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ERIC Number: ED553183
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr
Pages: 109
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 29
Essential Competencies for Interdisciplinary Graduate Training in IGERT: Final Report. GS-10F-0086K
Gamse, Beth C.; Espinosa, Lorelle L.; Roy, Radha
Abt Associates
The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program represents a substantial investment by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the quality of graduate education, and ultimately, to increase the number of graduates better prepared to address the nation's 21st century scientific and technological needs. The current study focuses on the program's goal of educating Ph.D.- level scientists to develop the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills to become leaders in their respective fields; it does so by exploring how IGERT grantees are conceptualizing and delivering interdisciplinary doctoral training. The purpose of this study is to deepen NSF's understanding and broaden general knowledge of how IGERT grantee institutions prepare Ph.D. students to conduct interdisciplinary research. Based on an in-depth literature review, and in close consultation with NSF and the study's advisory committee, the Abt study team identified six core competencies characterized as essential for conducting interdisciplinary research: (1) Ability to develop depth of knowledge in one discipline or field of study; (2) Ability to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of multiple disciplines; (3) Ability to apply the approaches and tools from multiple disciplines to address a research problem; (4) Ability to work in a team with individuals trained in different disciplines; (5) Ability to communicate research based in one discipline or field of study to academic researchers trained in different disciplines; and (6) Ability to communicate about interdisciplinary research to non-academic audiences (laypersons). This set of competencies represent a starting point for understanding whether IGERT participants perceive this set as important for conducting interdisciplinary research; and if so, how IGERT projects develop trainees in the six areas. The study's key research questions are targeted explicitly on whether and how this group of competencies is applicable to IGERT projects. Specifically they are: (1) Whether and in what ways do IGERT participants (PIs and trainees) perceive the knowledge, skills, or abilities drawn from the literature as important to conducting interdisciplinary research; (2) What activities do projects implement to develop trainees' interdisciplinary research capacity, as characterized by these knowledge, skills or abilities; How do projects assess trainees'development as interdisciplinary scientists; (3) How helpful do trainees perceive their IGERT training to be in developing their capacity to conduct interdisciplinary research as characterized by these six areas; (4) How confident are IGERT trainees of their knowledge, skills, and abilities in these six areas; and (5) What challenges do trainees encounter with the IGERT traineeship? These questions were addressed through data collected directly from two key respondent groups: IGERT PIs and trainees from a set of 40 IGERT projects initially funded in 2007 and 2008. Data come from interviews with 39 of the 40 project PIs and from 431 trainees across the 40 projects. The study describes how IGERT projects are designed, from the PI perspective, and how they are experienced, from the trainee perspective, to inform an understanding of whether the skills presented in the research literature are in fact important to IGERT PIs and trainees. The study findings are meant to provide useful program knowledge for NSF about how PIs conceptualize interdisciplinary training, and how trainees experience IGERT activities as vehicles for becoming interdisciplinary scientists. Appended are: (1) Back-up Exhibits for Chapters 2,3, and 4; (2) IGERT PI Interview Protocol; and (3)IGERT Trainee Survey. ["Essential Competencies for Interdisciplinary Graduate Training in IGERT" was prepared for the National Science Foundation. This report was written with the assistance of Nicole Brooke, David Cook, Katie Gan, Ruby Jennings, and Kristen Neishi. To access: "Essential Competencies for Interdisciplinary Graduate Training: Summary Report. GS-10F-0086K" see ED553232. ]
Abt Associates. 4550 Montgomery Avenue Suite 800 North, Bethesda, MD 20814. Tel: 301-347-5000; Fax: 301-634-1801; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Abt Associates, Inc.