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Talk to Us

February 24, 2009

You “Talked to Us” . . .

. . . and this is what you said.

Mentoring is a priority for many of you. Over 60% of respondents expressed strong interest in mentoring in the January “Talk to Us” survey. Mentoring is apparently flourishing at Duke, and, for graduate students, it exists on a continuum, from outreach activities in the Durham community (middle and high school, students from low income backgrounds, and girls in science in math), to involvement with Duke undergraduate and graduate student peers, to a need for being mentored by and making connections with Duke alumni and the broader academic community. Many respondents indicated current or past involvement in a variety of mentoring activities. It is heartening to see that mentoring is so strongly interwoven into the fabric of the Duke community.

Sixty-two percent of respondents expressed an interest in research presentation opportunities. You told us that you want to be able to present your research in a variety of settings, with a strong interest in presenting your work to students and faculty across other Duke disciplines, sharing your work in settings that include students and faculty from neighboring universities, demonstrating your research in seminars with similar disciplines, and having more travel funding to present your research at national conferences in your fields.

Training in grant writing was very important to 60% of those who completed the survey. You expressed an overwhelming need for grant writing workshops that teach you the basics in grant writing—from introductory writing techniques to the general format and structure of grant writing in your specific disciplines.

Over half of you, 56%, stressed a need for teaching workshops. You want to have more practical workshops that cover evaluation of your performance, as well as theoretical teaching concepts, strategies for teaching diverse learners, and to have the opportunity to discuss your teaching experiences with other graduate students and faculty in small group settings.

Participating in support groups is considered to be integral to success for 53% of respondents. Your strongest need is to have support groups for prelim preparation and dissertation writing. You want to be able to work through the stages of these processes, learn strategies for keeping your advisors in the loop, and focus on setting goals.

Although you are generally pleased with your level of knowledge about instructional technology, 44% of you expressed an interest in learning more about Web page construction, particularly building personal and academic Web sites. You also want to become more proficient in the use of PowerPoint, Blackboard and other multimedia forms of teaching technology and to know more about using technology in time management and organizational skills. You also told us that you want to understand the pros and cons of using technology in the classroom.

We asked you about cultural activities, and while some of you have a difficult time scooting away from the lab, the library, or the computer to exhale, especially as you enter the final stages of completing your degree, more of you are taking advantage of much that Duke and Durham have to offer—dance, theater, concerts, religious and church-related activities, Duke performances, Nasher Museum, basketball, food fairs, basketball, kid-friendly events for Grad parents, comedy shows, and did we mention basketball? What’s clear from your responses is that you have a good sense of how to balance work and play and that you stay abreast of opportunities to engage in community offerings.

Thank you to all who participated in the survey; it has given the Graduate School a wealth of useful information as it seeks new and better ways to meet the needs and foster the strengths of the graduate student community.