The Inside Scoop on DUE: October 2016
Several years ago, many of us in the Teaching & Learning Laboratory (TLL) began to think about ways to more effectively share our work. We discussed blogs, tweets, and a variety of other forms of social media, but we never achieved much traction or consensus. Fortunately, some of our ideas persisted and took shape and now are bearing fruit.
Last year, we began to play more often in the Twitter sandbox using the handle @mit_tll and have now surpassed the 1,000 tweet mark! At the end of this past summer, we launched MIT Cog Blog: Thoughts and Opinions from the Teaching & Learning Lab at MIT (seven posts and counting). While we do not claim to be social media wizards yet, we are pleased and proud about the new ways we’ve embraced to share our story with MIT and the wider higher-education community.
Our goal for the blog is to offer timely posts throughout the academic year, such as suggestions for course planning, syllabus construction, mid-semester feedback and evaluation, student assessments, and grading. We will highlight TLL services that may be of particular temporal interest to the MIT community, as well as offering our summaries and opinions of noteworthy publications related to college-level teaching and learning (two of our posts to-date are book reviews).
While much of our content (e.g., workshops and programs) will be offered for those on the MIT campus, we hope our reflections and ideas will be of value to the broader higher-ed community. We seek this new path to engage in a vigorous and ongoing conversation!
We welcome guest bloggers from the MIT community; if you have any teaching and learning news, information, or musings that you’d like to share with our readers, please let us know!
The First Generation Program (FGP) is a community of MIT students, faculty, alumni, and staff who are, or will be, the first in their families to graduate from college. To kick off the academic year and welcome the newly arrived first generation students—who make up approximately 15 percent of the Class of 2020—FGP hosted the Freshman Welcome Dinner during the first week of classes.
Student attendance was twice that of last year’s event; over 55 freshmen joined five faculty members and five members of the FGP Student Advisory Board for dinner and discussion. The cornerstone of the evening was a screening and discussion of the UAAP’s I Am First Generation video, which features MIT faculty and students discussing their experience at MIT, and what it’s like to be the first in their family to go to college.
In addition to the Freshman Welcome Dinner, FGP helps first generation freshmen adjust to life at MIT through the Peer Mentor Program. Freshmen are paired with an upperclassman mentor who can be a resource during their first year and provide advice on academics, college life, and how to navigate MIT. Other events hosted by FGP throughout the year include faculty and alumni events, community service, study breaks, and social gatherings.
For more information about upcoming events and how to get involved, visit the First Generation Program website.
It was a busy summer for D-Lab, at MIT and in the field, and a time of transitions.
In June, Professor J. Kim Vandiver, MIT dean for undergraduate research, appointed Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dan Frey as D-Lab’s new faculty director. Vandiver held that role since D-Lab’s earliest days and said, “I am delighted to have Dan Frey take on this important leadership role in D-Lab at an exciting time. He combines a deep interest in design with a desire to strengthen research, which will have positive impact in the developing world.” Read the MIT News story.
In July, D-Lab said goodbye to longtime co-director Victor Grau Serrat. Vandiver said that Victor “served D-Lab extraordinarily well for many years,” and expressing appreciation for the “talent and energy he brought to the program.”
Bob Nanes, a 30-year veteran of international development, was hired for the newly created position of executive director in August. Nanes joins the current D-Lab leadership team, which includes new Faculty Director Dan Frey, Associate Director Kofi Taha, and Founding Director Amy Smith. “We are thrilled that Bob will be joining D-Lab,” said Smith. “He brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience as well as the management, leadership, and fundraising skills that will help move D-Lab to the next chapter of what has been an exciting story for us so far.” Read the MIT News story.
Over the summer, D-Lab also sent many staff, students, and researchers to work on projects around the world. Among them were the three winners of spring 2016 D-Lab Fieldwork Grants funded by the Underclassmen Giving Campaign. Read their blog posts below to learn more about their work!
- Catherine Yunis ’16: rECOlab 2016: Starting with a million questions, ending with a million ideas
- Samir Wadhwania ’18: From Pipe Dream to Pipe REALITY”: Water Access and Problem Solving in El Sauce, El Salvador
- Julia Heyman ’17: Measuring and analyzing the usage and adoption of the Makaa cookstove, Uganda
Every four years, the summer Olympics brings together different people and teams from around the world to work towards a common goal—becoming Olympic champions. This year’s Orientation program used an Olympics theme to welcome 1,110 first-year students to MIT and show them that by working together as a team, they can truly succeed here.
Leading up to Orientation, 619 eager first-year students arrived early on campus to participate in one of the 26 Freshman Pre-Orientation Programs (FPOPS). Students were able to explore programs in 22 academic disciplines as well as leadership, the arts, service initiatives, and the outdoors.
With 80 enthusiastic Orientation Leaders guiding the way, the program started on Sunday, August 28 with some fun and games. Produced by Orientation Coordinator Marcas Smith ’19, the kickoff event featured video clips of current and past MIT students talking about their transition to MIT. The event also brought together first-year students and Orientation Leaders in a number of games on stage.
