram. Successful research groups help students become independent researchers who alsowork well on teams.In this paper, we provide an overview of the workshop organization and expand on the findingsfrom the workshop, presenting detailed examples and recommendations across a wide range ofdisciplines, types of universities, and levels of faculty experiences. We conclude with theimplications for the graduate engineering community and offer recommendations for facultymembers interested in continuing this discussion at their institution.Analysis of workshop discussions yielded four major themes: clarity of expectations, attendingto community, organization for group and peer learning, and structuring student developmenttowards independence. Specific findings centered on the idea that expectations should be madeclear to students as early as possible. As groups increase in size, it becomes less efficient for oneadvisor to individually mentor and develop expectations for each student. Postdoctoralresearchers or more advanced graduate students can contribute to mentoring while developingtheir skills for future positions. Faculty members should use scaffolding techniques with studentsto require increasing responsibility and creativity over time. Time should also be spentdeveloping community among research group members to increase the chances they willapproach each other for help and support. Finally, setting concrete and challenging butachievable goals can also help motivate students.
Janeski, J. A., & Crede, E., & Borrego, M. J., & Venters, C. (2012, June), Creating and Sustaining Productive Research Groups in Graduate Engineering Departments: Results from a Faculty and Future Faculty Workshop Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21114
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