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Thursday, June 18 • 1:45pm - 2:45pm
RTD.29 - Trends and challenges within graduate student professional development programs

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Graduate Student Professional Development (GSPD) is concerned with equipping graduate students with transferable skills—skills valued across multiple employment sectors (private, public, non-profit), and not isolated solely to academic contexts (SSHRC, 2012). In the changing world of work PhD graduates are finding a highly competitive environment even for temporary contract work (HEQCO, 2013). The approach adopted at many Canadian research-intensive institutions has been the development of centralized professional development programs. The most common approach adopted by GSPD programs has been one-off workshops (or 'just-in-time' training), which promise to imbue graduate students with career-readiness skills. Yet one of the major issues inherent within these programs is the inability to evaluate the impact of these programs in terms of significant learning (Fink, 2003). New trends are challenging the assumption that graduate students need to develop discrete skills. For example, Porter and Phelps (2014) advocate an integrative approach which embeds professional experiences as inherently part of a student’s graduate work. Rather than viewing graduate student’s skills as deficits, an attribute-based, capacity-building approach is used to synthesize the curricular and co-curricular aspects of a student’s learning. In this 20-minute roundtable discussion, the facilitators will engage participants in conversations regarding current trends and issues related to GSPD. Participants can expect to gain a deeper understanding of the issues within GSPD and be infused with new ideas to improve programming for graduate students. 


Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences. San Francisco: CA, Jossey-Bass, 27-59.

HEQCO (2013). So you want to earn a PhD? The attraction, realities and outcomes of pursuing a doctorate. Toronto, ON: Maldonado, Wiggers, & Arnold. Retrieved from: http://www.heqco.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/At%20Issue%20Doctoral%20ENGLISH.pdf

Porter, S.D & Phelps, J.M. (2014) Beyond Skills: An Integrative Approach to Doctoral Student Preparation for Diverse Careers. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 44(3), 54-67. 

SSHRC (2012). Graduate Student Professional Development: A Survey with Recommendations. Ottawa, On: Rose, M. Retrieved from SSHRC website: www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca

Thursday June 18, 2015 1:45pm - 2:45pm PDT
Bayshore Salon EF

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