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Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M partner to improve graduate education
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Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M partner to improve graduate education

New opportunities are opening up for students at Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M as the universities partner to create initiatives that will improve each school’s respective graduate programs.

The institutions established a partnership that is geared toward improving graduate education. Officials have been meeting regularly since October as part of the agreement and recently decided that a “teaching exchange program” will be the first of several initiatives established under the partnership. The program will allow doctorate students at each university to teach at the other institution for a semester. Some of the first participants will likely get started in the fall.

“The teacher exchange is the kind of the inaugural first project that we’re launching,” Interim Dean for Graduate Studies at Prairie View Tyrone Tanner said, “and it’s really a beautiful opportunity for graduate students to teach and work with students at both of our institutions. … We have extraordinary students that I think bring a wealth of knowledge and skill and scholarship. [A&M] students will be served and vice versa.”

Tanner is also a professor in the College of Education and Prairie View executive director for the North West Houston Center.

The teaching exchange is based on an agreement that existed about a decade ago, A&M Associate Dean of the Graduate and Professional School Julie Harlin said, but the new program expands to all departments and instead of focusing on just one, as the old program did.

Harlin is also associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications.

There are already people interested in participating in the teaching exchange for the fall. Harlin said the number of people who can get involved will be based on the need at the two schools.

“We’ll identify teaching needs where we have holes in our instruction,” Harlin said. “And those holes could be there for lots of reasons; maybe someone recently left the institution, or maybe we had to add sections of a course because of high demand. Identifying the needs is first and foremost. Once we’ve identified the needs at both institutions, the departments associated with those courses will be pulled into the loop to see if they have doctoral students who are ready to engage in those kinds of roles.”

Students would teach one or two courses per semester when they are involved in the program. Harlin stressed that the program is all about the reciprocal exchange “not in one specific area, but across different departments, across the entire institution.”

University officials are looking into other initiatives that would benefit graduate students and faculty that could be launched after the teaching exchange program gets off the ground. Harlin said the next one will likely be a course exchange agreement that would allow A&M faculty to offer courses to students at Prairie View and vice versa.

“This is just the beginning,” Harlin said of the teaching exchange program. “This is a baby step in the direction where both institutions want to move, which is a true win-win collaboration and partnership that recognizes that both of us have our strengths, and we bring those to the table in ways that benefit both of our campuses and students at both institutions.”

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