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Fellows 2006-2007

Got Integrity? Discussions and Celebration of Academic and Professional Integrity

Suzanne Barber

One of the great goals of an education system is to prepare students for “the real world” and ensure all students have a good ethical compass. This necessitates an ongoing dialogue within the community regarding academic/professional integrity and misconduct. More...

As part of this dialogue, this past November was the 30th anniversary of the Code of Academic Conduct at the UCD. Since UCD has a 90-year history of promoting and upholding academic integrity, the first half of this project involved the planning of a "Code of Academic Conduct" celebration. It was held on February 20, 2007 and the Keynote speaker was the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Prof. Fred Wood. The event attracted faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students. While the attendance was not as one would have hoped, the guests who did attend had an enjoyable time reminiscing about the history of UCD. This celebration was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Campus Judicial Board (CJB) and the Student Judicial Affairs (SJA) office.

The second half of the project was a series of 2 workshop seminars on academic/professional integrity.  One seminar was held during Winter and Spring Quarter each. The first seminar, held March 14, gave insight into resolving ethical conflicts with colleagues and superiors as well as development of interpersonal skills to navigate through these difficult situations. The panel members were Director Binnie Singh (Faculty Relations), Director Billy Sanders (Office of Research, LabAct) and Wendi Delmendo (Office of Research). The use of actors from the LabAct program and the leadership of Prof. Jade McCutcheon (Theatre and Dance, LabAct) allowed participants to internalize the scenarios proposed by their fellow attendees. Approximately 20 persons attended and the discussions were enlightening.  Many participants found the workshop useful and 92% of survey respondents indicated they would attend future workshops.  Many respondents felt that the LabAct component of the workshop was very helpful as well as entertaining.

The final seminar addressed ethical publication issues from the viewpoint of how does an author protect oneself and from the perspective of the editorial board.  The panel speakers, Prof. Louis Grivetti (Nutrition) and Prof. Patrick Romano (General Medicine/Pediatrics) gave excellent real life situations, examples and case studies.  The approximately 20 participants were stimulated by the discussions and interaction.  Overall the participants enjoyed the workshop, particularly the case studies/real life examples and 80% of survey respondents indicated they would attend future workshops.

Becoming Media Savvy in the Academic World

Rebecca Chancellor

The goal of my project was to prepare UCD graduate students and postdocs to become media savvy. Academic research is often used to inform personal, professional and public policy decisions. While original research is commonly disseminated to the scientific community through peer-reviewed journals, the general public is usually informed through the mass media.  More...

Many scholars, however, don’t work with the media because they are either unaware of available opportunities, concerned with the accuracy of reporting, or intimidated by the media interviewing process. Media exposure can be advantageous to the research community for a number of reasons. It supports public service and outreach, one of the primary academic missions of the university. It also helps scientists reach a greater number of colleagues, institutions, and funding agencies. In addition, scientific papers that garner media attention are cited 70% more than those that don’t. Despite the importance of promoting research to the media, grad students and postdocs receive little to no training in this area.

I collaborated with the UCD University Communications News Service to provide a two-hour introductory workshop, held once in winter and once in spring, which assisted grad students and postdocs in becoming media savvy. News Service Director Mitchel Benson, and Senior Public Information Representatives Paul Pfotenhauer and Andy Fell led interactive workshops during which participants learned skills in interview preparation, including message development and public presentation. Participants were also provided the opportunity to practice television interviews, focusing on how to get their messages out during an interview. Importantly, participants were made aware of University Communications as a campus resource to help them obtain publicity for their work.

Workshops were well attended (30 participants in winter and 38 in spring) and included grad students and postdocs from departments ranging from Engineering to Education. Participants gave positive feedback on surveys conducted at the end of each workshop, commenting that the workshop “helped (them) to understand the difficulty in communicating effectively to one not in (their) field” and that the workshop covered an “important area not usually explored.” Participants rated the relevancy of the workshop highly, giving it a 4.3 out of 5. When asked whether they would recommend the workshop to other grad students/postdocs, 97% of participants who answered, said that they would. The positive response of the participants emphasizes the need for the incorporation of an introductory media workshop into future professional development series at UCD.

Understanding the Boundaries: The Rights and Responsibilities of Students, Professors and TAs

Michael Donovan

The impact of legal issues concerning higher education has grown significantly over the past five decades.  In today’s diverse academic setting it is essential that graduate students are aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding students.  My project focused on the ethics and legal issues facing professors and teaching assistants in dealing with students. More...

