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Developing Personal and Community Graduate Student Growth through the Implementation of a LaTeX Workshop

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade - Experiences Designing Courses and Communities

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Paper Authors


Nadra Guizani Purdue Univeristy

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Currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Engineering with an emphasis on data management with respect to access control. Other research interests include teaching research practices with regards to the electrical and computer engineering field.

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Hector Enrique Rodriguez-Simmonds Purdue Engineering Education

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Raised in South Florida, born in Mexico. Half Colombian and half Mexican; proud Mexilombian. Héctor has an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering and is currently pursuing a PhD in Engineering Education, both from Purdue University. His research interests are investigating LGBTQIA+ engineering student perception's of the culture of engineering. He's an avid videographer, eater of tasty food, moped enthusiast, and user/tweaker of computers.

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In this paper we will discuss the development of a LaTeX workshop and how this innovative academic outreach experience has contributed to our success and growth as graduate students. Through this workshop we developed a community of LaTeX practitioners in our university. LaTeX is a typesetting tool that is widely used to write research papers, theses, and dissertations.

In our home department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) we’ve often experienced a student climate that is less than helpful and borderline dismissive of new learners acquiring concepts and tools that are indirectly related to classes. Specifically, our ECE environment views LaTeX as a tool that should have been learned implicitly throughout our education. Through the creation of our workshop we sought to counter this dismissive climate and bring implicit concepts to the forefront, aiding in the creation of a more unified graduate student body. During our workshop we emphasized an exploratory methodology to learn LaTeX, modeling behaviors of openness and vulnerability that we want to encourage in our community.

We went through two cycles of our workshop creation process. After the first iteration, student feedback showed that we omitted important information for new users, effectively isolating them from using LaTeX. In the creation of the second iteration a more structured and explicit organizational strategy was adopted, incorporating the feedback we received to address the issues we faced in the first workshop. Teaming with the graduate school at our university obliged us to consider the workshop more seriously, professionally, and to be more critical of our approach. This additional accountability and the need to structure our time increased our ownership of the workshop while contributing to our professional graduate student development.

The two authors of this paper have differing instructional approaches. During the creation of the workshop many obstacles regarding how to deliver the instructional material in the most effective way were encountered. However, our differences in teaching styles complemented each other resulting in a more reflective practice, aware of student needs, balanced by the need to cover all the necessary technical content. Our yin and yang approach helps both authors enhance their experience, culminating in an effective community building LaTeX workshop. Having a student led seminar creates a more open relationship between graduate students making a better environment for research and creation.

Guizani, N., & Rodriguez-Simmonds, H. E. (2016, June), Developing Personal and Community Graduate Student Growth through the Implementation of a LaTeX Workshop Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26768

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