The University of Texas at Tyler
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Graduate School Faculty

Best Practice in Graduate Education for Faculty & Advisor

The following Best Practices were endorsed by the UT Tyler Graduate Council in February 2009.

A primary purpose of graduate education at The University of Texas at Tyler is to instill in each student an understanding of and capacity for scholarship, independent judgment, academic rigor, and intellectual honesty. It is the joint responsibility of faculty and graduate students to work together to foster these ends through relationships which encourage freedom of inquiry, demonstrate personal and professional integrity, and foster mutual respect.

Graduate student progress toward educational goals at The University of Texas at Tyler is directed and evaluated by an advisor and the relevant graduate committee(s). The advisor and the individuals on the committee provide intellectual guidance in support of the scholarly/creative activities of graduate students. The advisor and the relevant graduate committee(s) also are charged with the responsibility of evaluating a graduate student's performance in scholarly/creative activities. The graduate student, the advisor and the graduate committee(s) comprise the basic unit of graduate education at this institution. It is the quality, breadth, and depth of interaction within this unit that largely determines the outcome of the graduate experience.

High quality graduate education depends upon the professional and ethical conduct of the participants. Faculty members and graduate students have complementary responsibilities in the maintenance of academic standards and the creation of high quality graduate programs. Excellence in graduate education is achieved when both faculty and students are highly motivated, possess the academic and professional backgrounds necessary to perform at the highest level, and are sincere in their desire to see each other succeed.

Graduate students must be viewed as early-stage professionals, not as students whose interest is guided by the desire to complete the degree. Graduate students have made a career choice and must be viewed and treated as the next generation of professionals.

Correspondingly, it is imperative that faculty:

  • Interact with students in a professional, ethical and civil manner in accordance with the accepted standards of the discipline and The University of Texas at Tyler policies governing discrimination and harassment.
  • Impartially evaluate student performance regardless of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or other criteria that are not germane to academic evaluation.
  • Serve on graduate student committees without regard to the religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality of the graduate student candidate.
  • Prevent personal rivalries with colleagues from interfering with their duties as graduate advisors, committee members, or colleagues.
  • Excuse themselves from serving as advisors, on graduate committees or supervising assistantship work when there is a familial or other relationship between the faculty member and the student that could result in a conflict of interest.
  • Acknowledge student contributions to research presented at conferences, in professional publications, or in applications for copyrights and patents.
  • Not impede a graduate student's progress and completion of his/her degree in order to benefit from the student's proficiency as a teaching or research assistant.
  • Create in the classroom, lab, or studio, supervisory relations with students that stimulate and encourage students to learn creatively and independently.
  • Have a clear understanding with graduate students about their specific research responsibilities, including time lines for completion of research and the thesis or dissertation.
  • Provide oral or written comments and evaluation of students' work in a timely manner.
  • Discuss laboratory and/or departmental authorship policy with graduate students in advance of entering into collaborative projects.
  • Ensure an absence of coercion with regard to the participation of graduate students as human research subjects in their faculty advisor's research.
  • Familiarize themselves with policies that affect their graduate students.
  • Provide oversight and guidance to graduate students on environmental, safety and other regulatory issues.

 Graduate education is structured around the transmission of knowledge at the highest level. In many cases, graduate students depend on faculty advisors to assist them in identifying and gaining access to financial and/or intellectual resources which support their graduate programs. In addition, faculty advisors, program chairs, etc. must apprise students of the "job market" so that students can develop realistic expectations for the outcomes of their studies.  

In some academic units, the student's specific advisor may change during the course of the student's program, either because of faculty or student wishes. The role of advising may also change and become a mentoring relationship.

The reward of finding a faculty advisor implies that the student has achieved a level of excellence and sophistication in the field, or exhibits sufficient promise to merit the more intensive interest, instruction, and counsel of faculty.

Correspondingly, faculty advisors should:

  • Provide clear maps of the requirements each student must meet, including course work, languages, research tools, examinations, and thesis or dissertation, and delineating the amount of time expected to complete each step.
  • Evaluate student progress and performance in regular and informative ways consistent with the practice of the field.
  • In academic units, faculty advisors support the academic promise of graduate students in their program. In some cases, academic advisors are assigned to entering graduate students to assist them in academic advising and other matters. In other cases, students select faculty advisors in accordance with the disciplinary interest or research expertise. Advising is variant in its scope and breadth and may be accomplished in many ways.
  • A student's academic performance and a faculty member's scholarly interest may coincide during the course of instruction and research/creative activity/ performance. As the faculty-graduate student relationship matures and intensifies, direct collaborations may involve the sharing of authorship or rights to intellectual property developed in research or other creative activity. Such collaborations are encouraged and are a desired outcome of the mentoring process.
  • Help students develop interpretive, writing, oral, technological and quantitative skills, in accordance with the expectations of the discipline and University.
  • Assist graduate students in the development of grant writing skills, where appropriate.
  • Take reasonable measures to ensure that graduate students who initiate thesis or dissertation research/creative activity do so in a timely fashion, regardless of the overall demands of the laboratory/studio.
  • When appropriate, encourage graduate students to participate in professional meetings or display their work in public forums and exhibitions.
  • Stimulate in each graduate student an appreciation of teaching, and promote the acquisition of teaching skills where appropriate.
  • Create an ethos of collegiality so that learning takes place within a community of scholars.
  • Prepare students to be competitive for employment which includes portraying a realistic view of the field and the job market and making use of professional contacts for the benefit of their students, as appropriate.
  • Create an environment of the highest ethical standards and insist that the student behave ethically in all their professional activities.

This document was originated by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Graduate Council.

The University of Texas at Tyler document benefited from the work of the University of Nebraska Medical Center; the work of the Graduate Council at the University of Oregon; the Graduate School at the University of California-Davis; the Graduate College and Graduate Council at the University of Arizona; the Office of Graduate Studies at the University of Southern California; and the Graduate School at North Carolina State University. 

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