Graduate Student Tracking
The Biosciences Graduate Student Tracking System (GST) is a secure online resource for Ph.D. students, faculty, and student services administrators (SSAs); its ultimate goal is to provide support in the related areas of student academic progress, alumni tracking, admissions and training grant application/renewal. It can be accessed via this link:
The first of those four modules, Student Milestones, is now available for use. It was designed to provide information about each student’s academic progress, and to aid with the accomplishment of certain academic milestones in a Ph.D. career — lab rotations, qualifying examinations, and both thesis committee and Individual Development Plan (IDP) meetings. We hope that the arrangement of this module feels intuitive to you — this documentation is intended to answer your questions about how to navigate the module, how certain processes work and how information enters the module. If you:
- Have a question about the workings of the Student Milestones module (or questions about the GST system in general)
- Are seeing data that doesn’t look right to you
- Have suggestions about improvements to the Student Milestones module or to this documentation
Please do not hesitate to hit the “?” button! We’ll respond to questions as quickly as we can, and are very interested to hear your ideas about potential upgrades or improvements to the module.
The Student Milestones module’s data and functionality will look largely the same to each of the groups — students, faculty and student services administrators (SSAs) — who will be using it. One thing that will be very different for each group is the extent to which their role determines their access to data. As one might expect:
- each student may view only his/her own record
- a faculty member may view only the records of those students for whom he/she serves as an academic/research mentor
- SSAs and home program/training grant leadership may view only the records of students within their respective cohorts.
Another difference in the view that each user sees is the inclusion of summary figures/links at the top of SSA and faculty landing pages — more on that at the after we’ve covered the information contained in each student record.
Because this module is arranged by tabs, we’ve chosen to organize the information presented below tab-by-tab; because we think it’s important for everyone who uses the GST system — and the Student Milestones module in particular — to understand how others will be using the system, we’ve included information for each user cohort — students, faculty and SSAs — in each section. We want the organization and usage of the system to be clear to everyone
Program and courses
The first Student Milestones tab is also the one that presents the most data — drawing from entries made by SSAs into both PeopleSoft and the GST system itself, this tab displays:
Academic Courses — course listings are drawn from PeopleSoft, with only the categorization of those courses taking place in GST. SSAs will assign each quarter’s courses to the curriculum categories that their home program employs. Those courses that don’t count directly towards each home program’s academic requirements, but do count towards the university Ph.D. requirement of 135 units — like research or TGR units, or a physical education course like tennis — are sorted into a section directly below, titled Additional Courses.
University Milestones — this displays the status of the standard five milestones in the Ph.D. career — qualifying examination, advance to candidacy, formation of a thesis committee, thesis defense and dissertation submission.
Program Milestones — home program specific requirements (e.g. presenting a paper at a program retreat) that would not be displayed in the sections above.
This tab is intended to provide a student, and those faculty/SSAs who are monitoring his/her academic career, with an easily viewed summary of that student’s academic progress. It is one of two tabs in the module that require no student input/action. Instead, it is intended to serve as a means for each student to track his/her academic career, and as a reference for discussions with program directors, academic and research mentors, and SSAs. Students and faculty should expect this information to be up-to-date, and should not hesitate to use the ? icon to ask for updates/clarification on information that doesn’t match their records, with one very important caution:
As mentioned above, while academic course information is drawn from Axess/Peoplesoft, the categorization of those courses, as well the updating of each student’s university and program milestones, falls to the SSAs of each home program. A two week grace period at the end of each academic quarter will be needed to allow SSAs to update the records of their respective student cohorts — during that period, we’ll be unable to address questions about that quarter’s data.
Faculty who log in to GST will see four summary boxes at the top of their screen: Student, Labs, Quals and Thesis. We’ll cover the final three below — that first “Student” box simply lists the number of students for whom they serve as either a research or academic advisor, or if they are part of a home program’s leadership, the number displayed will the total number of Ph.D. students in that home program.
This tab provides students with the ability to record each of their lab rotations, and — for those programs that require assessments at the end of a rotation — the means to securely provide a rotation assessment. Only a given student’s SSA, and the leadership of the relevant home program can view the assessment provided by that student — no other user of the system can view this evaluative material.
While students are not likely to forget the details of their own rotations, a record of those rotations (and the related assessments) can be of great value to SSAs and program directors. Academic advisors, while not able to view rotation assessments, can use the list of rotations as a reference for discussion with their advisees.
Please note that we’ve done our best to upload existing program records of past rotations — if students see information that doesn’t match their own records, they are empowered to edit those rotation entries!
The faculty view of this tab will include a listing of all current students (and, eventually, all alumni) who have rotated in their lab. The rotation summary number that displays at the top of their landing page will refer to that list of students, while the smaller number in the same box will show the number of students who have rotated in their lab in the current academic year, and have not yet chosen a research mentor.
Once a student or SSA has created a lab rotation on this tab, faculty are free to enter their assessments. Faculty members should bear in mind that evaluative material stored within the GST system may be subject to FERPA requests.
SSAs, like students, can create rotation records, but would not submit a rotation assessment.
Students and faculty will use this tab to facilitate the scheduling of qualifying examinations (and to share related documents), but the quals process in GST begins with the creation of a “quals record” for each student by their home program’s SSA (which the SSA will do at the beginning of the second year of a given student’s Ph.D. career).