The project goal was to educate and inform graduate students and post doctoral fellows who have contact with undergraduate students as a teaching assistant or lecturer.  I organized a panel discussion in collaboration with the Office of Student Judicial affairs and Graduate Studies that featured representatives from five (5) campus organizations involved with student rights, responsibilities and discipline including Student Judicial Affairs, Counseling and Psychological Services, the campus Counsel, the Sexual Harassment Education Office and the Student Disabilities Center.  The four main topics discussed at the workshop were sexual harassment, student privacy rights, dealing with disruptive students, and dealing with a student who may have mental health issue.

The workshop was held once during the Spring quarter and it was very successful. Approximately a dozen campus members, mostly faculty and staff attended the workshop, and many asked very thoughtful questions of the panel members. After the workshop all attendees completed a survey to evaluate the workshop. All respondents found the workshop helpful and suggested having more panel discussions on similar topics.  The primary comments praised the workshop for having a panel of representatives from across disciplines and the flexibility of the panel in discussing various topics, and encouraged offering panel discussions like this one again.  Given the very positive reaction of those in attendance I hope this type of panel discussion will continue in the future.  The greatest difficulty will be in continuing to attracting the audience that would most benefit from the expertise of the panel members.          

This project was especially rewarding for me because of my strong interest in teaching and student interactions.  There were several challenges along the way, such as how to best attract graduate students to attend, the logistics of planning an event, and what topics to address. However, it was a pleasure to plan and execute this project and hope I was successful in giving some members of the campus community better techniques to protect the rights of their students and themselves.

In addition to the panel discussion I compiled the materials and resources that are currently avaiable on campus including the Teaching Resources Center, the Sexual Harassment Education Program, and Student Judicial Affairs in a booklet that will soon be available online. 

Working on this project allowed me to further navigate the UC Davis campus to identify and develop legal resources for graduate students and teaching assistants.  In addition, my project helped educate graduate students about accessibility of legal resources. 

Making Grading Fairer, Faster, and Easier: A Series of Workshops on Creating Questions for Multiple Choice Tests and Grading Rubrics for Written Assignments

Erin Espeland

Two strategies for making grading faster, fairer, and easier were shared with the campus community.  These two strategies were: 1) writing rigorous multiple-choice questions, and 2) using rubrics to score written work. More...

The strategies were communicated in the form of the workshops that were co-sponsored by the Teaching Resources Center.

Most multiple choice questions are badly designed in that they either test memorization-type knowledge or provide clues for students who haven’t studied to guess the correct answer.  In my workshop on multiple-choice questions, I gave pointers for how to avoid giving students clues.  I also shared prompts that can be tailored to any discipline that test more sophisticated forms of student learning than knowledge, such as application and synthesis abilities.

Grading written assignments can be frustrating, particularly when teaching a new course.  It is difficult to know if students are receiving fair grades: that work of one level is likely to receive the same score as similar work that may be graded days later, or even by another instructor.  Rubrics provide a framework for cross-instructor calibration and for being able to assign grades quickly and consistently.  By working with rubrics, instructors also learn how to refine their written questions.  By including the expected components of a skillful response in the question, student work is more consistent and easier to grade.  In addition, sharing rubrics with students increases the quality of their work and gives them the tools to perform at their maximum capacity.

The workshops used a combination of powerpoint presentations and small, hands-on group work in applying the knowledge gained from the presentation.  People who were not able to attend the workshops were e-mailed the materials, and, in some cases, one-on-one consultation followed.

Products from this project, in addition to the person-to-person dissemination workshop materials and knowledge, will be the creation of web pages on the Teaching Resources web site.  These pages will include the workshop materials as well as podcasts of the techniques described in the workshops.

Stretch That Stipend: Tips on Managing Your Finances in Graduate School

Rose Giordano

Many graduate students and postdocs lead a tough life.  Set aside from the rigors of the coursework and research, managing money can be an even tougher challenge.  The salary is slim and the demands are high.  Often times, finding another job is not an option since it can increase the risk of falling behind on research progression. More...

Recent estimates have determined that as many as 25% of college students may be relying on credit card debt to help finance their education (Nelliemae, 2005).  According to Trends in Student Aid 2005, graduate student borrowing is increasing more rapidly than undergraduate student borrowing.  So how can this financially vulnerable population live a healthy and comfortable life on a tight budget?

I organized a seminar to assist graduate students and postdocs in avoiding unnecessary debt while still in academic training.  This event featured presentations by local finance professionals that included a credit expert and a home mortgage specialist titled “Money Management Strategies for Graduate Students and Postdocs”.  The was focus on the importance of identity theft, making smart credit choices, building a solid financial foundation and how your choices can ultimately affect home buying power post-graduation.

