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Supporting and Retaining Early-Career Faculty

Tomorrow's Academic Careers

Message Number: 
787

I review some of the research on expectations and concerns of early-career faculty, highlighting particularly the difficulties young faculty members have identified in (1) understanding and achieving expectations for tenure and promotion, (2) becoming socialized in their institutions and departments and finding colleagues with whom to collaborate, and (3) balancing the multiple demands of jobs and personal and family responsibilities.

Folks:

The posting below looks at trends in higher education that impact the hiring and success of tenure-track faculty. It contains the executive summary and an excerpt on "Great Workplaces" for New Faculty from Supporting and Retaining Early-Career Faculty by Betsy E. Brown in the monthly series Effective Practices for Academic Leaders. The series is available in an electronic publication that can be networked on a campus system to enable everyone on a campus to access the briefings at their desks when needed, for use both as guidance for administrators and as a development materials for faculty and others. The electronic license allows individual copying without need for permission, thus the individual briefings lend themselves to use in workshops ands seminars. For online subscription information go to: . Volume 1, No.9, September, 2006. Copyright ? 2006, Stylus Publishing, LLC. 22882 Quicksilver Drive Sterling, VA 20166 [www.Styluspub.com] Reprinted with permission.

Regards,

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu

UP NEXT: The Brave New World' of Classroom Technology

Tomorrow's Academic Careers

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Supporting and Retaining Early-Career Faculty

Executive Summary

In this briefing I describe trends in higher education that impact the hiring and success of tenure-track faculty: increasing competition for the "best and the brightest," the "generational change" expected as a cohort of retiring senior faculty is replaced by a new generation, and expanding roles for faculty as external influences widen expectations for higher education. I review some of the research on expectations and concerns of early-career faculty, highlighting particularly the difficulties young faculty members have identified in (1) understanding and achieving expectations for tenure and promotion, (2) becoming socialized in their institutions and departments and finding colleagues with whom to collaborate, and (3) balancing the multiple demands of jobs and personal and family responsibilities.

In addition, I explore the multiple forms of scholarship in which new faculty members are often expected to become engaged, along with the risks associated with expanded expectations and the resulting "overloaded plate." By reviewing the results from job-satisfaction surveys of tenure-track faculty, with attention to the expectations of women and minority faculty and faculty at different types of institutions, I have identified what administrators can learn about creating competitive academic workplaces. Among the factors affecting workplace satisfaction for early-career faculty is work-life balance. I include a review of recent efforts to implement policies and practices to assist faculty, particularly early-career faculty, in balancing work and family responsibilities. Finally, I provide a list of questions that chairs and their departments can ask themselves about the support that they provide early-career faculty, and I present professional development resources. The briefing identifies the important role of the department chair in providing new faculty members-indeed, all faculty members-a supportive environment that offers clearly defined expectations and appropriate rewards, a balanced work life, and opportunities for collegiality and community.

"GREAT WORKPLACES" FOR NEW FACULTY

The Study of New Scholars (2004a), led by Richard P. Chait and Cathy A. Trower at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, takes prior research a step further by developing quantitative measures by which institutions can compare how their own faculty members rate to the ratings of new faculty at comparable institutions. The major question driving the project is, "What makes a great academic workplace?" Although the project does not publicly rank one workplace against its peers, participating institutions are able to rate themselves based on the perceptions of their own faculty. Institutions that did not participate in the initial study can use the general outcomes of the focus groups and pilot surveys to identify the characteristics of great workplaces, organized into five key areas by the project directors (Study of New Scholars, 2004b, pp. 3-4):

1. Tenure (including clarity of processes, expectations, and procedures, transparency, consistency, equity, flexibility in the timeline, feedback on progress, and reasonable performance expectations)

2. Work and Workload (including clear expectations about "how work time should be spent," reasonable and equitable teaching loads and class sizes, enough time and adequate support for research, and ability to balance personal and professional responsibilities)

3. Professional Development and Support (including a department chair and senior colleagues "committed to one's success," opportunities to collaborate with senior faculty, mentoring, and "a good 'fit' [feeling comfortable] in one's department," along with more tangible items such as salary and benefits, professional assistance, and physical setting)

4. Climate (including positive interactions with colleagues, departmental diversity, and "little or no pressure to conform to colleagues re: areas of research, methodology, political views, personal behavior, and attire")

5. Policy Provisions (including formal periodic performance reviews, support for research and travel, limitations on service obligations, and stop-the-tenure-clock provisions for parental or other responsibilities) (pp. 3-4)

Beyond the delineation of general factors that lead to job satisfaction for tenure-track faculty, the Study of New Scholars analyzed survey results based on gender and race and on institutional type (university or college). The authors found several statistically significant differences as to how various groups of faculty members experience their academic workplace. A few examples drawn from three statistical reports (Study of New Scholars, 2004a, b, & c) suggest the richness of the survey results.

