June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.652.1 - 24.652.16
Graduate Student Identity: A Balancing Act between RolesGraduate students are often required to balance a variety of roles while completing theireducation and preparing for their careers. This transitional process is a critical part ofconstructing their professional identities. However, it is not clear how well students are able tobalance multiple roles or how well graduate programs support multiple role development.Through this study, we hope to better understand graduate student role identity by examiningstudent perceptions in three fields—education, engineering, and engineering education—and tocontribute to research focused on improving efforts in preparing the future professoriate.Ultimately, our goal is to answer the following research question: How do graduate studentsconceive of and rank professional role identities, including those of researcher, teacher, and life-long learner, in terms of their current and future actual roles, expected roles, and desired roles?In order to address this question, a survey was developed, distributed, and analyzed to determinethe differences in teacher, researcher, and lifelong learner roles for each of the three fields above.Grounded in role identity theory, the survey elicits students’ perceptions of their current roles inacademia and the future roles they believe they will have after graduation. In total 2225potential participants from a large public research-focused university were contacted for thisstudy. After the initial data cleaning, 345 responses remained from both masters and PhD levelstudents for a response rate of 16%. We acknowledge the low response rate for this study, butwe believe it is still representative of our sample and reveals interesting findings related tograduate student views about roles they hold now and future roles.The results of this study provide an initial sketch of graduate student identity as constructed ofmultiple roles and often conflicting perceptions of actual, expected and desired roles. Our workindicates that engineering education students parallel education students in terms of teaching andengineering students in terms of research, but that in both education and engineering a balancebetween teaching and research is needed. Also we observed that there is a unique balance to theroles depending on field and that the roles do not align as well as one would anticipate whenalignment questions are asked directly. Overall, these results support the further development ofgraduate programs to provide proper alignment between current and future roles in terms ofstudents being teachers, researchers, and lifelong learners, specifically pointing to the need forimproved efforts in preparing future faculty.
Kajfez, R. L., & McNair, L. D. (2014, June), Graduate Student Identity: A Balancing Act Between Roles Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20543
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