« PreviousContinue »
AAC Project on Faculty
Director, AAC Project on
Faculty Development Faculty development has been a topic of great interest in the 1970s. With stable faculties and concem for quality, many colleges and universities have begun formal programs for enhancing the personal and professional development of faculty. As these projects have matured, the time has come to ask questions about impact and effectiveness.
With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Association of American Colleges has initiated such an evaluation, the AAC Project on Faculty Development. William C. Nelsen, Director, and Michael Siegel, Assistant Director, have taken a serious look at twenty faculty development programs around the country. With sixteen consultants, they interviewed faculty and administrators on these campuses. This issue of Forum is a summary of their findings. Dean Nelsen's essay provides an overview of the results of the project, followed by capsule descriptions of specific campus activities rated by interviewers as especially helpful and effective. In each category, additional programs are also listed. The extensive annotated bibliography was prepared by Michael Siegel. The findings of this project should be helpful to all colleges and universities, public and private, concerned aboul continuing growth of faculty.
Faculty Development: Key Issues for Effectiveness
by William C. Nelsen During the past decade a great deal of effort and money have gone into the development and renewal of college and university faculty. Spurred on by the perception that faculty in most collegiate institutions were becoming increasingly stable or locked in, many institutions created new programs of faculty development, often with major support from foundations and the federal government.
Of course, most colleges and universities have always provided some support for faculty development, usually in the form of the more traditional sabbatical program, assistance for travel to professional meetings, and special leave arrangements. But in recent years a variety of new approaches has been attempted, designed to stimulate renewal of the faculty member in all aspects of his or her professional life-as teacher, scholar, adviser to students and contributor to campus life. With internal or external budget support, institutions have provided released time and summer study for research or course development, workshops and institutes focusing on new (and old) approaches to teaching, long-range faculty growth planning, centers for instructional development, internships in agencies beyond the academy, interdisciplinary symposia, new forms of student and peer evaluation, and a variety of other opportunities.
But have any or all of these approaches done any good? Have they made any noticeable difference in the lives of individual faculty? Have institutional programs improved as a result? Which approaches have been the most successtul? Attempting to answer these questions is the major purpose of the AAC Project on Faculty Development.
Association of American Colleges
1818 R Street, NW. Washington, D.C. 20009
63-392 0 - 80 - 40
FACULTY DEVELOPMENT: PROGRAM CONTENT
What do we mean by faculty development? The term here refers to all those activities designed to improve the performance of faculty as teachers, scholars, advisers, and contributors to campus academic life. After reviewing the relevant literature and pilot testing our research design, we decided to divide faculty development activities into four major categories:
professional development-scholarship, im-
designed to facilitate faculty renewal. How successful were colleges at carrying out programs in these four areas? The chart below shows that, according to the interviewers' preceptions following extensive campus visits, colleges were most successful in developing and implementing programs in professional growth, moderately successful in the area of curriculum change, and usually much less successful in instructional development and organizational change.
No. of Colleges
19 15 (79%) 4 (21%) Instructional
Development 13 2 (15%) 6 (46%) 5 (38%) Curricular Change
6 (40%) 5 (33%) 4 (26%) Organizational Change 6
2 (33%) 4 (67%)
port not only assisted scholarly development but also provided an important morale booster for many faculty.
Equally successful were professional growth programs in which faculty worked together in groups for scholarly purposes, studying a growing field of knowledge, tackling a problem in an interdisciplinary manner, and learning from colleagues more about the valuable perspectives of other disciplines. Such group experiences not only assisted individual scholarly development, but, in the view of many faculty also helped to enhance the general scholarly climate of the campus.
Instructional Development. Programs aimed at the improvement of teaching were often less successful. Why was this so?
Dealing directly with the subject matter of teaching has always been a very sensitive issue for college faculty. As one faculty member remarked during an interview, "Faculty are reluctant to think they can be told something about teaching." Others believe that good teachers are born not made or that teaching is so much a function of individual personality that little change can be accomplished. Does this mean that programs cannot be devised to assist faculty in their classroom teaching? Not at all, because a number of very useful programs were observed. Both interviewers and faculty pinpointed several important differences between successful and unsuccessful programs.
Many workshops or seminars on the improvement of teaching were much too general and amorphous. On the other hand, those which dealt with specitic topics and the improvement of specific skills-leading discussions, using the computer in teaching, important considerations for the first day of a class, grading problems, use of media-were seen by faculty as more helpful. While some faculty may never bring themselves to participate in such activities, others have felt that they have been able to take with them specific new skills or ideas useful in their teaching.
