Interdisciplinary STEM Graduate Student Learning Communities (GSLC)

By Rose Marie Ward, PI

While Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) graduate students receive specialized training in their respective fields, many STEM graduate students lack the basic skills necessary to transition from doctoral education to employment. Miami University piloted and tested a Graduate Student Learning Community (GSLC) model aimed at closing that gap. This innovative approach to STEM graduate student mentoring synthesized knowledge from the scholarship of teaching and learning, psychology, and chemistry education to build a robust year-long experience.

The goals of the project were to develop the STEM graduate students’ sense of identity, sense of community, and ability to communicate with non-scientists. Beyond positively influencing the participants in the GSLC, the project advanced graduate education in a number of ways. First, the members of the GSLC are themselves actors within their specific research groups, departments, and professions; greater identity clarity, community, and communication skills among these students can in turn positively impact their broader cultures. Second, the curriculum in this project can be implemented and tailored to meet the needs of graduate students at other universities. Finally, the focused attention on communicating to non-specialists will increase the potential reach of STEM topics to scientists outside of one’s own specialty and to the broader public.


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