Transformative Graduate Education at Virginia Tech

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Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) is a university-wide initiative developed by Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw and facilitated by the Graduate School. Through the implementation of unique programs and opportunities, TGE pushes the boundaries of traditional disciplinary academic education and provides the philosophical underpinnings for a truly innovative graduate education experience. The initiative aims to significantly change how graduate students are prepared to become the next generation of scientists, educators, scholars, engineers, artists, and career professionals in an ever-evolving global context.

TGE provides an opportunity for future faculty members and aspiring professional practitioners to explore a variety of pedagogies, research methodologies, and scholarly paradigms while completing their graduate degrees. As a framework for university-wide interdisciplinary graduate education, TGE encourages participants to connect their scholarly activities with community service and enrich their understanding of scholarship and research as ethical pursuits.

Virginia Tech's innovative Graduate Life Center (GLC) provides the physical space for many TGE courses, programs, and special events. As home to the Graduate School administrative offices as well as graduate student apartments, the GLC provides the space and place for building a strong, inclusive and diverse graduate community. Combined, the conceptual framework of TGE and the physical attributes of the Graduate Life Center provide for a uniquely rewarding graduate education.

Knowledge, leadership, scholarly inquiry, and social responsibility are the four pillars guiding the TGE initiative. To more seamlessly integrate TGE into a student's graduate experience, each pillar includes a variety of scholarly and extracurricular opportunities. All TGE offerings emphasize the application of innovative technologies, a commitment to excellence through diversity and inclusivity, active civic engagement, and support for interdisciplinary research and education. These value-added programs and courses reach beyond traditional and discipline-specific degree programs and help build an inclusive and interdisciplinary academic community. Following the TGE model, the Virginia Tech Graduate School helps graduate students engage with the trends impacting the 21st-century universities and growth of their professional communities.

Visual Depiction of TGE at Virginia Tech

Desired Outcomes for TGE Participants:

  •     Conduct meaningful and innovative research and scholarly inquiry
  •     Work successfully in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary settings
  •     Use innovative technologies in research, scholarship, teaching, learning, and engagement
  •     Apply scholarship to contemporary and global contexts
  •     Assume roles and responsibilities as faculty and career professionals
  •     Work successfully in diverse and global communities
  •     Utilize critical thinking and problem-defining skills
  •     Develop dynamic leadership skills
  •     Utilize collaborative and team approach
  •     Understand and adhere to ethical standards and professional practices

Coursework
At its very foundation, Transformative Graduate Education rests upon exemplary teaching and dynamic learning environments. TGE faculty work diligently to create challenging and stimulating learning environments, all the while reiterating the pillars upon which the TGE curriculum is built. The TGE graduate courses offered by the Graduate School include:

  • GRAD 5004  GTA Workshop (1 credit hour)
  • GRAD 5014 Academic Integrity and Plagiarism (1)
  • GRAD 5104  Preparing the Future Professoriate (3)
  • GRAD 5114  Contemporary Pedagogy (3)
  • GRAD 5124  Library Research Skills (3)
  • GRAD 5144 Communicating Science (2)
  • GRAD 5204  Citizen Scholar Seminar (3)
  • GRAD 5214 Diversity and Inclusion in a Global Society (3)
  • GRAD 5304 Preparing the Future Career Professional (3)
  • GRAD 5314 Industrial Professional in Science and Engineering (3)
  • GRAD 5954  Study Abroad - Future Professoriate Global Perspectives (3)
  • GRAD 5xxx  International Research (3)

Graduate Education Development Institute
In all stages, TGE emphasizes a critically engaged understanding and use of technology. To better integrate the critical application of educational technology, the Graduate School and Learning Technologies have collaboratively developed an interdisciplinary teaching, learning, and technology initiative. Directed by Dr. Shelli B. Fowler, the Graduate Education Development Institute (GEDI), complements the professional development mentoring that graduate students receive at the departmental level by creating a multidisciplinary site for graduate students to define their pedagogical praxis via inquiry-based and technology-enriched active learning.

Virginia Tech's TGE program is unique in that it offers all of the aforementioned components as an integrated whole. The TGE program effectively broadens the educational experience of Virginia Tech graduate students. As future faculty and emerging professionals, our graduate students have the opportunity to change how they define themselves, their departments, their professional fields, their own companies, among various other institutions. Expanding the professional development opportunities available to graduate students will affect how these future faculty will mentor, teach, and involve their own students in understanding the diverse complexities of the local/regional/national/global societies in which they live and work.

Opportunities
A number of official programs and organizations are available to those graduate students interested in further immersing themselves in the TGE experience. Graduate students enrolled in any degree seeking program can earn the nine-credit Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate. Students wanting to share their knowledge with all members of the community may wish to apply for recognition as a Citizen Scholar. Those students engaged in interdisciplinary research endeavors are eligible to apply for membership in the Interdisciplinary Research Honor Society (IDR). Regardless of discipline, graduate students from across the university may apply for membership in the graduate honorary society, Alpha Epsilon Lambda (AEL). After completing the core requirements (GRAD 5104 and GRAD 5114) for the Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate, students have the opportunity to apply for the Global Perspectives fellowship that provides an immersive learning experience focused on global trends in higher education (for more information, see Virginia Tech News article from 2010, a 2012 piece from the Global University Newsletter, or this story on page 26 of the 2015 issue of Engineering Now). Graduate students who specialize in and advocate for the awareness, knowledge, and skills associated with diversity and inclusion can receive resources and mentoring from the Diversity Scholars Program, hosted by the Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives. Various leadership opportunities, such as GLC Resident Fellows and Graduate Ambassadors, are also available to interested and eligible students.

Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate
In order to qualify for the Future Professoriate graduate certificate, students must successfully complete GRAD 5104 - Preparing the Future Professoriate, and GRAD 5114 - Contemporary Pedagogy. These courses satisfy 6 of the 9 credits required for the certificate. To satisfy the additional 3 credits, interested students can selected from this list of approved courses.  Students interested in completing the Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate should submit the Graduate Certificate Application to formally enroll in the certificate program. When all certificate requirements have been satisfied, students then should submit the Application for Degree or Certificate Conferral to authorize the issuing of the diploma and the posting of the graduate certificate on their official transcript.

Student Experience
Enrollment in TGE courses and participation in TGE-related programs continues to increase. Annually more than 1,000 graduate students participate in one or more of the TGE courses, programs, or special events. Several departments recommend or require their GTAs enroll in GRAD 5104 - Preparing the Future Professoriate, and GRAD 5114 - Contemporary Pedagogy (and thereby fulfilling 2/3 of the certificate requirements). Perhaps most significant evidence regarding the importance and effectiveness of TGE are the graduate students themselves. Graduate students regularly credit the TGE courses with strengthening their pedagogical skills, broadening their professional perspectives, and encouraging them to work beyond their disciplinary comfort zones and academic silos. TGE brings together students in critically engaging environments, fosters dialogue across departments and disciplines, and empowers graduate students to envision and implement change.