Work in Progress: Who Are Graduate Program Directors and What Are Their Roles in Healing within Graduate Engineering Education? Conference

Kayyali, M, Satterfield, DJ, Kirn, A et al. (2023). Work in Progress: Who Are Graduate Program Directors and What Are Their Roles in Healing within Graduate Engineering Education? .

cited authors

  • Kayyali, M; Satterfield, DJ; Kirn, A; Strong, AC


  • This Work in Progress (WIP) paper proposes a synthesis of available literature to (1) define the roles and responsibilities of Graduate Program Directors (GPD) in engineering education and (2) examine how GPDs are incorporating trauma-informed frameworks of care to promote healing within their academic departments. Whether it is in response to the propagation of the mental health crisis or the widespread inequities and discrimination within engineering graduate programs, the graduate engineering education community needs to take targeted action to create systemic change and healing from standing systemic issues. Within many programs graduate program faculty administrators, also called GPDs, serve as potential change agents at the departmental level and act as liaisons between the academic unit and other parties that are inside and outside of the programs they serve. These individuals are in positions to improve and create new programmatic structures that could address graduate student needs. While GPDs play an important role in the management of graduate programs, research in graduate engineering education has focused mostly on student experiences, advisors, or departmental policies. With little attention given to GPDs, there is no clear definition of their roles and responsibilities, the necessary support they need, or requested opportunities for professional development to help perform their expected duties. Considering the positions of power GPDs hold, they are central to improving and sustaining graduate students' mental health, well-being, and healing from systemic inequities by creating environments that prioritize the graduate student as a person. As such, in this WIP, a scoping literature review was conducted using an adapted version of Arksey and O'Malley's five-stage approach of knowledge synthesis to identify trends and gaps to accomplish the goal of defining GPD roles, responsibilities, and approaches taken to promote healing using trauma-informed frameworks of care. In brief, the five stages were: (1) identifying the research question, (2) identifying relevant studies, (3) study selection, (4) charting the data, and (5) collating, summarizing and reporting the result. By defining GPDs' roles and responsibilities as well as understanding their position as stakeholders who impact and are impacted by graduate students' mental health and well-being, we can push for programmatic change and inform the development of methods to train GPDs to implement evidence-based healing practices to support engineering graduate students.

publication date

  • June 25, 2023