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The University of Toledo
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The University of Toledo
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MS 921
Toledo, OH 43606-3390

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Ruth Ann Easterwood
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419.530.2461
ruthann.easterwood@
utoledo.edu

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Dr. Gregory Stone
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gregory.stone@utoledo.edu

Graduate Assistantships in Foundations of Education: A Portfolio-Based Approach

Approved by FOED Faculty, 2-16-07; revisions circulated to FOED Faculty for approval 5-07

University of Toledo
Judith Herb College of Education
Department of Foundations of Education (FOED)
Graduate Assistantship
Description and Portfolio

 

Introduction

            Graduate Assistantships are awarded to new and returning Ph.D. students, and occasionally Masters students, in the Department of Foundations of Education.  Students can first apply for an assistantship when they apply for admission to the program, or they can apply after they have become students.  There are at least three types of Assistantships:  

  1. Regular Departmental Assistantships, are allocated annually to Colleges from the University budget, and then are divided among Programs within the College
  2. Grant-funded Assistantships, are funded through specific grants and exist only for the duration of the grant (“soft money”)
  3. Minority Assistantships, are funded by the University for qualified applicants for their first year of study, with the promise that the Department will fund subsequent years from their allocation of Departmental Assistantships. 

Once a Ph.D. student receives a graduate assistantship in the Department of Foundations of Education (FOED), they can normally expect, but are not guaranteed, to receive assistantship support for 4 years maximum, unless their particular assistantship is tied to a specific grant (“soft money”) or unless the university allocation of assistantships to the department is reduced.  That is, the Faculty in the Department are committed to supporting students long enough for them to finish their degree, unless the student is not making satisfactory academic progress or is not making the research or teaching contributions expected of a Graduate Assistant. 

Application and Selection

            There are two processes of application and selection: one for incoming students (those who have not yet begun graduate study in the FOED department at UT) and one for returning students (those who have completed at least one semester of graduate study in FOED at UT, regardless of whether or not they currently have or formerly have had an assistantship).

Incoming Ph.D. and Masters students indicate at the time of Application for Admission to the Program that they would like to be considered for an Assistantship by filling in the Graduate Assistantship Application form available from the FOED office or the Graduate School, and submitting it to the FOED Office.  Students may call the office at 419-530-4302 to check on receipt of application and status of process.

Returning students, whether they have or have had an assistantship or not, are required to submit a Portfolio to be considered for an assistantship.  (If a student has not had a Graduate Assistantship, s/he may omit the section reporting assistantship activities, or may include documentation of work as an instructor or from other relevant work experience.)  Portfolio covers with dividers are available from the Department Secretary.  Guidelines for preparation and organization of the Portfolio are provided below and should be followed.  The format and contents specified mirrors that of portfolios faculty members are expected to submit for renewal, tenure and promotion; thus preparation of the portfolio is part of the student’s professional development.  Rubrics that will be used in assessing the portfolios are provided and it is recommended that they be used as a check in preparing the portfolio.  Students should be aware that the Portfolio is a presentation of the professional self, and the care evident in its preparation indicates the care with which the student performs her/his academic and other professional duties.

            The selection process of Graduate Assistants varies according to type of Assistantship:

  1. Regular Departmental Assistantships: The Graduate Faculty of the Department meet annually in the Spring or Early Summer (depending upon when the University and College have determined the number of Assistantships available to the Department) to review materials.  Portfolios of returning students are considered first, as the Faculty is committed to continuing support for students already receiving Assistantships and making adequate progress toward their degree and contributions through their assistantship.  New students’ applications are then considered, and their Statement of Purpose, transcripts, and letters of support, as well as personal communications they may have made with FOED faculty, are reviewed as part of the selection process.
  2. Grant-funded Assistantships:  When assistantships become available through grant activity, the Principal Investigator of the grant selects Graduate Assistants who are funded through the grant.  These may become available at any time of the year, and the process for advertising for and selecting applicants varies according to the faculty involved, as decisions about continuing funding and the cost of the Assistantship is within the purview of the grant rather than any department.  Graduate students funded through these assistantships may apply for Regular Department Assistantship funding once the grant support has ended; their application will be considered after those of students already supported by the Department but prior to applications from new students.
  3. Minority Assistantships:  These also may be applied for at any time of the year.  Oftentimes potential recipients of these assistantships have already been working with FOED faculty.  Nevertheless, their application materials are reviewed by FOED faculty in a process similar to that for Regular Departmental Assistantships, because after the first year the Department as a whole will be responsible for decisions about continuing funding and the cost of the Assistantship will be absorbed by the Department. 

