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Surveying the Impact of gradSERU

04. 10. 2019

The Graduate School is in the midst of its 2019 gradSERU survey. gradSERU is the primary means by which graduate students at the University of Minnesota can provide confidential feedback about their experiences with classrooms, labs, and campus life. gradSERU results are most helpful, and most likely to result in improvements, when they are reported at the level of individual graduate programs. In order to keep responses as confidential as possible, though, there are analyses for which only cells with nine or more responses will be reported. 

We asked Directors of Graduate Studies to provide examples of improvements that were made at the program level based off of 2017 gradSERU results. Their responses ranged from campus climate to faculty advising to funding for conference travel:

"The survey responses about ‘having a feeling of solidarity’ and ‘having a friend in the program’ suggested that our graduate students were having trouble forming positive peer relationships. To address this issue, our program has planned a series of graduate student information sessions and workshops as well as social gatherings during this academic year to disseminate important information while encouraging students to get to know each other better.”

"We learned from the gradSERU results that many of our students are struggling with finding adequate funding for research conference travel, which contributes to increased stress levels and is a barrier to timely degree completion. In response, and with the support of the department's leadership, the budget for doctoral students' conference travel awards was increased from $3,000 to $10,000!”

“We used the gradSERU data to ignite conversations about how to support students with their writing. What has been most exciting is our four writing retreats scheduled for this year and a February Writing Challenge where everyone who signs up commits to writing 30 minutes a day for 20 days. There has been a lot of enthusiasm about these community-building activities!”

“The survey results told us that we could improve the overall climate in our program. We’re addressing microaggressions that occur both in and out of classroom by hosting professional development workshops on topics like supporting our queer and transgender community; incorporating equity, diversity and inclusion into course curriculum; and providing an orientation short-course to help build community in our program.”

“The gradSERU results indicated that graduate students in our program wanted a physical space in which to meet and build relationships with one another. To address this, we remodeled a break room for students to use for studying, meeting, or eating lunch. This is a huge commitment because space is at such a premium in the department.”

“We have been working hard to address issues that came out of the gradSERU survey, particularly with respect to our program resources and advising. For example, we have updated our faculty handbook to better clarify the responsibilities and expectations of advisors, and we’ve updated our graduate student handbook to provide better guidance through the program.”

 The 2019 gradSERU survey will remain open until May 15, 2019. 2017 gradSERU results are now available for review.