Post Tenure Faculty Development: Building a System
of Faculty Improvement and Appreciation. ERIC Digest.
by Alstete, Jeffrey
Despite the continuing changes in higher education and an increasing
number of alternatives to tenure today, tenured faculty are the largest
cohort of faculty in colleges and universities. The U. S. Department of
Education, in a national study of postsecondary faculty (National Center,
1993), found that 92.8% of all institutional types award tenure and that
51.3% of all faculty were tenured or on a tenure track. The uncapping of
the mandatory retirement age, the still widespread awarding of tenure,
and the prolonged life span of the professoriat have all combined to increase
the number of tenured faculty. This situation is of concern as a variety
of external forces affect higher education, including increased use of
information technology, globalization of the curriculum, decreasing government
support, changing accreditation requirements, continued diversification
in student demographics, and negative public perceptions about the tenure
system. What will happen as these external influences affect changes in
the institutional missions and how the outcomes from higher education are
evaluated? The answer could be a negative confrontation as a result of
the increasing age and knowledge gap, or a positive learning experience
for both generations. Posttenure faculty development is one way to address
WHAT IS FACULTY DEVELOPMENT TODAY?
Several definitions of faculty development are found in the literature.
"Faculty development" is a phrase that has both a broad and a narrow definition.
Broadly, it covers a wide range of activities that have as their overall
goal the improvement of student learning. More narrowly, the phrase is
aimed at helping faculty members improve their competence as teachers and
scholars (Eble & McKeachie, 1985).
Faculty development programs vary in their purpose, but they are commonly
designed to enhance personal and professional development, instructional
development, and/or organizational development. Professional development
involves promoting faculty growth and enabling faculty members to obtain
and enhance job-related skills, knowledge, and awareness. Instructional
development involves the preparation of learning materials, styles of instruction,
and updating courses. Organizational development focuses on creating an
effective institutional atmosphere in which faculty and faculty development
personnel can implement new practices for teaching and learning (Gaff,
1975). Personal development efforts involve a more holistic approach to
help faculty members enhance interpersonal skills, promote wellness, and
assist with career planning (Graf, Albright, & Wheeler, 1992). Curriculum
development is another component that overlaps with each of the preceding
areas; it involves the development of additional scholarly and teaching
competencies, creation of new instructional materials, and the development
of new communication and organizational patterns (Bergquist & Phillips,
1975; Eble & McKeachie, 1985). Based on these definitions, posttenure
faculty development involves those activities that seek to improve student
learning, teaching, scholarship, and service in higher education by developing
personal, instructional, organizational, and curricular aspects of faculty
members who have earned tenure.
WHAT TYPES OF POSTTENURE FACULTY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED?
Posttenure faculty development can be classified as optional, required,
or jointly sponsored by several institutions. Optional programs can be
stand-alone programs or part of a comprehensive faculty development system
at an institution. Optional strategies include award programs specifically
designed to encourage and motivate tenured faculty, fellowship programs,
teaching projects, writing projects, teaching partnerships, workshops,
seminars, and development plans. Faculty development plans can be optional
or required of all faculty, and methods are available to help motivate
tenured faculty for full participation in this process and reward them
accordingly. Optional programs have had positive outcomes, including increased
faculty performance and student retention, at several institutions.
Required posttenure faculty development is usually part of a formal
posttenure review system. Such systems are becoming more common today as
the public calls for increased accountability and performance from postsecondary
faculty (Licata & Morreale, 1997). This approach has the advantage
of institution-supported consequences for nonperformance by the tenured
faculty. The development component can be required in all reviews or "triggered"
by specific outcomes of a faculty member's evaluation. The development
process in these cases normally involves the creation of a faculty development
plan, which usually includes specific objectives for teaching, research,
and service in a stated time period, along with a follow-up mechanism to
ensure performance. The American Association of University Professors (1997)
recently issued a statement admitting that posttenure review is becoming
a reality and that such systems should be designed to support professional
development of and responsibility by the faculty in their duties.
A comprehensive posttenure faculty development program can require a
significant institutional investment, but one institution is not required
to fund the entire program. Jointly sponsored programs, perhaps cosponsored
with other institutions or professional associations, can be effective
and relatively low cost.