Gender Differences

Among faculty at the six research institutions participating in the pilot study of the Study of New Scholars (2004a): of the 28 measures of workplace satisfaction?, junior faculty women were significantly less satisfied than men on 19-two out of three. Conversely, in no area were males significantly less satisfied than females?.

* Females rated their institution as a workplace significantly lower than males.

* Females rated their global satisfaction with their department and with their institution significantly lower than males.

* Females were significantly less likely than males to recommend their departments to a candidate for a tenure-track position. (p. 1)

Additional specific differences between male and female job satisfaction include a number related to the tenure expectations and the tenure process. Given that the majority of new U.S. doctorates in recent years have been awarded to women, institutions may need to investigate how male and female faculty are differentially affected by the institutions' policies, practices, and environment.

Racial Differences

Junior faculty of color and white junior faculty at the six research institutions participating in the Study of New Scholars (2004c) "were equally satisfied with the workplace" (p. 1). The study found a number of statistically significant differences, however, in the following areas:

* Tenure: White faculty felt clearer about the tenure process and the body of evidence that they would be required to present and were "more likely than junior faculty of color to report that tenure decisions are based on performance rather than on politics, relationships, or demographics."

* Pressure to conform: Minority faculty reported more pressure "to conform to departmental colleagues in their political views."

* Research focus: Faculty members of color were less satisfied than white faculty "with the influence they feel they have over their research focus."

* Institutional policies: Faculty members of color "were significantly more likely than white junior faculty to report that they would find the following policy provisions to be helpful: professional assistance to improve teaching skills, childcare, financial assistance with housing, stop-the-tenure-clock, and personal leaves during the probationary period" (p. 1).

Similar findings emerged from the gender and racial analyses, including the fact that female junior faculty reported feeling more pressure to conform in political views, personal behavior, and attire. Female faculty members reported that they, too, would find child care, financial assistance with housing, stop-the-tenure-clock, and personal leaves during the probationary period helpful (Study of New Scholars, 2004a, p. 23).

Differences between Institutional Types

Comparison of Study of New Scholars (2004b) responses from junior faculty at six research universities and six liberal arts colleges revealed a number of significant differences, some of which are not surprising (e.g., university faculty members received higher salaries and were more likely than college faculty members to be satisfied with their salary and benefits), but many of which identify areas that research universities and liberal arts colleges might wish to explore in order to address the causes of their junior faculty members' dissatisfaction:

* Tenure: University faculty members were more likely than college faculty members to agree "that tenure decisions in their department are based on performance rather than politics, relationships, or demographics."

* Work: College faculty members were more satisfied than university faculty members with "how they are expected to spend their time, the level of courses they teach, the number of students they teach, and the quality of students they teach."

* Professional development: College faculty members were more satisfied than university faculty members with "the senior faculty's commitment to their success, the physical setting in which they work, the discretion they have over course content, and the professional assistance available for proposal writing and locating funds."

* Pressures to conform: University faculty members reported "more pressure to conform to departmental colleagues in their research areas and their research methodologies."

* Global satisfaction: College faculty members were more satisfied than university faculty members with their institution as a workplace; planned to stay longer at their institutions; were more likely to agree that if they had it to do over again, they would accept their current positions; and were more likely to recommend their department to another prospective tenure-track faculty member (pp. 1-2).

Many of these differences no doubt reflect the greater pressures to succeed felt by university junior faculty members, particularly in the area of research. However, if these pressures translate into significantly less satisfaction with their institution as a workplace, universities might do well to investigate whether their junior faculty members' dissatisfaction is inevitable or whether it can be addressed through assistance with teaching responsibilities, encouragement of more collegial relationships with senior faculty, more professional development assistance, and greater discretion in the courses that they teach and the research interests that they pursue, perhaps resulting in greater job satisfaction, better retention, and more competitive recruitment of new faculty.

These sample results from the pilot surveys by the Study of New Scholars suggest the benefits institutions of all types might gain from similar job satisfaction or "campus climate" surveys of their junior faculty.

References

Study of New Scholars. (2004a). Gender: Statistical report [universities]. C.A. Trower & J.L. Black. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Study of New Scholars. (2004b). Institutional types: Statistical report. C.A. Trower & J.L. Black. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Study of New Scholars. (2004c). Race: Statistical report [universities]. C.A. Trower & J.L. Black. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education.