Title: Strengthening Community And Communication: The Multiple Roles Of Communication Support Programs
The benefits of writing programs that serve graduate students are well known (Simpson et al, 2016). Providing this support has been a high priority for many graduate school deans/leaders, who view it as a way to improve time to completion, retention, and graduation rates. This study shows that programs designed to support graduate writing and communication skills have important benefits beyond their intended outcomes: along with supporting thesis-writing and skill development, they bolster graduate students’ sense of community and overall well-being. This unexpected payoff further increases the value of communication programs, by helping to address all-too-common challenges related to mental health and social isolation. I report findings based on four years of data from communication support programs we have organized for graduate students at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), an R1 public university in New England. The data are based on graduate student interest and program evaluation surveys.