Jan. 19, 1995
Vol. 14, No. 10

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    Council on Teaching reports on graduate-student surveys

    A majority of respondents to two graduate-student surveys approve of their experiences here, according to a Council on Teaching report. The report, which includes a general appraisal of the graduate experience at Chicago as well as suggestions for improving the structure of graduate teaching, is printed in The University Record, included with this issue of the Chronicle.

    "The University of Chicago has long been the pre-eminent graduate-education enterprise in the United States," said Provost Geoffrey Stone. "The Council on Teaching report will help us continue to pursue our goals at the highest level."

    The report covers the results of two surveys taken in 1993 and 1994. In June 1993, a survey prepared by the Council on Teaching was sent to all recipients of master's degrees and doctorates from the Biological Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences and Social Science divisions in the years 1988 through 1993. In May 1994, a survey prepared by the Dean of Students' Office was distributed to all current graduate students in those divisions and in the Divinity School. The second survey repeated many of the questions from the first, and the response rate for each survey was just over 30 percent.

    In the 1993 survey of degree recipients, 80 percent of respondents reported a good, very good or excellent experience with their programs. In the 1994 survey of current students, 76 percent reported a good to excellent experience.

    The workshops in the Humanities and Social Sciences received an overwhelmingly positive response. Numerous constructive criticisms in the surveys have helped the Council on Teaching formulate a set of guidelines that include specific recommendations in the areas of orientation and advice to entering students; the first-year program; second- and third-year Ph.D. programs; evaluation of classroom instruction; transition to the dissertation-writing stage and advice on the dissertation; monitoring of students' dissertation progress; the timely return of work and aid with timely completion; and aid in finding jobs.

    The members of the Council on Teaching welcome feedback from the University community and are available to meet with department chairmen and committees to discuss any aspects of their findings.

    The members of the Council on Teaching are:

    J. Peter May (chairman), Professor in Mathematics; Leora Auslander, Assistant Professor in History; Miriam Bassok, Assistant Professor in Psychology; Daniel Brudney, Associate Professor in Philosophy; Philippe Desan, Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures and Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division; J. Mark Hansen, Professor in Political Science; Susan Kidwell, Professor in Geophysical Sciences; Michael LaBarbera, Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy; Anthony Mahowald, Louis Block Professor and Chairman of Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology; David Oxtoby, Professor in Chemistry and Director of the James Franck Institute; Peter Vandervoort, Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and Master of the Physical Sciences Collegiate Division; and Christina von Nolcken, Associate Professor in English Language & Literature. (NOTE: The University Record is not available on-line. For a copy of The University Record, call 312-702-8363.)