Graduate Student Development

Nuggets of Wisdom for Grad Students from AERA 2013 Div. D Grad Stud Seminar

AERA Division D organized a graduate student seminar that took place on the Saturday (Apr 27) of AERA 13. The session, entitled “Preparation, Perspiration, and Progress: Thoughts on Building a Career in Measurement or Research Methodology“, featured established academics and industry professionals working in measurement (list below). The speakers reflected back on their career and identified lessons for graduate students. Here’s what they have to say (in no particular order; speaker attributed where possible).

On scholarship…

Find people who will constructively criticize your work (Kane).

Learn to take feedback. People will also become more honest with you, as a result.

Invite feedback from a variety of audience (i.e. beyond your immediate colleagues or folks interested in your field).
Embrace your ignorance.
On on-the-job…
Be legally defensible when making decisions (in the context of consulting / educational testing).
On work-life balance… 

Your job is not your life. And your life is not job.

Your work is more than your job.

On transitioning from grad student to faculty…
Position yourself as a colleague. Reshape the power relation.
Take responsibility of checking the  accuracy and ensuring quality of  work (Kane; in the context of being handed a dataset)
On interviewing and asking intelligent, meaningful questions…
Under what circumstances do you feel that you grow best?
What ties you together as a faculty?
On joining a faculty…
Find mentors who can help you with your scholarship and navigate the politics of the faculty.
Be confident but not arrogant about your work and yourself.

And the one advice that most resonates with me at the moment…

On developing scholarship….
Write every day.

And, there you have it. Many thanks to AERA Division D for organizing this worthwhile session!

What do you think? Do you have tips of your own? Share below!


Tasha Beretvas, The University of Texas – Austin
Erika Hall, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment
Michael T. Kane, Educational Testing Service
Aaron Kuntz, University of Alabama
Jacqueline P. Leighton, University of Alberta
David M. Osher, American Institutes for Research
Emily J. Shaw, The College Board (Session Organizer/Chair)


By Chi Yan Lam

Dr. Chi Yan Lam is a Credentialed Evaluator and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of evaluation at the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University; he is also a full-time evaluator practicing in public service. He specializes in evaluating large-scale, complex programs and incorporates multi-, mixed- and design methods in his evaluations to answer questions of importance to program administrators and policy makers working on educational and social programs. His articles on evaluation have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Evaluation and the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. He has been a holder of the professional designation in evaluation since 2014.

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