June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
New Engineering Educators
12.1615.1 - 12.1615.13
Working Effectively with Graduate Students
You have started your faculty position and you have your first graduate student. You have not had much management experience, you are writing proposals and trying to get results. How do you effectively manage graduate students? What size group is right for you? What should be the mixture of Ph.D./M.S. students? Can you use undergraduates in a research program?
This paper will address tips for working with graduate students individually and in groups. Advice on building and maintaining your group will be discussed. Additional advice on getting the most potential out of different types of students will also be included. Some scenarios and sample examples of challenges and solutions will be provided. The authors share over 15 years of experience of dos and don’ts with graduate students.
Working with graduate students is part of the expectation for faculty members at any research university. However, many new faculty members find working with graduate students to be both bewildering and highly rewarding – and sometimes the most stressful part of starting their careers as academic faculty members.
The co-authors have advised over 40 graduate students during the past decade, and have learned several valuable lessons on working with graduate students. The comments and suggestions in this paper are not gleaned from formal research, but instead are common themes we have used in working and mentoring our students. References [1-5] also provide suggestions and additional ideas related to working with graduate students.
General Tips for Working with Graduate Students
Be selective but not picky in selecting your students
Many times, new faculty members start looking for the ideal graduate student – who had a 4.0 GPA from a top 10 engineering program, with exceptional oral and written communication skills and experience doing undergraduate research. They will then pass up very strong students who have a significant amount of desire, but may not possess all of the desired characteristics. Clearly, there are some basic level skills that graduate students will need to do a particular research project, but a significant number of these skills can be made up for by hard work and enthusiasm for a research project.
Treat the graduate students as a junior colleague
It is important to set clear standards and expectations for your students. We have both tried to treat our students as colleagues, which includes things like allowing them to choose when they come and go from work, when they take vacations and breaks, ensuring that they have everything they need to do their jobs successfully, and in general developing a relationship in
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