Throughout the week, the Class of 2020 attended Orientation events designed to address many important first-year issues, including President Reif’s Convocation, Tech Theatre, Speak About It, and the annual By Students, For Students: Conquering MIT program, which highlights stories of students overcoming challenges at MIT. Students also attended a diversity orientation program, which featured a new format this year. After remarks from a national speaker and members of the MIT community, students participated in smaller breakout discussions facilitated by MIT faculty and staff. This change was a result of the Black Student Union recommendations for a more inclusive MIT.
Turning to the academic playing field, first-year students learned about the GIRs from faculty at the annual Core Blitz program, and were able to interact with departments at the Academic Expo. They all had a chance to meet with their academic advisor and associate advisor before registering for their first semester of MIT classes. To celebrate the end of a successful week, the class traveled to the New England Aquarium for a night of entertainment, food, and fun!
Overall, this year’s Orientation program was a success, thanks to the dedication and hard work of many faculty, staff, student leaders, and members of the MIT community!
Over the summer, the Student Resources website underwent some significant upgrades, just in time for the start of the academic year. The site—a collaboration among DUE, DSL, ODGE, and the Chancellor’s Office—offers a one-stop-shopping inventory of resources, services, offices, and other information for students, differentiated by what’s available to undergrads, grads, or both.
Many of the enhancements revolve around personal support and were prompted by requests from students, input from the MindHandHeart Initiative’s help-seeking working group, and suggestions from communications staff in DUE, DSL, ODGE, MIT Medical, the Chancellor’s Office, and Communications Initiatives (formerly known as Communication Production Services).
The most significant improvements include:
- Adding a banner, displayed at the top of each page of the site, with emergency numbers
- On the Personal Support and Wellness page, elevating urgent resources to the top of the page in a Get Help section
- Adding a section on peer support resources
- Distinguishing which support resources are private and which are confidential
- Improving the search functionality of the site
- Ensuring the site meets accessibility guidelines
- Making the site responsive and elevating it on the MIT app; it is now the 2nd link, after the MIT Homepage link. This winter, we hope to have an icon added to the 11 other icons on the app, to further raise visibility
Since Student Resources is now the most comprehensive listing of current support resources, the MIT Together website (together.mit.edu) has been “retired.” All links to MIT Together now redirect users to the Personal Support and Wellness section of the Student Resources site.
A cohort of 203 students have been selected as Associate Advisors to support the freshman Class of 2020. Associate Advisors are an integral part of the First-Year Advising Network, which is composed of faculty advisors as well as advising consultants from the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming (UAAP). As the number of faculty advising freshman continues to rise, the UAAP empowers Associate Advisors to support the faculty, ensuring that every advising group is built upon a solid foundation.
Associate Advisors initially met their advisees and faculty advisor on the Tuesday of Freshman Orientation week. The meeting was an opportunity for advising groups to begin forming bonds. Associate Advisors and faculty addressed the questions and concerns of their freshmen and planned for their individual registration meetings on the following Thursday.
Associate Advisors have participated in extensive training to learn and practice how to actively listen, advise effectively, plan academic programs, and engage successfully with advisors. By providing the unique student perspective on the General Institute Requirements (GIRs), MIT resources, and a host of other topics, these students are a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as community-builders in their residence halls. The Class of 2020 and freshman advisors can count on an exceptional group of Associate Advisors to support them for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Summer 2016 marked the 10th year of the Amgen-UROP Scholars Program, which provides undergraduates with MIT faculty-mentored summer research opportunities in the science and biotechnology areas. Five MIT undergraduates and 15 undergraduates from colleges and universities from across the country made up this summer’s 20-student cohort. Visiting Scholars came from schools that included SUNY Cortland, Oklahoma State University, Montana State University, and Occidental College.
Scholars spent the 9-week program conducting full-time research in the labs of MIT faculty members across the Institute. Research projects ranged from the study of drug delivery systems and Alzheimer’s disease to developing therapeutic biomechanical devices, studying cancer, and autism. In addition to their research projects, Scholars also attended weekly presentations and workshops to learn about MIT faculty members’ cutting-edge research, graduate school programs and application processes, and how to communicate their science. In mid-July, the Scholars attended the Amgen Scholars Symposium in Los Angeles at UCLA with scholars from the other nine US sites that host the Amgen Scholars Program. The symposium exposed students to leading scientists in both academia and industry, while also providing them with opportunities to network with their peers and future colleagues.
The Amgen Scholars Program is not, however, all work and no play. This summer’s cohort lived together on campus in Next House and explored Boston, paddle boarding and kayaking on the Charles, attending a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, going to the beach, indoor rock climbing, and more!
The summer program concluded with a poster session in the Bush Room to showcase the Scholars’ summer research projects. Approximately 150 people from the MIT community attended, including the scholars’ supervisors and lab colleagues, faculty, students, Amgen Scholars Program alumni, and staff.
