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Running Head: GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 1

Graduate Orientation: A Programmatic Intervention

Tiffany Morrissey

Damienne Souter

Amanda Huisman

Janet McNeill

Northern Illinois University

December 2016
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 2

Graduate Orientation: A Programmatic Intervention

Introduction

Among the graduate student population participating in Northern Illinois Universitys

(NIU) Adult and Higher Education M.S.Ed. program exists a subgroup of experienced adult

students who may encounter feelings of isolation and marginalization as they adjust and prepare

for a new professional identity. The characteristics embodied by this group of students essentially

dictate needs that require support and services within the graduate program. While looking at

persistence and completion as an ultimate goal, such success begins early on with the availability

of an advantageous graduate orientation, which will be the focus of this programmatic

intervention. This paper will begin with a literature review, followed by the context of NIU and

the targeted audience for the programmatic intervention. A review and justification of the

theoretical frameworks, socialization and transition, used to design the intervention will be laid

out, followed by the programmatic intervention itself. Finally, the paper will conclude

summarizing the intervention and its alignment to the issue.

Literature Review

It is necessary to understand the characteristics of graduate students as diverse ages,

genders, ethnicities, capabilities, levels of interest and commitment, life circumstances, and prior

educational preparation (Austin, 2002, p. 98) come together. As Polson (2003) notes, The

quality of the graduate experience and success can vary significantly (p. 59) depending on the

diverse subgroup in which they stem from. It is critical for institutions and program departments

to have an understanding of the lived experiences graduate students possess. In this section,

literature regarding characteristics of graduate students, what their needs are, and existing

orientation programs will be reviewed.


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Graduate Students

The higher education student population in the United States embodies nearly 2 million

graduate students, representing a continued increase in enrollment and a shift in diversity over

the last three decades (Benshoff, Cashwell, & Rowell, 2015; Brus, 2006). Just over half are full

time students, though this status varies among institution type; for example, nearly 70% of

students in public masters granting institutions attend only part-time (Benshoff, et al., 2015).

Students 18 to 22 years old are typically defined as the traditional student and are mostly found

in undergraduate programs. While studies vary as to what age is considered that of a traditional

graduate student, the age defined by Renn & Reason (2013) as 25 and up is a starting point.

When speaking of experienced adult students who are in graduate programs, the age tends to

increase and becomes nontraditional (Brus, 2006), as this group enrolls after a several year gap

(Polson, 2003) since undergraduate completion. The changing demographics of graduate

students (see Appendix A) perpetuates the need to recognize these students as nontraditional and,

thus, having different needs than traditional. These students are the focus of this paper, as they

carry multiple roles and embody professional experience.

Graduate students come from varied backgrounds in which multiple roles and identities

are functioning on a regular basis. Adding the graduate student role brings about a new dynamic

into students lives, resulting in role strain. More than any other single consideration, challenges

related to managing multiple, and often competing, roles, responsibilities, and expectations may

be the most universal and defining characteristic of graduate student life (Benshoff, et al., 2015,

p. 84). Polson (2003) describes how this population of students is juggling parenting, full-time

employment, and elder care with the desire to attain an advanced degree and how academic

success is dependent upon external and internal loads, i.e. adult responsibilities in conjunction
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 4

with personal aspirations. Brus (2006) speaks of how the physical and financial strain of familial

responsibility adds to the pressure on students themselves as well as their attending university, as

institutions do have a responsibility to serve all students. Maintaining a work-life-academic

balance is critical but also burdensome, as students believe all facets are a priority; therefore,

decision-making between various roles becomes quite taxing mentally and emotionally (Brus,

2006).

As previously stated, experienced adult graduate students are an older and rapidly rising

diverse population of students. Their focus and motivation to attain an advanced degree stems

from the desire for professional advancement or transition, along with their experience managing

mature, adult responsibilities. Fischer and Zigmond (1998) stated that their interests and the

realities of the job market may dictate that they pursue a different career track from that of those

who follow a more traditional route through graduate school (as cited in Polson, 2003, p. 60).

