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Lessons Learned on Preparation, Motivation, Expectation, and Reflection While Teaching and Mentoring as a Graduate Student

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Graduate Student Experience

Tagged Divisions

Graduate Studies and Student

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.895.1 - 25.895.18



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Paper Authors


Kacie Caple D'Alessandro Virginia Tech

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Kacie C. D'Alessandro is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Structural Engineering and Materials Program of Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Va.). She received both her B.S. and M.S. from Clemson University. Once completing the Ph.D. program at Virginia Tech, D'Alessandro plans to pursue a career in academia to teach and to continue research on concrete structures. She also plans to pursue opportunities with engineering education research and K-12 outreach programs.

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Don’t Stress While Teaching and Mentoring Undergraduates as a Graduate StudentLeading a course can be either an exciting or a stressful experience, depending on the level ofpreparation, expectations, and personal motivation expended by an individual. The excitementcan come through teaching material that interests you or even through watching students developan understanding of important concepts. The stress can come through expecting too much or toolittle, but it can also come if you are not prepared for what is to come. Through the stressful andexciting moments, you can learn a variety of lessons the first time you teach. You can even learna lot the second time you teach, the third, and so on. Because of this cyclical learning process,reflection can be an essential component to continual improvement. Through my experiences,I’ve found that preparation, expectation, motivation, and reflection are fundamental elements thatcontribute to whether someone is left with either a sweet or bitter taste after teaching as agraduate student.This paper will examine lessons learned on preparation, expectation, motivation, and reflectionin teaching and mentoring through the experiences and perspective of a graduate student. First, Itaught an engineering design course intended for junior and senior level undergraduate students.In this course, I was the primary instructor, managing all classes, exams, and assignments. Thefollowing year, I was a part of a team of faculty and graduate students in a freshman engineeringprogram. In retrospect, preparation, expectation, motivation, and reflection played a pivotal rolein my professional development along the way. Understanding how to apply these fourcomponents to teaching and mentoring should not only help a new graduate student instructorprepare for and enjoy the experience, but it should also help them discover new ways tocommunicate their interests and excitement to others and reflect on themselves as an instructorand mentor.

D'Alessandro, K. C. (2012, June), Lessons Learned on Preparation, Motivation, Expectation, and Reflection While Teaching and Mentoring as a Graduate Student Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21652

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