Graduate Systemic Change Model

Recruit and Retain Strategically for PhD Programs

Extension Services (ES) recommends a strategic, sustainable approach to attracting and retaining women that focuses on revising educational systems to create an inclusive experience for all students, as opposed to changing students to fit into existing systems. Based on an extensive review of scholarship on graduate education, ES for Graduate Programs (ES-Grad) has developed a framework of six essential components that support recruiting and retaining students in doctoral computing programs: Evaluation, Admissions, Advisors, Social Ecosystems, Doctoral Lifecycle, and Policies and Accountability. 

Explore each framework component, and find related NCWIT resources by clicking on the component title below.

ES Grad Change Model Graphic
Graphic of Evaluation Section of the ES Grad System Change Model

Continuously Improve through Evaluation

Ongoing data collection, analyses, and reporting identify what is working and what is not, and inform decisions. Data includes: 

  • Recruiting, applications, offer letters, acceptances, and enrollment tracking; 
  • Advising and social climate experiences; 
  • Student progress toward meeting milestones; 
  • Event and intervention evaluation; and 
  • Interviews with students when they leave, with or without their degree.

Resources:

  • Grad Experience and Climate Survey (Coming Soon) // Identify strengths and areas for improving your department’s efforts to retain graduate students.
  • Evaluation Guide: What Data, and When to Collect It (Coming Soon) // Learn about what data to collect, and when, to guide your systemic change efforts.
  • Evaluating a Mentoring Program Guide // Learn a step-by-step method (with example metrics) for evaluating a mentoring program in either industry or academia.
  • How Does Combating Overt Sexism Affect Women’s Retention? // The social climate of your department can create a favorable or unfavorable environment for everyone. This resource can help you assess your department’s climate.

Learn about using this component in systemic change efforts here.

View systemic change resources here.

Graphic of Admissions Section of the ES Grad System Change Model

Actively Recruit and Cement Enrollments through Admissions Processes

Active recruitment is always ongoing, including at conferences which faculty attend. Faculty establish and use holistic review criteria, and share them with applicants and letter writers. Departments cement acceptances by making early, firm funding offers and by communicating regularly with applicants. Faculty and students help incoming students with relocation issues.

Resources:

Learn about using this component in systemic change efforts here.

View systemic change resources here.

Graphic of Advisors Section of the ES Grad System Change Model

Fulfill Essential Functions through Advisors

Advising roles are explicit, and advisors fulfill their responsibilities. Advisors meet regularly with students to support progress, supervise acquisition of technical skills and professional development, and champion students within the department and the field. Departments proactively address non-optimal advising relationships.

Resources:

Learn about using this component in systemic change efforts here.

View systemic change resources here.

Graphic of Doctoral Lifecycle Section of the ES Grad System Change Model

Support Each Stage of the Doctoral Lifecycle

Students know where they are and what they need to do because there is a clear timeline, a checklist of milestones, and criteria for how they will be evaluated. Students gradually gain responsibility over the course of the doctoral lifecycle and acquire a sense of ownership, autonomy, and meaningful progress.

Resources:

  • Understanding the Doctoral Lifecycle: How do support needs evolve for students during their graduate career? (Coming Soon) // Learn how to provide students the various types of support they need through different stages of their graduate career.
  • NCWIT Tips: Top 10 Ways You Can Retain Students in Computing // Learn research-supported ways to retain students in computing in both undergraduate and graduate-level courses.
  • How Do You Retain Women through Collaborative Learning // Learn pedagogical techniques from undergraduate education research that can also be beneficial in graduate-level courses.

Learn about using this component in systemic change efforts here.

View systemic change resources here.

Graphic of Social Ecosystems Section of the ES Grad System Change Model

Healthy Social Ecosystems Help Everyone Thrive

Day-to-day interactions in classes, labs, and the department contribute to a sense of belonging in the local intellectual community. Peer and faculty mentoring programs foster students’ mental health, support progress, and grow their professional networks. Graduate student group(s) facilitate cohort and community building.

Resources:

Learn about using this component in systemic change efforts here.

View systemic change resources here.

Graphic of Policies Accountability Section of the ES Grad System Change Model

Make Policies that Work for People, and Institutionalize Change Efforts through Policies

Policies, procedures, and expectations for faculty and students are clearly articulated in time-stamped, regularly updated faculty and student handbooks. Formal annual reviews of students use explicit criteria for progress and provide supportive solutions. Flexibility and support for family and life events are institutionalized. Mechanisms for preventing and addressing uncomfortable or difficult situations are codified and enforced. Successful reform strategies become official policies.

Resources:

  • Designing a Student Handbook: Flexibility and Support Policies (Coming Soon) // Learn how to (re)design a graduate program handbook that supports diversity by providing clear information to faculty, staff, and students about expectations, responsibilities, and rights.
  • NCWIT Tips: Making Change Stick (Coming Soon) // Learn specific techniques to help ensure that positive changes will last.
  • Understanding the Doctoral Lifecycle: How do support needs evolve for students during their graduate career? (Coming Soon) // Learn how to provide students the various types of support they need through different stages of their graduate career.

Learn about using this component in systemic change efforts here.

View systemic change resources here.

Using this Component in Systemic Change Efforts:

  • ES-Grad Infosheet // Learn more about the ES-Grad theoretical framework and consultation services (downloadable format).
  • Focus Your Efforts through Self-Assessment (Coming Soon) // Use this questionnaire to assess strengths and areas for improvement for each of the key programmatic elements that support diversity, equity, and inclusion in your doctoral program.
  • Strategic Planning Tool (Coming Soon) // Use this spreadsheet to track new ideas and interventions for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in your doctoral program.
  • How Do You Support Completion of Graduate Degrees and Engender Commitment to a Research Career? // Attrition may be a bigger problem than you think. Find out what to do about it.

Systemic Change Resources:

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