Additionally, today's graduate programs are much more likely to enroll adult students who are

employed full-time, who commute to and from campus, and who enroll on a part-time basis

(Polson, 2003, p. 59-60). Similarly, adult graduate students are more likely to be paying for

their education themselves (or incurring educational loans that they will be obligated to repay

later), have a greater sense of purpose in their study, and expect graduate study to help them

reach life and career goals" (Benshoff et al., 2015, p. 88).

Graduate Student Needs

Experienced graduate students have needs that are different than that of traditionally aged

graduate students. One of these needs considers curriculum. These experienced adults require a

curriculum that allows for the sharing of held perspectives and beliefs via discussion and group

interaction. Given the opportunity to speak of ones lived experiences and backgrounds validates
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 5

students, enhancing the belief that they have something to offer the academic community

(Patton, Renn, Guido, & Quaye, 2016, p. 41). For the non-traditional student who has been out of

college for a number of years, assignments that are geared toward younger, less experienced

students can be difficult and stressful, as a lack of connection to execution and classmates may

exist. With the rising number of experienced adult students, faculty and staff should be paying

close attention to the design of assignments (Wyatt, 2011) and gear them toward the real-world,

lived experiences this population embodies.

Another need of this group of students is to be recognized for their depth of professional

experience, and their education is often not their priority. Faculty should be cognizant of this.

Adult students should not be given preferential treatment, but faculty and staff should be aware

of their needs (Wyatt, 2011). Feeling respected and understood by program incumbents

perpetuates the validation students need in order to strengthen self-worth and development

within academic and interpersonal experiences.

With the majority of adult students working at least a part time job, a flexible schedule is

important (Wyatt, 2011). Campuses should seek to offer classes that meet the needs of

nontraditional students. More evening and weekend classes would be more convenient to the

growing population of adult students. Online classes are also helpful, as this gives the adult

student the most flexibility. The recent explosion of online graduate programs and online or

hybrid courses represents successful efforts to meet the needs of adult graduate students for

educational opportunities that demand fewer sacrifices related to work, family, and other aspects

of their lives (Benshoff et al., 2015, p. 82). Bearing in mind the plethora of responsibilities non-

traditional graduate students have outside of academia, structuring programs that allow for

student success via the redesign of traditional course schedules would be advantageous.
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 6

The George Washington University conducted a graduate needs assessment in 2003,

resulting in a new understanding of what graduate students desire within university program

initiatives. The study found that graduate students preferred to be a separate entity from

undergraduates and that social events and opportunities for engagement be within a graduate-

only format. Additionally, the survey respondents indicated a longing for evening services

availability, increased co-curricular opportunities, and the betterment of orientation events

(Ladik, 2005).

According to Wyatt (2011), non-traditional students desire campus services that

recognize and adequately serve their needs. One such service lies in counseling, as the complex

lives that many graduate students lead can create or exacerbate problems in relationships; stress

levels and coping behaviors; career and educational plans; and, in some cases, pre-existing

emotional conditions, such as depression and anxiety (Benshoff et al., 2015, p. 86). In a study

by Hyun, Quinn, Madon, & Lustig (2006), approximately half of graduate students indicated

experiencing overwhelming feelings and stress-related issues and/or knew someone who had.

The misconception of adult students being able to successfully transition due to maturity,

professionalism, and previous academic experience ignores the fact that graduate students still

necessitate proper counseling and advisement practices in order to best meet program demands

while balancing life outside academia.

The needs of non-traditional graduate students are quite varied. Colleges and universities

that have historically served traditional aged students often do not have services that help the

experienced adult student. With the adult student population on the rise, institutions of higher

education need to catch up to better serve this growing group of experienced non-traditional

students.
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 7

Existing Graduate Orientations

There are a variety of orientation types geared toward graduate students. Inasmuch, they

are dependent upon a program and institutions objectives and goals. Due to this, there is no

single-handed orientation that will work across the board. Orientations range from morning

sessions lasting hours into the afternoon to more intensive multiday initiatives. Some focus

generally on an institutions academic goals and services while others align strictly with the

program and its department. Faculty and administrative meet-and-greets may be present while

some implement support and supplemental service offerings. Research has shown that a blend of

both general and department-specific topics are advantageous to graduate students (as cited in

Polson, 2003). While the research found specifically targeting graduate orientation models is

sparse, models do exist, though context matters.