HOW CAN DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES BE DESIGNED TO IMPROVE AND APPRECIATE
Faculty development strategies differ according to institutional type
and stated mission. Faculty development programs are more successful if
they seek out participation and input from a variety of faculty members
(including tenured professors) and consult them in planning decisions (Nelson
& Siegel, 1980; Sorcinelli, 1988). Administrators and faculty leaders
should clearly define the objectives of the program and what kinds of development
(professional, instructional, curricular, organizational) will be emphasized.
Department chairs are also a key component of effective faculty development
because they are on the front line in handling faculty development plans,
travel approvals, course evaluations, and complaints from students. In
planning programs, faculty developers should study all aspects of the institution,
including its culture, academic programs, committee systems, administrative
hierarchy, and organizational structure; they should seek support from
the administration. It can be helpful to map out development activities
for faculty at different stages of their careers using a template to ensure
that the multiple roles faculty must perform are supported. After reviewing
the literature, collecting information on process and outcomes from institutions,
and reading discussions about these issues, this author recommends that
a comprehensive posttenure faculty development system not be formally linked
to a posttenure review process so as to separate the evaluative and development
components, helping to ensure more effective participation and allowing
faculty to set higher achievement goals. An overall model of development
programs for tenured faculty should consider the institution's mission,
and should consist of optional, jointly sponsored, and required components.
Once development plans for tenured faculty are implemented, proper supervision
and evaluation are important to continuously improve and maintain quality.
One method of accomplishing it is benchmarking, which analyzes institutional
faculty development practices and outcomes with selected peers to determine
the best practices and potential areas for improvement in an institution.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF CHOOSING TO DEVELOP TENURED FACULTY?
Some view tenure as one of the potential weaknesses that tradition-bound
institutions like colleges and universities must overcome. Instead of eliminating
tenure as some institutions are doing, creating and implementing development
strategies that enable faculty to improve and feel appreciated is a more
viable choice. Research has shown that tenured faculty members have many
strengths compared with their junior colleagues and that they are more
likely to participate in faculty development programs. Whether an institution
chooses to implement a required development component as part of a posttenure
review system, a series of optional programs, or some combination, it is
important that the strategy go beyond a one-time solution and quick cure.
For some faculty members, however, reasonable efforts at bringing renewal
will not be successful. For those individuals--and to help ensure the effective
development of those tenured faculty who want to continue to grow and learn--the
institution should consider other alternatives. Those institutions with
a formal posttenure review process already have the mechanism in place
to accomplish the proper weeding or termination of nondeveloping faculty.
In some colleges and universities, another alternative is an early retirement
or phased-retirement policy. This strategy, in combination with effective
administrative leadership that points out other consequences for remaining
full time and nonproductive, can help motivate some faculty to make the
Posttenure faculty development strategies will continue to grow and
change as higher education systems are transformed by new technology, new
types of students, and new approaches to college teaching, scholarship,
and service. Institutions with effective posttenure faculty development
strategies will be better able to compete and thrive than those that do
not assist their tenured faculty to continually develop and meet new challenges.
National Center for Education Statistics. (1993). National study of
postsecondary faculty. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved
January 1, 1999, from the World wide Web: http://nces.ed.gov/
Eble, K. E., & McKeachie, W. J. (1985). Improving undergraduate
education through faculty development: An analysis of effective programs
and practices. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gaff, J. G. (1975). Toward faculty renewal. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Graf, D. L., Albright, M. J., & Wheeler, D. W. (1992, Fall). Faculty
development's role in improving undergraduate education. New Directions
for Teaching and Learning, 51, 101-109.
Bregquist, W. H., & Phillips, S. R. (1975). Components of an effective
faculty development program. Journal of Higher Education, 46, 177-211.
Licata, C. M., & Morreale, J. C. (1997). Post-tenure review: Policies,
practices, precautions, new pathways. In Faculty careers and employment
for the 21st century. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education.
American Association of University Professors. (1997). Standards for
good practice in post-tenure review [Online], 1-13. Available: www.igc.apc.org/aaup/postten.htm
Nelson, W. C., & Siegal, M. E. (1980). Effective approaches to faculty
development. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges.
Soricinelli, M. D. (1988). Encouraging excellence: Long-range planning
for faculty development. In E. C. Wadsworth (Ed.), A handbook for new practitioners
(pp.27-34). Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.