D. Edelman

North Carolina State University (UNITED STATES)
GradPath is a mobile-friendly application designed to give graduate students timely access to critical academic data and professional development information in real time and to facilitate communication between the student and advisor. At graduate schools around the world, students leaving school before completing their degree is a major issue with doctoral attrition rates varying from 11% to as high as 68%. The goal of GradPath is to enhance retention and reduce time to degree for graduate students. This application will be utilized by graduate students and their advisors at North Carolina State University in 2018 as well as graduate students at other universities around the world in the future and offers a comprehensive road map for degree completion including milestone alerts.

The application includes a wide variety of elements essential to students’ academic and post-graduation employment success, initially encompassing four major components with the ability to continue to add further elements. The first is an academic “clearinghouse” that will allow students to retrieve existing academic data from North Carolina State University’s Student Information System (SIS) database and supplement it with professional development data that the student enters such as presentations made at conferences or professional development workshops attended. The student can then create a customized CV or resume. In addition, the student can optionally select to receive email or messaged alerts for all upcoming milestones such as a doctoral preliminary oral review. The second is a secure app that will streamline information about and facilitate registration for professional development classes, spanning a spectrum of topics ranging from teaching, research and academic writing, personal development, leadership and mentoring, communication, team building, through to conflict resolution. The third is a mentoring component that is designed to encourage mentoring opportunities within and beyond a student’s program including the opportunity to enhance the experience and success of underrepresented minority graduate students. The application has the ability to create audio, video and file-based interaction between the student and advisor. In addition, advisors and Directors of Graduate Programs can receive reports on each of their students or an overall summary report on all of their students. The last component is an element devoted to additional resources both internal and external to the institution that students can use as guides through various elements of their graduate academic careers.

We have had the design reviewed by several graduate student focus groups to get feedback on what should be included in the application and how it should be presented. In addition, the design has been reviewed as a final class project by doctoral students studying human factors. The purpose of the project was to optimize the navigation and visual design for GradPath on mobile devices using modern user interface (UI) heuristics. As a result, the design includes customizable elements, is straightforward, easily understandable and requires at most two clicks at any point in the navigation to access desired information.

In our presentation we will cover the development and review strategy for GradPath as well as presenting the major features of GradPath including the navigation method.