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Tips For New Faculty: Engaging Your Graduate Students In Independent Thought

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

New Engineering Educators: Tricks of the Trade I

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1493.1 - 12.1493.8



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Paper Authors

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Adrienne Minerick Mississippi State University

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Jason Keith Michigan Technological University

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Donald Visco Tennessee Technological University

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

Tips for New Faculty: Engaging Your Graduate Students in Independent Thought Adrienne R. Minerick1, Jason M. Keith2, Donald Visco3 1 Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS 39672 / 2 Department of Chemical Engineering Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI 49931 / 3 Department of Chemical Engineering Tennessee Technological University Cookeville, TN 38501 Abstract

This contribution describes certain strategies and lessons-learned which have proven effective at improving the independent thought and problem-solving skills of graduate students. In particular, we highlight two specific interactions: advisor / student, and student / student interactions during three main venues. The first venue is written communications such as email, daily or weekly research summaries, literature review / discussions, and papers. The second venue is oral communication via face-to-face meetings in an office or in the classroom. The third venue is demonstrative communication via laboratory training, and side-by-side data analysis on computers. Each mode of communication plays a key role in helping students grow into professional researchers with skills in independent problem solving.


The New Engineering Educator has many challenging tasks ahead of them as they progress towards tenure. One of these challenges is establishing a fully functional and efficient research group quickly1. Unique research results need to be obtained almost immediately in order to incorporate them into manuscripts since the peer-review process can take over a year before publication. The new faculty likely has well-developed project plans for the beginning graduate student; however, the student also needs to be educated more extensively as they progress towards their degree on independent problem solving and generation of ideas. While there is no substitute for experience in this endeavor, following certain guidelines can allow the new faculty member to optimize the development of their graduate students in these areas. To be as inclusive as possible, we also discuss the development of undergraduate research students as well.

Skills that graduate students need to develop include: literature review, laboratory procedures, design of experiments, data analysis, problem solving, written communication, oral communication, and personal interaction skills. Regular, organized efforts to strategically develop these skills in students can go a long way to helping develop their independent thought, and thus optimizing their effectiveness as a researcher. While research productivity is still highly dependent on the quality of the graduate student, the strategies outlined in this paper will help

American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference 2007

Minerick, A., & Keith, J., & Visco, D. (2007, June), Tips For New Faculty: Engaging Your Graduate Students In Independent Thought Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2109

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: © 2007 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