June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Educational Research and Methods
11.1018.1 - 11.1018.14
PREPARING NEW FACULTY MEMBERS TO BE SUCCESSFUL: A NO-BRAINER AND YET A RADICAL CONCEPT
A multifaceted program at North Carolina State University involving workshops and mentorships helps prepare new faculty members and graduate students for successful academic careers. This paper describes the elements of the program, reviews assessment data for each element, and offers recommendations to engineering schools wishing to establish their own programs for new and future faculty members.
The default preparation for a faculty career is none at all. Graduate students may get some training on tutoring, grading papers, the importance of laboratory safety, and the undesirability of sexual harassment, and new faculty members may hear about their benefit options, the importance of laboratory safety, and the undesirability of sexual harassment, but that’s about it for academic career preparation at most universities.
This is an unhealthy state of affairs. Being a college professor requires doing a number of things that graduate school does not teach you to do, including designing and starting up a research program and getting it funded, attracting and managing graduate students, finding and working with appropriate faculty or industrial collaborators, planning courses and delivering them effectively, writing assignments and tests that are both rigorous and fair, dealing with classroom management problems and cheating and students with a bewildering assortment of academic and personal problems, doing what it takes to learn about and integrate into the campus culture, and finding the time to do all that and still have a life.
Figuring out how to do all these things is not trivial. Robert Boice studied the career development of new faculty m embers and found that most of them take between four and five years to bring their research productivity and teaching effectiveness to a level that meets or exceeds the standards of their institutions.1 Boice also observed, however, that roughly 5% of his subjects managed to meet or exceed expectations for both research and teaching within their first two years. These quick starters did several things differently from their colleagues, including scheduling regular time for working on scholarly writing and sticking with the schedule, integrating their research into their lectures, trying to cover less content in their courses and leaving more time for student questions and interactions, and limiting course preparation time after the first offering to less than two hours of prep for each hour of lecture. The quick starters also networked with colleagues at least four hours a week, forming connections that helped them with both teaching and research and eased their transition into the local faculty culture.
Universities invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in each new faculty member they hire. A 4–5 year learning curve is long and costly, and the costs continue to mount for those faculty members who never manage to master the different parts of the job. Moreover, faculty
Brent, R., & Felder, R., & Rajala, S. (2006, June), Preparing New Faculty Members To Be Successful: A No Brainer And Yet A Radical Concept Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/358
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