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Heeding New Voices: Implications for Early Career Faculty. Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing (AIM) Stanford University June 17, 2004. Mary Deane Sorcinelli University of Massachusetts Amherst. Session Assumptions:.

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Heeding New Voices:

Implications for Early Career Faculty

Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing (AIM)

Stanford University

June 17, 2004

Mary Deane Sorcinelli

University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Session Assumptions:

  • Best practices for early career faculty are context and campus sensitive

  • Time constraints will limit the breath and depth of our conversations

  • Written resources for post-session reading, reflection and sharing will be provided

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Guiding Questions:

  • How is the academic workplace changing?

  • How do doctoral students and early career faculty experience the job search process and the tenure track?

  • What practices can support you as a teacher, scholar, and citizen of campus?

  • What practices might senior colleagues, chairs, and other academic leaders consider to support early career faculty?

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Turn to one person seated nearby. Introduce yourself and share one or two aspects of your academic career that are truly satisfying and one or two aspects that are the most challenging/least satisfying.

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Let’s Hear It For The “Good Old Days”

  • Earn a Ph.D. from a good place

  • Hone research skills with guidance from mentor

  • Seek and find a tenure track job

  • Engage in “on the job learning” and “one size fits all teaching”

  • If students don’t learn, presume its their fault

  • Live happily (with tenure) ever after

    • Taylor, 2003

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Academic Careers in the 21st Century

  • Most jobs in non-research universities

  • Dramatic growth in non-tenure track positions

  • Increased stresses related to tenure track

  • Heightened pressures for research and teaching productivity—what about quality?

  • For many doctoral students, training may not prepare them for workplace they will enter

  • Finkelstein, 2003

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Workplace Graduates Will Enter

  • Changing approaches to teaching/learning

  • Increasing diversity of students

  • New technologies

  • Focus on assessment/performance measures

  • Changing faculty roles

  • Institutional competitiveness, financing

  • Austin, 2003

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Doctoral Candidates:

What Factors Go Into Making Choices About Faculty Positions

and Where To Work?

What Job Factors Are Most Important?

Trower, 2000-01

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Top Factors Exercise

Directions:Working individually for the next five

minutes, please:

Check up to 10 factors that are most important to you in your academic position.

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Doctoral Students: Top 10 Job Factors in Choice of Academic Post

6. Institutional support for my research

13. Time for family or other obligation/interests

16. Quality of department

2. Number of courses and preps

12. Flexibility of my work schedule

10. Opportunity to work collaboratively

1. The content of courses I would teach

9. Opportunity to work independently

18. Geographic location of institution

17. The quality of the institution

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  • Importance of Job Factors to Post

  • Minority Students

  • In making job choices, Minority students placed significantly more importance than Caucasian students on:

    • Having institutional support for my research

    • Match between my research interests and those of others in my department

    • Opportunity to work with a leader in my field

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  • Importance of Job Factors to Post

  • Female Students

  • In making job choices, female students placed significantly more importance than male students on:

    • Flexibility of my work schedule

    • Time for family or other personal obligations

    • Employment opportunities for my spouse or partner

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  • Students in the Professions Post

  • Students in professions placed more importance than students in other fields on:

  • Institutional support for research

  • Flexibility of the work schedule

  • Attractiveness of the compensation package

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Highlights: Post

Ambivalence about Tenure

On the one hand, tenure is security, status, prestige, “the green card,” “legitimacy—the measure of worth among peers,” “a voice in one’s department,” “essential” to academic freedom.

On the other hand, tenure is “no guarantee—like the social security system,” “You won’t have a life for 6-7 years and then what?”, “Three full time jobs rolled into one and all for $40,000.”

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Highlights: PostOther Factors Loom Large

Strive for tenure, believe in tenure—but it appears that other factors are starting to play a role in the decision about where to work.

In fact, attractive combinations of other factors can actually challenge tenure-track.Work…Location…Quality of Life

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What They Say About… Post

  • Work: “More important to me than tenure or non-tenure is what I’ll actually be doing. I want an even mix, a balance of teaching and research so I’ll go where I can do that, regardless of the contract.”

  • Location: ”So much more important than any other factor is where the institution is. I have a spouse and we went where we could both find work and a place that was safe, affordable, a decent commute, and comfortable.”

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What They Say About… Post

  • Quality of Life: “When choosing between tenure track and non-tenure track, I’m looking at it as a lifestyle choice—which path will offer “greater flexibility to work on my own terms,” “more mobility,” less stress,” the chance to "fare better" and the ability to have “some semblance of a life outside of the academy.”

