June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
New Engineering Educators
13.929.1 - 13.929.8
New Faculty Meetings:
Surviving the first year of the tenure track together
The initial years of a tenure track position are difficult for a variety of reasons, including the lack of preparation and experience that new faculty members have for various aspects of the job. Much advice has been given regarding the use of mentoring and workshops to accelerate the acclimatization period, but these methods may not involve the relaxed atmosphere and open discussion conducive to the development and free exchange of ideas and ideologies. In this paper, we discuss our approach of regular peer meetings of such discussions. Peer meetings promote the discussion of problems encountered by new faculty as the problems develop. Not only does discussing problems in such meetings assist in the creation of solutions, but everyone who participates in the discussion is thereafter prepared to avoid similar problems in the future. Considerations of group composition, group size, and what topics to discuss are examined.
Traditionally, Assistant Professors begin their career with a minimum of preparation for certain aspects of the job. For example, many new faculty members are straight out of graduate school without experience developing research directions or preparing classes. According to work by Boice, new faculty generally take 4-5 years to build necessary experience before starting to meet the standards set by their institutions.1 Such lengthy adjustment periods have a negative impact on faculty performance and thus on the probability of tenure.
Common actions new faculty take to improve their performance include soliciting mentoring, attending workshops, and reading pertinent literature.1-9 Such actions can significantly assist in answering questions and providing useful skills, but do not always provide the opportunity to explore multiple approaches quickly. For example, a mentor or workshop will often provide a single approach for a given problem, whereas performing a literature search can take a significant amount of time. Additionally, all of these actions can suffer from a lack of discussion, whether due to the size of the workshop or the dynamic between mentor and mentee. As a supplement to these actions, we consider regular meetings with peers specifically for the wide range of perspectives presented and the emphasis on discussion.
As three new faculty members, we met weekly throughout our first year in order to hasten our own adjustment period by learning about different research fields, sharing opportunities for collaboration, talking about experiences from the classroom, discussing grant proposals, and providing support for each other. We believe these meetings have significantly eased our entry into academia and improved our chances for tenure, both through shared information and through the resulting collaborative papers and proposals. To encourage the formation of regular meetings between new faculty members, this paper investigates the discussion topics and results of our meetings, along with our suggestions for maximizing the usefulness of such meetings.
Beasley, R., & Goulart, A. E., & Zhan, W. (2008, June), New Faculty Meetings: Surviving The First Year Of The Tenure Track Together Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3198
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