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Fostering Graduate Student Professionalism Using Developmental Coaching Techniques

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Professionalism and Preparations Developed by Graduate Study Programs—Graduate Studies Division Technical Session 7

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Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Valerie N. Streets University of Tulsa

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Valerie N. Streets is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Tulsa. She received her Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University in 2016. Her research focuses on underrepresented groups and the professional development of the STEM workforce.

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Bradley J. Brummel University of Tulsa

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Dr. Brummel is an Associate Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at The University of Tulsa. He received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He conducts research on training and development with a specific focus on professional development, ethics, and coaching.

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Michael Wade Keller University of Tulsa

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Michael Keller is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the university of tulsa. His research and teaching interests are in solid mechanics, both experimental and theoretical, and materials science.

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Rami M. Younis The University of Tulsa

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Government agencies, professional societies, and other organizations have issued numerous calls to strengthen the nation’s engineering workforce. The current research, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, works to address these calls through the development and assessment of a professional development program for graduate students in engineering. This program supplements the technical mentoring relationship between faculty advisors and graduate students to enhance the focus on the student’s professional development.

Rooted in the organizational sciences literature, the pilot program emphasizes nine competencies that are complementary to technical skills and critical to professional success. Specifically, the program targets nine core competencies: conflict management, creativity, cultural adaptability, leadership, oral communication, planning, problem solving, teamwork, and written communication. Unlike many other educational interventions, the current program does not offer new training content but instead emphasizes the existing graduate curriculum in a new way. Each of the nine competencies is used in a number of tasks commonly completed by graduate students, such as writing papers, delivering conference presentations, and collaborating with other members of a research lab. Rather than implementing courses to develop each of the nine competencies, the researchers designed an assessment and advising method to increases student awareness of the extant opportunities for improving one’s professionalism.

Program participation begins with individual assessments to determine students’ current standings on each professional competency. These assessments follow a 360-degree feedback model, in which quantitative ratings and qualitative feedback are provided by the self, peers, the advisor(s), and other faculty members. A feedback report is generated based on assessment results. This report is presented to the student and his or her advisor in order to initiate a dialogue about the student’s most pressing developmental needs as well as potential developmental opportunities. Following the feedback, students are coached on goal-setting and work with their advisor and the research team to identify ways to build professional development into their current graduate work. Student progress is monitored through regular 360-degree assessment as well as periodic progress reports on professional development behaviors.

A pilot of this program is in progress and will be completed during the Fall 2016 semester. The pilot includes graduate students and faculty advisors from Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Petroleum Engineering. Pilot outcomes, such as participant reactions to the program, student and advisor competency ratings, and student professional development goals, will be reviewed. Furthermore, the implications of such a program, including the contextualization of the program to other departments and disciplines as well as the potential impact of program participation will be discussed.

Streets, V. N., & Brummel, B. J., & Keller, M. W., & Younis, R. M. (2017, June), Fostering Graduate Student Professionalism Using Developmental Coaching Techniques Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28382

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