Creating the Future of Faculty Development: Learning from the Past, Understanding the Future
reviewed by Leslie B. Sims - April 05, 2006
Title: Creating the Future of Faculty Development: Learning from the Past, Understanding the Future
Author(s): Mary Deane Sorcinelli, Ann E. Ausin, Pamela L. Eddy, and Andrea L. Beach
Publisher: Anker Publishing Co, Bolton
ISBN: 1882982878, Pages: 240, Year: 2006
Search for book at Amazon.com
Faculty development is a prominent feature of academic administration, especially in an era of heightened accountability to those who fund universities, as well as to the general public. Faculty development programs aim to realize the maximum benefit from the investment in faculty as the principal resource of the university. The authors of Creating the Future of Faculty Development are highly qualified researchers in the area of academic and faculty issues whose previous works include authoritative publications that represent a solid foundation for the current volume. This volume does an admirable job of tracing the history of faculty development in the United States, explicating the current status of faculty development programs, and anticipating the future needs and challenges for this vital area of academic administration.
Included in the work is a thorough review of the evolution of faculty development and faculty development programs (chapter 1), a portrait of current programs drawn from a recent survey of the those charged with the responsibility for faculty development programs and their structures and goals (chapter 2), and the forces and influences that have shaped current faculty development administrators and programs (chapter 3). After this broad-based focus on the issue, the remainder of the book includes much greater detail on current issues in teaching, learning, and faculty work addressed by faculty development programs (chapter 4); near-term (5 to 10 years) challenges and pressures expected to affect faculty work and those who administer faculty development programs (chapter 5); the collective view of those surveyed concerning the future of faculty development (chapter 6); and a longer-term vision of the authors concerning the future in a web-based technological environment (chapter 7). Many of the results are presented by institutional type, and numerous examples are included from programs that have won the Hesburgh Award for Exceptional Faculty Development Programs. A robust bibliography is included for those wishing for more details than are presented in this compact work,
The results are analyzed and presented across the array of institutions that comprise the U.S. higher educational system. Those surveyed are likely to be most knowledgeable about many aspects of faculty development, and the book will be of obvious value to those who administer faculty development programs at each type of institution. The nature of the research does result in an inherent focus that could limit the impact of the book among audiences that have the greatest stake in the future of faculty development: current and aspiring faculty, university administrators at all levels (department chairs, deans, and provosts/presidents), students, and external stakeholders. While acknowledging such limitations, the authors worthy goal is that this study serves as a basis for discussions among these various groups as to the nature, importance, and place of faculty development programs of the future within academic institutions.
The results presented also reflect to some extent the current expectations of various institutions for faculty performance (primarily but not exclusively concerning teaching and student learning) and how those expectations are likely to change in the near future. The book should, then, be of considerable interest to those who aspire to and are preparing for an academic career and, of course, to new faculty at the beginning of their career. The role of departments/chairs in faculty development is acknowledged, but the lack of detailed coverage may limit the importance of the work to these members of the academic community. The growing importance of interdisciplinary faculty work is mentioned primarily in the futures chapters (6 and 7), but little is included on the critical role that departments and chairs play in helping faculty negotiate the unsettled waters of these increasingly common areas in which faculty conduct their work. These are worthy topics for further work related to effective faculty development.
The strong focus on issues of teaching and student learning undoubtedly represent the current and future issues that faculty development administrators see as the primary domain of their programs. However, faculty members face an increasingly broad array of issues and expectations in their work. Thus, a primary conclusion of the authors is that institutions must consider whether faculty development issues outside of teaching and student learning are to be covered by expanding faculty development programs or by a distributed system of support structures addressing various aspects of faculty roles and responsibilities. Whatever structures or models are developed, the range of faculty development issues that must be addressed in the future are certain to be much larger and more intimately related to a number of other issues faced by academic institutions. The issues and questions that result are the subject of the final summary chapter of the book.
The last chapter summarizes the work presented in the earlier chapters and identifies the major challenges and changes that result from the three primary forces that will determine the future of faculty development: the changing nature of the professoriate; the composition of the student body; and the nature of teaching, learning, and scholarship within universities. From this perspective emerges an agenda of seven items, each of which is concisely discussed and followed by a set of questions especially directed toward faculty, professional development professionals, and institutional leaders, but containing insights for all higher education stakeholders. The authors provide an optimistic vision for the future of faculty development, both as a field reaching a certain level of maturity and as an important means of leveraging resources to promote institutional excellence.