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The Preparing Future Faculty Program (PFF). A summary of its national evaluation conducted by West Ed, by Myles Boylan. Outline of Discussion. What is PFF? Is it unique? The case for -- & potential impact of PFF Its funding history

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the preparing future faculty program pff

The Preparing Future Faculty Program (PFF)

A summary of its national evaluation conducted by West Ed, by Myles Boylan

outline of discussion
Outline of Discussion
  • What is PFF?
  • Is it unique?
  • The case for -- & potential impact of PFF
  • Its funding history
  • Its impact - basic data about number of various participants
  • Its impact – as measured by survey data from 4 categories of respondents (graduate faculty, graduate students, partner institution faculty, graduate deans)
  • Synthesis and final observations
pff defined
PFF Defined
  • Overarching PFF goals are to acculturate doctoral students to a broader range of faculty careers & better prepare them for teaching and service. [largely successful]
  • A secondary PFF objective is to capture the interest of more graduate faculty in engaging issues of teaching effectiveness, scholarship, and student learning. [largely unsuccessful]
pff defined 2
PFF Defined (2)
  • A standard PFF organizational “unit” = 1 doctoral univ. + 2-17 institutional partners more dedicated to undergraduate teaching.
  • AAC&U, CGS, and in 11 disciplinary societies coordinate these units.
  • A local PFF director and select faculty & administrators provide services to participating graduate students.
  • Unit disciplines range from 1 to many.
pff defined activities
PFF Defined – Activities:
  • Seminars on faculty careers effective teaching
  • Mentoring graduate students for teaching & service
  • Visits/ internships at “partner” institutions
  • Career guidance & job search assistance


  • Student participation -selective in some units
  • - typically voluntary (rarely widespread)
  • Certificates are awarded by some units
pff intersects other activities and initiatives
PFF intersects other activities and initiatives
  • PFF inspired by efforts to improve TAs
  • Many PFF units located in T&L Centers
  • But PFF is more than TA training; It seeks to acculturate students to a broader view.

- It also covers advising, mentoring, & service

  • PFF is served by Re-envisioning the Ph.D. and overlaps with
    • The Responsive Ph.D.
    • The Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate

(ASU, Howard, Duke, IU, & CO are in all 3)

the case for broadening grad ed pff
The Case for Broadening Grad Ed (PFF)
  • NAGPS survey (32K responses) found students want broad curricula for more career choice & good information about careers.
  • Many in graduate faculty unfamiliar with faculty life in other types of institutions.
  • “Culture” dominated by research focus
  • Excess inventory of research postdocs with few & fading teaching and service skills
pff funding history
PFF Funding History
  • Began in 1994 with a Pew grant tto AAC&U & CGS (about 50% given to 17 universities)
  • Pew provided Phase 2 funds in 1996 to 15 universities (10 also supported in Phase 1)
  • NSF grant in 1999 thru AAC&U & CGS to 5 disciplinary associations to 19 departments
  • APS grant in 2000 through 6 new disciplinary associations to 25 departments
  • Total of $7.8 million awarded; $2.8m to depts.
pff impact numbers supported
PFF Impact – Numbers Supported
  • 44 unique doctoral universities (28% of recent Ph.D.s, but many fields are not in PFF)
  • Other PFF institutions have started w/o external funding
  • 339 unique cluster institutions
  • 11 disciplinary societies in Phases 3 & 4
  • ~ 4,000 students have participated fully
  • Only a fraction of eligible students have chosen to be in PFF

According to 175 Grad Faculty Respondents, PFF developed better skills:

% of PFF Participants (vs. Non-PFF Peers) Once New Faculty

Five Point Scale (5 = High, 3 = Moderate, 1 = Low)

  • 88% of Graduate faculty say PFF has improved quality.
  • 67% believe it has improved faculty mentoring.
  • 63% believe it has changed the culture in their dept.
  • 48% believe it has changed the culture in their institution.
  • - (no difference: single discipline vs. hybrid PFF units)
incentives for graduate faculty participation
Incentives for graduate faculty participation
  • PFF grants disallowed direct salary support, but
    • 73% of the faculty indicated that their efforts on behalf of PFF are “valued and rewarded.”
    • More detailed evidence from discussions and case studies indicate that faculty were not financially rewarded.
    • Further, PFF work typically counts as service, not scholarship.
  • PFF graduate faculty relatively scarce in most units (e.g. 4 respondents per unit)

How important were PFF activities to 963 responding PFF graduate students?

* On career options, faculty roles, differences in institution

types, and job search.

** Through teaching experience & guidance, and by

developing broader credentials.

opinions of pff graduate students
Opinions of PFF graduate students
  • Most Valued Specific Activities
    • experienced gained teaching courses (80%+)
    • teaching mentoring (67%)
    • projects at partner instns // courses & seminars
      • 71% // 67% of current PFF grad students
      • 67% // 61% of those now in faculty jobs
      • 60% // 61% of others now employed
  • Least Valued Activities
    • informal meetings [50% of academics; 40% if out]
    • Interactions with graduate students from other departments [48% of students, 41% of employed]
perspectives of pff graduate students
Perspectives of PFF graduate students
  • Did PFF help get your post-PhD. Job?
    • Yes = 63% of new ten-track faculty (N = 195)
    • Yes = 42% of new non-TT faculty (N = 113)
    • Yes = 21% of those in non-faculty jobs (N = 140)
  • Recommend to peers?
    • 73% said “yes” unconditionally
    • 25% said “yes” only for students planning academic careers
  • PFF had larger effect on completion (12%) than on increasing time-to-degree (only 9%)
31 responding grad deans on pff impact
31 responding grad deans on PFF Impact
  • 75% thought Phases 1 and 2 had changed graduate education - mostly “moderately.”
  • 50% thought Phases 3 and 4 had changed graduate education.

-- 30% thought Phase 4 had a dramatic impact.

  • They think that their graduate faculty are:
    • “very interested” in changing grad ed (only 9%)
    • only “somewhat interested” in changing (69%)
    • “not interested” in changing (16%)
synthesis and conclusions
Synthesis and Conclusions
  • PFF has been surprisingly successful (given funding) for graduate students on faculty career paths [students, faculty, and deans].
  • It has been moderately successful in changing culture of graduate education in participating departments and universities [faculty & deans].
  • It has not been able to achieve participation by a critical mass of faculty [deans, data], even though initial resistance to it has faded.
  • It has been partly institutionalized in many of the 44 universities and completely so in a few [case studies, survey responses].
synthesis and conclusions 2
Synthesis and Conclusions (2)
  • Inter-departmental PFF activities tend to be less valued by students than those focused in their discipline.
  • Inter-institutional activities are very useful.
  • Seminars and courses are very useful.
  • Specific teaching focus is prized by most.
  • Hybrid PFF model embracing depts. & the graduate dean is most effective & most likely to become institutionalized.