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Wednesday, December 9 • 3:20pm - 3:50pm
Interdisciplinary and Disciplinary Specific Programming: Graduate Student Perspectives and Relevance for Teaching Development

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Context: Interdisciplinary (i.e. University-wide programming) and discipline-specific (i.e. training open students from one field) teaching development programs have been used for many years in higher education. Currently, research on the benefits of these teaching models remains scant in terms of a contextualized and operationalized understanding. To fill this gap, empirical studies are needed. The purpose of this study was to determine graduate students’ perspectives related to interdisciplinary and discipline-specific teaching and learning experiences.

Method: There were two online surveys created with Qualtrics software and distributed at different points throughout the research process: a quantitative pilot survey and a qualitative follow-up survey. Three participatory focus groups with graduate students were conducted to allow for further in-depth exploration in both an interdisciplinary and discipline-specific group setting that represented 7 distinct colleges/ faculties at a mid-sized, comprehensive university in Ontario. The number of graduate student responses included: (a) 177: quantitative survey, (b) 48: qualitative survey, and (c) 13: focus group discussions.

Results: Similar themes emerged from the survey and focus group data identifying perceived benefits of participation in either interdisciplinary or discipline-specific training. Participants’ perceived benefits were related to: (a) conditions for learning, (b) networking, and (c) their own teacher identity. The lived experiences of graduate student participants expand the characterization of interdisciplinary and discipline-specific programming. This empirical study points to the need for graduate student programs (specifically teaching development offered by educational development units) to provide both interdisciplinary and discipline-specific teaching development opportunities that achieve a blend of perceived benefits.


Erin Aspenlieder

University of Guelph

Katherine Bishop-Williams

PhD Student, University of Guelph
Katherine Bishop-Williams is a PhD Student at the University of Guelph, in the department of Population Medicine. Katherine is currently the College Lead for the Ontario Veterinary College, offering workshops and resources for graduate teaching development. Katherine is also... Read More →
avatar for Kaitlin Roke

Kaitlin Roke

PhD Candidate, University of Guelph
Kaitlin Roke is a PhD Candidate at the University of Guelph, in the department of Human Health and Nutritional Science. Kaitlin also worked with the department of Open Learning and Educational Support as one of the Graduate Teaching Community Co-Chairs.

Meagan Troop

University of Guelph

Wednesday December 9, 2015 3:20pm - 3:50pm EST
Meeting Room D

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