Barker, Felstehausen, Couch, & Henry (1997) examined older and delayed-entry students

in graduate programs and how to make orientation programs more beneficial for this student

population. More than 45% of the participants indicated that they would prefer an orientation on

a Saturday morning, which can be related to obligations such as child care and work

responsibilities. In an initiative to encourage students to pursue doctoral degrees, the Chemical

Engineering department at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez created a Graduate School

Orientation Seminar emphasizing school selection, assistantships, and application procedures

(Colucci-Rios & Briano, 2001, p. 296) and attributes the orientation to increased enrollment in

core courses that have high professor interaction. Bakker and Krallman (2005) conducted a

Graduate Student Survey at the University of Miami, a first of its kind, in order to assess

graduate student experiences in a highly undergraduate-focused university. Results indicated that

less than ten percent of the students felt the Graduate School orientation was helpful, and focus
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 8

groups confirmed these results. It was discovered that communication between graduate students

and the institution itself were in need of improvement, as communication leads to students

feelings of belonging, which in turn leads to persistence and satisfaction.

In a needs assessment study conducted by Coulter, Goin, and Gerard (2004), graduate

student responses indicated several areas of importance. Professional development workshops,

social activity, orientation, and communication were among the responses regarding student

interests and needs. Communication and orientation overlapped in that graduate students

requested resource and service information be provided at a quality orientation via a welcome

reception during fall semester. Interestingly enough, specific information requested be provided

at such an event includes socialization opportunities and the location of gathering spaces for

graduate students.

Finally, Taub & Komives (1998) looked at University of Marylands (UMD)

comprehensive orientation model that begins as soon as a prospective graduate student inquiries

about a program and extends through the first semester. Its model incorporates an Admissions

Newsletter, Buddy System, Preview Program, Transition Communications, Summer Orientation,

and Professional Orientation Class. These components are targeted to support the socialization

needs of graduate students and are consistently evaluated, reexamined, and redesigned via

student feedback. A 1997 evaluation of the comprehensive model found the Preview Program to

be the most important element, in which students meet faculty and peers, as well as receive

information about assistantships, housing, registration, and aid over two-and-a-half days. In this

same evaluation, students indicated the Summer Orientation to be the least effective component;

however, the standard deviation was large which means some students actually valued this part

of the model while others did not feel it very important.


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Though the literature on graduate program orientations is minimal, there are indications

that the lack of attention on graduate students is a known disservice to a large and unique

population of higher education. Such disregard marginalizes these students, yet there is great

potential to accommodate and support them appropriately as continued research is conducted.

The Interventions Context

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2010) more than 80%

of masters degree students were over the age of 25 and 49.5% were over the age of 30 for the

2007-08 academic year. Just over 54% of these students had taken three or more years since

receiving their bachelors degree to start their graduate program, 29% having taken seven or

more years. For the 2007-08 academic year, more than 63% of students worked full time while

pursuing their masters degree and 35.5% had dependents. As a professional in adult and higher

education, it is important to know the institution and the student population so that intentional

and meaningful programs can be created and utilized. This section describes the institution and

the student population in which this programmatic intervention is being implemented.

Institutional Context

Northern Illinois University is a large, research institution located in the Midwest.

According to Northern Illinois University (2016), NIUs graduate student population exceeds

4,600 students. NIU offers its graduate students upwards of 70 programs, not including programs

in law. This paper focuses in on the NIU Adult and Higher Education programs graduate student

orientation. Appendix B shows the schedule for the fall 2015 orientation program that was

provided for both the masters and doctoral students. It provided main sessions such as a

welcome and faculty panel, along with breakout sessions so that students could choose which

topics were important to them individually. The orientation program took place a couple weeks
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 10

before the start of classes. For fall 2015, students attended a Saturday morning orientation and

for Fall 2016, only a weekday afternoon orientation was offered, which was problematic for non-

traditional students who work full time.

