The Development of a Website of Resources for Graduate Students
Nicole Freitas (Rabaud)
Graduate school is often a time when students are vulnerable -- financially, professionally and emotionally. Unlike undergraduates, they lack a central orientation, advising and referral service like the First Resort. The goal of this project was to establish an online graduate student resource web site, a cyber-version of the First Resort.
Three PFTF Fellows teamed to tackle the various aspects of constructing a site. While I searched for information and links to useful web sites, Gary Weissmann designed and programmed the code for the site, and Laura Lindenfeld reviewed the information and had campus resource people evaluate it. Through weekly meetings and daily e-mails, we formulated a mission for the site, and identified key areas:
- Money: Financial aid, crisis financial resources
- Academics and Administration: Procedures, teaching, study aids, learning disabilities
- Counseling and Health: Health, counseling, clinics, drug/alcohol services
- Family and Housing: Rental listings, transportation, childcare, religion
- Diversity: Women, minorities, international students, disabled students, GLBT resources
- Fun: Rec Hall, campus recreation, community events, volunteering
I solicited design ideas from a national graduate student bulletin board ("doc-talk," sponsored by the Assn for Support of Graduate Students) explaining our project and asking for other sites on this subject. Of the 20 sites I saw, none addressed the issues broadly enough, which alerted us to our project's uniqueness. A respondent from the National Association for Graduate and Professional Students expressed interest in our project.
Since the key issue was often a lack of resource awareness, we regrouped campus resources, and expanded to the city, the county, the state, the nation, and in some cases, the world. Through search engines, bulletin boards and list servers, I gathered many URLs. Ultimately the site will be maintained and updated by the GSA.
The Graduate Student Resources Website
Over the course of the past year our team of Professors for the Future Fellows, consisting of Nicole Freitas, Gary Weissn1ann, and Laura Lindenfeld, has worked toward developing an information network for graduate students at UC Davis. As graduate students, we often find ourselves in situations of vulnerability, isolated in research groups and in financially burdened circumstances. While undergraduates benefit from centralized resources such as First Resort, graduate students often do not know where to turn for help and information.
In addition, we frequently work off-campus and at odd hours so that such a resource would not serve the needs of many of us. Yet, there is a plethora of resources and services that are available to graduate students, both on campus, in the community, and nationally that go untapped because this information is disparate and passed along only by word of mouth. We have developed a website which provides graduate students with information regarding financial resources, academic assistance, health and counseling centers, housing and family services, administrative procedures, diversity programs, and leisure activities.
Working as a team, each of us took over an aspect of this project. While Nicole searched for information and links to the web that would be useful to graduate students, Gary Weissmann took the information gathered, and designed and programmed the html script for the site. My tasks have centered around reviewing and editing the webpages, establishing contacts with campus and community resources, regrouping resource people to review and evaluate the webpages, and functioning as a liaison to the administration. I have also created a system to disseminate information about this website to every entering and continuous graduate student on this campus. Furthermore, I have worked with the Graduate Student Association to insure that the webpage will be updated and maintained so that future graduate students will have access to its information.
A Survey of Ethical Models Toward Internet Self-Regulation
Ei Sun Oh
As the Internet continues to cross boundaries and permeate daily lives it is doubtful whether traditional, territorial-based regulation is feasible within this new, virtual realm of telecommunications. The purpose of any PFTF project is to present a set of ethical and moral principles which may be utilized as ethical and moral rules of thumbs in the course of Internet usage and service provision. This project is a subset of my larger research project aiming at creating a coherent set of management decision-making modules which takes into account the special ethical and moral concerns associated with Internet usage and service provision.
As such, a large part of my involvement in the project concerns researching in literature dealing with ethics, morals and philosophy. It is also important to point out this project will be an ongoing one and does not terminate with the conclusion of my PFTF tenure.
In order to find out if Internet users and service providers from diverse backgrounds would reach any consensus in their preferences of ethical and moral principles, these principles were developed into a survey that consists of two parts. The survey is located on a developing website 'http:/ /vic20.mso.hawaii.edu/ entryform.cfm'. The first part of the survey is made up of demographic questions, including frequency of usage, age, gender and geographical locations. The second part consists of descriptions of eleven ethical/moral principles adapted from the works of Carroll (1990), Das (1985), and Steiner and Steiner (1980).
Preliminary results indicate that the most preferred proposed ethical and moral principles are "Might-Makes-Right'' principle and "Ends-Justify-Means" principle. These preferences do not bode well on the future of internet self-regulations. Further results would be required, however, for meaningful predictions and comparisons and contrasts.
