Pathfinder

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Pathfinder is a doctoral degree planning portfolio that will enable you (and your supervisory committee) to record your accomplishments and plan towards the completion of your doctoral degree.  

The Pathfinder project was conceived initially as a method to digitize reporting tools that graduate programs use to document your progress over time.  The Pathfinder service has evolved to include documenting the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.   The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) and your Faculty
 are focused on ensuring that you have a platform to record the impact that the pandemic has had on your degree plans and progress. In addition to the other supports already available, Pathfinder will begin to lay the groundwork for how this impact will be addressed for you by asking four basic questions

  • Describe the impact that the pandemic is having on your research and scholarly progress.
  • In light of the current circumstances, describe how you plan to advance your academic and professional development in the short term (e.g., over the next three to four months).
  • Recognizing the difficulty of making plans in a fluid situation, describe how you plan to advance your academic and professional development in the long term (e.g., over the next year).
  • Describe any particular support(s) needed to achieve these plans. 

The remaining elements of a Pathfinder Portfolio consist of the common attributes of the many distinct doctoral programs at Western.  Elements such as coursework, milestones, and financial support are retrieved automatically from existing databases on campus.  Remaining elements such as scholarly activities (e.g. publications, artistic contributions or intellectual property), conference participation, travel, and thesis progress are left to you to document.  

Submitting Your Portfolio for Supervisory Committee Review

At designated times during the year, your program will determine it is appropriate for you to submit your Portfolio for review.  An email from your program will inform you that your Portfolio can now be submitted for review and an option to submit your Portfolio will be present within the Portfolio itself.

Once you submit your Portfolio, your Supervisory Committee will be informed that your Portfolio has been submitted and can be evaluated.  Your Supervisor(s) and Committee Members will have an opportunity to review your plans and progress and comment.  If your Committee determines something is amiss in your Portfolio, they may return it to you with comments on what needs adjustment.  Once your Committee is finished their review, a designated member of the committee (normally your Supervisor) will close the review period and pass your Portfolio over to your Graduate Chair for evaulation.

Graduate Chair Evaluation

A Portfolio that has been reviewed by your Supervisory Committee will be passed along to your Graduate Chair for evaluation.  Your Graduate Chair will evaluate the feedback that your Committee has provided to ensure it is sufficient and appropriate.  They will have the capacity to provide you feedback as well if they choose.  Once your Graduate Chair has completed their evaluation of your Portfolio, the content of your Supervisory Committee review and Graduate Chair evaluation will be passed back to you for acknowledgement.

Submitting your Acknowledgement

An email will alert you that your Portfolio has progressed through both the Supervisory Committee review and Graduate Chair evaluation and is now available for your acknowledgement.  Any feedback these groups provided will now be available to you.  Pathfinder will ask you to acknowledge the content of the report, whether you have met with your Supervisor(s) to discuss the report and if you believe the report is an accurate reflection of your progress and plans for the next phase of your studies.  If you disagree with the feedback you have received you will have the opportunity to share this feedback if you so choose.  After your acknowledgement is received, the content of the review will be archived for you and the submission process is complete.