Targeted Audience

The programmatic intervention is aimed toward graduate-level adult learners, to be

referred to as experienced graduate students. This population of students within the Adult and

Higher Education program are delayed-entry students who have spent their gap years since

undergraduate completion as professionals and who currently, or have recently, worked full-time.

They are of an older age bracket and may enroll full or part time. And they may live more than

an hour away from campus. As such, their visits campus must have purpose.

Theoretical Framework

Not all graduate students are the same. As discussed, there are more variations in the

kinds of graduate students that attend colleges and universities today than ever before. The

numbers of fields of study are increasing and always evolving. The ways that graduate programs

are structured varies among professions. Given these dynamics, there are few empirical studies

that shape typical graduate student development theory, as research populations tend to be small

and students are often beyond the coming of age frameworks.

In this section, the two theories used to guide the programmatic intervention will be

discussed. They are Schlossbergs transition theory and the graduate student socialization theory.

Transitions and Socialization

Schlossbergs theory of transitions offers a means to describe the general process by

which graduate students may transition back to school. The ability to successfully navigate this
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varies from one individual to the next and is based on a variety of factors. Context and impact, as

well as a persons ratio of assets to liabilities all play roles. According to Patton, et al. (2016),

context is the setting for the transition (for example, home, work, relationships), as well as the

persons affiliation with the transition (ex a persons own occurrence or someone elses).

Impact refers to how much the transition alters daily life.

A graduate students balance of the opposing forces of assets and liabilities in dealing

with this transition lie in a review of the 4 S System in Schlossbergs theory: situation, such as

event or nonevent characteristics (in this case, returning to graduate school); self, personal

characteristics or psychological resources; support, social support types and/or options; and

strategies, which are coping responses that can lead to coming out of the transition (Schlossberg

et al., 2012). For example, a graduate student may have a good amount of personal support from

friends and family (considered assets), which may be necessary because the student may be

lacking in confidence (self) to successfully manage this transition (thus a liability).

Effectively acknowledging that experienced graduate students are often managing a great

deal of personal change in their lives will enhance persistence rates. Often, they must negotiate

with families, employers, coworkers, and friends to establish priorities, time commitments, and

responsibilities (Polson, 2003).

In addition to coping with the changes in their personal lives as they enter a new culture

of graduate student life, students who enter graduate-level programs undergo a transformative

process as they commit to their chosen fields and develop into knowledgeable professionals. In

2001, Weidman, Twale, and Stein discuss their model of the socialization of graduate students in

depth based on research in adult socialization, role acquisition, and career development. Their

model depicts greater complexity of the role acquisition model first developed by Thorton and
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 12

Nardi in 1975. As described by Weidman, et al. (2001), Graduate and professional socialization

necessitates shared conscious experiences and links with fellow students, faculty mentors, and

role models, as well as subject mastery and knowledge application (p. 6). This process often

entails moving students from a sense of stability, thru a period of uncertainty, then acclimation,

and achieving stability once again as new professional identities are realized. In a similar

perspective, Daresh and Playko (1995) state:

At the culmination of the socialization process, [graduate] students should be able to

answer three key questions: (1.) What do I do with the skills I have learned? (2.) What am

I supposed to look like and act like in my professional field? And (3.) What do I as a

professional look like to other professionals as I perform my new roles? (as cited in

Weidman et al, 2001, p. 6).

