New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Postgraduate engineering education allows students to gain expertise in a specific research area, but does not traditionally provide its graduates with the necessary professional skills. To bridge this gap, we designed two sequential Graduate Professional Development courses. This paper discusses the course content, assessments, the teaching methodologies, and its outcomes.
The courses are delivered through one weekly 75 min class (0.5 credit units) in the Fall and Winter terms. Currently, course enrolment is mandatory for graduate students in three of the University’s engineering departments (total of 153 students). The course is intentionally designed to require minimum preparation and homework while providing the maximum benefit.
The course content is split into five professional development modules that promote lifelong learning. Module 1 overviews the basics of Health & Safety including workplace health & safety practices, appropriate professional conduct, and mental health issues. The second module focuses on Communication Styles and Interpersonal Relationships. This module consists of interactive and engaging workshops on diverse issues such as supervisor relationships, personality styles, and respect in the workplace. Module 3 covers Presentation Skills and includes workshops which provide students with the skills to plan a presentation, present in front of a wide range of audiences, and create effective presentation visuals. The fourth module focuses on Research Methodologies. This module provides information on effective literature reviews, formulating research questions and hypothesizes, and effectively writing in a technical field. The last module topic is Life After Graduation, which gives students insight into topics such as intellectual property, entrepreneurship, life in industry or academia, and the career application process.
The modules’ materials are reinforced by assignments throughout the year. Examples of assignments include a 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) style presentation, an impact study, abstract writing, abstract reviewing, and a graduate student conference with oral presentations and posters. The assignments are not given numerical grades, but the students are provided with feedback from the Professors, TAs, as well as their peers.
All classes are conducted in an active learning environment with students engaging in individual and group activities. For the most effective delivery, a combination of on- and off-campus resources are used in the professional development courses.
The course outcomes are evaluated with respect to their effectiveness in enhancing students’ skills for a successful graduate and postgraduate career. To date, the total participation across departments is approximately 350 graduate students. The students have consistently ranked the classes as highly effective and an excellent learning experience. Starting in Fall 2015, we have been teaching the courses collaboratively across departments, providing a more supportive learning environment. These two courses provide an excellent platform for team teaching as instructional conversation is appropriate and the teachers are very comfortable with the material. End-of-term surveys be implemented to gain insight into the effectiveness of team teaching, determine the value of the course for students, and identify areas for further improvements.
Behjat, L., & Trifkovic, M., & Paul, R., & Canon-Rubio, K. A., & Hladik, S. (2016, June), Design, Implementation, and Outcomes of a Comprehensive Professional Development Program for Post-Graduate Studies in Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26690
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