Mentoring Graduate Students
The role of mentoring is now recognized as a major determinant of a student's academic and personal success. Research has shown that good mentoring has a number of benefits: increased productivity (e.g., number of publications, conferences, and research projects), increased faculty-student collaboration, improved retention and graduation rates, and increased student satisfaction. The positive effects continue after graduation, affecting career attainment and satisfaction, and even personal life satisfaction.
Unfortunately, clear guidelines regulating the academic mentoring relationship are lacking. A significant disparity often exists between the expectations of a student and those of the mentor. To address this issue, I conducted a survey of 2,941 graduate students using a questionnaire developed with a group of graduate students. The goals of the survey were: 1) to identify the most important mentoring roles for graduate students; and 2) to evaluate the students' satisfaction with their major professors' performance in these roles. Four major areas were addressed: dissertation guidance; interpersonal interaction; career help; and financial support. Six different mentoring roles were evaluated in each area. The survey attempted to quantify the average frequency of interaction. Finally, because the choice of mentor is an important component in the success of the mentoring interaction, the survey asked students if they would prefer to choose a major professor after at least one year. Nine hundred and one (31%) students completed the survey.
Research on mentoring has reported five major factors affecting the mentoring relationship: 1) gender of the mentor; 2) gender of the student; 3) minority status; 4) year in the program; and 5) field of study. Survey results will be used to test these factors at UCD. Both students' satisfaction and their expectation with each mentoring role are predicted to be influenced by these factors. I hope the results will help establish clear mentoring guidelines for both faculty and students, improve communication, and help avoid mentor-student mismatches.
Survey Evaluations of Professional Development Series on Student Learning
The seminar series "Partnership and Promise: Student Affairs in the Learning Community," was developed by Assistant Vice Chancellor Janet Gong in the Office of Student Affairs. The goal of the series is to help Student Affairs staff members create a better learning environment for undergraduate students at UC Davis. Seminar topics ranged from creating community to teaching students about ethics.
For my PFTF project I developed a survey to evaluate this series. I created, distributed, summarized and analyzed (valuations for each seminar. The information was used by the planning team at Student Affairs to improve each subsequent event. For example, after the first seminar, participants commented that they would like to have more audience participation and to discuss how the ideas presented applied to their jobs. In the following seminars we built in time for group discussions, and included a special emphasis on applied issues. We also gained some valuable information about how to advertise the events: most people reported having heard about the event via email. Future events were therefore more heavily advertised by email than by other means.
This project taught me a great deal about the implementation of surveys, as well as about the "learning community'' at the university. My efforts have helped the Office of Student Affairs to present a more successful seminar series, and have enhanced the ability of Student Affairs staff to create a high quality learning environment for students at UC Davis.
Addendum: Partnership & Promise Professional Development Series.
2 February 1998: Dr. George Kuh,"Building a Learning Environment."
26 March 1998: "Creating a Community of Learning",a video presentation and panel discussion of a National teleconference involving Drs. Johnetta Cross Brazzell, Johnella Butler, Arthur Chickering, Margaret Jablonski, Barbara Love,and Sherwood Smith.
16 April 1998: Dr. Elizabeth Kiss,"Opportunities for Ethical Learning."
1 June 1998: Dr. Susan Komives,"Considering the Physical and Experiential Environment which Supports Learning."
Teaching Enhancement Opportunities for Graduate Students
Kalyn M. Shea
Increasingly, universities are seeking new faculty with teaching experience who demonstrate knowledge of current issues in higher education. Providing such training is an important aspect of an effective graduate education for future faculty. As my project, I developed collaboration between the Program in College Teaching and The Teaching Assistant Consultants (TAC) to provide services to all graduate students interested in improving and developing their teaching skills to become more marketable in academia.
As co-director of the Program in College Teaching (PCT), I worked closely with my colleague, Cindy Shellito, and the Director of Graduate Affairs, Will Davis, to assess the content and organization of the PCT program. We designed and conducted several roundtable discussions on current and future issues in higher education: diversity in the classroom, active learning as a new, effective teaching method, leading classroom discussions, the art of delivering clear and comprehensive lectures, understanding faculty careers at different institutions, service };earning as a new technique, and ethics in the academy. Other project activities included personal consultations with PCT participants to help them develop and achieve their program plan, submitting journal articles, and facilitating professional relationships.
As a TAC, I provided instructional improvement services which included vide0 taping and observing graduate student instructors in the classroom, conducting mid quarter interviews to assess teaching progress, and providing feedback to the instructor. I helped to develop and implement workshops on improving teaching skills and helping graduate students to prepare for an academic job search. Finally, I was involved in the design of the TAC web page and helped to initiate a new electronic newsletter, "The TA Terms", sent to all TAs.