Considerations in awarding initial Assistantships include departmental needs and the fit between a particular applicant’s skills and life experiences and departmental needs, as well as maintaining approximate parity among the three Wings of the Department (RESM, EDP, and TSOC) in number of students supported.  The portfolios will be assessed by the wing leaders (i.e., one faculty member from TSOC, one from RESM, and one from EDP) and the department chair.  This committee will make a report and recommendations to the department faculty at a regular department meeting.  All department faculty are welcome to review the portfolios and participate in discussion.

            Each student submitting a portfolio will receive a copy of the completed rubrics used to assess her/his portfolio, as well as a letter from the committee reviewing the portfolios (the wing leaders plus the department chair) indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the portfolio, whether or not the student has been awarded an Assistantship for the following year, and possible stipulations about the need for attention to aspects of the student’s work, if the student is to expect future support as an Assistant from the Department.  This notification will occur after the Department has received its allotment of Graduate Assistantships from the University for the upcoming year, and thus might not occur until well after Spring semester is over.

Expectations

Full-time Graduate Assistants are expected to work 20 hours per week (part-time, 10 hours per week) during the academic year on duties that may include teaching or assisting in teaching, participating in some phase of research being conducted by FOED faculty members, and providing general assistance to FOED faculty members (e.g., preparation of materials, administering surveys, etc.).  Graduate assistants will receive a Letter of Appointment from the Department Chairperson during the first 2 weeks of Fall semester indicating their Faculty Mentor, who will be responsible for their Graduate Assistant assignments, and the nature of their teaching, research, and/or service responsibilities.  At the end of the academic year, the Mentor will write an evaluation of the Graduate Assistant to be placed in the portfolio for review.  Upon receiving their letter, a Graduate Assistant should make an appointment with their Mentor, who will have received a copy of their letter.

The Portfolio

Beginning Spring 2007, for Assistantship support to be awarded for the 2007-2008 academic year, all graduate students who are completing their first or later year of study and who wish to be considered for Assistantship support are required to complete and submit a Graduate Assistantship Portfolio.  (Portfolios with tabs prepared for this purpose are available from the student’s advisor.)  The purposes of the portfolio are to provide:

  1. evidence of satisfactory progress toward degree and professional contributions as a graduate assistant in applying for or applying to renew a graduate assistantship, and
  2. avehicle for mentoring pre-professionals into the expectations of academic or other employment.

Toward this second end, the Graduate Assistant portfolio parallels a typical portfolio used for tenure and promotion review of new faculty.  All current graduate students in the Department of Foundations who intend to apply for a new or renewed graduate assistantship are expected to complete and turn in the portfolio by March 16th  for consideration for the following year.  Graduate students are not in competition with each other and their portfolios will not be compared to each other; rather, the portfolio is evidence of the individual’s fulfilling her or his own expectations.  (That is, the portfolio evaluation is criterion-referenced rather than norm-referenced.) 

Descriptive Overview of Contents 

  1. Letter of Appointment: This letter from the Foundations of Education Chair or a Faculty member indicates who the student’s main Graduate Assistantship mentor is and what research and teaching duties will be expected during the academic year.  It should be dated during the first 2 weeks of the Fall semester, and should include a statement that the student has had opportunity to discuss the appointment and understands the expectations.
  2. Curriculum Vita: This describes the student’s professional achievements and status.  Students should ask their advisor or other faculty members for advice and examples as needed, and can also find descriptions and examples at the UT Job Placement website.
  3. Academic Work: This should include Program, Years in Program as parttime and fulltime student, Advisor, and Committee Members on a coversheet.  It should also include:
     
