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Development Of Nontraditional Skills In Graduate Students Through Teaching And Curriculum Design

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Improving the Teaching Skills of Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.483.1 - 14.483.8

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Paper Authors

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Anna Fox Drexel University

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David Delaine Drexel University

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Adam Fontecchio Drexel University

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

Development of Non-traditional Skills in Graduate Students through Teaching and Curriculum Design

This paper presents a study of communication and leadership skill development in graduate students after participating in a program for cooperative faculty/graduate student teaching. Specifically, we discuss collaboration with experienced faculty to teach and design undergraduate Electrical Engineering curricula and the impact of developing these non- traditional skills in decisions regarding a future faculty career. Graduate student teaching advances the student’s knowledge not only in curriculum design but also allows fine tuning for methods of professorial leadership and mentorship, all characteristics desired by institutions with strong undergraduate engineering programs. Developing a collaborative program that enables graduate students to take on the role of course instructor while working closely with faculty benefits both parties; it can specifically provide a preview of faculty demands for the graduate student prior to committing to an undergraduate institution.

The graduate student/faculty collaborative program allows Ph.D. students to instruct and manage a large Electrical Engineering general education course while under the guidance of experienced faculty. We discuss the requirements of graduate students accepted into this program and the responsibilities that are associated with acting as a graduate student instructor. Additionally, the responsibilities of the faculty mentor are examined in depth for their impact on the instructor and the instructor’s teaching team. We examine communication between the graduate instructor and the team of assistants to monitor its growth over the course of a semester. Finally, several graduate student instructors participating in this program were asked to comment on their individual growth from working as a teaching assistant to becoming a course manager. Knowledge of communication and leadership skills is mandatory in any career path, particularly for educational faculty, and learning these skills through faculty/graduate student collaboration for teaching and course design is an extremely effective method to master them.


Undergraduate teaching and course design is not typically a mandatory requirement for earning a doctoral degree. In fact some institutions discourage levels of graduate student involvement that span more than simply teaching assistant or grader because it can subtract in reported percentages of faculty taught classes. Collaboration between graduate students and senior faculty for team-teaching is an optimal way to introduce graduate students to engineering instruction while satisfying the department that oversees the course. This type of nontraditional graduate education has the potential to strongly improve graduate student communication and leadership skills while teaching important educational development tactics and can contribute in the decision to pursue an academic career. Implementing a Ph.D. student teaching program is an improvement to the traditional doctoral curriculum and will strongly enhance student communication and mentoring skills.

Past approaches to educating graduate students in undergraduate engineering curriculum design and instruction have been offered in the form of classes focusing on this topic1. Another approach uses teaching assistant peer mentors for helping in the growth and development of the teaching assistant2. Others have reported on building a teaching portfolio as a graduate student

Fox, A., & Delaine, D., & Fontecchio, A. (2009, June), Development Of Nontraditional Skills In Graduate Students Through Teaching And Curriculum Design Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015