Preparing Graduate Students To Be Successful As Teaching Mentors And As Future Professionals
2008 Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
Graduate student instructors (GSIs) -or teaching assistants -are a critical resource upon which many large research institutions rely. The GSI position also provides a pivotal opportunity for developing the next generation of engineering faculty and industry leaders through training and mentoring. A centrally organized peer mentor program 1 is one approach that can positively impact not only the GSIs' teaching experiences, but the peer mentors' experiences as well. 2 This paper evaluates the
... er evaluates the Engineering GSI Mentor (EGSM) program at the University of Michigan, which is designed to train and empower selected graduate students to provide teaching-related services to their fellow GSIs. EGSMs' duties range from consultations on a variety of pedagogical topics to in-classroom services, such as observing a GSI's teaching and eliciting feedback from a GSI's students. Furthermore, EGSMs consult on general graduate student issues such as advisor-advisee relationships and time management strategies. EGSMs work in teams to develop and facilitate well-attended workshops of interest to all graduate students. Workshops focus on academic as well as professional themes, and are aimed at helping participants define and accomplish their goals through graduate school. In this paper, we discuss the training that EGSMs receive as teaching consultants and mentors to their fellow graduate students. In particular, we describe the training curriculum that has been developed to help prepare EGSMs for their roles. Topic areas covered in the curriculum and the format in which the training is delivered are discussed. Our data are obtained from a survey of current and former EGSMs. We conclude by describing how both the formal professional development sessions and the on-the-job training and experiences helped to prepare alumni of the EGSM program for their careers in both industrial and academic settings.