Research on Graduate Education
The Graduate College provides leadership and research in graduate education to our campus and beyond. As a large, public research institution with a rich history of innovation and excellence, Illinois is looked to by our peers and by organizations around the world to help guide future developments and trends. We work with our academic programs, institutional peers, and national organizations to build new strategies and align our policies and programming with the changing demands of graduate education in the 21st century. In addition to the specific projects below, we provide an overview, resources, and research literature on graduate education.
The Graduate College has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the integration of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) into STEM courses at the University of Illinois. In light of the sudden technological changes impacting higher education, the knowledge generated and disseminated as a result of this research project will be critical for informing the rapid, strategic transformation of universities, including the expansion of online graduate education and lifelong learning. Pedagogical issues such as the effectiveness of flipped classrooms merged with MOOCs will be explored through rigorous research design, data collection, and analysis. The project involves an interdisciplinary team of STEM education experts, including a full-time post-doctoral research assistant. The grant will also support a national workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which will help to solidify a vision for online graduate and professional education in the 21st century research university. The research project and workshop will impact a broad array of critical issues including rapid expansion and greater inclusivity in STEM education and lifelong workforce training and re-training.
Educate to Innovate (in partnership with the National Academy of Engineering)
To remain a global innovation leader the U.S. must significantly enhance its innovation capacities and abilities. Accordingly, improving the capacity of individuals and organizations to innovate must be a high-priority national project. U.S. universities excel at teaching the basic sciences, engineering, and technologies that are essential for innovation. And, several university programs focus on entrepreneurship, which helps translate innovation into marketable realities. But very little education is offered that fills “the innovation gap” between these two ends of the process that brings new products and services to the market.
This project, in partnership with the National Academy of Engineering, is grounded on the premise that innovation can be taught. It focuses on identifying the skill sets that are critical for innovation and exploring best practices for inculcating those in STEM students, i.e., exploring what the content of innovation courses and experiences should be and how they should be taught. A workshop will be organized by a steering committee appointed by the NAE President. A written summary of the workshop, which will include the survey results presented at the meeting, will be prepared, peer-reviewed and published by NAE.
Council of Graduate School's Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition and Completion (DIMAC)
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of 21 institutional partners selected by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) for a study to examine completion and attrition among underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) doctoral programs.
Lifelong Learning for Engineering Professionals (in partnership with the National Academy of Engineering)
In June 2009, a National Academy workshop identified issues critical for structuring education for engineering professionals in the 21st century knowledge economy. For example, who can/should provide the learning opportunities; what allowances need to be made for practicing engineers to be able to take advantage of the learning opportunities; in what format and where; do the opportunities need to be certified; if so by whom; who pays for this advanced education; what are appropriate roles for the private sector, government, and academia; and so on. The Lifelong Learning project surveyed current practices in lifelong learning for engineering professionals to reexamine the underlying assumptions and outline strategies for addressing unmet needs. The final report is available on the project website. This project was funded in part by the National Science Foundation.
The purpose of this study was to investigate Illinois graduate education, graduate student characteristics, and trends in enrollment and completion from 2000 to 2010. Descriptive statistics and trend analyses were used to examine enrollment and completion by various student categorical indicators such as country of origin, race/ethnicity, disability, and gender as well as intuition categorical indicators such as college and faculty demographics.
This particular research explores the association between parental educational attainment and success in accessing and completing graduate education among people who are first generation in both undergraduate and graduate education and second generation undergraduates (one or more parent has earned an associates and/or bachelor’s degree) but first generation graduate students (parents do not have an advanced degree).
With funding from the Council of Graduate School’s (CGS) PhD Completion Project, the Graduate College designed a series of Student Lifecycle Surveys which were sent to students after their first year of graduate study, mid-program, and upon completion of their graduate degree. These three surveys are carefully designed to work together so that we can track the changing impact of key aspects—such as advising, mentoring, financial support—as students progress through their program of study.
The Graduate College participated in both Phase I and Phase II of the Council of Graduate School's PhD Completion Project. This was a seven-year project that addressed issues surrounding PhD completion and attrition, and involved 14 participating graduate programs. The goal of the project was to create intervention strategies and pilot projects, as well as to evaluate the impact of these projects on rates of doctoral completion rates and attrition patterns.
On Tuesday, September 28, the National Research Council released its third assessment of U.S. doctoral programs. Fifty-eight of Illinois’ 95 doctoral programs are included in this study, which presents data for more than 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 institutions across the U.S. Richard Wheeler, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (interim) and Vice Provost, served on the NRC Committee on Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs that undertook this unprecedented project.