There may be new opportunities for using data – both quantitative and qualitative – to improve graduate education. The use of longitudinal data by graduate schools, however, has been far less common and rigorous due to the resource-intensive nature of such undertakings. Longitudinal data, particularly concerning the career pathways of PhD alumni, are often the missing piece in feedback loops that inform program improvement. Inspired by advances in data-mining technology and social media, as well as demands from the graduate enterprise, the Council of Graduate Schools is asking whether or not a systematic approach to tracking career pathways is now possible.
With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, CGS is launching a one-year study to evaluate the feasibility of a larger project to develop and enhance templates and processes designed to track the career pathways of PhD alumni of STEM, humanities and social science graduate programs. The project will include the development of a white paper summarizing what is currently known about the demand for career tracking at the doctoral level in STEM, humanities, and social science fields, a survey of all doctoral granting CGS members to formally document processes for tracking alumni from CGS member institutions, and a workshop to include graduate deans, PhD holders and methodology experts. Project activities will conclude in the fall of 2014 with a report recommending next steps.
CGS has compiled helpful resources for institutions, deans, and program directors seeking more information about solutions and challenges in tracking career pathways of PhDs.
As the national advocate for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource for policymakers and others on issues concerning graduate education, research, and scholarship. Based in Washington, DC, the organization provides its members with regular updates and analyses of legislative and regulatory proposals and policies that affect graduate education.
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