The Weidman, Twale, and Stein model of graduate student socialization offers four stages of

socialization as students move into, through, and out of graduate school. Further, they postulate

an interplay of elements that are present in each of the four stages that help to shape the

development of students professional identities. As discussed by Weidman et al. (2001), the four

stages of graduate student socialization can be described as follows:

Anticipatory Stage: This occurs during recruitment as graduate students develop goals

and expectations of the graduate school experience. These are shaped by what they read, what

they are told, and what they deem to be their own goals for graduate school. This is a stage of

uncertainty about the culture of graduate school. As such prospective students tend to have

idealized expectations.
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Formal Stage: The graduate student has now begun formal instruction. And while internal

expectations are still idealized, students take cues from faculty and fellow students as to what the

normative academic and campus expectations are.

Informal Stage: New graduate students now interpret these cues and develop a culture

among their peers based on accepted behaviors. Students develop support among one another.

Where these students previously sought answers from authoritative figures, such as faculty, they

now seek answers in the safe haven of their peers first before obtaining answers elsewhere.

Personal Stage: In this stage, the graduate students are each developing their own

professional identity and congruity with their new professional roles. This becomes evident in

the electives they choose, research they become involved with, internships they may participate

in, and professional associations they choose to join.

Woven into each of these stages are the core elements of socialization that lead to

commitment to a professional role and are present in each of these four stages. They are:

Knowledge acquisition: While a certain level of general knowledge is required in order to

be accepted into graduate school, the knowledge attained continues to increase in complexity as

a student moves through a program of study. In addition, novice grad students develop an

awareness of the norms, language, and heritage of the chosen field of study, such that the

transition is made to becoming comfortable in their professional identity.

Investment: The level of investment shifts as graduate students move through the

different stages. In the earlier anticipatory and formal stages, novice graduate students adjust to

the new commitment of time, commitment to an institution, and a new commitment to learning

more specialized material that may not be transferable to another field of study. In the later
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informal and personal stages, this investment shifts to greater investment in the commitment to

persist in the program and ultimately graduate.

Involvement: Like all other students, graduate students learn most effectively by

interacting and doing. They participate in aspects of the profession as they prepare for it. This

includes interactions with faculty, mentors, incumbent students, and peers, as well as external

sources such as professional associations. These interactions help to shape the graduate students

professional identity. Earlier involvement may be more observation-oriented, while later

involvement can include research or leadership.

The graduate student socialization model goes on to describe levels of structural

engagement. However, given the scope and objective of the program intervention, these

additional layers are not discussed.

Rationale and Justification

While Weidman, Twale, and Stein do not define graduate students in terms of

demographics, they do define them according to their desire to expand on their current

knowledge and develop into new professional roles in their chosen fields. As such, their model

applies to all graduate students, including experienced students who attend classes on campus.

This model generalizes the goal of all graduate students, and that is to work towards attaining a

new professional identity. Hence, this programmatic intervention.

In looking at the application of this model to experienced students, the stages of

socialization are relevant to this group. These students experience the same adjustments and

growth throughout their graduate studies. The variance comes in the Investment and Involvement

elements, which should be addressed accordingly, particularly in a graduate orientation program.

Experienced graduate students tend to have families, full-time jobs, and/or commuting issues
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 15

that must be factored into their ability to commit to graduate study and become immersed in the

process.

With regard to the socialization theory, the orientation program begins with the end in

mind. In helping graduate students begin to adjust and commit to a new professional identity, the

orientation program includes components that accommodate that. Conversely, in recognizing that

experienced graduate students are undergoing a great deal of personal adjustment in transitioning

back to school, it also includes programming elements with the beginning in mind. In this way,

these two theories are used to complement each other and best support these experienced learners

at the orientation stage.

