I am currently studying in an “applied” discipline. One of our program’s outcomes is to foster a critical and academic perspective in our own career development. Formalized outputs for this outcome include: taking academic lectures and completing an applied thesis project. A recurring theme in my two years has been reflection, which was mentioned in this week’s panel. I have been trying to shape my career through my studies, especially by reflecting on the value and relevance of my skills. Reflection has been a core process that has guiding my pursuits in achieving my program’s outcomes. Reinforced through my “ivory tower” readings, I have gained this appreciation of understanding my own liminality – a stage of transition. During this process of self-discovery, I felt like I had more agency in deciding what I want to do and how I want to do it. In other words, I have fostered an entrepreneurial hustle.
I appreciate the collaborative and participatory methods that were brought up by the panel. Even though this is not really a formal/official-sounding example, I practiced an applied-reflective methodology in my school program’s graduate-student association. My team and I collaboratively host meetings that are centered around how to be an “applied” researcher both in the field, behind the scenes, and as a career. Reflections are shared by the students with a roundtable-discussion format. During this time, the group discusses our weekly qualms of being a graduate student but also critically reflect where we are as “applied” researchers. I would argue that this discussion is not confined only to these meetings. They are experienced in the TA office, in class lectures, with our professors and colleagues, and in non-structured settings.
My graduate-student team and I do not have a formally-established outcome measure or a method of collecting that data. I am sure that my department has a program evaluation for its students. Yet, this would be something that I would like to explore more. More specifically, I am curious about evaluating the dialectical experiences within my program, measuring where these reflective moments happen and how they are personally weighted. Since my team consists of current graduate students, there might be an interesting bias/perspective that could deepen the qualitative understanding of reflection among the program’s students. This information could be shared with the department to complement the findings from the department’s pre-existing evaluation.
Compared to elementary and secondary education, this is surely a different experience because it is about graduate school and with a specific school of thought. I am in this weird crux of being both a student and a teacher. I am a believer that collaborative/participatory methods contextualize how to best design outcome measures. I still wonder how this attitude of self-efficacy can be instilled for a younger demographic. What does that space which promotes creativity and collaboration look like? What does this dialogue look like? How do its systems operate to sustain it? I agree that reflection can be a great tool. However, I am curious about the context of reflection across different age-groups and cultural communities. So, how does my liminal stage as a graduate student compare to those in earlier educational systems? What themes of being in a stage of transition/development can be used to guide reflections and, especially, to define a program’s outcomes?