Understanding professors’ expectations shouldn’t be a mystery. However, sometimes, there are disconnects between what a faculty member wants a student to produce for a project, and how the student interprets the instructions. In many cases, the expectations of faculty are clearly articulated, either in written or oral format. However, in other cases, there are situations where a faculty member’s feedback or outcomes from discussions regarding progress may not be as clear because they involve aspects of non-verbal communication such as eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, and eye contact.
Addressing the Needs of Graduate Students
We draw particular attention to the needs of graduate students for our “When Faculty Say X” success seminar series. Graduate students have several forms of faculty interaction that have their own sets of nuances. For graduate students, the faculty member is a teacher, a mentor, an advisor, and a future colleague. There are several phases through which one must pass to navigate the transitions. During coursework, there is the phase where one follows the syllabus, turns in the homework, and takes the exam. During the qualifying exam and proposal stages, it can be difficult for a student to determine what they are supposed to know on the journey toward building expertise in a discipline or particular area of research. In addition to becoming a contributor to the field, a professor may have a methodology that must be employed by all in her lab, or a set of theories which need to be used set the foundation for all work that comes out of the research group. There may be bibliographies that one must reference, techniques that must be mastered, and simple “unwritten rules” that must be followed. Some of the rules may include attending every group meeting and each departmental colloquium. Other rules may extend to writing, i.e., explicit use of a citation style, paragraph structure, or drafting process. In the past, we have had in-person seminars and panels where students have a chance to post questions online, and faculty answer them in-person during a dinner seminar.
Launching #WhenFacultySayX 2015
In order to accommodate schedules of faculty guests who will join our seminar this year, and in an attempt involve all of the students in our PROMISE AGEP network and beyond, we are launching an interactive, online version of the seminar in conjunction with Twitter that will allow all to participate.
Here’s how it will work.
Between Wednesday, October 7, and Thursday, October 15, 2015, we invite graduate students to post questions to faculty below in the comment section (you do not need a wordpress account to participate, we encourage anonymous posts.) Simultaneously, we will launch #WhenFacultySayX on Twitter, and will encourage questions from graduate students broadly, and answers from faculty colleagues from any school. On Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, PROMISE Director, Dr. Renetta Tull (@Renetta_Tull) will answer questions on Twitter. Our faculty experts, Dr. Ralph Pollack, Dr. Joel Morris, and Dr. John Jeffries,
Faculty: Faculty colleagues from around the world are welcome to share things that they want students to clearly understand, using the hashtag #WhenFacultySayX. You are also welcome to join the conversation below and reply through the comments.
Students: This program was developed for you. It was developed to remove the barriers and fear regarding asking any and all questions related to your success. You may post anonymously. Do you have a question that you want a faculty member to answer? Post it in the comment section of this post at the bottom of this page. You may post anonymously.
Our featured faculty panel of experts will answer questions that are posted on this website, below.
- Dr. Ralph Pollack – representing natural and mathematical sciences. Dr. Pollack was a faculty member in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department at UMBC from 1970 – 2007 and Associate Vice President for Research from 2007. Dr. Pollack has extensive experience in both writing and reviewing proposals. He was funded continuously from his arrival at UMBC to his retirement from active research in 2007, and he has obtained funding for research, teaching, graduate student training, symposia, major equipment and travel from state, national, international and private agencies.
- Dr. Joel Morris – representing engineering and IT. Dr. Morris’ research focuses on topics including stochastic and deterministic system theory with applications to communications and statistical signal processing, joint-time frequency/time-scale analysis and applications, robust signal processing, fading channel communications, and adaptive signal processing and applications. Professor Morris’ received training from Howard University, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Morris was a faculty panelist for the in-person version of “When Faculty Say X” a few years ago when PROMISE placed a strategic focus on scholarly writing.
- Dr. John Jeffries – representing education and humanities. Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (Ph.D. Yale University). Dean Jeffries specializes in twentieth-century America and American political and policy history. His distinguished teaching has earned him designation as a UMBC Presidential Teaching Professor and gained him a University of Maryland Regents Award for Teaching Excellence.
- Dr. Renetta Tull – Online Moderator. Dr. RenettaTull will moderate the discussion and will add commentary based on her experience as a former faculty member at University of Wisconsin-Madison, adjunct at College Park (http://hesp.umd.edu/facultyprofile/Tull/Renetta), and member of the program faculty groups for MSRP at MIT, and QoLT at Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh. Tull is Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Student Development and Postdoctoral Affairs and writes on issues of graduate student professional development and degree completion.
The “When Faculty Say X” seminar began as a PROMISE seminar in 2003, initially titled, “Understanding Faculty Expectations” as part of the PROMISE SUCCESS 2003, a pre-cursor to the PROMISE Summer Success Institute (SSI). During an orientation session for new graduate students at UMBC circa 2004, UMBC Psychology Professor Dr. Susan Sonnenschein posted a chart with two columns. The left column noted “What Faculty Say,” and the right column noted “What They Mean.” PROMISE adopted this method and started the “Faculty X|Y – When Faculty Say X, They Really Mean Y” seminar to allow students to anonymously ask questions, and have a faculty panel answer the questions (grouped by topic area) in person. This seminar has drawn crowds of more than 100 graduate students. The “they really mean y” portion of the title was dropped over time. This 2015 #WhenFacultySayX virtual seminar is the online evolution of those early panels and workshops.
Some of the programs and questions from past years can be found in these links:
Last year, we were unable to answer all of the questions during the seminar, so we added some videos to the library with answers to some of the questions. Here is an example:
(Other videos that answer questions from past years can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_uKXMv-Mty_sRI31EzJm0E0cJTX20mve)
Added 10/9/15, 11:29 AM: Thank you to several of our PROMISE mentors and PhD alumni from around the country who are also assisting with answering questions.