The seminar was held once during the spring quarter.  Attendance had exceeded all expectations. Over forty students attended the workshop and included over 30 students on a waiting list for any open seats. Most attendees eagerly asked questions beyond the two hour schedule. At the completion of the seminar over thirty students filled out a survey to evaluate the seminar. All respondents found the session informative and extremely helpful. The primary suggestion for the workshop was: to offer it more frequently. Given the positive response from the attendee’s, I hope this workshop will continue in the future as this is often a topic that gets overlooked despite the need.

Writing Scientific Papers and Giving A Presentation

Guido Marandella

​The actual outcome of the work of senior graduate students and postdocs is usually a scientific publication. After having published a paper, or a series of papers, graduate students and postdocs often have to present the results of their work. It is crucial that the young researcher develops the ability to write good papers and to give good talks.  More...

Too often, despite the quality of the scientific work, a paper is ignored because it is not well written. Also, when giving a seminar, a bad performance may lead people to think that the work one has done is not good or the speaker does not completely understand the topic.

For these reasons I organized the two following workshops.

  • Workshop "Writing the Discussion Section for Scientific Papers" organized on April 9, by Dr. Dale Flynn, from the Department of English. Around 50 people attended this very interesting workshop, which focused on how to write the discussion section of a scientific paper.
  • Workshop "How to Design a Scientific Poster", organized on May 2, by Prof. Rick Karban, Department of Entomology. Around 40 people attended this workshop. Three different posters have been used as concrete examples to determine the rules to follow in order to design a good scientific poster.

I also designed a website “Writing and presenting science”, available at http://pftf.ucdavis.edu/scientific-writing.html. It is a collection of resources for Scientific Writing and Scientific Presentations: publications, books, Internet websites and useful software tools. It is meant to be a useful instrument for graduate students and postdocs who are moving their first steps in publishing and presenting their research.

The Grad ComPost

Kurt Richter (in conjunction with Kara Thompson and Eva Strawbridge)

The Grad ComPost (The Graduate Student Community Post) is a virtual resource guide for graduate students at UC Davis.  Inspired and powered by wiki, the open source software that allows basic users to create and edit web pages with simple text syntax, the ComPost has several practical goals that are all dependent on graduate students working collaboratively. More...

The project itself developed from the collaboration of three graduate students, each in different programs, who were concerned with the organization and accessibility of the campus’ rich resources.  In other words, UC Davis has an extensive network of resources to aid its students’ intellectual, mental, and social well-being, but we do not yet have an effective tool to communicate the availability and efficacy of such resources.  The ComPost features such resources with a specific, organized infrastructure so that users can search by keyword, browse subject headings, and most importantly, edit the site according to their own experiences and knowledge.

The campus is already working toward a better-integrated information system; Pete Siegel, the Vice Provost of Information & Educational Technology announced this month that UC Davis will officially adopt SmartSite technology in fall quarter, 2007.  We fully recognize that technology is limited in its efforts to build community; however, we also realize that the preponderance of social networking and wiki-powered sites partly signals the ways in which a virtual community may contribute to the growth of “real” community away from the computer screen.  The ComPost will not grow without graduate student involvement and participation, and that—we believe—is perhaps its greatest asset.  We will officially release the first version of the ComPost during the Week of Orientation and Welcome (WOW) in September, 2007 to all enrolled graduate students. 

In it For the Long Run: Health and Wellness for Researchers

Lucy Stewart

The work of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars can be extremely physically and mentally demanding. With high immediate demands, it is easy to neglect consistent habits of wellness that will contribute to long-term performance and productivity.  Building on and continuing a tradition of past PFTF projects, I organized a series of events geared at helping graduate students and postdocs improve their nutrition, time management, and awareness of campus wellness resources. More...

Previous PFTF fellows have recognized similar needs and developed projects to improve health and wellness resources for graduate students and postdocs at UC Davis.  In 2001-02, Caroline Kurtz developed a “Healthy Nutritional Habits” handbook for graduate students.  In 2003-04, Karrie Cesario organized a series of six seminars on wellness by and for graduate students and postdocs.  In 2005-06, Sally Chiu organized a workshop series and a GSA/ARC Bagel & Fruit day, and Alison Sheets conducted a survey of graduate student mental and physical wellness.  My goal in this project was to continue to provide such resources, and to use the experience and survey information of previous fellows to see places to improve and more effectively address health and wellness needs.

