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Graduate Student and Faculty Member: An Exploration of Career and Personal Decisions

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Preparing Future Educators

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.651.1 - 24.651.16



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Paper Authors


Rachel McCord Ellestad Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Rachel McCord is a graduate student in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee. Her research interests include engineering students use of metacognitive practices while studying in groups. Her advisor is Dr. Holly Matusovich.

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Cory Hixson Virginia Tech

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Cory is currently a NSF Graduate Research Fellow pursuing a Masters in Industrial and Systems Engineering and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He has worked to develop multiple entrepreneurial education efforts including an upper-level, interdisciplinary course on starting companies and a freshman engineering course on innovation and entrepreneurship. He has participated in trainings for and implemented both the Ice House Entrepreneurship and the Lean LaunchPad pedagogies.

Cory has experience in professional engineering, higher education, and high school education. It is this combination of experience that led him to Virginia Tech to pursue a doctoral degree in Engineering Education. His professional and research interests include understanding engineering faculty members’ decisions and behaviors, the institutional structures that influence both engineering education and entrepreneurship, and the interactions between educational pedagogy and entrepreneurship.

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Ella Lee Ingram Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Ella L. Ingram is an Associate Professor of Applied Biology and Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her educational research interests include promoting successful change practice of STEM faculty, effective evolution and ecology instruction, and facilitating undergraduate research experiences. Her teaching portfolio includes courses on: nutrition, introductory biology, ecology and environmental studies, evolution, evolutionary medicine, and research practices in science.

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Lisa D. McNair Virginia Tech

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Lisa D. McNair is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she also serves as Assistant Department Head of Graduate Programs and co-Director of the VT Engineering Communication Center (VTECC). She received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia. Her research interests include interdisciplinary collaboration, design education, communication studies, identity theory and reflective practice. Projects supported by the National Science Foundation include interdisciplinary pedagogy for pervasive computing design; writing across the curriculum in Statics courses; as well as a CAREER award to explore the use of e-portfolios to promote professional identity and reflective practice. Her teaching emphasizes the roles of engineers as communicators and educators, the foundations and evolution of the engineering education discipline, assessment methods, and evaluating communication in engineering.

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Graduate Student and Faculty Member: An Exploration of Career and Personal Decisions Graduate school is an important developmental period for individuals who willeventually become the next generation of faculty members, government leaders, and industryprofessionals. During this time, doctoral students may experience varying levels of responsibilityrelated to learning, conducting research, teaching, mentoring, and advising. Each of theseexperiences can enhance the growth of graduate students as future professionals, but, ifexperienced at all, they primarily occur in the context of the graduate academic environment. Inthis paper we seek to better understand if and how graduate student’s experiences in a potentialprofessional role impact the student’s professional growth by exploring the question: What arethe experiences that impact professional development when participating in a program wheregraduate students serve a dual role: graduate student AND faculty member? To this end, this paper presents a study completed while the authors were simultaneouslyactive in both their doctoral graduate study as well as serving as visiting faculty members in thefield of engineering education. During this experience, the authors performed both the functionsof a graduate student (data collection for dissertation work; synthesis of readings for literaturereview section; work on advisor-lead research projects) while concurrently performing thefunctions of a faculty member (consulting on potential research projects; data collection forresearch projects; development of assessment plans). The motivation for this professionaldevelopment program was to provide an experience where graduate students could more fullyserve as contributing member of the academic community and develop the skills needed to feelempowered when facing the competing goals of academia. This work uses an autoethnographic approach in which the authors used reflectivejournaling methods to document their experiences during the academic term where they servedas faculty members. A modified framework of self-determination theory and future possibleselves, based on Kajfez’s recent work regarding graduate student development through teachingexperiences, was used to prime the reflective journaling process. Through analysis of thereflective journals, we explore the ways in which a fully immersive, potential future careerexperience impacted our thinking, identity, and development as professionals in the field ofengineering education. Beyond exploring concurrent graduate school and professionalexperiences, this work adds to the literature on graduate student professional development andthe application of both future possible selves and self-determination theories to graduateeducation.

Ellestad, R. M., & Hixson, C., & Ingram, E. L., & McNair, L. D. (2014, June), Graduate Student and Faculty Member: An Exploration of Career and Personal Decisions Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20542

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: © 2014 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