Programmatic Intervention

The programmatic intervention (see Appendix C) is a restructure and redesign of the

existing orientation (see Appendix B) offered to graduate students in NIUs Adult and Higher

Education program. To address the varying needs of different types of graduate students, the

proposed program includes breakout sessions geared towards the specific needs of both

traditional and nontraditional students. Association memberships, academic advising, required

courses and electives, commuting options, university resources, panel discussion from incumbent

students, and sessions for students-at-large are all topics that can help students better understand

whats ahead for them. Similar to referencing the self-authorship theory in the development of

undergraduate-level programming, the objective of this programmatic intervention is to

encourage graduate students to advance towards the personal stage as early as possible, so that

students can begin to feel an ownership over their program and increase the likelihood for

persistence.
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Intervention Outcomes

Students who come straight from an undergraduate program to working towards their

graduate degree have different needs than non-traditional graduate students who have at least a

few years of full-time, professional work experience. The purpose of this new graduate

orientation agenda is to help experienced graduate students receive the necessary support and

guidance to be successful in their journey to obtaining their graduate degree. By using

Schlossbergs transition theory, the program is designed to give these students additional

supports and contextual information that will help them successfully transition back to academic

coursework. Weidman, Twale, and Steins model of graduate student socialization guides the

intervention by providing sessions that encourage interactions with faculty and student peers, as

well as information about coursework and professional development that allow new graduate

students to consider how they want to take advantage of program and institutional options to

meet their needs. Collectively, these are meant to begin moving students through the formal,

informal, and personal stages of the model.

Graduate Student Orientation Intervention and Rationale

According to Barker et al. (1997), 82% of the participants in their study consider an

orientation to be valuable if offered which is why the graduate student orientation for NIUs

Adult and Higher Education program would remain a requirement for any student who is new to

the program. To support participation, the programs agenda will be circulated to students in

advance.

Appendix C offers a draft schedule of the proposed orientation program. For an easy

understanding of where the theoretical framework fits, each session is marked with either a T

for transition theory, or an S for graduate student socialization theory. Since there is already a
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 17

current orientation process, many of the sessions will stay the same with a few additional guest

speakers for the new session options. Due to the work and personal life commitments of most

experienced graduate students, this new program could be offered during the evening on a

weekday or on a Saturday morning, which was previously found to best fit this population

(Barker et al., 1997). To assist student affairs professionals in planning, Appendix C does not

specify exact times, but instead offers suggested lengths of time for each session that can be

applied within an appropriate overall time frame.

The program itself begins with Welcome and Introductions, and then to continue with

the formal stage in the model of graduate student socialization, moves to Curriculum Overview

and Options. This session helps all grad students understand the program requirements, as well

as numerous options for personalization. Next, students receive advice for success as they get to

know the faculty and hear about their perspectives on Expectations of New Graduate Students.

Afterwards there is a short break, and a designated breakout session where students

choose which session is most relevant to them. Experienced graduate students are recommended

to attend the Getting Back to Academics session that provides them with support services and

reminders on what to expect now that they are returning to college. This session covers topics

such as technology options, time management tips, parking, how to get textbooks, and where to

get a student ID card and why getting an ID card is important. In addition to these opportunities,

it also provides experienced graduate students time to begin to develop relationships with peers

who may be experiencing similar concerns and stressors associated with transitioning back into

academia.

Barker et al. (1997) stated that all students including experienced graduate students find it

important to learn about writing and library services offered on campus, so the schedule provides
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 18

time for students to acquire knowledge at the graduate student level. To continue with graduate

student socialization theory, the schedule then provides all students to hear Professional

Development and Conferences, where they learn about relevant professional organizations,

graduate student organizations, and conferences within adult and higher education. This session

encourages students to start thinking about the personal stage and thus students begin developing

their professional identity. And finally, a session with a panel of recent program graduates

provides new students with perspectives from those who have been in their place. Traditional

graduate students may reference their graduate assistantships, while non-traditional students may

speak more about how they managed multiple priorities while attending school. To close out the

new student orientation, a closing session which thanks students for their participation and gives

students the opportunity to fill out an evaluation form is conducted. To offer incentive for filling

out the evaluation, this proposal recommends offering a modest raffle.

Evaluation Plan

In order to evaluate our programmatic intervention, having the students fill out an

evaluation form after the orientation will be most beneficial. This will be done by passing out

paper evaluation forms at the completion of the entire orientation program (see Appendix D).

The students themselves understand their needs best, and it will be most beneficial to their

success and the success of the restructured program to provide the graduate students with an

opportunity to assess the design.