    1. An up-to-date Plan of Study.  In the first year a draft is okay; in the second year and beyond, the Plan should be finalized and accepted.  Documentation of approved changes to Plan should be included.  Grades for coursework completed should be written in.  If desired, a student can also include explanations for changes to the Plan or for grades received in particular courses. 
    2. Narrative of Academic Work: The purpose of this narrative is for the student to reflect on and present his/her development as a scholar.  Drafting the narrative is thus practice for the Major exam in which students are expected to be able to discuss research in their fields and to discuss it in methodological and theoretical terms relevant to their field.
      1. This is a first-person, chronological account of academic work completed during the past year.   It should include a thesis statement and be organized and developed as a formal essay.  It should include an overview of all coursework, with discussion of  the themes and contents of the courses and how they fit together—as a cohesive whole, or in various intersecting configurations.  See attached rubric for criteria used in evaluating essays.
      2. After the first year, dated, previous years’ narratives should be kept in this section, organized from most recent to oldest, for review.
      3. In the year that the student takes her/his Major exam, the written exams and results of written and oral exams should replace this narrative.
      4. In subsequent years, the dissertation proposal or other evidence of progress on the dissertation should replace the narrative.
         
  4. Graduate Assistantship Work (if applicable): This should include number of years supported as a Graduate Assistant, and Assistantship Type (departmental, grant, minority) and Mentor/Supervisor for each of those years on a coversheet.  It should also include:
    1. Narrative of Assistantship Work: The purpose of this narrative is for the student to reflect on and present his/her development as a professional.  Drafting the narrative is thus practice for the Major exam in which students are expected to be able to discuss pedagogical and research practices and issues in their fields.
      1. This is a first-person, chronological account of assistantship work completed during the past year.   It should include a thesis statement and be organized and developed as a formal essay.  It should include an overview of assistantship duties, with discussion of what was contributed and what was learned through the assistant’s efforts and mentorship.  See attached rubric for criteria used in evaluating essays.
      2. After the first year, dated, previous years’ narratives should be kept in this section, organized from most recent to oldest, for review. 
    2. Documentation:  This should include materials that illustrate what was discussed in the narrative
      1. Documentation of teaching might include participation in TSOC 3000 Working Group, evidence of mentoring through work with TSOC 2000 or TSOC 3000 or TSOC 3540, grading for a professor, lectures or activities or assignments developed for a course, teaching evaluations (from students and/or mentors), email correspondence with students, etc.
      2. Documentation of research work might include preparation of instruments, letters, help with preparation of presentations or articles, analysis work, etc. Again, this should be cumulative, with cover sheets indicating which materials pertain to which years, and organized most recent to oldest.
    3. Assessment letter from the Faculty Mentor for the Assistantship.  If desired, a student can also include her/his own discussion of the assistantship duties and supervision over the past year.  Previous year’s letters should be kept in this section, organized from current back to earliest.  
  5. Professional Activity (Optional first year; recommended subsequent years).  This should include:
    1. A brief narrative describing opportunities to present or publish professionally, within university, locally, regionally, or nationally, during the year.  It is very appropriate to include service activities (i.e., ways that the student brought academic and professional expertise to bear on issues outside of the academy, and/or contributed to the good of individuals and organizations by drawing upon expertise).  Webpages made for professional purposes, including communicating about courses or programs and providing scholarly or pedagogical resources, are also appropriate.
    2. Documentation should include copies of presentations made, articles written, and/or materials prepared.  It should also include programs from events that show the presentation was made, and might include comments or letters received after the publication or presentation.
    3. Narratives and documentation should be dated and kept cumulatively, from year to year, with a coversheet separating one year’s documentation from the next, and organized most recent to oldest. 

Assessment

            The following rubrics will be used in assessing narratives and documentation.  The rubrics will be kept in the student’s file as documentation of participation in the process, and the student will receive copies as feedback when the portfolio is returned.

