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Graduate Education: A Personal View and Experience Kung-Yee Liang National Yang-Ming University Taipei Medical University December 21, 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Graduate Education: A Personal View and Experience Kung-Yee Liang National Yang-Ming University Taipei Medical University December 21, 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Graduate Education: A Personal View and Experience Kung-Yee Liang National Yang-Ming University Taipei Medical University December 21, 2010

2 Outline Research universities in U.S. – History – Impacts – Reasons for its preeminence Yang-Ming as a research university Graduate education – Graduate program – Intangible aspects – Teaching commitment Discussion

3 Research Universities in U.S. Compared to traditional colleges starting in 1636, emphasis of research universities is on “creation and dissemination of knowledge” through research rather than “transmission and preservation of knowledge” through teaching Model after German system Non-existent prior to 1860’s in the States – First American Doctoral degree conferred in 1861 Cole (2009) The Great American University

4 Research Universities: History European influence British’s influence on undergraduate education – Students associate with university through affiliated colleges – Instruction is organized around small group weekly tutorials on areas of concentration such as philosophy and political science – Colleges are self contained facilities- and endowments-wise

5 Research Universities: History (cont’d) Germany’s influence – Emphasis on pure research divorcing from practical applications in the 19 th century, but modified to embrace applications by the beginning of 20 th century – Teaching and research were combined Lectures were used to transmit results of new research and reservoir of background material Seminars and laboratories were the structure for advancing new knowledge Fundamentals methods and techniques were taught by professors

6 Research Universities: History (cont’d) Americans interested in higher learning and the university were envious of Germany’s system – Spent time at German’s universities – German and French scientists dominated the Nobel Prizes in the first three decades of the 20 th century “German ideal was the ardent, methodical, independent search after truth in any and all its forms, …” James Hart (1878)

7 Research Universities: History (cont’d) Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1875, is the first research university in U.S. Strong emphasis on graduate education “.. There seemed to be a demand for scientific laboratories and professorships, the directors of which should be free to pursue their own researches, stimulating their students to prosecute study with a truly scientific spirit and aim.” Daniel Gilman, the first president of Hopkins

8 Hopkins as Research University Woodrow Wilson to D. Gilman in 1902: “... you were the first to create and organize.. a university in which the discovery and dissemination of new truths were conceded a rank superior to mere instruction, and in which the efficiency and value of research as an educational instrument were exemplified in the training of many investigators.”

9 Hopkins as Research University (cont’d) Small in student size – 19,000 in total currently – Graduate versus undergraduate student ratio is approximately 3 to 1 – Leading U.S. universities in research spending (US$1.85 billion in 2009) Essentially decentralized – Autonomy from each school, budget-, promotion system-wise, etc. – Medical campus brings in indirect cost – Difficult to be “cohesive” No compromise for teaching

10 Research Universities: Impacts In a short period of time, American research universities have risen to preeminence: 17 (40) of the 20 (50) most distinguished research universities are in U.S. 60% of all Nobel prizes awarded go to Americans Generate new industries (80% from discoveries at American universities) Improve public health and medical care Create higher standards of living

11 Research Universities: Reasons for Preeminence Today, not one German university is ranked the world’s top 50 Q.: what prompt the preeminence of U.S.? A.: “It is the properties of the system of higher learning that fosters creativity and discovery, and that allows knowledge to be transferred and developed by new industries” Cole (2009)

12 Research Universities: Reasons for Preeminence (cont’d) An unprecedented and vast resources directed at building excellence to create the system Enlightened and bold leadership “Right” values and social structures Exceptionally talented people (e.g., recruited during the World War II) A commitment to the ideal of free inquiry and institutional autonomy A strong belief in competition among universities for talent “Historical moment”

13 Yang-Ming as Research University Founded in 1975 as a medical school, Yang- Ming has gradually shifted to becoming a research university – Approximately 4,600 students including 2,580 graduate students (56% versus 44%) – 28 graduate institutes, 2 inter-disciplinary graduate programs and 8 undergraduate departments – With 5Y50B project, a good deal of emphasis has been put on research A legitimate question: how is the quality of our graduate education?