The purpose of the evaluation is to uncover the strengths and deficiencies of the Graduate

Student Orientation. Students will be asked to fill out the forms before they leave while the

information received and lived experience is fresh on the mind. Questions will be asked on a

Likert-type scale of 1 to 5, along with open ended questions in order to get the best feedback
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 19

possible. A comments section will also be on the form for students to provide more specific

feedback.

Additionally, each specific breakout session will implement a student worker who

monitors attendance and writes down students questions and inquiries and to notate issues that

may arise (see Appendix E). Session monitoring will help to provide insight in the continued

assessment and redesign of future orientation models.

Conclusion

When designing programs to meet the needs of students in higher education, it is critical

to have a depth of knowledge regarding subgroups within student populations. On the surface,

graduate student populations tend to be binary; those that transition straight from undergraduate

completion and those that enter after several years of life and professional experience. Both

groups have transitional needs, but the latter tends to be considered less often in both research

and practice. There is an opportunity here to embrace experienced adult students in graduate

programs, to create a community for them in which they feel validated and can thus persist and

engage within academia. Orientation is a place where student expectations ought to be set by

the graduate school, and students can ask questions and learn about resources to help them be

successful in programs (McAtee, 2012). It is also a place to herald transition and implement

socialization so that students have a sense of ownership and self-authorship as they prepare for

their new professional endeavors.


GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 20

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https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011219.pdf#page=1

Northern Illinois University. (2016). Fast facts. Retrieved from

http://www.niu.edu/at-a-glance/fastfacts.shtml

Patton, L.D., Renn, K.A., Guido, F.M., Quaye, S.J. (2016) Student Development in College:

Theory, Research, and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Polson, C. J. (2003). Adult graduate students challenge institutions to change. New Directions

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Renn, K. & Reason, R., (2014). College Students in the United States: Characteristics,

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Taub, D. J. & Komives, S. K. (1998). A comprehensive graduate orientation program: Practicing

what we preach. Journal of College Student Development, 39, 394-398.

Weidman, J.C., Twale, D.J., Stein, E.L. (2001) Socialization of Graduate and Professional

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Wyatt, L. (2011). Nontraditional student engagement: Increasing adult student success and

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GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 22

Appendix A

Source: Brus (2006), p. 34


GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 23

Appendix B

Fall 2015 Orientation Schedule

8:30 9:00 Check-in & Continental Breakfast-01 GA Northside


Open Area
9:00 9:30 Welcome & Introductions-01 GA Northside Open Area
9:30 - 10:15 Expectations of New Graduate Students
(Faculty Perspective Panel)
01 GA Northside Open Area
10:15 - 10:25 Break
10:30 - 11:30 Experiences of New Graduate Students
(Student Perspective)
Masters Program Academic Information (Room 01F)
Doctoral Program Academic Information (Room 01D)
Resource Break Out Sessions:

11:40 12:05-Please choose a session to attend:


Library Services Session Room 01F (Dr. Ladka Khailova)
This session will introduce participants to NIU Libraries selected online
research resources and their organization, including LibGuides, article
databases, e-journals, and e-book products. Off-campus access and
interlibrary loan services will also be discussed.

Research Compliance & Integrity Session-Seminar Room


(Jeannette Gommel)
This session will provide a short overview of the purpose of the IRB review,
when it is needed, and what the process for submission and review of an IRB
application is.

University Writing Center Session-Room 01D (Gail Jacky)


Are you ready for the writing requirements in your graduate program? The
University Writing Center is ready to help you succeed! This session will
examine the characteristics of academic writing: audience, word choice,
mechanics, and use of sources. We will also review tips for how to use the
University Writing Center services.

12:10 12:35-Please choose a session to attend:


Library Services Session Room 01F (Dr. Ladka Khailova)
This session will introduce participants to NIU Libraries selected online
research resources and their organization, including LibGuides, article
databases, e-journals, and e-book products. Off-campus access and
interlibrary loan services will also be discussed.