Student: ______________________________Program: _________________ Date: _____________

Evaluation of Portfolio Contents

 

Satisfactory

Not Satisfactory

Comments

Letter of Appointment

 

 

Included in Portfolio

Missing, without explanation

 

Curriculum Vita

Appropriately developed (in terms of format, contents, proofreading, readability) and included in portfolio

Missing or not appropriately developed

 

Student: ______________________________Program: _________________ Date: _____________

 

Evaluation of Academic Progress and Narrative 

 

Satisfactory

Not Satisfactory

Comments

Plan of Study

Well-developed draft in first year; complete and signed in subsequent years; grades, or explanation of grades, indicate satisfactory progress in being made, or a plan is in place to ensure satisfactory progress will be made

Plan is missing, or grades indicate that satisfactory progress is not being made in academic coursework, without adequate explanation of situation and plan for remedying it

 

Strong Thesis Statement made and developed in narrative

Insightful thesis suggesting angle writer is taking on personal development as a student; arguments developed throughout the paper

Lacks developed thesis and argument

 

 

Evidence of developing content knowledge and skills through coursework

Provides overview of all coursework and workshops or other professional development undertaken during the previous academic year, and in discussion uses methodological and/or theoretical terminology relevant to the content discussed.

Lacks appropriate overview or meaningful discussion

 

Contextualized in development as an academic

Demonstrates reflection and/or reflexivity on personal development throughout the narrative, and concludes with implications: what has been accomplished and what are future needs or priorities or plans

Lacks evidence of attention to personal development

 

Writing

Demonstrates strong, systematic, intentional sentence structure, paragraph structure (with transitions), overall organizational structure; conventional or intentional spelling, grammatical, and punctuation conventions; approved citation style; copyedited and proofread.

Demonstrates unacceptable professional writing skills in terms of grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, overall organization, transitions, systematic citation, and/or copyediting & proofreading.

 

Student: ______________________________Program: _________________ Date:  _____________

 

Evaluation of Graduate Assistantship Work and Narrative 

 

Satisfactory

Not Satisfactory

Comments

Assessment Letter from Faculty Mentor

Letter is included in portfolio and indicates that the Assistant made appropriate contributions in teaching and/or research and exhibited personal and professional characteristics appropriate for work in the profession. Or, letter raises questions that are adequately addressed by the Graduate Assistant in a rejoinder.

Letter is missing or indicates that the work performed in the previous year was not appropriate for a graduate assistant.

 

Narrative: Strong Thesis Statement made and developed in narrative

Insightful thesis suggesting angle writer is taking on professional development as a graduate assistant; account of contributions and insights as a GA developed throughout the paper

Lacks developed thesis and account

 

 

Writing

Demonstrates strong, systematic, intentional sentence structure, paragraph structure (with transitions), overall organizational structure; conventional or intentional spelling, grammatical, and punctuation conventions; approved citation style; copyedited and proofread.

Demonstrates unacceptable professional writing skills in terms of grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, overall organization, transitions, systematic citation, and/or copyediting & proofreading.

 

Documentation of Assistantship Work

Provides documentation (e.g., copies of teaching materials developed, research work performed) of quality work

Lacks documentation or lacks depth and quality of work

 

Student: ______________________________Program: _________________ Date:  _____________

 

Evaluation of Professional Activity and Narrative 

 

Satisfactory

Not Satisfactory

Comments

Narrative: Strong Thesis Statement made and developed in narrative

Insightful thesis suggesting angle writer is taking on professional activity in her/his discipline; account of experiences and insights as a participant in professional activities

Lacks developed thesis and account

 

 

Writing

Demonstrates strong, systematic, intentional sentence structure, paragraph structure (with transitions), overall organizational structure; conventional or intentional spelling, grammatical, and punctuation conventions; approved citation style; copyedited and proofread.

Demonstrates unacceptable professional writing skills in terms of grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, overall organization, transitions, systematic citation, and/or copyediting & proofreading.

 

Documentation of  Professional Activity

Provides copies of presentations and articles, websites, etc., and/or provides letters or programs showing services performed

Lacks documentation

 

 

Last Updated: 6/26/15