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AIDE History and Overview

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Assessment of the Illinois Doctoral Experience (AIDE)

On November 16, 2010, Vice Chancellor Richard Wheeler charged an 18-member faculty committee to assess all doctoral programs in the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. The charge asked the committee to address fundamental questions about the overall scope of doctoral education at Illinois including the size, quality, effectiveness, demand and operational costs of individual doctoral programs on this campus.

At that time we had 97 doctoral programs on our campus, with approximately 5000 students enrolled in doctoral programs each year and over 750 doctoral degrees awarded annually. Through this assessment, we hoped to better understand our strengths, codify and share best practices across programs, and identify areas for improvement.

An 18-member committee was structured into four sub-committees: Engineering & Physical Sciences, Humanities & Creative Arts, Behavioral & Social Sciences Area, and Biological & Agricultural Sciences. The sub-committees reviewed programs in their respective areas using metrics, indicators and a process agreed upon by the full committee, however each sub-committee had the flexibility to factor in disciplinary norms, perspectives and practices. The 18-member committee was chaired by Deba Dutta, Dean of the Graduate College.

Input to the area committees came from three sources.

  1. *Program response to a questionnaire
  2. Data about the program from Campus Profiles (DMI) and Program Profiles (Graduate College).
  3. *A survey of all enrolled doctoral students which was open from February 21 to March 7, 2011.

A final report was submitted to the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in August, 2011.

Doctoral education is foundational to the mission of a research university, and we must ensure the excellence of our programs. The assessment of doctoral programs is now be conducted on a 5-year cycle, with 17-19 programs reviewed every year. The reviews involve faculty committees that work with Graduate College staff to review programs. This ongoing effort is called the Assessment of the Illinois Doctoral Experience (AIDE).

As was the case in the past, AIDE focuses on program effectiveness and students’ experiences, satisfaction and sense of preparation for employment. The Graduate College does much of the work to reduce the burden on the programs and the faculty assessment committees.  The Graduate College gathers relevant data from DMI, collects program information (provided by the Executive Officer and DGS) and conducts surveys of incoming, current, and recently graduated students. After reviewing program data, representatives from the faculty assessment committee and the Graduate College meet with program leaders to discuss program strengths and steps toward improvement.

*The University of Illinois participated in the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate (CID). The program questionnaire and the student survey drew on research presented in The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century by George E. Walker, Chris M. Golde, Laura Jones, Andrea Conklin Bueschel, and Pat Hutchings (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2008