Improving the Adviser / Advisee Relationship at MIT

The Academics, Research & Careers committee sought to improve the quality of mentoring and advising at MIT for graduate students by promoting best practices in all departments and exploring new ways to improve the resources available. Advocacy included efforts at all level of the Institute. In 2004 a web survey was conducted among all graduate students to poll their opinion on a wide range of mentoring, advising, and student life issues. Also, focus group discussions were held in which all of these issues were discussed in more detail. Summary of Efforts

ARC worked for several years to help improve the quality of graduate advising and to help alleviate problems arising in advisor-advisee relationships. GSC members made presentations to all the Department Heads and to the Corporation Joint Advisory Committee (2003, 2005 PDF).

During the summer of 2004, the ARC subcommittee on Better Advising and Research Ethics worked to identify common problems and recurring difficult scenarios that students face related to advising. This list was developed based on anonymous anecdotes from graduate students who have had problems in the past and was corroborated by the Ombuds office in their role as observers.

In 2010 and 2011, the GSC Advising Initiative continued to grow. The largest advising survey ever held at MIT was produced and generated an advising database that contains statistically significant results for all departments at MIT, as well as individualized responses.

The Institute-wide results of this database have released and presented to a number of departments around the institute. A copy of the broad-results can be found here.

Currently the Advising team is working with a number of departments in implementing the recommended policy changes to keep MIT at the top of the advising curve, world-wide.

In working to implement proactive solutions to advising problems, we took the following steps:

  • prepared a hand-out on the importance of Graduate Advising for the New Faculty Orientation Handbook.
  • prepared a hand-out for first year graduate students on “How to find an Advisor”.
  • obtained quantitative data from the graduate student survey on the quality of advising throughout MIT:
    • Presentation of survey data and focus group results in a Town Hall meeting (pdf, MIT only) in Feb 2006; presented to many other Institute forums such as department heads, departmental faculty meetings, and graduate administrators round table.
    • Poster presentation (pdf, MIT only) at Graduate Alumni Convocation and Reunion in April 2006.
  • coordinated with deparmental graduate administrators to prepare a summary of Current Practices

Historical Documents