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Rethinking qualifying exams and doctoral candidacy in the physical sciences

Abstract: There is growing awareness that established structures of higher education are often predicated on problematic assumptions about merit, excellence, and rigor. Doctoral qualifying exams, for example, are required to advance to candidacy in many Ph.D. programs despite decades of documented concerns about the implications of standard modes for student equity and well-being. As more Ph.D. programs move to reform these exams and candidacy requirements, it is important to understand how Ph.D. programs, as academic organizations, construct the significance of the qualifying exam.

The Hidden Curriculum in Transitioning to Graduate School

The learning curve that accompanies educational transitions can involve culture shock as students adjust to new environments, demands, networks, and responsibilities. Educational institutions have unwritten, implicit rules and expectations within their culture—otherwise known as the “hidden curriculum.” Navigating the hidden curriculum is part of what can make the transitions to college and graduate school challenging. 

Equity-Minded Mentoring Toolkit

This toolkit is an invitation for you to engage in deeper thinking about how mentoring relationships in graduate education can embody equity-mindedness. Whether you consider yourself a current mentor or a mentee, or whether this role is yet to come, mentoring is an essential part of the higher education landscape. Yet, to ensure that mentoring is a mechanism of advancing opportunity (rather than limiting opportunity to a select few), mentors and mentees must engage in active learning, constant reflection, and the adaptation of tailored practices (NASEM, 2019).

Utilizing Equitable and Inclusive Design Principles to Promote STEM Identity of Community College Transfer Students

The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), Workshops for Engineering & Science Transfers (WEST) 2019 program designed workshops for

students interested in chemistry, climate science, physics, and toxicology that focused on promoting the scientific identities by incorporating authentic ways for students to receive recognition from both peers and instructional facilitators, as well as allowing students to tap into their own personal interests and values.