University of Vermont

Department of Psychological Science

The Graduate Program in Psychological Science

Expectations and Responsibilities of Graduate Students and their Placement Supervisors

Revised December 11, 2011

A few years ago, Psychological Science Graduate Students requested more clarity regarding the expectations and responsibilities associated with their placements. They also requested that the Department implement procedures that would facilitate clearer communication between students and their placement advisors regarding these matters. As a result, this document was created. Please read the following materials that summarize:

  • the scope of appropriate graduate student activities for placements.
  • a procedure for documenting the student/supervisor performance and relationship.
  • a grievance procedure available to students for dealing with related problems.

Follow the link above to various forms for creating a graduate student-supervisor agreement, depending on your placement. The Department agrees that each student/supervisor pair is to:

  • complete a placement agreement at the beginning of the fall semester that is signed by both parties (detailing student and supervisor placement expectations and responsibilities) and give a copy of the signed agreement to the Program Director who will place a copy in the student's file.
  • complete a mid-year and an end-of-year evaluation to provide an opportunity for students and supervisors to comment on each other's performance and achievement of expectations; and submit copies of these evaluations to the Program Director who will place a copy of each in the student's file.

The program directors will review these agreements and evaluations on a regular basis to identify ways in which to improve placements and problems that need to be addressed. Therefore, we ask that you read these materials and arrange a student/placement advisor meetings in order to complete the initial placement agreement. Keep a photocopy the enclosed forms for your records. Please submit the signed agreements to the Director of the Clinical Training Program or the Director of General/Experimental Program, as relevant, no later than September 15 each academic year. We appreciate your cooperation.


Throughout their graduate career, most graduate students participate in university affiliated placements which afford a training experience and income for the graduate student, as well as a service to the employer. These placements include graduate teaching fellowships, graduate research assistantships, clinical practica, and traineeships. In addition, many students work collaboratively with faculty on research and academic scholarship to both assist faculty and to gain valuable experience students can apply towards their degree (e.g., non-funded research, article preparation). Although these positions are typically unpaid, they should be viewed as a working relationship between student and faculty.

To enhance the experience of the graduate student, the quality of the service provided and faculty satisfaction, we propose that the specific terms within the agreement of each placement and/or research experience be negotiated and agreed upon prior to the onset of the working relationship. In addition, we propose that a procedure for advising problems (a grievance procedure) be developed.

Scope of Appropriate Graduate Student Activities

Full placements require that the student work 20 hours each week, and half placements typically require a student work 10 hours a week unless otherwise specified. The specific tasks and responsibilities vary for each placement. The scope of appropriate tasks and responsibilities can include, but are not limited to:

Graduate Teaching Fellowships

  • conducting labs
  • attending classes
  • grading
  • holding office hours
  • attending staff meetings
  • lectures
  • creating assignments and exams
  • running study/review groups
  • gathering information relevant to class preparation and/or discussion

Graduate Research Assistantships

  • recruiting and running participants
  • attending staff meetings
  • data management/analysis
  • maintaining equipment
  • designing and overseeing protocol
  • supervising undergraduate assistants and staff
  • literature searches and reviews
  • preparing materials for IRB approval
  • conference presentations/attendance
  • reports, article writing
  • grant writing

Clinical Practica

  • conducting inpatient, outpatient, individual, family, and group therapy
  • conduct psychological assessments and evaluations
  • report writing
  • attending supervision
  • maintaining progress notes, treatment planning, termination summaries, and other record keeping
  • consultations with community members, agencies and other professionals
  • attending rounds, seminars or other training meetings


  • as per the specification of the funding source

Non-funded Research and Academic Scholarship

  • recruiting and running participants
  • attending staff meetings
  • data management/analysis
  • maintaining equipment
  • designing and overseeing protocol
  • supervising undergraduate assistants and staff
  • literature searches and reviews
  • preparing materials for IRB approval
  • conference presentations/attendance
  • reports, article writing
  • grant writing

The specific duties within each placement should be reviewed and agreed upon prior to the expected start date of the placement. Parties should also discuss vacation time, flex time needed for attending academic conferences and other professional events (internship interviews, etc.), standard meeting times, availability of the supervisor for assistance/instruction, authorship and other issues as needed. Students should make their goals clear at this time as well, identifying the skills or knowledge they are hoping to learn in the position and their desire for feedback. For example, a student who is a Teaching Assistant may reasonably request to receive oral or written feedback after each independent lecture they provide. Both parties should have a clear sense of expectations at this time. In order to ensure that his process is initiated and maintained, we propose the simple documentation process described below.

Yearly Documentation of Student/Supervisor Performance Relationship

  1. At the beginning of each placement year, each graduate student will meet with her/his placement supervisor (or advisor) to clarify both the student's and the supervisor's expectations and responsibilities for the upcoming placement year as discussed above. These expectations and responsibilities will be placed in writing, signed by both parties, and filed in the graduate student's file.
  2. Both the student and the supervisor/advisor will complete mid-year and end-of-the-year evaluations to provide an opportunity for students and supervisors to comment on each other's performance, including whether they feel the expectations and goals identified at the beginning of the year are being met, allowing an opportunity to identify strengths as well as areas of improvement. Copies of each of the evaluations (student and supervisor/advisor) will be placed in both the student's file and the supervisor's file, which are held by the program director.
  3. Each program director will keep files on each supervisor/advisor and student that contain the mid-year and end-year evaluations, and any grievances that are filed. These will be reviewed on a yearly basis.

Grievance Procedures

The complaint is a claim based upon an event or condition that affects the welfare and/or terms and conditions of employment or academic status of a graduate student or group of graduate students. Complaints include, but are not limited to: violation of the terms set in the original agreement, working excessive hours, unreasonable deadlines, verbal harassment, inappropriate physical contact.


  1. If a student has a concern with their placement, supervisor or advisor, or feels that they are being treated unjustly within their program and the student's complaint falls under the jurisdiction of the grievance process, he/she may bring the issue to the attention of the program directors. Grievances must be filed in writing within one calendar year of any incident.
  2. After the student has met with the program directors, the program directors will work with the student to develop an appropriate course of action or to help the student find resolution regarding the issue within a two-week time period from date of first meeting with the program director (e.g., facilitate meeting between student and supervisor/advisor, clarify content of original agreement).
  3. All parties are expected to attend the meeting and are bound to the terms of the resolution as negotiated by the student, the program director, and when appropriate and/or possible, the supervisor/advisor.
  4. One-month after the proposed resolution plan has been agreed upon, all involved parties (e.g., student, supervisor, program directors) will confer to determine the effectiveness of the resolution plan. If all parties are satisfied, they will sign the Grievance Resolution Form, which will then be placed in the student's file and in the supervisor/advisor's file.
  5. If any party is dissatisfied with the outcome or progress, additional mediation is required. At this time, the department chair will be notified of the grievance and may be asked to assist in developing an alternative resolution plan satisfactory to all involved parties.
  6. If resolution is still not achieved within a reasonable period of time, outside involvement from the Graduate College or the College of Arts and Sciences may be requested at the program director's, department chair's, or graduate student's discretion.
  7. If the supervisor/advisor feels incapable or unwilling to give an impartial evaluation or recommendation of the student, they are ethically bound to inform the student of this in advance of preparing the recommendation.

For more information, check the Rights and Responsibilities of Graduate Students in the Online Graduate Catalogue.

Last modified March 04 2014 11:20 AM