This year, MIT students had the opportunity to attend a collaborative event, Career Hack, which was held alongside the Fall Career Fair on Friday, September 23. The event was sponsored by Global Education & Career Development (GECD), DUE, the MIT Alumni Association, MISTI, the PKG Center, MIT Student Activities Office, and the Fall Career Fair. Students who attended were able to explore different career paths, learn about job search tools and resources, and discover connections between their various interests and experiences.
Career Hack included a session highlighting the Alumni Association Externship Program, a GECD-MISTI workshop on how to frame global experiences during the job search process, and a discussion about deciding whether to go to grad school. Students were also able to get free professional photos taken for LinkedIn, and GECD demonstrated job and internship search tools throughout the day. Career Hack ended with a session called Telling Your Story, which helped students unpack and articulate the value of their diverse experiences in a career context.
Of particular note were two panels facilitated by the PKG Center, which featured nine MIT alumni and current Sloan Fellows who work in fields that emphasize positive social outcomes. The goal of these sessions was to help students discover how they can get started on developing their own socially-focused career while at MIT, and panelists provided tips and inspiration from their own experiences. Dr. Kevin Cedrone, an MIT alum and CEO working in the field of medical devices, advised, “Make your hobbies useful.” Author and Knight Science Journalism Fellow Meera Subramanian spoke to the importance of career exploration, noting that “figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do!”
To see a recap of social media activity related to the PKG Center’s Careers for the Social Good panel, check out their Storify. For more information about Career Hack, visit the Alumni Association’s website.
MIT’s transfer students form a special and unique community on campus. This year’s cohort is made up of 20 talented students from local colleges and universities and schools around the world, such as Bunker Hill Community College, Duke University, Smith College, Lewis & Clark College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, and National Taiwan University.
The Institute initially classifies all transfer students as sophomores, while also offering them the same enrichment opportunities that are given to freshmen during the week of Orientation. Even though most transfers have experienced some type of orientation at their previous university, their week-long participation at MIT Orientation is unique. Attending Academic Expo, Activities Midway, and multitudes of community-building activities and meals with their Orientation group is only a glimpse of the highlights. Additionally, some students participate in Residence Exploration Opportunities (REX) and explore UROPs.
Transfer students have traditionally built a tight-knit community on campus. Although they are a small group of students at MIT, they have one thing in common: they have transferred from another college or university looking for a school that more closely aligns with their goals and dreams. We know they won’t be disappointed!
The DUE New Hire Buddy Program plays an important role in welcoming new DUE employees and helping them acclimate to DUE and MIT. The goal of the program is to create a consistently warm and welcoming environment for all DUE new hires, as well as offer them an additional resource they can turn to as they begin their new role.
We currently have 47 active Buddies in DUE who have volunteered their time to be matched up with new DUE employees. These Buddies share valuable insight into MIT’s unique culture and help the new DUE members establish various connections early on, so they can become integral contributors to our community more quickly.
When I conduct check-ins with our new DUE staff, one of the best things they share with me is how much they value and appreciate the New Hire Buddy Program, and how it has inspired them to volunteer to become a Buddy as well. That’s exactly what happened with Deb Shafran of GECD. She had such a great experience with her original Buddy when she joined DUE that, six years later, they still get together to have lunch and check in with one another.
Now, as a DUE Buddy, Deb finds helping a new employee immensely rewarding. “I love giving back to the DUE community and being a point of contact for a new staff member,” she says. “I often find that I learn something new about MIT and DUE, by learning about what they do and how their department serves the MIT community.”
We always welcome new volunteers to serve as DUE Buddies, so if you are interested or have questions about the program, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DUE welcomed a number of new employees between June 15 and September 28, 2016. Congratulations to all!
|Jeremy Weprich, Admissions Counselor
Regina McGorray, Administrative Assistant II
Timothy Hickey-LeClair, Assistant Director
Christine Tansey, Administrative Assistant II
|Sheryl Ott,Commander and Visiting Professor
|Steven Drasco, Lecturer
|Jennifer Hiser, Instructor
Robert Nanes, Executive Director
Anish Paul Antony, Postdoctoral Associate
Elizabeth McDonald, Program Coordinator
Experimental Study Group
|Judith White, Financial Administrative Assistant I
Global Education & Career Development
|Katherine DiOrio, Career Assistant
Susan Acton, Career Assistant
Sheila Krishnan, Career Assistant
Daniel Hoffman, Career Assistant
Jennifer Harris, Career Assistant
Akunna Rosser, Assistant Director
|Darrell Brown, Technical Instructor
|Adam Gracia, Technical Instructor
Vincent Kindfuller, Technical Instructor
Jimmy Castano, Technical Instructor
Grace Cassidy, Technical Instructor
Anne Nonnamaker, Technical Instructor
Office of Minority Education
|Devon Monroe, Program Coordinator
|Jenna DiTullio, Administrative Assistant II|