Developing graduate student services

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In an effort to increase graduate student retention and graduation rates, the University of North Texas is in the process of developing academic support services for graduate students outside the classroom. Based on data gathered as part of a larger needs-assessment, new programs include research and statistical support, expanded tutoring options, and individual academic coaching. Participants in this session will learn about the process of developing, implementing, and marketing these programs along with information on future plans for the programs including expansion, refining, and formal assessment.

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Developing graduate student services

  1. 1. Developing Graduate Student Services Christina Herrera, M.A. Coordinator for Graduate Student Services The Learning Center University of North Texas
  2. 2. Part- Time 53% Full- Time 47% Enrollment Status 17% 56% 26% 1% Enrollment by Level Post-Bac Master Doctoral Special Professional Graduate Student Characteristics, 2012-2013 Academic Year 6,867 total graduate students ~20% of the total student population
  3. 3. 2.7% 0.7% 21.7% 11.9% 8.1% 16.2% 7.1% 7.9% 13.0% 1.3% 8.4% 1.0% 0.1% Graduate Enrollment by College Visual Arts & Design Administrative Group Arts & Sciences Business Public Affairs Education Engineering Graduate School Information Merchandising, Hospitality, & Tourism Music Mayborn Undergraduate Studies Graduate Student Characteristics, 2012-2013 Academic Year
  4. 4. Background • Historically, student services at UNT focused heavily on undergraduate students • Identified need to increase persistence and retention in the graduate student population • Appropriation of student service fees to create positions in the Career Center and Learning Center and to increase support in the Writing Center
  5. 5. Institutional Needs Assessment • In the 2012-2013 academic year, Toulouse Graduate School, Student Affairs, and The Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness collaborated on a graduate student needs assessment focusing on 4 key areas: – Housing and Dining Options – Child Care – Health Insurance – Academic Needs
  6. 6. Institutional Needs Assessment • Master’s Students 1. Oral communication skills 2. Travel funding for conferences/symposia 3. Written communication skills 4. Connection to academic service opportunities 5. Research abilities 6. Instructional/teaching abilities • Doctoral Students 1. Travel funding for conferences/symposia 2. Research abilities 3. Written communication skills 4. Oral communication skills 5. Instructional/teaching abilities 6. Connection to academic service opportunities
  7. 7. Early Program Development • Results of the needs assessment, personal experiences and observations, and conversations with graduate students resulted in the creation of two new workshop series: – Research Skills – Stats 101 • Collaboration with individuals in the Career Center, Library, and Toulouse Graduate School
  8. 8. Research Skills Series • A series of workshops designed to enhance students’ understanding of the research process and skill development. • Currently comprised of six independent workshops • Repeated multiple times through the semester • Incorporates interactive elements when possible and appropriate
  9. 9. Research Skills Series • Finding Balance – Principles of time management with an emphasis on balancing the requirements of graduate school with full-time employment, family, social obligations, etc. Also covers planning and managing large research projects and motivation. • Developing Research Topics and Questions – How to work through the process of narrowing a broad topic, elements of effective research questions, and the relationship of research questions to the literature review.
  10. 10. Research Skills Series • Summarizing, Organizing, and Synthesizing Information – Teaches participants the process for synthesizing information to create literature reviews, support arguments, develop research questions, etc. • Writing Proposals – General overview of the proposal research and writing process. Also includes tips for writing a grant proposal and writing the thesis/dissertation proposal.
  11. 11. Research Skills Series • Effective Presentations – Discusses techniques for creating and delivering engaging presentations. Includes use of technology, formatting, inclusion of interactive elements, and oral presentation skills. • Navigating the IRB Process – Reviews requirements for IRB approval at UNT including NIH training, application types, and consent forms.
  12. 12. Stats 101 • A series of 6 workshops that provide a review of basic statistical principles • Provide examples from multiple disciplines • Participants work through the entire process of statistical testing—writing hypotheses, testing, drawing and interpreting conclusions • Follows the general sequence of basic statistics courses • Workshop topics build on each other, but students may elect which weeks to participate
  13. 13. Stats 101 • Variance, Standard Deviation, & Z-Scores • Reliability, Validity, & Effect Size • T-Tests • Chi-Square • ANOVA • Regression
  14. 14. Expanding Tutoring Options • The UNT Learning Center currently has over 500 students serving as Volunteer Tutors • Only 64 were graduate students in the 2012- 2013 academic year • Less than one dozen graduate courses made the list of courses we offers tutoring in • Graduate Lead Tutors in Statistics • Graduate Student Assistants for Writing
  15. 15. Expanding Tutoring Options • Recruitment strategies for the 2013-2014 academic year – Counts toward travel grant requirements – Appreciation events – Framing the position in terms of leadership and teaching experience – Opportunity to certify through the College Reading and Learning Association – Opportunity to apply for a paid Lead Tutor position after one semester – Free t-shirt – Recruitment materials includes a list of courses identified as “high need”
  16. 16. Individual Academic Coaching • Expansion of the existing Connecting for Success program • One-on-One consultations with graduate students to provide support with – Statistics – Departmental Issues – Time Management – Project Planning/Management – Other issues as needed
  17. 17. Marketing • Direct marketing to students and graduate program advisors – Mass e-mails to students – Graduate Student Council & program-specific graduate student associations – Advisor distribution list – Monthly advisor meetings
  18. 18. Current Assessment • Research Skills Series – Satisfaction Survey • Stats 101 – Pre-Test/Post-Test – Satisfaction Survey • Connecting for Success – Basic information tracking
  19. 19. Future Assessment Plans • Continuing pre-test/post-test for Stats 101 • Expanding the satisfaction survey to be more of an evaluation and providing space for written feedback • Tracking participants’ GPA and retention/persistence rates • Connecting for Success follow-up
  20. 20. Challenges • Getting them in the door • Scheduling • Marketing • Delivery options for distance-learners
  21. 21. Creating Services at Your Institution • Assess needs – Graduate Students – Faculty and staff who work with graduate students – Are the needs programmatic or logistic? • Review your resources – Could you adapt programs currently being offered? Or is there a need to create new ones? – If creating a position to meet these needs is not possible, are there individuals in your current structure who might be capable of developing and delivering programming?
  22. 22. Questions? Thank you for attending!

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