Professing Education

 

Induction Program for New Education Professors

Ruth McQuirter Scott

Brock University

The process of becoming a professor is complicated, and untenured professors tend to experience significant tensions in their professional lives (Badali, 2004). The primary areas of stress relate to juggling work load and time constraints as well as meeting increasingly high expectations for scholarly output. As seasoned professors retire in larger numbers and are replaced by new hires, these tensions will need to be addressed by universities.

The pre-service department in our faculty of education hired seven new tenure-track faculty members at the beginning of the 2005-2006 academic year. I was asked to develop an induction program that would ease the adjustment of these young professors to our mid-size, comprehensive university. Early in the fall, I met individually with each new hire to determine specific areas of interests and needs. Based on these findings, I invited staff and faculty from various departments to make presentations during an intensive day-long program. Topics included the following: developing a research agenda; sources of research funding; expectations for tenure and promotion; annual performance reports; committee functions and other service opportunities. Each new hire was also given a copy of Advice for New Faculty Members (Boice, 2000).

In November, both new and experienced faculty members were invited to a workshop where common research interests were shared and potential collaborative projects explored. The Dean of the Faculty of Education subsequently provided funding for groups of faculty that wished to investigate a specific topic or issue.

Throughout the year I worked closely with the Centre for Teaching and Learning and Educational Technology. The director of the centre presented a workshop on developing teaching dossiers, and shared her experiences of mentoring faculty for tenure and promotion. A three-part series on conducting literature searches and reviews was provided by a research officer in the faculty of education.

The seven new hires will continue their induction program in year two, and will be joined by five new tenure-stream faculty members hired for the coming year. A further level of mentoring will be added for these new hires. Each person will be matched with a colleague teaching in his or her subject area. The mentors will provide advice and support in dealing with specific matters related to teaching, student-supervision, and the day-to-day functions of the department.

The experience of working with new faculty has been both gratifying and rejuvenating. It has helped me to reflect on the departmental and university culture and to see the institution through new eyes.

Badali (2004) calls for more targeted mentorship and orientation programs for new faculty. We hope that by committing time and institutional resources to our cadre of young professors, our faculty of education will be strengthened, and the careers of these individuals will be enriched.

 

References

Badali, S. (2004). Exploring tensions in the lives of professors of teacher education: A Canadian context. Journal of Teaching and Learning, 3(1), 1-15.

Boice, R. (200). Advice for new faculty members. New York: Allyn & Bacon.