Many approaches to the improvement of teaching have faltered because they were seen by faculty as too clinical in nature. Programs were run for those who needed improvement rather than by faculty and for faculty who wished to learn together by sharing teaching problems and new ideas. Other programs suffered from an overuse of educational jargon, a tendency to which those in education departments, often called upon to assist in teaching improvement worshops, need to be very sensitive. In fact must faculiy. while aware of the expertise of education department personnel, seem to prefer to have the leadership for such pro grams come from other departments.
Finally, teaching improvement programs often suffered from too much concentration on teaching and not enough on learning. The works of Perry, Heath, Astin, Chickering and others have taught us a great deal in recent years about differences among students in learning needs, styles, abil. ities, and propensities. Yet most faculty are unaware of these rich resources. Many faculty involved in workshops and seminars focusing on the improvement of learning found the experience less threatening than ones stressing pedagogy. At the same time they began to realize the implications for their own teaching styles and practices.
Thus, successful teaching improvement programs, while difficult to bring about, are not impossible. What is required is careful forethought, a good specific focus, and sensitive leadership.
Some general observations about these four aspects of faculty renewal may be beneficial.
Professional Growth. All but one of the twenty colleges surveyd had spectic new programas designed to enhance the professional growth of faculty. As the chart above demonstrates, most of these programs were relatively effective. This fact is not surprising. The most common approach to professional growth was' a series of individual grants to faculty to pursue scholarly activities via summer study, released time, short-term travel to research centers, or longer-term special leaves. In most cases these funds allow-d faculty to pursue individual research projects in which they were interested, to tackle new or related subject areas and to bring themselves up-to-date in their own fields.
For certain faculty such special opportunities are not new, especially for those few able to obtain nationallyrecognized grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Research Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and other sources. But the expansion of small on-campus grants has meant that many faculty have received special recogniton and funds for the first time in their academic lives. This sup
thought that current evaluation systems were too inflexible and not reflective of their work, To be sure some selfindulgence and defensiveness were present in these faculty viewpoints, but the deeper problem still exists. An evaluation system that is not well-regarded will not be helpful in encouraging development and renewal. Moreover, many campuses did not seem to be examining carefully the relationship between faculty evaluation and faculty development. A good evaluation system which is fair, flexible, and respected can provide very helpful information for both individual and collective faculty development.
Taking a hard look at campus organizational matters, including reward structures, committee alignments, and evaluations systems, ought to be a vital part of any college's attempting to build a supportive climate for continuing faculty development.
Curriculum change. The interviewers discovered that faculty development programs which direct the energies of faculty toward preparation for curriculum changes can be relatively successful-in renewing both what is being taught and who is teaching. Faculty often benefited greatly from programs which encouraged them to revise significantly current course, prepare to teach entirely new subject matter, or to work with colleagues in "repackaging" a department's curriculum or preparing a new interdisciplinary approach. A focus on curriculum change seemed to be most successful where the goals were clear and the right people had been selected to pursue them.
This approach seemed to lose effectiveness when curriculum itself loomed too large or when it replaced other important considerati ns for effective teaching and learning. For example, interviewers encountered several faculty who were very excited abut teaching in a new interdisciplinary area where their studies had led them. Yet these same faculty were often prevented from teaching the new subject because their own departments were concerned that they would not be able to cover all of the essential areas of the discipline. In addition, related departments feared their territory was being encroached upon. On the more positive side, the interviewers found departments that rotated courses regularly to ensure that faculty had an opportunity to teach in areas of strong and new interest.
Curriculum change can be an effective means of faculty development, especially when goals are clear, faculty are well prepared for new assignments, and individual desires have a chance for expression.
Organizational change. Readily apparent in the above chart is the small number of institutions who gave any attention to organizational change as a means of encour. aging faculty development. Only six of the colleges surveyed had instituted some specific organizational adjustment designed to enhance faculty renewal on campus and most of these adjustments were relatively minor in scope.
Yet in the long run, organizational changes in the reward structure, the committee system, or personnel management could have more impact than any other approach to faculty development. Many faculty we interviewed pointed to the reward structure on their campuses as unclear. To what extent are sincere etforts at improving teaching as well as scholarly publications rewarded-jor even noticed? Signs and signals from administrators, department chairpersons and even colleagues are usually taken seriously by faculty, but where these signs and signals are confusing, any positive impact is lost.
