Graduate Student Professional Development
Graduate Student Professional Development Refinement and Implementation Committee (RIC) 3
Ian Waitz and Martha Gray (Co-Chairs); Duane Boning, Anna Frebel, Nathan Miller, T.L. Taylor, Larry Vale, and Lauren Pouchak (Staff)
RIC 3 recommends the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Graduate Student Professional and Personal Development that will be charged with developing a set of graduate professional and personal development requirements, that all graduate students must fulfill, constituting opportunities beyond the technical training and the degree requirements of their disciplines.
The charge for the Ad Hoc Committee on Graduate Student Professional and Personal Development rests on an overarching goal that all graduate students shall have space and agency to explore their interests with a sense of purpose and understanding of impact, integrate ethical thinking with their technical training, and participate in greater exploration of their chosen career path. Notably, each student shall explore their own impact on the world, either through their research or through means such as policy work, community action, among others. This exploration should bring together the student’s talents, personal passions, and experience. Regardless of the specific form, requiring students to explore what an impactful career and life means for them sends a message to the world that MIT believes students should understand the impact of their work on society and believes in the importance of educating the whole student.
Every student, regardless of their degree program should leave MIT with a set of essential non-technical, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills beyond their disciplinary expertise, a deep understanding of the impact their decision making has on local communities and larger societal issues, and understanding of different pathways and agency to chart their path to impactful careers.
Graduate Professional and Personal Development Requirements
The Committee should work to identify specific learning objectives and a set of requirements, or framework of components that all MIT graduate students are required to participate in before graduation that could be fulfilled by department/school/college level and/or trans-Institutional programs and experiences. In addition, an integral piece of this framework should be to allow every student to have an engagement beyond MIT and outside of their unit or school/college. This is not meant to imply that every student needs to participate in an internship, but that students should have exposure beyond their immediate discipline.
Regardless of the specific form, requiring students to explore what an impactful career and life means for them sends a message to the world that MIT believes students should understand the impact of their work on society and believes in the importance of educating the whole student.
We have identified the following high-level objectives that should be the guideposts for a set of common professional and personal development requirements for all graduate students:
- Student agency: Ability to explore impactful career pathways, and make choices about opportunities to engage in beyond MIT and outside of unit or school/college;
- Internal exploration: Introspection and understanding oneself, and the different pathways to impactful careers to thrive in today's increasingly diverse society; opportunities for exploration, reflection;
- External exploration: A deep and broad understanding of the impact decision making has on immediate situations, local communities and larger societal issues; and
- Skill building: Developing a set of essential non-technical personal and interpersonal skills building and expanding upon the foundational technical skills and disciplinary expertise central to an MIT graduate education.
During the development of these requirements, it will be necessary to gain feedback from graduate students, departments, schools, and other stakeholders. The Committee should also consider how to integrate existing courses/classes/programs into this new framework. Quarterly progress updates should be given to the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP).
An implementation for the components should include the following:
- A Graduate Professional and Personal Development Requirement framework that all graduate students are required to complete
- Consideration of an oversight committee similar to the undergraduate communications requirement or other mechanism for both sustainability and for continued evolution of identified requirements.
- Prioritized list of resources required to implement the framework components including distributed central administrative needs (i.e., programming support and documentation of student participation, resources for departments to embed appropriate expanded and new experiences).
- Detailed timeline for Institutional approval through proper governance structures and mechanisms for oversight, accountability, and sustainability.
- Timeline for launch for departments and academic units that includes a phased approach with a implementation plan including the impact on current and future students.
The Ad Hoc Committee’s report should be submitted to the relevant Standing Committees of the MIT Faculty including the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP), as well as the Vice Chancellor as appropriate. The strategic plan should be developed by March 2022 so that key components could be considered for the 2023 academic year.
We recommend the Committee use Wiggins and McTighe’s Backward Design model to develop an intentional framework for a graduate common core. Starting with the overarching goal above, the committee should work backwards to identify specific ways to complete the common core requirement using the following steps:
- Identify desired results
- What should students hear, read, explore or otherwise encounter?
- What knowledge, and skills should students master?
- What are the big ideas and important understandings students should retain?
- Determine acceptable evidence
- How will we know students are making progress towards the goal?
- What will we accept as evidence of student understanding?
- Plan components
- What enabling knowledge (facts, concepts, principles) and skills (processes, procedures, strategies) will students need in order to achieve desired results?
- What activities will equip students with the needed knowledge and skills?
- What will need to be taught and coached, and how should it best be taught, in light of performance goals?
- What materials and resources are best suited to accomplish these goals?
The Committee membership shall include a range of MIT community members including faculty and professional staff with expertise in this area, and graduate students who will act as connectors to the graduate student community to ensure the work considers and incorporates the views of the student population.
- Faculty: 2 SHASS + 2 SoE + 2 SoS + 1 SA&P + 1 Sloan
- Admin & Staff: 6; including staff support
- Graduate students: 5