The newest group of Tokyo Tech Graduate Student Assistants (GSAs) were certified at a ceremony on Ookayama Campus on July 3. This was the fourth cohort of students being acknowledged for their efforts to advance Tokyo Tech education since the Institute for Liberal Arts (ILA) and Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) initiated the GSA program in 2016.
Three paths of GSA program
The Learning Community System, an initiative supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Cultures, Sports, Science and Technology, involves bachelor-level students, master’s students, and faculty members working together as a community. Master’s students improve their leadership and facilitation abilities — and earn credits — by participating in curriculum development and other educational support required by their younger counterparts.
Currently, the GSA program offers three paths — GSA Facilitator (GSA-F), GSA Reviewer (GSA-R), and GSA Developer (GSA-D). GSA-F participants work with faculty members inside the classroom to support the learning activities of bachelor-level students. GSA-R course focuses on improving younger students’ academic writing abilities through peer review activity. Those who have an interest in developing online educational materials with faculty and other students can choose the GSA-D course. Upon completion of the prescribed conditions for each course, students receive a certificate issued by CITL.
Continuously developing oneself and others
The GSA program is a natural development resulting from the core liberal arts program developed and launched by ILA in 2016, which spans all levels of education at Tokyo Tech. All bachelor-level students are required to complete the Tokyo Tech Visionary Project and Liberal Arts Final Report courses. During their first year of study at the master’s level, many continue their liberal arts path with the Leadership Workshop course, which covers the fundamentals of leadership. Students who complete this course can then select the Advanced Leadership Workshop in year two, which allows them to further develop and apply their leadership skills through facilitation of the Tokyo Tech Visionary Project course. A total of 24 students completed this course in the 1st quarter of academic year 2018, fulfilling the requirements for a GSA-F certificate.
During the completion ceremony, CITL Director Jun-ichi Imura congratulated each of the students individually, highlighting that they had contributed to the development of fellow Tokyo Tech students while experiencing notable personal growth.
The program’s faculty members also spoke highly of the participants. According to ILA Professor Masao Murota, all GSAs played an important role in strengthening the link between faculty members and bachelor-level students through the Tokyo Tech Visionary Project.
“The impact of your GSA-F certification might not feel immediate, but you will come to realize its value in the future,” noted ILA Professor Naoyuki Hayashi during his greeting. “As you continue transferring this value to others, the ripples of the program will gradually spread. I expect that, in five to ten years, all those associated with it will appreciate its positive effects.”
All faculty members pointed out that the completion of the GSA-F program marked a new beginning for its participants. As role models who confidently provide guidance and direction for younger Tokyo Tech students, participants are now expected to independently utilize their skills as facilitators.
“Through my classes, I was able to acquire skills that allow me to trust, delegate to, and grow with the people around me. I feel like these abilities will enable me to bring out the best in the people I work with, and to help make Japan and the world a better place,” one of the student participants concluded.
To date, 84 Tokyo Tech students — 36 facilitators, 40 reviewers, and 8 developers — have been certified through the GSA program.