Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 385–398 | Cite as

A Study of Synchronous, Online Professional Development Workshops for Graduate Students and Postdocs Reveals the Value of Reflection and Community Building

  • Sarah Chobot HokansonEmail author
  • Sharisse Grannan
  • Robin Greenler
  • Donald L. Gillian-Daniel
  • Henry CampaIII
  • Bennett B. Goldberg


Designers of professional development activities and programs within higher education generally believe workshop learning outcomes and learner-created materials are what graduate students and postdoctoral scholars value from participating in these activities. We created a new structure for online synchronous workshops that integrates active learning, participant reflection, and skill development. Our design was informed by the hypothesis that participants value the work that they do and the materials they create during our online workshops. In our evaluations we examined students’ self-reported behavioral and attitudinal changes and perspectives on professional development. We learned that participants considered their sense of community and opportunities for reflection to be valued elements of the workshops. We found that these workshops added to students’ self-reflective practices and skill-building processes. Participants suggested that workshops should integrate active learning and skills application with deliberate reflection and community building to increase the potential for long-term change.


Professional development Online synchronous learning Graduate students Postdocs 



Our thanks to Catherine Jett for assisting with survey data analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Chobot Hokanson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sharisse Grannan
    • 2
    • 6
  • Robin Greenler
    • 3
  • Donald L. Gillian-Daniel
    • 4
  • Henry CampaIII
    • 5
  • Bennett B. Goldberg
    • 6
  1. 1.Sarah Chobot Hokanson, Office of the ProvostBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.DePaul University Career CenterChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL)University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Delta Program in Research, Teaching and LearningUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  5. 5.The Graduate SchoolMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  6. 6.Searle Center for Advancing Learning and TeachingNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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