Thursday, October 10, 2013

Getting Started - Developing Strong Supervisory Relationships

This week, I got to sit down with new faculty colleagues for a conversation about Graduate Programs in Education and Graduate Supervision.  In preparation for that meeting, I assembled a few "must have" documents that every New Graduate Supervisor in Education should have in their toolkit in order to study and prepare to be a Great Graduate Supervisor.

1. Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar - Online , PDF and Hardcopy

Grab the Calendar and your highlighter and prepare to learn these sections:
  • Academic Schedule - vital for your course-based teaching and for deadlines
  • Awards and Financial Assistance - helps you advise students on funding
  • Fees and expenses - become aware of what students pay to be here
  • Academic regulations - grades, progress reports, time limits, appeals, principles of conduct, integrity in scholarly activity - you must read all of this
  • Handbook of Supervision and Examination - Online and PDF
  • A vital section of the Graduate Studies Calendar is the Handbook of Supervision and Examination, found on pages 35 - 48. Do not pass go, and do not undertake supervision without reading and understanding every section in the Handbook. 
  • Everything you need to know about examinations can be found here, and also on the Graduate Programs in Education Website (see below for specifics). Every graduate supervisor has the responsibility to know the rules and regulations surrounding supervision of graduate students and for the scheduling and conduct of exams. There is a specific section on the Role and Responsibilities of the Graduate Supervisor, p. 47-48, which every supervisor should know by heart. There are also sections on Faculty, Program and Student roles and responsibilities, that should be read and understood as part of our collective commitment to student experience and success.
  • Graduate Programs in Education (GPE) Program Descriptions, p 62 - 73
  • Read and understand and memorize the requirements for the programs in which you supervise students. It is not "nice to know", it is "Must Know" information. 
2. Graduate Supervision - FGS Web
  • Checklist of Expectations for Graduate Student and Supervision
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies Intellectual Property Awareness
Graduate Supervisors work closely with masters and doctoral students during the entire thesis-based program, from admission to orientation to graduation. One tool that supports clear communication is the Student-Supervisor Checklist. During the early weeks / months of a working with a graduate student, be sure to discuss expectations and goals using the checklist, establish a regular meeting schedule, establish a timeline with the student for major program goals, review the intellectual property checklist, and discuss other issues that are relevant to your discipline and your work together.

In Graduate Programs in Education, we expect all Graduate Supervisors and Graduate Students to review an discuss all elements of the Student-Supervisor Checklist together, and to put a co-signed copy on file once all topics on the checklist have been discussed. 

3. Graduate Course-based Teaching

Graduate Program Timelines and Dues Dates have been established for textbook orders, course outline approvals and the posting of the course outlines for each Semester. Study these due dates so that you submit your Graduate Course outlines and textbook orders ON TIME, so that Graduate Programs in Education can get these out to students as soon as possible in preparation for the semester.
  • Textbook Orders: Apr 15 for Fall; Oct 15 for Winter; Jan 31 for Spring/Summer
  • Course Outline to EDSA Chair:  Aug 1 - Fall; Nov 15 - Winter; Apr 1 - Sp / Jun 1 - Sum
It has been rumored that the Associate Dean takes people who are consistently early or on time with their course outlines to lunch. You heard it here first, folks.

4. Graduate Programs in Education (GPE) - Policy and Processes

The Faculty of Education offers several masters programs; it is important that you study each of these in preparing to advise your students:
Our Faculty is unique in that we offer two doctoral program pathways:
It is important that you understand that both of our Doctoral programs require doctoral students to complete coursework, to prepare a research proposal, to successfully complete a candidacy oral exam based on the research proposal, and to write a dissertation that is examined by committee in the dissertation oral exam.  Study the websites to better understand the distinctions between the Research PhD and the Professional EdD. You will find the following documents on the GPE Website, and it is expected that you will read, study and become familiar with the expectations for examinations in order to advise your students well and to successfully mentor them in achieving success.
In conclusion, this is only a starting list, but one with vital resources to support you in your goal of advising students well and becoming a great graduate supervisor.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bringing Critical and Informed Connoisseurship to Educational Research

In Graduate Programs in Education, we are continually involved in new course design, and in therenewal and evolution of our current course and program designs. For example, I am working with a collaborative course design group right now to study and discuss the design of one of our research courses:  EDER 701.09 Participatory Methodology in Education.

