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Reid, Joshua
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Middle Tennessee State University
Preparing the next generation of biology scholars continues to be a major concern of both undergraduate and graduate biology education reform efforts. This continued interest has flourished in light of the dynamic roles of graduate students and awareness of graduate student mental health issues. While the goal of graduate education might be to produce well-rounded scholars in research and teaching, these roles are often compartmentalized. The findings from this dissertation call into question this compartmentalization of graduate education. As novice academics, graduate students operate within complex, interrelated ecological systems of research and teaching. Following a brief presentation of the problem (Chapter 1), this dissertation begins with a synthesis of literature on graduate student professional development and the research-teaching nexus (Chapter 2). This synthesis culminated with a framework for considering the professional development of STEM graduate students’ professional development in light of research and teaching components of academia (The Research-Teaching Ecology). Next, a cross-sectional, exploratory study was conducted to illuminate the messages biology graduate students receive about the relationship between research and teaching (Chapter 3). These messages included those received from social networks and from the academic and departmental cultures of research and teaching. Biology graduate students received conflicting messages about the prioritization of research and teaching, primarily from their advisors. However, their perceptions of this relationship were mostly synergistic, suggesting resiliency in light of the conflicting messages. Then, a phenomenological study was conducted to provide a more in-depth examination into these perceptions and experiences (Chapter 4). Findings indicated that biology graduate students experience the research-teaching nexus in complex ways. One novel way was through an affective relation where positive experiences in one help negate negative experiences in the other. Study three (Chapter 5) examined the structures of biology graduate student professional research and teaching networks through social network analysis. Results indicated that these professional networks are more similar, structurally, than different both within and across university contexts (i.e., research versus teaching-intensive universities). This dissertation concludes with a short summary of each study and synthesis of relevant results and their impacts on graduate student professional development (Chapter 6).
Science education, Biology, Social research