Promoting Awareness of Issues Related to Teaching and Gender Equity Among Aspiring College Instructors
Lucinda (Cindy) J. Shellito
The striking absence of female role models in the physical sciences, and the low ratio of women to men in the physical science classroom were the motivating factors for my participation in Professors for the Future. My project involved promoting aware ness of issues facing women in academia among aspiring college instructors through the UC Davis Program in College Teaching (PCT), and the Teaching Assistant Consultant (TAC) Program.
As PCT Graduate Student Co-director I assisted in all aspects of program planning and implementation; coordinating bi-weekly Roundtable meetings with PCT Coordinator, Will Davis and colleague Kalyn Shea, writing letters to PCT participants, and contacting Roundtable guests. I observed and videotaped PCT participants, both on and off campus, and I consulted participants in the development of their individual program plans and teaching methodologies. To introduce issues of gender equity into PCT, I organized a Roundtable with guests from the UCD Gender Equity Workgroup to prompt discussion on equity and inclusion.
The TAC Program provided an outlet to raise awareness of gender issues in the larger campus community of graduate students interested in improving their teaching. I developed and gave workshops on leading discussions sections in the sciences, and on strategies for addressing gender differences in learning styles. Finally, to promote understanding of women in academia across the disciplines, and to provide a forum for graduate and undergraduate women to express their concerns and ask questions about academic careers, colleague Laura Lindenfeld and I organized a roundtable discussion at the annual Graduate Student Association Symposium. We invited women professors and women leaders from across the disciplines to share their challenges and experiences in academia and their advice on pursuing the academic career.
From Page to Podium: How to Present Conference Papers Effectively in the Humanities and Social Sciences
In today's tight academic job market in the humanities and social sciences, graduate education must reach beyond preparing students to be teachers and researchers. A major part of graduate students' public exposure and the opportunity for professional networking occurs at academic conferences. l-Ienee, the clear and confident presentation of scholarly material and of oneself before an audience of potential academic hiring committee members can be a key to a job interview, or to a job offer.
But such presentations can also be very intimidating, and often, graduate students' presentation skills lag behind the excellence of their argument and research. "From Page to Podium: How to Present Conference Papers Effectively, a hands-on three-day workshop (held on May18-20) tried to fill this gap by addressing the specific needs of Humanities and Social Sciences graduate students as they are trying to develop a professional voice in stressful conference situations. This workshop series is also available online via a webpage hosted by the Teaching Resources Center and linked to the home page of the Graduate Student Association.
The first workshop deals with strategies of reorganizing a research paper into a conference paper, in terms of organization, style, and the inclusion of visual and audiovisual aids. The second workshop focuses on techniques of overcoming stage fright, and participants are introduced to several methods of physical and psychological relaxation, success visualization, and audience management. The third workshop addresses specific problems in paper-delivery and the "presentation behavior code," which encompasses professional techniques of audience interaction and appearance- and body management.
All three workshops have met with (both graduate and under graduate!) participants' enthusiasm, and critiques have ranged from "well-organized-learned a lot!" and "utterly helpful and sorely needed" to "I feel I am now much more confident about myself as a public speaker."
Graduate Student Resource Web Site
Numerous services exist for graduate students on the UCD campus, however many are difficult to find because there is no centralized listing. Most have internet sites with a wealth of information. For this project,, I worked with two other PFTF Fellows, Laura Lindenfeld and Nicole Freitas, on researching, developing, and publishing the Graduate Student Resource Site, a web site to link the various service resources on campus.
Together, we first researched what resources are currently available to students on campus and in the Davis community. Based on these initial findings, we divided the site into major resource pages: Financial Aid, Academics and Administration, Counseling and Health Services, Family Life, Campus and Community Diversity, and Fun. Nicole researched URL locations and links for these six categories, Laura compiled literature on the various resources, checked the completeness and accuracy of the sites, and proofread the site. I designed and developed the html code for the site.
Specifically, I organized, and programmed the website. As Nicole compiled lists of web links,I placed the links into an html script along with a brief description of each link. I used graphics to enhance the website appearance. I also did some research into services available,adding to the extensive lists provided by Nicole. After error checks by Laura and her team of campus personnel, I made any revisions to the website. Finally, I secured a temporary server for the website for easy access during the quality control stage.
Comments have been quite positive. Reviewers on campus respond with excitement at the content of this website, and expect it to be quite successful in providing needed information to our graduate students. Additionally, individuals involved in graduate student programming on other college campuses believe this website can provide a model for similar websites nationwide. This project provides a service to both current and future graduate students, thus keeping to the ultimate goal of the Professors for the Future program of service to the community.