Educational Research involves a range and diversity of research methodologies in the conduct of both basic and applied research. In our Faculty of Education, we offer graduate programs in seven specialized areas of study. There is diversity in the research methodologies in use across the seven specializations – however, these are most often related to the standards, literatures, research methodologies and approaches to analysis and presentation of research that are characteristic of those disciplines of study, rather than any differences in the quality, integrity and robustness of the research. 

Research in the Faculty of Education spans the range from basic to applied – our Faculty includes researchers and graduate students who emphasize basic research that is carried out in highly controlled contexts and applied research that delves into the complexities present in authentic contexts and populations.  Research and disciplined inquiry of all kinds, from experimental / correlational, to mixed methods and survey research, to historical inquiry, ethnography, interpretive and philosophical inquiry, to different types of action research, participatory action, community participatory action, and design based research is valued and relevant, and gets conducted by both Faculty and by Graduate students across the Faculty of Education.  

We have seven broad areas of specialization, and within each of the Educational Study Areas (EDSAs), we have faculty and graduate students who bring diverse perspectives and disciplinary expertise, along with different research traditions and expectations, to their research.   The range and diversity of research problems, research methodologies and different disciplines of study can be a bit overwhelming when new and experienced Education Faculty members, or even a faculty member from a discipline beyond our faculty, is asked to serve as an examiner for a thesis or dissertation. 

At the thesis oral exam, what examiners are asked to judge is the quality of a student’s research – which can be a challenge for an experimental researcher to feel qualified or informed enough to make a judgment on an interpretive study, and vice versa. It can also be a challenge for faculty who hold deep expertise in one discipline to feel qualified to make a judgment on a study carried out in another discipline. However difficult, that is the task that is before us as faculty members when we examine a student’s work.

So, in our research and specialization courses and across our masters and doctoral programs, our responsibility is to introduce and immerse masters and doctoral students in the complexity, range and diversity of educational research philosophies, methodologies and perspectives in order for them to develop and bring a critical and informed connoisseurship to their selection and use of research methodology in their own research.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ongoing Professional Learning for Graduate Students

The Graduate Experience goes well beyond courses and your relationship with your supervisor - although, these are two very important and key components of your graduate program.  Graduate students who aim to fully engage in their graduate program and the entire graduate experience as a developing researcher and educator have many options beyond coursework for professional learning and scholarly engagement.

There are a number of great graduate seminars, workshops and learning opportunities offered by several groups at the University of Calgary:

Faculty of Education
  • Thursday Noon Seminars - Every week, a helpful seminar or workshop organized by the Research Office, GPESA or the EDSAs is held in the Faculty of Education to support Student Success. Check out the upcoming seminars here: 
  • October Poster Fair - Each Fall, the Research Office organizes a Graduate Student Poster Fair. This year the Poster Fair will take place on October 24th at TERA, EDT 830 from 3:30pm to 5pm. To submit a proposal to prepare and present a poster about your research, click here: - deadline Oct 17th!
    • Top 3 reasons Why you should present a poster about your research:
    • Reason 1: a chance to interact with other students and learn about their research
    • Reason 2: road-test your ideas
    • Reason 3: an opportunity to win an award for first, second, and third best research poster
  • Stay Tuned - Education 3MT Competition!!
Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • My GradSkills provides a comprehensive range of professional and academic development opportunities to give graduate students the skills they need to succeed before and after graduation:
  • 3MT - Three Minute Thesis Competition, an internationally recognized research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland in 2008. The exercise challenges thesis based graduate students to present a compelling presentation on their thesis topic and its significance in three minutes or less

University of Calgary Library
  • Student Services:  There is a diverse array of courses offered by the Library on Literature Search (Very Important and Useful!!), Academic Writing, Thesis Formatting, EndNote, RefWorks, and more. I encourage all graduate students to take advantage of these great learning opportunities: