Building Your Own Program: A Planning Guide for Graduate Schools

For more information, visit the PFF web site or contact Daniel Denecke ( at the Council of Graduate Schools, One Dupont Circle, NW, Washington DC, 20036-1173, (202) 223-3791

1. Developing a PFF Program.

A. Identify the activities of interest to the graduate students

• Hold informational meeting(s) to evaluate interest and to identify interested faculty and departments.
• Constitute a task force to identify the desired activities
• Form a working group to implement initial activities

B. Possible activities

University-Wide Activities

• A seminar on general issues of college teaching: Who would teach it?
• A course on professional and academic career issues: Who would teach it?
• A workshop series on innovative teaching approaches, e.g., using technology, teaching about diversity, interdisciplinary courses.
• Assistance for doctoral students to develop portfolios documenting expertise in research, teaching, and service.
• Discussions about ethical issues in research, teaching, relations with students and colleagues.

Departmental Activities

• A course on teaching in the discipline
• Invite doctoral alumni who are in professional positions to campus to discuss how their careers do or don't connect with what they received in the graduate education.
• Revise doctoral guidelines to provide opportunity and credit for PFF experiences for students planning an academic career


• How would you recruit faculty mentors?
• Who are some key faculty members who might be interested in serving as a mentor in teaching and professional service?
• What expectations should faculty and students have for a mentoring relationship?
• What kind of training should faculty mentors receive: Who could provide it?

Activities at Partner Institutions

• Have students visit partner campuses to learn about missions, qualities of students, expectations for faculty.
• Assign students a teaching mentor in an appropriate department
• Invite students to teach a unit with assistance in planning and debriefing.
• Invite students to shadow a professor or administrator and discuss the activities observed.

2. Check List of Offices/Individuals/Groups at your institution that might collaborate in the PFF initiative.

Graduate School staff?

Departments that already operate programs and can be used as resources?

P.I.s of Graduate training grant programs that have professional development componens (e.g., IGERT)

Members of multi-institutional consortia (especially if there are graduate training components) (could be a good source of contacts for interactions at other institutions)

Graduate student organizations?

Postdoctoral organizations?

TA development program and staff?

College of Education?

President, Vice-President for Academic Affairs/Provost?

College Deans?



3. Nuts and Bolts

A. Who could take the responsibility as director/coordinator of the program?

B. What percent effort would be required?

C. What resources are required and who will provide them?

D. What is the time plan for implementation?

E. If resources are limited, what are the most important activities?

F. What strategies can you use to obtain the necessary resources to support the program?

4. Involving Departments to Augment a University-wide Program

Which departments would you consider open to an invitation to develop/participate in PFF? Why?

Do any departments already have similar collaborative programs with external colleges and universities?

Are incentives necessary to encourage departments and faculty members to participate? If so, what?

5. Getting Partner Institutions Involved

A strength and unique feature of PFF is the opportunity for PFF participants to participate in mentored activities at different kinds of institutions of higher education.

What other colleges and universities are in your geographical area (within a convenient driving distance)?

Are there institutional relationships already in place with any of these institutions? Which institutions and in what areas?

Who are the administrators and/or faculty at these potential partners with whom you or members of the working group have good relationships? (Don’t forget to ask the graduate students- some of them may already be teaching part-time at these institutions.)

Taking these factors into consideration, select institutions that you would like to include in your PFF program.

Is groundwork required to build a good working relations between faculty members at your university and faculty at possible partners?

What are the benefits to partner institutions and partner faculty of participating in your PFF program? What types of additional joint or disciplinary activities would be attractive to them?

Who would you suggest serving on a PFF Steering Committee?

6. Assessing the Program

What indicators would indicate program success?

Who might help to design and conduct an assessment?

Can staff of institutional research or instructional development center assist?

7. Developing Strategies

After the initial program is in place, what strategies can you use to broaden campus-wide and partner institutional involvement?

Faculty interest and participation

Department interest and participation

Graduate students interest and participation

Partner institutions and faculty interest and participation

8. Preparing a Budget

What costs do you foresee?

Travel to partner institutions

Meetings with steering committee

Graduate student coordinator

Support for partner institutions and faculty


9. Utilizing Other Information and Resources about PFF

Web site (

Publications from national PFF office

Leaders of other PFF programs

Meetings of AAC&U and CGS Others.