Graduate Student Support Guide

Graduate Student Support for Completing a Learning Sciences Degree and Navigating the Field

Suraj Uttamchandani & Yotam Hod
ISLS Education Committee


This guide is meant for you, a graduate student who envisions long-term participation in the learning sciences community. Specifically, our goal is to offer information about the possible journeys of completing doctoral work, becoming a more central participant in the International  Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS)1, and preparing for life after your Ph.D.2

While this guide is a collection of wisdom from a variety of learning scientists, we recognize that there are many potential pathways to successfully navigate your entry into the field. Therefore, we encourage you to read it knowing that it is not meant to essentialize the graduate student experience; rather, we hope you are able to take pieces that are relevant to your specific journey. You may even find it helpful to reread this article at different stages of your studies, as things that were not relevant towards the beginning might be at a later stage.

The idea of creating this resource was born at the 2019 ISLS doctoral consortium—which focused on these topics—out of an interest in equity. Given the significant barriers to participation in international conferences, we felt it appropriate and necessary to create this guide, which is meant to widen access to information about navigating the learning sciences as a newcomer by broadly sharing insights from members of our community.

Part 1. The Journeys of Completing a Ph.D.
Part 2. Becoming a More Central Participant in the Learning Sciences

Acknowledgements: We appreciated the input and contributions of a wide variety of people on this resource, namely: Etan Cohen, Michal Dvir, Andi Gomoll, Heisawn Jeong, Liru Hu, Shiri Kashi, Jasmiina Leskinen, Alexis Papak, Ishita Pradhan, Martina Rau, Daniel Sommerhoff, Sebastian Strauß, Morgan Vickery, and other participants of at the 2019 ISLS doctoral consortium.

1 Throughout this resource, we refer to ISLS as comprising both the learning sciences and computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) communities. While recognizing that these communities are overlapping but distinct, this resource applies to both.

2 We use the phrase “Ph.D.” to refer to a Doctorate of Philosophy or equivalent terminal degree in the learning sciences. We use the phrase “dissertation” to refer to any culminating project of a Ph.D., usually a lengthy manuscript or a series of articles.