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A Community of Practice Approach to Integrating Professional Skills Training with Graduate Thesis ResearchBackground. It is well recognized that current graduate education is too narrowly focused on thesis research. Graduate students have a strong desire to gain skills for their future career success beyond thesis research. This obvious gap in professional skill training in current graduate study also leads to the common student perception that professional skills beyond academic knowledge should only be gained after completion of thesis research. Purpose. A new program is being developed to rigorously integrate professional skills training with thesis research. The approach is to establish learning communities of Graduates for Advancing Professional Skills (GAPS) to incorporate project management skill training from industry into academic research. The GAPS program seeks to address two fundamental education research questions: How can project management skill training be integrated with thesis research in graduate education? What is the role/value of learning communities in enhancing the training and retention of professional skills and the effectiveness of thesis research? Our proposed solution is that graduate student learning communities engaging in a blended online and classroom approach will promote learning of professional skills such as project and time management in thesis research activities. The purpose of this session is to establish the connection between project managementmore »
Background: Project management and other professional skill training is often lacking in graduate student education, typically as a result of limited resources, lack of faculty buy-in, and narrow focus on thesis research. To address this need and with support from NSF, we are developing the Graduates for Advancing Professional Skills (GAPS) program at Iowa State University. To aid the initial development of this program, we conducted a literature review to understand the current context of the development and implementation of professional skills in higher education curricula, with specific interest in STEM fields. Purpose: The purpose of our study was to identify best practices related to implementing professional development skills into an academic curriculum. The goal was to utilize this information in the development, planning, implementation, and assessment of our GAPS program. Design: We engaged in a systematic literature review. We focused on the curricular and pedagogical approaches to implementing these skills, results of the initiatives, and methodologies used to assess their effectiveness. Results: Our literature review uncovered the “messiness” of teaching and learning of skills such as project management. There is often not one approach or definition of project management – it may change based on scope of project andmore »