In response to COVID-19 remote instruction period, the School of Graduate Studies has implemented new policies for the Spring 2020 semester.
The School of Graduate Studies approved Master’s and Ph.D. defenses to be done virtually via Zoom.
Scheduling Your Zoom Defense
Zoom links can be included on the Preliminary Approval and Notice of Defense form.
Please notify Staci Ortiz to make modifications to your defense schedule. Advisors and students should work with department chairs and graduate program directors to ensure that all parties involved in the defense(s) have access to the technology necessary to conduct defenses in real-time synchronous fashion.
Zoom Defense Tips
- Assign someone on the committee-not the student defending-to setup, manage, and moderate the Zoom call so that the student doesn’t have to manage that extra potential stress. Make sure that the committee provides for extra time and backups in case things go wrong. Set up the connection early (15+ minutes) and ask the committee to show up early to check everything is working. Have one of more backups including something as simple as a phone based conference call.
- If the defense incorporates a presentation, ask all committee/audience participants to mute themselves at the start or have the committee member managing the call mute them all centrally. It's easy to forget you aren't muted and unintentionally interrupt the candidate.
- A Zoom defense will be new territory for many; as such, having committee and audience members using video is especially important—barring bandwidth issues—so that the candidate, to the degree possible can see audience reactions. This will be especially important during the private portion of the defense, with just the committee members. Audience and committee members should consider exaggerating your positive responses; clear head nods, thumbs up, big smiles, can all help mimic the normal positive audience cues and non-verbal feedback of an in-person defense. Giving a presentation without clear audience response can be really difficult. Of course, if there are bandwidth issues, the committee member managing the call should alert everyone and ask for audience members to stop their video until the issue is resolved. And in the event that the candidate prefers to not see the audience, that can also be accommodated.
- As technology access allows, a candidate can use a 2 monitor setup that will let them see those attending the talk plus their slides and notes. You can show a whole screen of faces—using gallery view--on the second monitor. During Q & A, the 'hand raise' function can help prevent voice collisions: the committee moderator can help manage this.
- When it comes time for the student to “step out of the room” while committee members deliberate, one option is to have the committee member managing the Zoom conversation put the student “on hold.” Committee members might also move “out of the room” for a brief separate conference call or Zoom conversation.
- Final revision feedback in these extra stressful times should clearly distinguish
- Recommendations for changes required prior to submitting final paperwork (e.g. final report)
- Recommendations for changes required for the thesis or dissertation prior to ProQuest submission
- Recommendations for further development of the thesis/dissertation post-graduation
To avoid the necessity of in-person gathering of graduation forms in the midst of this public health crisis, The School of Graduate Studies has created electronic forms that can be signed in DocuSign by all parties.
This has been created to help students in getting signatures from their committee members and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies while many of us are off-campus, working remotely, and conducting Master’s and PhD defenses by Zoom. We ask that you use this form if you are planning to graduate in May 2020; do not attempt to gather physical signatures in person, as that is not advised given social distancing recommendations.
This DocuSign form does not need to be included when publishing/submitting to ProQuest. As always, when submitting to ProQuest, you have the option to include a blank document with no signatures, or you can try to obtain signatures from a distance by asking faculty to, each in turn, print, sign, and scan the document.
The Preliminary Approval and Notice of Defense form and Final Report on Candidate have also been converted into electronic forms in DocuSign. These forms are meant to be initiated by the students. If any of these forms have already been submitted in a paper or PDF format, they do not need to be resubmitted.
Electronic Signature Form Guidelines
- Enter the advisors’ names and emails in the same order on the form initiation page as on the form itself. This will ensure that signatures are on the correct lines.
- There are extra lines on these forms to accommodate those with larger committees. If you do not need all of the committee lines, please delete the text under the line (Name of Committee Member x) on the signature page and leave the name/email fields empty on all forms.
- Once all committee signatures are received, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies will automatically receive notification to sign the form.
- If you have any questions about or problems with this form, you can contact Laura Look.
At this time, the University intends to remain open and has no plans of ceasing operations. As such, Graduate Assistants (GAs), like other University employees, are expected to continue to report to work, whether in-person or by remote means, if the position allows for work to be done remotely. Remote work requires the approval of supervisors.
If the job requires work to be done in person and there are reasons why a Graduate Assistant cannot continue to do so, Graduate Assistants are expected to discuss their situation with their respective supervisors. Any additional specific questions or concerns about GA compensation or work expectations during this time frame should be directed to the Dean of the GAs’ College. The University is committed to ensuring employees continue to be compensated without disruption, and we will do what we can to accommodate student and faculty needs.