14 Graduate Education Graduate program – Curriculum design – Admission/recruitment – Duration Intangible aspects – Faculty commitment – Course design – Societal need – Ph.D. versus ScM – Opportunity for junior faculty to grow – How to measure “impacts”? Teaching commitment

15 Graduate Program Curriculum design – Concept of core courses to build foundation Broad enough as students’ interest may shift Focused enough not to drag – Qualifying exams Opportunity to digest and comprehend material For early screening: maybe better off to switch to ScM program One of several components for screening – Yearly long core course performance – Inputs from academic advisers – Balance in strengths

16 Graduate Program (cont’d) Curriculum design – Thesis work to build independent research ability A long process for some (post-doc may help) How many of us still work on thesis related topics? – Intangible Journal clubs International conferences to broaden scopes and visions English proficiency Peer influence

17 Graduate Program (cont’d) Admission/recruitment – Information from paper material (e.g., transcripts, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, etc.) is limited – Helpful to have face-to-face interview Consensus building – Most telling factor for students to excel: “internal drive” Interview Personal statement Letters from professors

18 Graduate Program (cont’d) Duration – There are more things that we don’t know than we do after completing the program Is taking many courses necessarily a good idea? – Core material is crucial to build foundation – Not a good idea to take long period to complete Loss of enthusiasm “Not so desired” reputation for the program – Cautious about part-time program Science evolving Seminars and journal clubs are helpful, to say the least

19 Intangible Aspects Commitment from faculty members – Education takes long term commitment and devotion, but rewarding ultimately – Best interest to students may not be equivalent to that of faculty members – Students are recruited to succeed, not to fail Fair opportunity to excel (some develop faster than others) Recognition of varying strengths Quality of program not to be compromised

20 Intangible Aspects (cont’d) Commitment from faculty members – Regular monitoring to fine-tune and update curriculum as science evolves rapidly – Regular meetings between academic advisers and students to monitor progress and/or potential unforeseen issues – Day on discussing qualifying exam is one of the most important departmental events

21 Intangible Aspects (cont’d) Course design – Some key questions to ask: What to accomplish at the end -- objectives? How to comprehend (e.g., home work, presentations)? Is the material sufficiently updated? For core courses, are they cohesive? – For non-core courses, consolidation a possibility? Reduce teaching load Provide broader view for students to think horizontally Provide opportunity for faculty of varying disciplines to collaborate


23 Intangible Aspects (cont’d) Societal need – Job markets (academic or not) for graduates to utilize acquired knowledge “It is our responsibility to think along this line” – Thinking outside of the box Academic is not the only option Be visionary and ahead of the game – Designing courses, programs to suit the societal needs – More versatile for students

24 Intangible Aspects (cont’d) Ph.D. versus ScM – Common questions asked in my profession: “Why do I need Ph.D. if I work in the industry?” “What constitute the master degree thesis?” – For Ph.D., Ability to carry out independent research afterward Ability to critique and digest new material from the literature Ability to supervise colleagues with master degree It takes different characters and skills to succeed

25 Intangible Aspects (cont’d) Opportunity for junior faculty to grow “they represent future of our own institute” – Reducing teaching load to establish own research agenda – Teaching special topics instead of large classes – Mentoring by senior faculty members* – Providing opportunities for short-term oversea visits and attending international conferences – Organizing seminars – Readiness for supervising post-doc fellows?

26 Mentoring Critical to junior faculty career development “Direct” mentoring – Involving in senior faculty’s research group – Jointly supervising Ph.D. students “Indirect” mentoring – Be available for questions on research direction, grantsmanship, responses to review comments – Recommending for invited speakers, etc. – Helping to arrange short oversea visits Important to recognize variation in need, style, etc.

27 Intangible (cont’d) How to measure “impacts”? Conventional impact factors – Represent one of many aspects of research quality evaluation – Quantitative in nature – Time varying and potentially misleading (apple vs. orange) Notion of “impact” is more profound – Reflects “impact” (new discovery, advancement, etc.) to own field – Meant to be qualitative

28 Commitment to Teaching Rewarding system at Hopkins’ School of Public Health – Endowed chair for excellence in teaching – Recognition by student assembly Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Recognition Award – Recognition by the Appointment & Promotion Committee Consistent with the mission of the school

29 Commitment to Teaching (cont’d) Mission statement: “The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is dedicated to the education of a diverse group of research scientists and public health professionals, a process inseparably linked to the discovery and application of new knowledge, and through these activities, to the improvement of health and prevention of disease and disability around the world.”

30 Discussion The last century demonstrated that research universities in U.S. have been instrumental in advancing science and technologies, which in turn improving standards of living We provided a brief discussion on the history for and reasons leading to such success “No compromise on quality of teaching” Yang-Ming as a research university “ Can and should consist of both research and education”

31 Discussion (cont’d) High quality graduate education program a key component to its success A fundamental issue to keep in mind: recruiting students to help conduct own research is NOT the reason for creating a graduate program – It takes long term commitment – Designing and maintaining sound curriculum is crucial – There are intangible aspects which are as important as tangible ones – Educating high quality scientists of future generations is a noble cause

32 Discussion (cont’d) Dedications and excellent contributions to education deserve recognition in research universities NO lip service is warranted Personal opinions from someone engaging in graduate education for decades as – A faculty member ( ) – Graduate program director ( ) – Co-director ( )

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