Advice For Junior Faculty

24 September 2008 at 9:47 pm 3 comments

| Peter Klein |

Last Friday the Chronicle of High Ed published the first in a series of articles giving strategic advice for pre-tenure faculty. In “A Call for Clarity” Cathy Trower and Anne Gallagher identify four common pitfalls facing early-career professors:

  • Vague and inconsistent tenure guidelines
  • Lack of constructive feedback
  • A culture of “don’t ask, don’t tell”
  • Divergence between policy and practice

In response they suggest that universities adopt formal written policies, offer tenure workshops, and provide clear interpretation of tenure rules. Good advice. (Thanks to Fabio Chaddad for the pointer.)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Education. Tags: .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Praja Rajayam  |  28 September 2008 at 10:42 am

    Klein,

    One serious problem faced by junior faculty is that – some students wants to take advantage of his inexperience. The students know that the faculty is just starting to teach – he might know the subject, but typically prepares himself for a certain topic. the nasty students spend some extra time to read some advanced books (which is out of scope of the subject & class) and pose the same question to the faculty. What kind of advice you provide to the junior faculty to handle such students?

    – Anand.

  • 2. REW  |  28 September 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Anand,
    My own observations on student-junior faculty interactions during the past 30 years lead me to believe that students find sport in the kind of activity you describe only if the professor contributes to the outcome. Students are more likely to bait under-prepared and condescending junior faculty, particularly those who react badly to such confrontations. My advice is to handle such questions by (a) admitting that you don’t have the answer to the question, and either (b) offerng to return to the subject at a more appropriate time in the syllabus, or (c) suggesting the course in the curriculum where the question is normally addressed. If the question is germane to your course, you may offer to come back with a response in the next lecture. All of these responses signal respect for the inquiring minds of the students and do not offer much incentive for continued baiting.

  • 3. sred  |  3 October 2008 at 9:15 am

    Praja, I actually experienced the opposite. My grad supervisor was junior. Since he didn’t have tenure, he was actually evaluated on how many grad students he supervised, the quality of the classes he taught, and the number of papers he published. Thus, he “worked his ass off” to get tenure. In the process, the quality of his supervision, mentorship, and instruction was superb.

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