Nutrition is a recurring topic of interest to graduate students and postdocs, as most consider their diets suboptimal.  To address this, I organized a workshop on nutrition led by Sandra Samarron from the Nutrition department.  She provided helpful handouts and practical tips on healthy eating.

Responding to recommendations coming out of Alison Sheets’ wellness survey, I organized a time management workshop led by Sharon Zygowicz from CAPS.  She provided valuable insights into how graduate students and postdocs can manage priorities and values in order to spend time more effectively.  The topic of time management generated tremendous interest among graduate students, and attendees indicated that continuing workshops on various aspects of time management would be interesting and beneficial to their personal and professional well-being.

Continuing a tradition begun by Sally Chiu to assist graduate student awareness of the myriad of wellness resources already available on campus, I organized the second year of a GSA Bagel & Fruit day at the ARC.  GSA regularly sponsors a well-attended Bagel & Donut day for graduate students, which it willingly relocated to the ARC for one day.  There, ARC attendants and handouts on campus recreation, the Wellness center, and wellness workshops were available to provide information about existing resources.

In organizing these workshops and events, my goal is to have contributed some value to graduate students and postdocs in improving their personal health and wellness, and to future efforts on campus to utilize and improve health and wellness resources.

The Advisor-Advisee Relationship: How to be a Good Advisee

Eva Strawbridge (also worked on the Grad ComPost)

The advisor/advisee relationship can be a source of guidance and stability for a graduate student, or it can be a source of anxiety and trepidation. Many graduate students step into this relationship blindly and with little or no "game plan." Advisors, on the other hand, often enter with expectations and assumptions, not always clearly voiced to their students.  More...

The student has great influence on the relationship and on their own academic destinies and ultimately, it is the student's responsibility to tactfully remember that they are here for their own education and professional growth, not to be a cog in a machine. The purpose of this survey is to assess students views on the following categories:

  1. Dissertation Guidance
  2. Financial Support
  3. Interpersonal Interaction
  4. Career Help

A total of 642 surveys were completed of 3383 graduate students (19%).  Of the graduate students surveyed, 75% of students surveyed had not read the UC Davis Mentoring Guidelines. This survey, along with a panel discussion, was conducted to aid the design of an "Advisee Handbook" for incoming graduate students on "how to be a good advisee". The survey provides direction and organization for the handbook (which is available on the Grad ComPost wiki) and answers common question.

"Women on the Market": The Gendered Experience of Job-Hunting

Melissa Strong

“Women on the Market”: The Gendered Experience of Job-Hunting was designed to address the needs and concerns of graduate and postdoctoral women preparing to enter the job market. More...

The project’s title is inspired by an essay by French philosopher Luce Irigaray in which she analyzes women’s symbolic roles in the male-ordered systems of production and exchange.  The purpose of “Women on the Market” was to bring out into the open and talk about the intersection of gender with the job market to help women job-hunt with confidence.  Toward that end, I organized a panel to provide a forum for graduate and postdoctoral women both to voice their concerns and to learn from the experiences of faculty women at UC Davis. 

Held on Friday, April 20, 2007 at 1:00 pm in the Mee Room, the event featured three panelists: Professor Grace Wang of American Studies, Professor Cynthia Lin of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and professional image consultant Karri Grant.  A co-sponsorship from the English Department Women’s Caucus helped pay for refreshments and part of Karri Grant’s honorarium.  Each panelist discussed her own experience on the job market and gave advice before taking questions.  Topics included tips for interviewing and giving job talks, “reading” institutional culture, negotiating job offers, making small talk with interviewers, responding to personal questions, making sense of regional and disciplinary differences, nonverbal communication, professional attire, styling advice, and suggestions for women whose gender identity does not include skirts or makeup.  Approximately 50 women from a variety of disciplines attended, filling the Mee Room and staying after the workshop formally ended to ask questions of the panelists.  This indicates a high level of interest in the intersection of gender and the job market among women at UC Davis.  A transcription of the panel, provided by Leslie Madsen-Brooks of Mediaworks, is available on the PFTF Wiki so future generations of graduate and postdoctoral women can access this helpful information.  Future PFTF fellows can keep this information current by revisiting and expanding “Women on the Market” in years to come.

Facilitating Graduate Student and Community Linkages through an Online Networking Resource

Aarti Subramaniam

An engaged university is one where there is an emphasis on service-learning and community based research opportunities for graduate students. Ideally graduate students and community based agencies find mutual interests to collaborate in research and practice, learning from the unique skills that these different parties may bring to a real-life situation.  More...

