The TI Research Associate Program officially launched on Tuesday June 21, 2016 at our very first Lunch & Learn! We began with a family-style lunch, and then introduced ourselves and the Program by saying our name, who we work with, and what we study in our home disciplines.
Next, we did a brief reflection activity asking: Imagine you get an email saying you have been selected to apply/interview for your biggest aspiration today! How would you use your current RA role at the TI to evidence your knowledge and capabilities? Once everyone had put their reflections on paper, I provided a brief overview of the Program’s priorities and current activities. This prompted much discussion, and acted as a springboard to our brainstorming activity.
In seeking to understand what makes a meaningful RA experience, I wanted to tap into what is important to RAs. To do this, we played “Brainstorming Basketball” to generate ideas and feedback about what RAs would like to gain from the Program and their roles at the TI in general. Participants were divided into three teams and three tables (“courts”). Each court had a stack of paper, and a question: How can we help you with…
- …being part of the TI community?
- …developing your knowledge, skills, and abilities?
- …evidencing your experiences to future employers or educators?
At “GO!”, each team had 3 minutes to jot down as many answers to the questions as they could. At the end of three minutes, each team stood up, crumpled each individual piece of paper into a ball, and threw it into the “net” at the front of the room. Each ball successfully shot into the net counted as one point. At the end of each round, we tallied scores. Then, each team moved over 1 court and repeated this process until everyone had answered all three questions. At the end of the game, the team with the highest score received a prize. I collected all the “basketballs”, listed and summarized them in a report, and presented the results to TI staff and faculty at our monthly meeting.
All questions had three elements that RAs continuously referred to: publishing, increased and diversified collaboration with TI staff, and online presence.
- Publishing. RAs would like to learn how to go about academic publishing, collaborate with TI staff/faculty in publishing an article, and/or learn how to turn their work into independent publications/conference presentations.
- Increased/diversified collaboration with TI staff/projects. RAs would like to be included in TI events, and work with a variety of TI faculty/staff. RAs would also like to collaborate with each other both formally and informally.
- Online presence. RAs would like to have a formal online space to showcase their work and accomplishments both within and beyond the TI.
In light of this feedback, I am very excited to say that our first Lunch & Learn was a success! Everyone was friendly, energetic, and productive. Going forward, I seek to address as much of their feedback as possible, and collaborate with TI staff/faculty to consider what this feedback could look like in specific projects and broader TI initiatives and activities.