March 9, 2017
Professional Development for Graduate Students Subject of SEC Faculty Travel Visit
By: Bryant Welbourne
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)
As we progress through our careers, we will more than likely take part in exercises that promote professional growth. In higher education, such exercises often focus on senior faculty administrators. For example, the SEC Academic Leadership Development Program, which seeks to identify, prepare and advance academic administrators, is designed strictly for administrators. However, to aid in the effort to increase professional development options in higher education, two SEC faculty members are examining such programs for graduate student instructors.
Dr. Kristen Miller, Director of Biological Sciences at the University of Georgia, and Dr. Elisabeth Schussler, Director of Biology Teaching and Learning at the University of Tennessee, recently took part in an SEC Faculty Travel Program visit that provided an opportunity for them to develop the framework they will use to research professional development strategies for graduate students teaching biology, a project being funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
“At the time of our visit, Dr. Schussler and I had collected data and brought together individuals who were interested in finding the best ways to provide teaching professional development to biology graduate student instructors,” said Dr. Miller. “Due to the lack of literature on the topic, we were looking to establish methods for assessing professional development programs.”
Dr. Miller’s visit to Knoxville enabled the two researchers to plan their study and to define its objectives, set goals and develop strategies.
“Our time together allowed us to set the course for the grant,” said Dr. Schussler. “We established the management of the committees, roles of principal investigators and timelines.”
Dr. Miller and Dr. Schussler placed an emphasis on preparation during the 2016-17 academic year, which included creating a steering committee comprised of colleagues from several universities across the nation who are taking part in the project.
“Our next steps include collecting empirical data to determine which methods are more effective and planning workshops where we can further discuss the data,” said Dr. Schussler.
Dr. Miller’s and Dr. Schussler’s visit was supported by the SEC Faculty Travel Program that is administered by SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC supports and promotes the academic endeavors of the students and faculty at its 14 member institutions.