5 Takeaways From the #digped Twitter Chat on Graduate Teacher Education

What I learned from an hour-long discussion about pedagogical training for graduate students. 

On May 13, Digital Pedagogy Lab hosted a Twitter chat using the hashtag #digped. This month’s topic was about pedagogical training, career preparation, and other types of support for graduate students. I was one of almost 3 dozen people to weigh in during the hour-long event, which featured over 300 tweets and replies. It was a lively discussion, with many interesting ideas and takeaways. For those of you who were unable to participate, here is a summary:

1. Experience with graduate teacher education is not always the same across higher education. Some believe that pedagogy and pedagogical training are not priorities, leading to scenarios that perpetuate instructors teaching in the same way they have been taught. On the other end of the spectrum, a few shared powerful and positive experiences that included both training and exposure to strong teaching modelers. Britni Brown O’Donnell (@BMBOD) and other participants referred to programs at specific institutions, including Virginia Tech and University of Kansas, and there was agreement about a need for a consistent framework to prepare graduate students.

2. A number of factors influence graduate students’ experiences and preparation. These factors include long-standing academic traditions, institutional cultures, and a focus on discipline-specific teaching approaches over broadly-applicable, fundamental teaching practices. At times, graduate students must take responsibility for aspects of their graduate teaching education experience. For example, graduate students may need to find or build their own learning communities.

3. Graduate students want support in preparing for careers of all types—academic, alternate academic (alt-ac), and non-academic. Graduate students often do not know what hiring institutions will value from their experience or how to tell the story of their graduate work. Teachers and advisors play an important role in informing graduate students about career options throughout their educational experience, not just at the end. Christopher Haynes (@_chrishaynes) and other participants encouraged faculty and advisors to promote preparation for an academic career—e.g., by raising pedagogical topics with graduate students early and often, and Sarah Patterson (@Sarah_Patterson) recommended inviting the graduate students to attend academic senate meetings. Participants like Jenae Cohn (@Jenae_Cohn) also advised that faculty become more conversant with alt-ac and non-academic career options to advise undergraduate and graduate students about a larger set of opportunities.

4. Changes at the individual and institutional levels have the potential to prioritize pedagogy in higher education. Quality assurance and accreditation models can be shifted to promote pedagogical excellence. Institutions, administrators, and hiring committees can adopt hiring practices to increase focus on faculty who value and practice research-based teaching and learning techniques.

5. Changes to the graduate education experience may begin with actions within our control. Questions like “What’s your major?” or “What do you want to be?” may be better framed as “What problems do you want to solve?” To involve students in reimagining graduate education, faculty, staff and advisors need to model a greater variety of teaching practices and professional activities.

[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post featured a Storify post with embedded Tweets. You can still check out that conversation here. Below is a post that Kevin published on LinkedIn that summarizes this Twitter chat.]

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