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Educating Mathematical Scientists: Doctoral Study and the Postdoctoral Experience in the United States APPENDIX A DOCTORAL AND POSTDOCTORAL PROGRAM SELF-EVALUATION The set of questions in this appendix is presented to assist departments in determining how their doctoral and postdoctoral programs are currently functioning and in what directions adjustments might be undertaken. Faculty What are the areas of strength and the areas of specialization in the department? Are these areas unique or distinctive? Do these areas fit together to create a deeper level of strength? What are the connections of these areas with other disciplines and with industry? How many faculty are involved in graduate instruction? How many graduate courses are offered at (a) the introductory level, (b) the intermediate level, and (c) the frontier? In addition to providing depth of knowledge in some areas, do the courses provide students with breadth of knowledge? What proportion of student course work is spent in reading courses? Do such reading courses cause a significant overload for the faculty? How many faculty are interested in and capable of directing theses? How many have done so in the last three years? Is there a capacity to direct more theses? Are the faculty who direct theses overextended? Is there a significant difference in doctorate production between the various areas? If so, what are the reasons for this? Is the size of the faculty likely to grow, remain stable, or decrease in the next 5 years? In the next 10 years? What impact will that have on how the preceding questions may be answered? Given the anticipated dynamics (changing size, replacement of retirees) within the faculty, are there plans to redirect the emphasis and/or areas of specialty within the faculty? How will that affect the graduate programs? Doctoral Students How does the ratio of graduate students to graduate faculty compare with that of peer departments? What proportion of graduate students enter directly into the doctoral program? What proportion enroll in a master's degree program? What proportion need to
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Educating Mathematical Scientists: Doctoral Study and the Postdoctoral Experience in the United States take remedial undergraduate courses? Are the numbers decidedly different for U.S. citizens and non-citizens? Do any trends seem to be developing? Are foreign students with more advanced experience permitted to take first-year courses solely to learn the English language or U.S. culture? Over the last 10 years, what proportion of students who entered the doctoral program completed the doctorate? What proportion complete a master's degree? Do the successful PhD graduates work in only a few of the possible areas in which the program offers degrees? Is there a distinct difference in these numbers for U.S. citizens and for non-citizens? Are trends developing? What is the length of time between receipt of the bachelor's degree and receipt of the PhD for the program's doctorate degree holders? If the interval is more than five or six years, at what point in the program, and why, do the delays occur? Have analyses been done to indicate how these delays might be reduced? What happens to those who start the doctoral program and do not complete it? Are those who discontinue their studies doing so at the early stages, intermediate stages, or when beginning research? Are students who have little chance of completing the degree advised of this fact in a timely fashion? Are students who would find a better fit in some other department so advised? What direction and counsel as to continued study or employment are provided to those who discontinue their studies? Do students in the program support one another or are they working as solitary scholars? Are the students in competition with each other? Is there tension between students who are U.S. citizens and those who are non-citizens? Do they work together and share similar goals? Ask questions 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 for women students and students from underrepresented minorities. Do students have opportunities to specialize in their areas of interest? Recruitment of Students Where does the program currently recruit its graduate students? What is the percentage of U.S. citizens among the graduate students? What would be the impact on the program if fewer non-citizens enrolled? Are students told of the mission of the program when recruited? Is there an attempt to recruit students who have the same goals as those of the program? Are the aspirations and ability of the students reasonably homogeneous? If not, how does the program deal with the variance? Is there an active recruiting program? How effective has it been in recruiting students with the ability expected by the program's faculty? Are there reasons to believe that a different recruiting program would lead to a student body more in accord with the program's aspirations? Are any special efforts made to recruit women and minorities?
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Educating Mathematical Scientists: Doctoral Study and the Postdoctoral Experience in the United States Support of Students What proportion of the program's students are supported by teaching assistantships? By fellowships? By research assistantships? Is this mix appropriate? Are graduate enrollments driven by the need for teaching assistants? Are teaching assistants evaluated on their teaching ability, their performance in the graduate program, or both? Is the workload of the program's teaching assistants higher than that at peer institutions? Does it impede timely progress toward completion of the degree? Do the students serve as teaching assistants longer than required to gain the teaching experience necessary for employment? Is there a program to assist teaching assistants in developing their teaching skills? Do all students teach at some time? Do students learn from the faculty that teaching is important? Does the program incorporate the means to develop and enhance a student's expository skills, both oral and written? Is the library adequate to support the department's research activities? Do students have convenient access to computer facilities adequate to their research and teaching needs? Does the program have funding to assist graduate students in attending research conferences and workshops? Does the faculty encourage them to attend? How do students in the program learn of professional standards and ethics? Should more be done? Placement of Students Does the department play a role in placing its graduates? Has it been effective? Over the past five years, where has the program placed its PhD graduates? Master's graduates? Is that placement in accord with the faculty's expectations and the goals of the program? Has the pattern of placement changed from that of the previous five years? Ten years? Did most of the PhD graduates find positions in keeping with their expectations? Were any underemployed? Did any fail to find employment within three months after receiving their degrees? Does the employment pattern for U.S. citizens differ significantly from that for non-citizens? Have any special efforts been made to make the department's non-citizen doctorates employable in the United States? Are any special efforts made to place graduates in industry or government?
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Educating Mathematical Scientists: Doctoral Study and the Postdoctoral Experience in the United States Programmatic Features Does the program have a mission? Do new faculty and graduate students understand that mission? Does it form a basis for recruiting faculty and students? Given the faculty, the graduate students, and the resources available to the program, is the mission realistic? In particular, is there a good fit between the mission of the program and the graduate students' abilities and goals? Does the university administration concur with the mission and does it provide sufficient funding to fulfill it? Are the students given broad experience in the mathematical sciences and their connections with other sciences, engineering, and technology? Are the students provided with a foundation on which to build a 40 year career, one during which they may have to learn new fields and adapt to new job requirements? Are the program's alumni professionally productive in a way consistent with the goals and aspirations of the program? What proportion of the alumni is active in research 10 years after receiving the degree? Would some other mission or program structure be more appropriate given the faculty, the recruitable students, and the support for the program? Postdoctoral Associates and Tenure-Track Faculty Would a different mix of teaching assistants and postdoctoral associates better serve undergraduates and make for a stronger research environment? Is there a program of terminal (two-to three-year) term appointments for new faculty? If so, how are such faculty selected? What are the goals and philosophy for the program? Are postdoctoral associates and junior faculty included in the research and scholarly activities of the department? Does each have a mentor or senior support group? Is the workload for postdoctoral associates and junior faculty such that they have time to develop their research capabilities? Are the postdoctoral associates and junior faculty encouraged to assist in working with thesis students and with undergraduate majors? Is the teaching experience of the postdoctoral associates and junior faculty designed so that they will grow as teachers? Are the postdoctoral associates and junior faculty provided with the necessary library, computer facilities, and travel funds to meet their needs as researchers? What assistance and direction are provided to junior faculty in seeking external funding? Is it clear that postdoctoral associates and term junior faculty leave the program better prepared to function as professional mathematical scientists in their chosen
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Educating Mathematical Scientists: Doctoral Study and the Postdoctoral Experience in the United States fields? Do they benefit from the experience or do they only serve to meet teaching needs? Is there a program to place the postdoctoral associates and term junior faculty at the completion of their appointments? How effective has it been? Do they get placed so as to meet their expectations and those of the program? Do junior faculty in tenure-track positions receive advice and direction about how to meet the conditions for promotion and tenure?
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