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Preparing New Faculty Members To Be Successful: A No Brainer And Yet A Radical Concept

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Faculty Development

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1018.1 - 11.1018.14



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Paper Authors


Rebecca Brent Education Designs Inc.

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REBECCA BRENT, Ed.D. ( is President of Education Designs, Inc., a consulting firm in Cary, North Carolina. Her interests include faculty development in the sciences and engineering, support programs for new faculty members, preparation of alternative licensure teachers, and applications of technology in the K-12 classroom. She was formerly an associate professor of education at East Carolina University. She is co-director of the ASEE National Effective Teaching Institute.

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Richard Felder North Carolina State University

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RICHARD M. FELDER, Ph.D. (, ) is Hoechst Celanese Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. He is co-author of Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes (3rd Ed., Wiley, 2005), author or co-author of over 200 papers on engineering education and chemical process engineering, a Fellow Member of the ASEE, and co-director of the ASEE National Effective Teaching Institute.

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Sarah Rajala North Carolina State University

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SARAH A. RAJALA ( is Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs of the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at N.C. State University. Her research interests include engineering education, the analysis and processing of images and image sequences. She is ASEE PIC IV Chair and Past Chair of the ASEE Women in Engineering Division.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



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.

I. Introduction

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. 10.18260/1-2--358

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015