Assessing Graduate Education Project
From 2011-2013, I served as student coordinator for Professor Russell Berman's "Assessing Graduate Education Project" (AGEP), which was sponsored by Stanford's Center for Teaching and Learning. The purpose of this group, as designed by Professor Berman, was to examine how graduate students learn, just as Stanford had been examining how undergraduates learn.
Very quickly in our first meeting, it became clear that the individual departments that make up the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (DLCL) did not know much about what the other departments were doing with regard to graduate education. For this reason, the group decided to design and implement a survey on "best practices" related to graduate education within the DLCL. As student coordinator for the project, I had the opportunity to take a lead role with the survey; in collaboration with other graduate students, I designed the survey and implemented it, and I later wrote the report that was distributed as well.
The survey is probably not the most scientifically rigorous survey that has ever been designed. However, it carefully examined five very important areas of graduate education:
- Teaching (which for DLCL grads at the time included teaching language, literature, and composition)
- The Graduate Seminar
- Examinations (and, ultimately, their relationship to the graduate curriculum)
- Advising and Mentorship
- The Dissertation
The results of the survey caused much debate and some significant controversy within the DLCL. The survey results formed the basis of lively discussions for the rest of the 2011-2012 academic year, and paved the way for discussions about graduate preparation for alternative careers in the 2012-2013 academic year.
For me personally, AGEP was one of the most significant projects that I worked on in my first two years at Stanford. Although I've always been pleased with my decision to come to Stanford, there were frustrations, as there inevitably are in any program anywhere, and being so active in this project helped me feel that I was addressing those issues and being heard. In addition, AGEP allowed me to take a leadership role in the wider DLCL graduate community. Although at times this role was uncomfortable (not everyone loved what the survey had to say), it drastically changed the path of my own graduate education for the better. In particular it led directly to my work with Associate Vice Provost Chris Golde on the At Ac Speaker Series, and a better understanding of my own talents in the area of academic administration.