Often times graduate students are unaware of how their research interests meet actual needs, or are unable to find venues where their research projects can be of real service. In addition, collaborating with community-based individuals can have its own complex set of issues such as power struggles, stakeholder representation and ambiguity in roles of the researcher. In order to build effective engagement, students and community members need to have access to an ongoing dialogue for awareness in and education about these issues.

The purpose of my project was to provide graduate students (and others on campus) with an online resource to identify mutual interests with community members for the purpose of collaborating in some way on research projects. In addition this online tool would build a database of knowledge and resources on community collaborations and issues that need to be recognized.

I created a website accessible to the public with two main features. The first was a message board function called the Research Post where campus and community members could post their research interests (after logging in) or read others postings. The second is a Resource Wiki where individuals can build a growing database of their knowledge on best practices, ethical issues and current efforts in participatory, collaborative or community-based research.

My hope is that this web-site will be a tool for building relationships between campus and community, starting off with the identification of mutually relevant collaborative projects.

Teaching Tools for TAs: Inquiry Based and Hands-on Methods

Alan Szmodis

Allowing students to have a more physical experience with science enables one to create a more solid understanding for abstract ideas and often alleviates the frustrations students frequently encounter with difficult concepts. In addition, allowing students to develop their own questions about a system and devise methods for answering those questions raises student interest in science while giving a sense of control over their educational direction.  More...

Inquiry-based and hands-on learning methods, such as those popularized at San Francisco's Exploratorium|, have been developed and used for some time, but remain underutilized. As an example, a hands-on inquiry exercise could be making and optimizing the rotation time of a toy top to aid in the understanding of angular momentum, an often-difficult physical concept for students.

In an effort to bring attention to these teaching methods to the Davis campus, I organized one-day workshops for graduate students and TAs to take part in inquiry-based and hands-on scientific experiences. This was done so that students could become familiar with some of these practices, with the goal of participants incorporating these teaching methods into their repertoire. In addition to these workshops, I developed teaching packets that can continue to be a resource past my own involvement with PFTF. Workshop participants took part in a hands-on, inquiry based activity involving the making, spinning, and reconfiguring of toy tops. The hands-on activity was then synthesized with a physical and mathematical description of spinning tops. The purpose of these activities was to give the participants a first-hand experience with hands-on teaching techniques, so that they may more fully understand the purpose behind this form of teaching. A question and answer session with discussion followed the activities portion of the workshop. The discussion focused around alternative teaching methods and how these teaching methods could be implemented into the classroom. A packet of information on hands-on teaching was handed out to assist participants in designing their own class. A post workshop survey was taken to obtain thoughts and opinions so that better workshops could be designed in the future.

The information for the workshop as well as some other teaching information were put together and added as an online resource on the PFTF wiki that was created as part of the 2006-07 PFTF group project. In addition, the group worked collectively to write articles intended for The Dateline, the Alumni Magazine, and the Chronicle for Higher Education highlighting the uniqueness of Davis and the PFTF as a learning-through-service university fellowship.

The Grad ComPost

Kara Thompson (in conjunction with Kurt Richter and Eva Strawbridge)

The Grad ComPost (The Graduate Student Community Post) is a virtual resource guide for graduate students at UC Davis.  Inspired and powered by wiki, the open source software that allows basic users to create and edit web pages with simple text syntax, the ComPost has several practical goals that are all dependent on graduate students working collaboratively. More...

  The project itself developed from the collaboration of three graduate students, each in different programs, who were concerned with the organization and accessibility of the campus’ rich resources.  In other words, UC Davis has an extensive network of resources to aid its students’ intellectual, mental, and social well-being, but we do not yet have an effective tool to communicate the availability and efficacy of such resources.  The ComPost features such resources with a specific, organized infrastructure so that users can search by keyword, browse subject headings, and most importantly, edit the site according to their own experiences and knowledge.

The campus is already working toward a better-integrated information system; Pete Siegel, the Vice Provost of Information & Educational Technology announced this month that UC Davis will officially adopt SmartSite technology in fall quarter, 2007.  We fully recognize that technology is limited in its efforts to build community; however, we also realize that the preponderance of social networking and wiki-powered sites partly signals the ways in which a virtual community may contribute to the growth of “real” community away from the computer screen.  The ComPost will not grow without graduate student involvement and participation, and that—we believe—is perhaps its greatest asset.  We will officially release the first version of the ComPost during the Week of Orientation and Welcome (WOW) in September, 2007 to all enrolled graduate students.