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GSAS Students Report Satisfaction with Teaching, Concern with Advising

Lehman Hall is the main building for the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Lehman Hall is the main building for the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. By Jessica M. Wang
By Shera S. Avi-Yonah, Crimson Staff Writer

Students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences reported high satisfaction with teaching and concerns about advising, grading, and educational resources in a student life survey, according to the results published earlier this month.

The survey, which asked graduate students about advising, teaching, and student community building, is one of three rotating questionnaires that GSAS administrators distribute to students each fall. The other two surveys aim to collect data on academic life, professional concerns, departmental program requirements, child care, and the cost of education.

Per the GSAS report on the survey, roughly half of graduate students said that they were involved in community activities at Dudley House, the GSAS student center.

David-Maximilian “Max” Vani, the GSAS representative on the Harvard Graduate Council, said he thinks the School has been successful in allocating resources towards community building among graduate students.

“GSAS is doing well in terms of connecting students through a variety of school-sponsored social activities,” Vani said. “Residence halls are open to residents from several other Harvard graduate schools, as well as to a large cohort of international visiting students, all of which encourages social interaction.”

Although nearly 90 percent of graduate students said they were very satisfied with their teaching experience, some mentioned concerns about the overemphasis on grading for undergraduates. Nearly 10 percent of graduate students also reported concerns about their primary advisor.

Garth O. McCavana, GSAS dean for student affairs, wrote in a emailed statement that he hopes some concerns graduate students brought up in the survey will be remedied by the hiring of two new staff members, Caysie A. Carter and Anna Fisher-Pinkert, assistant director of student affairs and a digital communications manager, respectively.

“We were particularly pleased to see high satisfaction with teaching, with nearly 90% of respondents reporting a good or excellent overall teaching experience,” McCavana wrote. “For respondents who expressed dissatisfaction with their experience, GSAS wants to ensure that they are aware of the many resources available to our students.”

“We are already seeing progress,” McCavana added.

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