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21 Postst - Century Academic Careers:What Matters?

  • Tension between the existing academic culture and what young scholars want.

  • In choosing where to work, young scholars are carefully weighing their options.

  • They are looking for a balance of work that is meaningful, in a place that is a good fit, with a reasonable quality of life.

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Implications Post?

Directions: Working with one or two individuals nearby, please spend the next ten minutes responding to the following:

What matters most to you in terms of work factors/workplace? Any changes from when you were on the job market? Any implications for recruiting new faculty to your department or university?

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Vision Versus Reality Post

A key finding of the Heeding New Voices: Academic Careers For a New Generation is the troubling gap between the vision and the reality of an academic career.

Rice, Sorcinelli, and Austin, 2000; 2002.

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Vision of an Academic Career Post

  • Sense of autonomy, academic freedom

  • Opportunity for continued learning, discovery

  • Wise use of skills, abilities

  • Sense of accomplishment

  • Opportunity to impact others

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Reality of an Academic Career Post

  • Three core, consistent, interwoven concerns on the minds of early career faculty include the lack of a:

  • Comprehensible tenure/performance review

  • Sense of community

  • Balanced, integrated life

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Concerns About Tenure Post

  • Expectations for Performance

    - Clear? Consistent? Reasonable? Fair?

  • Feedback on Progress

    - Informal and formal feedback?

  • Review Structure and Process

    - Who? How? Timeframe? Standards?

  • Timeline

    - Stop clock? Short-term focus v. intellectual passion

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Concerns About Community Post

  • Department Chair

    • - Critical to mentoring, quality of feedback

  • Senior Faculty

    • - Key to “culture of collegiality,” vested in success

  • Students

    • - Satisfaction with “being valued as a teacher by students” yet “good teaching” is ill defined, poorly evaluated, undervalued and exhausting

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Concerns About Integrated Life Post

  • Balancing Professional Roles

    • - How to develop, prioritize and juggle teaching and research (even less prepared for advising, grant writing, institutional service, administrative duties)

  • Balancing Professional and Personal Life

    • - How to carve out personal, family and leisure time (spouse/partner’s career, young children, commuting relationships) and find support (childcare, affordable housing, family leave, community)

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In Summary… Post

Seeking a connection between

Expectations, Hopes,

Vision, Passion



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The Challenge Ahead… Post

  • We need to:

    • Improve academic life as we now know it.

    • Envision the academic world we might yet construct.

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  • What Can We Do PostNow?

  • Principles of Good Practice: Supporting Early-Career Faculty

    • Communicating expectations

    • Giving feedback on progress

    • Improving review processes

    • Encouraging mentoring and advising

    • Department chair as “career sponsor”

    • Supporting scholarship and teaching

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What Can We Do PostNow?


Choose a topic of most interest to you. In your small group, come up with one or two creative strategies that you’ve found helpful in each of the following areas:

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What Can We Do PostNow?

  • Teaching

  • Research

  • Service

  • Tenure process

  • Relations with colleagues

  • Personal life

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Improving Performance Review Post

  • Mid-term Assessment Process

    - Feedback from students while course in progress

  • Annual Review

    - Record of scholarly activities in teaching, research, service and meet with chair (and PC) each year

  • Mini-Tenure Review (4.2)

    -Take letters from chair, PC, and college PC seriously

  • Annual Promotion & Tenure Seminar

    -Chair, dean, provost, newly tenured faculty member discuss what counts, the case, the process at each level

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Enhancing Community Post

  • New Faculty Orientation/Listserv

  • Lilly Teaching Fellowship

    • Year-long Seminar on College Teaching

    • Mentors/Distinguished Teachers/Teaching Consultant

    • Teaching Project/Portfolio

  • Faculty as Writers Support Group

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Fostering Balance Post

  • Time Management

    • Fewer preps/courses in year one

    • Lilly Teaching Fellowship (two course release)

    • Seminars/print resources (e.g., Rick Reis)

  • Flexible Benefits

    -Parental leave, flexible time to tenure, child care

  • Academic Career Network

    -Database of academic jobs for dual-career couples

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Envisioning the Future Post

  • What will be meaningful academic work/career?

  • How will we recruit/socialize new faculty to it?

  • How will we develop and assess it?

  • What will we need from each other to help anticipate and shape the future academic workplace?