Likewise structural changes in the faculty committee syster need to be given more attention in relation to faculty development. Having a group of respected faculty overseeing faculty evaluation and development from a promi·nent place in the campus governance structure is an impor
tant factor in building a positive attitude toward renewal on campus. Also, time for scholarly and teaching activities can be increased by reducing excessive and unnecessary committee involvement and by reorganizing secretarial, library, media and other support systems.
On virtually every campus we heard frequent complaints from faculty concerning the evaluation system. Most facul. ty urderstand the importance of, and indeed the necessity susirindystem of civartant pere evaluation, but most
FACULTY DEVELOPMENT: PROCESS In the AAC Project we have looked carefully, not only at the content of faculty development programs, but at process--how were programs designed and implemented. As one administrator remarked, "Innovations are not accepted on their merits." The interviewers discovered quickly that how a college carried out its faculty renewal program was equally as important, perhaps more important, than what it proposed to do. The following issues proved to be especially important in the process of campus faculty development programs. Clarity of purpose. Interviewers noted that in several instances colleges failed to sort out their needs and purposes. Was there a real need to improve the scholarly climate of the campus or was there a need to look at alternative approaches to instruction, or both? To what extent should faculty development be controlled by curricular considerations? At whom were the various aspects of the program aimed? Failure to make the objectives clear often resulted in lost time and poor placement of resources.
Careful planning. In most cases where planning was brief and involved only a small handful of individuals, the faculty development program suffered. At one of two campuses where the traditon of faculty involvement in decision-making was not strong. it appeared to be acceptable for a few administrators to carry out the planning. But at most colleyes, failure to involve a significant number of faculty in the planning process led to problems. Meaningful faculty involvement in planning often creates a feeling of ownership of and long-term commitment to the faculty development program,
On-campus communication. The interviewers found that lack of good communication (quite surprisingly, even on relatively small campuses) had a strong negative impact on a program. In many cases, program availability was clearly communicated, although on one campus a faculty member remarked to an interviewer, "Oh, do we have such a program?" Often, however, there was a real lack of information concerning the continuing involvement of faculty colleagues in the program. Where both opportunities for scholarly and teaching assistance and results of activities were reported frequently, faculty were stimulated more often to consider their own development needs. Where communication was poor this bandwagon effect was lost.
Program and personnel management. Not surprising to interviswers wɔs the abseruation that the quality of pin gram and personnel management made an important difference in faculty development. Were leadership responsibilities clear? Were key administrators supportive of the program? Did they assume leadership where necessary, but become less directly involved where it was important for faculty leadership to emerge? Which faculty were given leadership roles? It is obviously crucial that program leaders are those faculty who are generally respected by their colleagues and are thoroughly supportive of the program.
Good personnel management has never been a great strength of the academy. We found many instances where faculty had not been given feedback on their evaluations, where they had been given no personal encouragement for further development, and where their talents had been improperly channeled. Presidents and deans are very important in giving leadership to and support for faculty development, but department and division chairpersons play equally important roles. However, most department heads are simply not trained in or attuned to good personnel practices. Some learn this new role quickly while others serve out their term primarily as general organizers and FTE counters. Fortunately, some campuses are beginning to realize the importance of the department chairperson role and are
eloping programs to prepare and assist them in personnel matters. Other campuses are taking advantage of regional department chairperson workshops organized by A C and others.
Faculty knowledge of faculty development. During the campus visits, interviewers became increasingly aware of the lack of knowledge by faculty and some administrators of the various possible approaches to faculty development. This deficiency often means that faculty renewal is defined within a very narrow perspective; it also results in too much unproductive reinventing the wheel, with project leaders failing to learn from the successes and mistakes of others. Thus, for many campuses an important first step in starting or extending a faculty development program is to educate faculty as to the great variety of approaches to assist in their own renewal. This type of educational program may help faculty in both defining
ds and extending their vision of possible projects and programs.
Program rualuation. "We are thinking of doing some evaluation at the end of the faculty development grant period." This was often the response to interviewers' queries about systematic evaluation of the campus program. Lack of serious evaluation; of the college's faculty development program in certain cases allowed the continuation of unproductive adivities. The visit by the outside interviewers and the feedback given to the colleges was, in several instances, the first serious, comprehensive evaluation produced. Yet it was clear that several campuses could have profited from midCourse corrections. Faculty development, precisely because it is a difficult and sensitive area in which to work, deserves periodic evaluation, and colleges that take time for this important matter will profit greatly.
