ERIC Identifier: ED368321
Publication Date: 1994-04-00
Author: Tierney, William G. - Rhoads, Robert A.
Association for the Study of Higher Education.| ERIC
Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.| George Washington
Univ. Washington DC. School of Education and Human Development.
Enhancing Promotion, Tenure and Beyond: Faculty Socialization
as a Cultural Process. ERIC Digest.
Over the last two decades, higher education has come under attack. At the
center of much of the criticism lies the United States professoriate. Some
critics believe that faculty emphasize research at the expense of quality
teaching. Others believe that faculty fail to adequately address today's diverse
student body. In either case, understanding the many roles faculty play in the
formal and informal life of college and university settings is critical if we
are to improve our academic organizations.
The multiple roles faculty adopt reflect their learning experiences--their
socialization. Hence, understanding faculty socialization is imperative if we
are to change our academic settings.
HOW IS FACULTY SOCIALIZATION CONCEPTUALIZED?
beliefs, and attitudes held by faculty reflect their socialization experiences
and, in essence, mirror faculty culture. In examining faculty socialization
through faculty culture, we adopt Geertz's view of culture where culture shapes
and is shaped by social interaction (1973). To understand faculty
socialization--how faculty learn to be faculty--we first must come to terms with
the cultural forces which shape faculty life: the national culture, the culture
of the profession, the disciplinary culture, the institutional culture, and
individual cultural differences (Clark 1987).
Faculty socialization takes place in two general stages. The anticipatory
stage includes undergraduate and especially graduate learning experiences.
During graduate school, prospective faculty are intimately exposed to the norms
of the professoriate. At the conclusion of the graduate experience, prospective
faculty have a solid understanding of what faculty life is like.
As graduate students leave their student status behind and are hired as new
faculty, they enter the second stage of faculty socialization--the
organizational stage. During this stage, faculty novices face a number of
organizational challenges through which they often muddle by trial and error
(Van Maanen and Schein 1979). For many new faculty, the first two years are
characterized by loneliness and intellectual isolation, lack of collegial
support, and heavy work loads and time constraints (Boice 1992).
While significant numbers of new faculty leave academe, many find ways of
coping with the stress of academic life and move from their novice status to
more senior roles. Central to faculty advancement is the promotion and tenure
process. From a cultural perspective, promotion and tenure practices serve as
rites of passage to higher organizational status.
Although the early years of faculty life may be the most challenging,
experienced faculty also face organizational obstacles which require ongoing
learning. In this light, faculty socialization must be seen as a continuous
process where even the most senior faculty must learn and relearn their roles
within academic institutions.
In addition to being ongoing, socialization is bidirectional. Not only do
people adapt to organizations, but organizations continually must adapt to their
members. Viewing faculty socialization as bidirectional is crucial in creating
diverse academic communities. While professors change to meet the demands of
their academic institutions, colleges and universities must modify their
structures to meet the needs of their diverse members. This means promotion and
tenure rituals, as well as faculty development programs, must be continually
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS?
Organizational culture is
complex, and individuals who are new to an organization will interpret that
culture in different ways. Messages get confused and misinterpreted. Our
contention is that the organizational messages related to succeeding as a
faculty member--achieving tenure, for example--need to be clearly spelled out so
that all organizational members have similar information from which to make
decisions. In other words, faculty socialization should take place within the
parameters of clearly articulated organizational goals and objectives.
The issues raised throughout this report relate to culture and commitment:
What are the values to which academic organizations aspire? How do they
communicate those values to organizational members? How do organizations affirm
those values through various organizational structures? Our argument throughout
this monograph is that coming to terms with faculty socialization holds answers
to the preceding questions.
Boice, R. 1992. The New Faculty Member. San
Boyer, E.L. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate.
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Fink, L.D. 1984. The First Year of College Teaching. New Directions for
Teaching and Learning No. 17. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Jarvis, D.K. 1991. Junior Faculty Development: A Handbook. New York: The
Modern Language Association of America.
Schuster, J.H., and D.W. Wheeler, eds. 1990. Enhancing Faculty Careers:
Strategies for Development and Renewal. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sorcinelli, M.D., and A.E. Austin. 1992. Developing New and Junior Faculty.
New Directions for Teaching and Learning No. 50. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Weimer, M. 1990. Improving College Teaching: Strategies for Developing
Instructional Effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
This ERIC digest is based on a full-length report in the ASHE-ERIC Higher
Education Report series, prepared by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education
in cooperation with the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and
published by the School of Education at the George Washington University.