Chapter 3 I/O Program (MA and PhD) Expectations, Probation and Development Standards

We need to find a better way to set high expectations early in the program, reinforce these via class, and quickly exit poor performers showing little investment in personal improvement. This should start with a set of agreed-upon expectations and extracurriculars which we convey during our welcoming event. I know stats and WAM are heavy hitters in the first semester, and both Kev and Val do a good job setting the tone. By crystallizing this in the handbook it would be a way to officially promote certain standards as a program. For instance, USF’s handbook has a listing of expectations for doc students which includes reading TIP, presenting research at SIOP, attending conferences, and getting involved in supporting the program. Perhaps we could come up with a general set of expectations for MA students as well, such as hours of reading per week, self-driven learning, active discussion, and participation in local events? Just a thought.

For retention standards, we have had several students over the past years (e.g., Aristotle, Alan, etc…) manage to skate through by maintaining grades at the 3.0 level. Need to update terms for dismissal so we can more quickly identify poor performers early on, get the warning messages out, and basically signal earlier they are at risk for termination. This will make it easier to remove from the program after the first year before they have expended too many resources into a degree that will not serve them well.

Finally, we need an annual evaluation process for doctoral students to track accomplishments in research, professional development, and program engagement. Think of it as capturing performance beyond the classroom for developmental and evaluative purposes. Many programs hold such regular reviews between advisors and doctoral students each year.

Combining the above, I think we need (a) general expectations for grad students in the program handbook which speak to the behaviors we like to see in MA and PhD students, (b) set probationary status for GPA < 3.25, (c) a template and development plan for those falling below 3.25 or earning straights Bs early on, and (D) an anonymous vote for retention or not if the student is still below a 3.25 two semesters in a row. On top of this, perhaps a template for how to encourage poor students to drop out (e.g., how to say this is a bad fit) and then resources we can provide them for finding another program (e.g., HR or MBA program perhaps). It is ideal if these procedures are concrete yet holistic to allow compensatory judgments.

For annual doctoral review, we need a set of dates and a form for us to fill out individually with each of our doctoral students. Several programs provide such forms in their handbooks.