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Unusual Advice: Take a Class Outside Your Field

As a third-year Ph.D. student, having finished all of my required courses and much to the confusion of many of my friends and colleagues, I decided to take an additional class during a semester when I already had little time to spare. While there were times that my schedule regretted it because of my love-hate relationship with over-commitment, I found this experience of my graduate career to be one that I would not trade.

Here are some of the reasons why I stand by my decision and encourage you to consider doing the same:

On Communicating Science

I gave a talk about my field of work a couple of months ago, to an audience of people mostly outside it. After the talk, a senior member in the audience came over and asked me a few questions about genetics and health. He had a family history of lung cancer, he said, and he had always assumed it was because everybody in his family smoked a great deal. However, there was a recent article that said that 60% of cancer is due to bad luck, so he was confused about whether smoking had played any role at all.


The views expressed in this post are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Rackham Graduate School or the University of Michigan.

What Does It Mean to Go Gameful? A GSI's Perspective

As graduate students at the University of Michigan, most of us (whether we’ll admit it around our imposter-syndrome or not) are pretty darn good at navigating the system that is modern education. But despite our own comfort within this infrastructure, it turns out that school as it exists is often poorly designed when it comes to supporting and improving student learning. My Ph.D. work has been dedicated to investigating what we can change about how courses operate that would address this–we call our approach gameful pedagogy, as it’s inspired by the way that excellent games are profound and transformative learning experiences.

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