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Title: STEMAmbassadors: Developing Communications, Teamwork, and Leadership Skills for Graduate Students
STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduate programs excel at developing students’ technical expertise and research skills. The interdisciplinary nature of many STEM research projects means that graduate students often find themselves paired with experts from other fields and asked to work together to solve complex problems. At Michigan State University, the College of Engineering has developed a graduate level course that helps students build professional skills (communications, teamwork, leadership) to enhance their participation in these types of interdisciplinary projects. This semester-long course also includes training on research mentoring, helping students work more effectively with their current faculty mentors and build skills to serve as mentors themselves. Discussions of research ethics are integrated throughout the course, which allows participants to partially fulfill graduate training requirements in the responsible conduct of research. This paper will discuss the development of this course, which is based in part on curriculum developed as part of an ongoing training grant from the National Science Foundation. 18 graduate students from Engineering and other STEM disciplines completed the course in Spring 2019, and we will present data gathered from these participants along with lessons learned and suggestions for institutions interested in adapting these open-source curriculum materials for their own use. Students completed pre- and post-course evaluations, which asked about their expectations and reasons for participating in the course at the outset and examined their experiences and learning at the end. Overall, students reported that the course content was highly relevant to their daily work and that they were highly satisfied with the content of all three major focus areas (communications, teamwork, leadership). Participants also reported that the structure and the pacing of the course were appropriate, and that the experience had met their expectations. The results related to changes in students’ knowledge indicate that the course was effective in increasing participants understanding of and ability to employ professional skills for communications, teamwork and leadership. Statistical analyses were conducted by creating latent constructs for each item as applicable and then running paired t-tests. The evaluation also demonstrated increases in students’ interest, knowledge and confidence of the professional skills offered in the course.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1730137
NSF-PAR ID:
10204076
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 2020 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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