Advice for Future Implementations
Part of the InTeGrate Stanford University Program Model
Consideration of context:
The most important aspect of institutional setting that supported the implementation of the InTeGrate teaching program at Stanford was the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), which is a part of the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Science (SE3). The OMA is a clear indication of SE3's commitment to diversity in the geosciences and has the following mission statement:
"Our mission is to promote a unified community of inclusion, respect, and excellence through the development of a student body, staff, and faculty that reflects the diversity of our national communities and international partners."
The OMA is responsible for coordinating diversity programs within SE3, facilitating partnerships between SE3 and private industry, and forming community alliances with Stanford and other universities. Thus, the InTeGrate Program at Stanford is a means for the OMA to achieve its goals and as such, the OMA has received support from SE3 to support the continuation of the InTeGrate program financially from its overhead budget. This also coincided with Stanford's expansion of resources made available for diversity enhancing activities in the University.
Things that worked well that we would do again
Many aspects of the program worked well and were repeated in our second year of implementation: recruitment of students and faculty mentors via emails with a follow up face-to-face meeting to further explain and describe program objectives and requirements; the 2-day workshop was a good balance between spending enough time on material to be useful without taking too much time out of students' research schedule; and the amount of time required of students and faculty mentors to spend meeting in preparation for teaching the modules.
One of the most delicate aspects of the program is the balance between spending enough time learning pedagogy and developing relationships between students and their faculty mentor, without taking away too much time from students' research schedule. We want them to spend enough time on these activities so that it is meaningful and achieves the objectives that we set out, but we do always have to be mindful that students' number one priority is their research.
Based on feedback from students after the first year of the program, we had managed to strike a good balance. Students felt that everything that they had done was purposeful and useful without being superfluous. They all would have liked to have been able to put more time into the program because they felt they got so much out of it, but admitted that they simply didn't have that option due to research commitments.
Strategies for overcoming challenges
- Some faculty do not attach as high of a priority to students developing their teaching skills and exploring alternative pathways in academia as to their research. As a result, some students who wanted to, were unable to participate in the program because their faculty advisor would not allow it (we have a form that faculty advisors and department managers must sign, acknowledging that the student will be participating in InTeGrate and that program participation may take up to 120 hours). For other students, it took some convincing before their faculty advisors would allow their participation.
This is the result of the research-oriented culture at Stanford. Because Stanford is a top research university, it is understandable that the emphasis is on research. The larger picture is on preparing students for a successful career, and an important aspect of that for many students will inevitably include teaching. We are working together with the Vice Provost's Office for Graduate Education (VPGE) on their efforts to make teaching opportunities more accessible for graduate students, and in the two years of this project, we have seen changes and improvements in advertising these opportunities.
- There were a number of logistics about which we were unfamiliar and encountered challenges as a result. The two most prominent examples were:
- fuzzy communication between our Office of Sponsored Research, grant manager and OMA around methods of cost-sharing which had several effects with how we could use Stanford funding; and
- rules for reimbursing students for their participation in the InTeGrate programâ€”these differed between graduate students and postdocs and also between international and US students.
- It was difficult, for various reasons, to maintain matches with some of our institutions in the 2nd year. In one situation, the faculty mentor was unable to accommodate the module material in her course due to changes in the course syllabus. In this case, we hope that by establishing an MOU with the partnering institution we can create more depth in the number of faculty with which we match students.
- The above challenge also highlights another challenge- that of faculty being able to fit module material into their full syllabus and also meet required teaching and learning objectives. The key to overcoming this challenge was the flexibility of the module material, as well as the postdoc/grad student and faculty mentor in adapting the module material to fit into curriculum objectives. Postdocs/grad students really took the initiative to adapt module material so that it was more appropriate to the individual and specific needs of each course. Their hard work in doing this was recognized and appreciated by faculty mentors. Furthermore, there was flexibility built into the program at Stanford to allow students to do this, but also to allow for different kinds of teaching engagements (i.e. lab session, lecture sessions, repeated section session are all different classroom contexts) and a wide window of required contact hours in the classroom (a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 contact hours).
Things to think about before you start this type of project
For us, the biggest issue is understanding the logistics: of funding, cost-sharing and grant-writing, the rules around compensating students for their time and other administrative processes. This was consistently the largest hurdle for us through the last two years. The issue stemmed from the fact that the program was being run through the Dean's office rather than a department, and therefore there was lack of clarity of the level of grant management and budget support it should receive. If we could go back, we would have made sure that these roles were abundantly clear from the start.
A more general thing to think about when considering whether or not your institution could run a similar program is whether or not you have the capacity to make it work with regards to time, financial support and institutional support. We were fortunate to be able to bring all three of these factors together. It took a dedicated team member to realize all of the daily logistical aspects and manage the different participants and partners. It is not a responsibility that can be added to an already full workload. The institutional support made it possible to create longer term financial support for the program.