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Maximizing Your Productivity As A Junior Faculty Member: Balancing Research, Teaching, And Service

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade: Outside Class

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.900.1 - 9.900.7

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Paper Authors

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Lori M. Bruce

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J.W. Bruce

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Maximizing Your Productivity as a Junior Faculty Member: Balancing Research, Teaching, and Service Lori Mann Bruce, J.W. Bruce Mississippi State University


The majority of new engineering educators are confronted with two daunting challenges: (1) wisely select the tasks on which they spend time and energy and (2) effectively manage their time and energy in order to maximize their productivity. In this paper, the authors suggest seven “tricks of the trade” designed to help a new faculty member achieve their tenure and/or promotion requirements while balancing their research, teaching, and service workloads. These seven strategies are aimed at effective time and task management, coupled with professional networking, to help a new engineering faculty member navigate their careers along a path to success.

1 Introduction

One of the greatest challenges associated with transitioning into a position, as a new engineering professor is the challenge of time and task management. Rather than having two to three tasks at any given time, the new professor is likely to have eight to ten tasks that need addressing within a given workday. In Reis’s interviews with over 70 faculty members, he found that all were challenged to find creative ways to manage the large number of tasks on their “plates”, that is complete them, do them well, and still find time to sit, think, and plan [1]. A second, and often equally dramatic, challenge associated with succeeding as an engineering educator is the challenge of knowing how to prioritize, so the right kinds of tasks get onto the “plates” in the first place.

In Boice’s study of several first-year faculty members who had excelled in teaching, research, and publishing, he found that these faculty members had the ability to “balance” their workloads [2]. That is, they (i) set realistic time limits on teaching preparation, (ii) spent about 4-5 hours per week on scholarly writing, and (iii) spent about 4-5 hours per week networking professionally (on and off campus). In this paper, the authors provide seven strategies, or tips, for new engineering educators (NEEs) that can help them manage their time and tasks, as well help them to select which tasks they are willing to put on their “plates”. (The “tricks of the trade” presented in this paper can be found in various forms in several texts [1]-[4] for new and experienced faculty. We recommend the NEE own and read these texts frequently.) Our seven strategies are titled: Chart a Course; Ask for Help; Publish, Publish, Publish; Be a Team Player; Just Say No; Practice Makes Perfect; and Slow and Steady Wins the Race.

It should be noted that this paper arose from a request by the professional development coordinator in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. When NEEs are hired in the College, they are assigned mentors. Furthermore, the College sponsors a variety

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Bruce, L. M., & Bruce, J. (2004, June), Maximizing Your Productivity As A Junior Faculty Member: Balancing Research, Teaching, And Service Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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