Research Compliance & Integrity Session-Seminar Room


(Jeannette Gommel)
This session will provide a short overview of the purpose of the IRB review,
when it is needed, and what the process for submission and review of an IRB
application is.
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 24

University Writing Center Session-Room 01D (Gail Jacky)


Are you ready for the writing requirements in your graduate program? The
University Writing Center is ready to help you succeed! This session will
examine the characteristics of academic writing: audience, word choice,
mechanics, and use of sources. We will also review tips for how to use the
University Writing Center services.

12:40-12:55 Professional Development & Conferences-01 GA


Northside Open Area

Appendix C

Proposed Orientation Schedule

(30 minutes) Check-in, Refreshments, Networking

(10 minutes) Welcome & Introductions (T&S)


(30 minutes) Curriculum Overview and Options (S)
Learn more about the curriculum, including options for electives,
internships, research, independent study, as well as the final e-
portfolio.

(20 minutes) Expectations of New Graduate Students (Faculty


Perspective Panel) (S)
Meet faculty members and learn their advice for succeeding in the
program.

(10 minutes) Break

Choose one of these: (25 minutes each)


On-Campus Living (T & S)
This session is recommended for students who are living on campus
and participating in a grad assistantship. Topics will include adjusting
to life as a graduate student, balancing studies with campus
commitments, and basics of effectively helping undergraduate
students. Great chance to meet your peers!

Getting Back to Academics (T & S)


This session is recommended for students whose last degree was
earned more than two years ago. Students will learn successful tips on
transitioning back into coursework including time management tips
and technology options. Additional topics will include information on
parking, purchasing books, NIU OneCard, and access to other campus
amenities. Student-at-Large information will also be available. Great
chance to meet your peers!

(20 minutes) Writing and Library Services (T)


This session will provide an overview of the characteristics of the APA
style of academic writing, including tone, mechanics, use of sources,
as well as discuss guides available for student use. The NIU Librarys
online research resources and their organization will also be featured.
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 25

(15 minutes) Professional Development & Conferences (S)


This session will introduce students to the field of student affairs and
important professional issues. In addition, students will learn NIU grad
student organizations, as well as professional organizations,
conferences, and other opportunities to become involved in the
academic community.

(30 minutes) Experiences of New Graduate Students (Student


Perspective Panel) (T & S)
Four recently graduated grad students share their experiences, tips,
and perspectives. Two started their program immediately following
their undergraduate studies, and two were students who began their
program after five or more years of work experience. Ask your
questions!

(15 minutes) Closing Remarks, Evaluation, and Raffle

T: Transition Theory
S: Graduate Student Socialization Theory
Appendix D

College of Adult and


Higher Education
Graduate Student Orientation
Evaluation Form

Please mark to what extent Strongly Agree Somewhat Disagree Strongly


you agree with the statement Agree (4) Agree (2) Disagree
"This was beneficial to me" in (5) (3) (1)
regards to each activity listed in
#1-7 below.
1. Curriculum Overview &
Options
2. Expectations of Graduate
Students (Faculty Panel)
3. On-Campus Living
( Did not attend)
4. Getting Back to Academics
( Did not attend)
5. Writing & Library Services
6. Professional Development &
Conferences
7. Experiences of Graduate
Students (Student Panel)
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 26

8. What was the most advantageous part of the Graduate Student Orientation?

9. In what ways can we improve the Graduate Student Orientation?

10. Please provide any general comments, feedback, or suggestions pertaining to the Graduate
Student Orientation program.

Thank you for attending NIUs Graduate Student Orientation! We appreciate your feedback.

Appendix E

Individual Session Information Sheet


__________________________________________________________

Session Name
Session Date
How many in attendance

Participant Questions/Inquiries:

1.

2.

3.

4.
GRADUATE ORIENTATION: A PROGRAMMATIC INTERVENTION 27

5.

7.

8.

9.
Observed Session Issues (technological, space, participant, accommodations, etc.):