Once that record has been created:
- SSAs enter the names of the qualifying examination committee members
- SSAs can send a reminder to a student about the need to schedule that quals examination
- Both students and their SSA have the capability to schedule that meeting
- SSAs can send reminders of examination date to both the student and his/her committee
- Students and committee members may upload documents related to the qualifying examination into GST for easy sharing
- SSAs can — post examination — update each student’s quals status
Thesis Committee meetings
Unlike Qualifying examination committee membership, which must be entered directly into GST, thesis committee membership is maintained through Axess/Peoplesoft, and displayed within GST. SSAs are tasked with this updating.
Once a thesis committee has been entered in PeopleSoft, and is displaying in GST:
- Both students and SSAs can select a thesis committee meeting date within GST
- SSAs can send reminders of an upcoming meeting
- Students and committee members may upload documents related to the meeting into GST for easy sharing
- Both SSAs and a student’s research advisor can update the meeting status
The primary intention of this tab is to provide those responsible for managing student support within the School of Medicine with a summary of how each student is supported throughout the Biosciences. This tab will provide a brief listing of the primary source of support for each student in a given year (or quarter), and — because SSAs can enter funding information for some years in advance of the current academic year — a projection of that same pattern for the future. This information can also, of course, serve as a reference for students.
This tab supplants the current meeting reporting tool, that has been housed within the Biosciences website; there are no associated changes to the rest of the IDP process!Students will use this tab to schedule their annual IDP meeting, and to send a reminder email about that meeting to their faculty advisor. Once that meeting has taken place, advisors will be able to provide their confirmation.
Faculty summary figures and links
As mentioned above, faculty — who may be reviewing the records of two or three students (or the entire student cohort of a given home program) — are provided with a little bit of additional functionality. Here’s what they should expect to see:
Research and Academic Advisors
Should see a listing of their advisees displayed when they log in. Across the top of their web page, they should see five summary/link boxes:
- Research Advisees: the summary figure in this box should accurately reflect the number of currently matriculated Biosciences students for whom a given faculty person is coded in PeopleSoft (the source of this data) as either a Doctoral Dissertation Research Advisor or Co-Advisor. If the GST display of research advisees does not reflect current mentoring relationships, please use the “?” button in the lower right hand corner of the screen and let us know — we’ll work with home program SSAs to update the relevant records in PeopleSoft.
- Academic Advisees: the summary figure (and the list to which this summary box serves as a link) in this box should accurately reflect the number of currently matriculated Biosciences students for whom a given faculty person is coded in PeopleSoft (the source of this data) as a Doctoral Advisor (Program). As above, if the GST display of academic advisees does not reflect current mentorship relationships, please use the “?” button, and let us know!
- Lab Rotations: the summary figure (and the list to which this summary box serves as a link) in this box displays the number of currently matriculated Biosciences students who have indicated that they have rotated in your lab. Please let us know if you see data that doesn’t agree with your records, by using the “?” button.
- Quals: the summary figure (and the list to which this summary box serves as a link) in this box displays the number of currently matriculated Biosciences students for whom you are serving/have served as a member of a qualifying examination committee.Please let us know if you see data that doesn’t agree with your records, by using the “?” button.
- Thesis Committee meetings: the summary figure (and the list to which this summary box serves as a link) in this box displays the number of currently matriculated Biosciences students for whom a given faculty person is coded in PeopleSoft (the source of this data) as a Doctoral Dissertation Reader. Please let us know if you see data that doesn’t agree with current mentoring relationships, by using the “?” button.
Home Program Leadership
Faculty who are part of a home program’s leadership (program directors, department chairs, etc.) can toggle back and forth between an advisor and program director view, using a drop down menu in the upper right hand corner of their screen. As with the advisors view, detailed above, summary boxes (which serve as links to associated student lists) will display at the top of the page. (As always, please let us know if you see data that doesn’t agree with your records by using the “?” button!)
- Students: the default display when you log in should list the entire student cohort of your home program. The olive colored circle within this summary box will display a count of those students (and serve as a link back to that list of the entire student cohort).
- Labs: the figure in the large, pale blue circle within this summary box tallies those first year students who have recorded at least one lab rotation within the student milestones module. The circle links to a listing of those students. The figure in the small, dark grey circle within this summary box tallies those for whom there are currently no lab rotations recorded. That small circle links to a listing of those students.
- Quals: once a given home program’s SSA has created a quals records for those students entering their second year of their Ph.D. career, the figure in the large, orange circle within this summary box will tally those students who have completed their qualifying examination (and that larger circle will link to a list of those students). The figure in the small, dark grey circle will tally those who have not yet completed their qualifying examination (and that circle will link to a list of those students).
- Thesis Committee Meetings: the figure in large blue circle will tally those third-year students who have had a thesis committee meeting in the current academic year (and that circle serves as a link to a listing of those students). The figure in the small, dark grey circle in the lower right hand of that summary box will tally those third-year students who have scheduled a pending committee meeting within GST (and that circle will link to a list of those students). The figure in the small, light grey circle in the upper right hand of that summary box will tally those third-year students who have not yet scheduled a committee meeting in the current academic year (and that circle will link to a list of those students).