Dr. Free-Ride has a post on better communication in lab groups, in which, she has some interesting things to say as to how students learn:
… “Students focus on learning the things you test them on, not the things you say are important for them to learn. And when you don’t give them any sensible information about what you’re evaluating, or about the basis for evaluation, they will become bundles of hate, fear, and frustration.”
In a comment to the post, Comrade Physio Prof has this to say on what is expected of a grad student:
Trainees need to (1) learn the relevant literature, (2) learn to be experimentally productive, (3) learn to give decent presentations of their work, (4) learn to write decently (grants and manuscripts), (5) learn to design experiments, (6) learn to be creative and originate new ideas, (7) learn to effectively mentor less-experienced trainees, (8) learn to communicate effectively on an informal basis with other trainees in the lab and with the PI.
Different trainees exhibit different capacities for mastering these different aspects of becoming a scientist, and I’m sure there are some things I have missed.
And, there is more in the post and comments; take a look!