P691G – Graduate Student Professional Development Seminar

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Why a Graduate-Student Professional Development Seminar?

Graduate students are facing an important transition from undergraduate students to budding researchers and faculty colleagues. This transition requires both a change in personal identity, from student to colleague, as well as the development of certain professional skills. Our course looks to use training for our graduate students’ roles as teaching assistants to facilitate this change of identity and to help develop skills helpful both as graduate student research colleagues and in their subsequent careers including:

  • Conveying information effectively
  • Understanding issues of identity and diversity
  • Developing literature research skills
  • Time management

This 1-credit course was offered for the first time in the Fall 0f 2017 as a required course for all incoming graduate students. 

This course arises from our attendance at the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative National TA Workshop at Georgia Institute of Technology from 5-7 June 2017. At the workshop, we had an opportunity to work with other chemistry and physics departments under the tutelage of experts in developing effective programs for graduate teaching assistant (GTA) training.

Goals of the Seminar

  1. Most of what UMass TAs do is facilitation of groups working in teams (Team-Based Courses, Labs, Office Hours). Thus, we want our TAs to be effective in facilitating students working in teams to solve problems.
  2. We want our TAs to develop a strong GTA self-identity and an explicit awareness of the transferable skills that being a GTA provides.
  3. We feel that the GTA seminar provides an excellent context for the exposure to issues of diversity and power dynamics with which new GTAs may be unfamiliar.

More Information

This page provides rather detailed information about the program to allow other faculty in other departments take and use the materials best suited to their own circumstances.

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