Individual and group activity. In the long run, faculty development is a highly individualized matter, encouraging the intellectual and personal growth of individual faculty members. Thus it is not surprising that the most frequently used approaches to faculty development have been individually oriented: sabbatical leaves, professional travel,
released time, individual small grants. At the same time, it, is important to balance these individual approaches with group activity. Too much stress on individual activity tends further to alienate faculty from one another in settings in which departmentalization is already the order of the day. Some colleges have recognized that such corporale development activities as faculty learning and sharing in seminars and workshops, are not only effective and efficient ways of learning, but mechanisms with important side benefits as well. Faculty who had engaged in significant group projects often spoke of ways in which they had learned to know their colleagues better had gained new respect for them, and had come to view themselves as a part of a larger body of faculty-all with important contributions to make to learning and teaching. Moreover, group oriented programs often reach a larger number of persons with a relatively small investment of funds. Also, sometimes faculty were pulled into group development activities who might have felt reluctant to apply for individual grants. Campuses would do well to examine carefully spending some of their faculty development funds for corporate activities.
Variety and flexibility in faculty development Just like students, faculty members differ in their interests and needs. Yet, this fact is often overlooked in designing programs for faculty renewal. Not all faculty will respond equally well to a single approach to development. Some faculty will respond aggressively to new opportunities for research and study while others will not. Some faculty will never take part in a discussion concerning new approaches to teaching; others will profit greatly from such an or change. For many faculty, an individual grant is a great stimulus; for others, a group approach to development is more effective. In sum, those campuses that organized a multifaceted, flexible approach seemed to reach more lacul ty and to do so with more lasting effect.
These conclusions from the AAC Project on Faculty Development will provide no simple magic formulas. Yet, the above issues came sharply to the fore throughout interviews across twenty campuses and should provide useful reference points for those colleges beginning. continuing. or extending the increasingly important task of faculty renewal.
(Portions of this article are adapted from presentations made at two national conferences: the Gordon College Conference on Faculty Growth Contracts, June, 1979, and the Lilly Endowment Faculty Development Conference, June, 1979.)
Mr. PEASE. Thank you very much, Dr. Nelsen. I think we will proceed with Dr. Powell's testimony and then we will ask questions of both of you.
STATEMENT OF JAMES L. POWELL, VICE PRESIDENT AND PROVOST,
OBERLIN COLLEGE, OBERLIN, OHIO
Dr. POWELL. Thank you, Mr. Pease.
I represent 16 independent colleges and universities whose exact description is given on the first page of my written statement.
I would like to have that statement entered into the record, if I may, and instead of trying to cover it all, I will restrict my remarks to parts of it, particularly parts dealing with science faculty improvement that Chairman Brown asked about.
Mr. PEASE. Without objection, all of the statements will be entered into the record.
Dr. POWELL. I would like to begin particularly with page 5 of my written testimony under the heading of faculty improvement.
Science advances inexorably whether or not teachers and students keep up with it. Studies of the use of scientific journals show a great decline in use for those that are more than 6 or 7 years old. The halflife of most scientific information thus is very short. Just as scientific apparatus and libraries become obsolescent over time, so will scientific minds—without a great deal of effort. Speaking as a scientist myself, I can testify that keeping current has never been easy. The effort has been greatly aided by the sabbatical leave programs that most colleges maintain, programs that are well-complemented by the Foundation's science faculty professional development program, which I will henceforth refer to as the SFPD.
The economic conditions that we saw developed in the 1970's and those that are already with us in the 1980's, however, will make it more difficult for faculty to maintain currency.
Scientific knowledge and publications have expanded in an unprecedented rate. The financially pressed institutions themselves had to increase their teaching loads and in some cases they have been forced reluctantly to reduce or eliminate their sabbatical leave programs.
It seems to me the need for the Foundation to come to the assistance of science faculty across the country has never been greater than it is now and will continue to be in this decade.
Last, however, the NSF budget, as submitted, included no funds for the SFPD. This subcommittee wisely directed the restoration of those funds, an act for which the faculty at my colleges are very grateful.
Since then the Foundation has commissioned two studies of college faculty oriented programs, one by Dr. William Bergquist and the other by Dr. Edward J. Kormondy, Mr. Pease, you were quoting from those and pointing them out this morning.
I have read both reports and a draft of the Foundation analysis drawn from them. I found it rather difficult to understand exactly how the Foundation staff viewed the conclusions it did from the Bergquist and Kormondy studies, particularly that highest priority should be given to the intensive mode and lowest priority to the time