Several E&ER research studies have examined graduate STEM education, including issues of career preparation, career choice, professional development in teaching, graduate advising and women’s progress to Ph.D.s

A recent study examined professional socialization and career preparation in Ph.D. programs in chemistry. The first phase of the study examines the broad landscape of Ph.D. programs in order to identify patterns in how programs are evolving to meet changing workforce needs and scientific trends. Second, through interviews with students, faculty and staff in a diverse set of Ph.D. programs, we are gathering in-depth information on what students understand and believe about their career options, how they develop these ideas through their graduate student years, and how they make their own career decisions.

The Ph.D. Careers study compared Ph.D. physical scientists’ career preparation in graduate school with the career skills and knowledge they needed in their current work, using a combination of retrospective surveys and interviews. Scientists reported strong preparation in research and analytical skills but weaker preparation in communication, interdisciplinary work, and teaching.

  • Smith, S. J., Pedersen-Gallegos, L., & Riegle-Crumb, C. (2002). The training, careers, and work of Ph.D. physical scientists: Not simply academic. American Journal of Physics 70(11), 1081-1092.

The study of professional socialization in chemistry was supported by the National Science Foundation under award DRL-0723600. The Ph.D. Careers study was supported by the National Foundation under award SES-9704011. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.

In an interview study of graduate students’ participation in an inquiry-based science outreach program to K-12 classrooms, E&ER researchers found that the graduate student scientists experienced powerful professional development in teaching. The opportunity to prepare and repeat their presentations frequently for varied audiences provided a high-intensity practicum that helped the students to develop flexibility and confidence in their ability to design and adapt a lesson. For some, the experience confirmed and clarified their intended career goals, which included teaching, while others experienced more dramatic shifts in their career plans from research to teaching. We also analyze reasons for the overrepresentation of women in this and other teaching and outreach programs. This study also examined outcomes for the K-12 students and teachers.

Participating in development and teaching of a student-centered undergraduate curriculum was a significant professional development experience for graduate and advanced undergraduate teaching assistants (TAs) in STEM fields. This book draws on three E&ER studies to report what and how TAs learned, as well as their observations of learning and resistance among their undergraduate students.

  • Seymour, E, with Melton, G., Wiese, D. J., & Pedersen-Gallegos, L. (2005). Partners in Innovation: Teaching Assistants in College Science Courses. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

As evaluators for CoMInDS, the College Mathematics Instructors Development Source, we gathered data to assess needs and improve programming for people who lead teaching professional development for graduate TAs in mathematics departments.  We also developed profiles of different types of TAPD programs to help TAPD leaders choose and refine their own program model.

Evaluation of CoMInDS was supported by the National Science Foundation under award DUE-1432381. Evaluation of the BSI was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the funder.

Given the apprenticeship structure of STEM graduate education, the graduate advisor is a major influence on STEM graduate students’ lives and professional growth. This analysis of interview data reveals three main functions for an “ideal type” advisor who offers students departmental and disciplinary moorings, career and program advice, and individualized mentoring.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under award HRD-0123636. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these reports are those of the researchers, and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.