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Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-First Century: Moving to a Mission-Oriented and Learner-Centered Model
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
What functions occupy your time as an academic? Are they equally respected, sensibly arranged, and fairly evaluated? Are they well-coordinated with the mission of your institution? Do they complement the functions your colleagues carry out? Do they all contribute to student learning? If you have ever wondered about such questions, you must read this book.
Adrianna Kezar and David Maxey, of the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, gathered a distinguished group of contributors to produce this volume on the future role of faculty in U.S. higher education. They start by pairing two concerns often considered separately despite their proven interconnection: the erosion in recent decades of the traditional faculty model (the full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty member), and student success. The unbundling of faculty roles, and the consequent re-distribution to assorted academic personnel, of curriculum development, course design, content delivery, assessment, advising, research, community engagement, and so forth—has negatively affected faculty-student interactions and therefore student learning and self-efficacy. Adjunct faculty members are not the problem. Even the disappearance of tenure is not the problem. The problem has been the random, reactive, and poorly conceived responses to market forces and technological revolutions in education.
The volume goes on to raise many other concerns that changes to the faculty have effected, including: an evolving understanding of academic freedom based less on individual rights and more on collective responsibility, the way that internationalization of higher education and a global academic workforce challenge assumptions about U.S. supremacy, the need to base faculty evaluations on the success of the department as well as individual achievement, a shift in faculty development programs from mere technology training toward adult learning, and the pros and cons of customizing academic careers to support work-life balance. Contributors do not uncritically valorize the traditional faculty model; while they generally support the return to more full-time positions, they also recognize the need for flexibility and coordination in the design of faculty roles, alignment of those roles with institutional priorities, and collaboration rather than competition among communities of scholars. One specific innovation lifted up as noteworthy is the way medical schools have created multiple tracks (investigator, clinical-educator, clinical, research, and educator) that provide distinct but parallel career pathways for their faculty while simultaneously serving their institutional needs.
Though the book does not conclude with a fully envisioned alternative model for the 21st century, several points of consensus do emerge, especially around the need for collegiality, professionalism, responsibility for students, differentiation and diversification of roles, and more expansive definitions of research and scholarship.
This collaboration is a rare and refreshing example of one to which the contributions are evenly strong. Every chapter piqued my interest. Readers of this journal may especially appreciate the chapter on academic freedom because it is written by a religion scholar and has a familiar ring.
Readers new to the literature on developments in higher education might first want to read Ernest Boyer’s 1990 Scholarship Reconsidered, referenced frequently by contributors. Envisioning the Faculty for the 21st Century will become an equally important and influential work.
Boyer, Ernest L., author. Drew Moser, Todd C. Ream, and John M. Braxton, editors. 2016 expanded edition. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
During my three years as a student at Chongshin Theological Seminary in Seoul, Korea, I never heard a single discussion related to diversity. The student body was roughly 90% male. Every student and faculty member was a member of the Korean Presbyterian Church, and engaged in some sort of church ministry. ...
Faculty Identities and the Challenge of Diversity: Reflections on Teaching in Higher Education
Date Reviewed: February 19, 2015
This book is dedicated to a full-orbed challenge to discrimination – and promotion of multiculturalism – in higher education, from the classroom to “changes in the cultures, structures, and policies of the institution” (194). It will benefit faculty and administrators seeking to better understand, promote, and implement solutions regarding various diversities in university contexts. While Christian educators may question certain philosophical and religious presuppositions being advocated, many descriptive, reflective, and practical insights can be critically embraced for pedagogy and classroom, course development, broader curricular intentions, and governing cultures and mechanisms.
Perhaps centrally beneficial to faculty are the narratives of diverse women and men faculty – white and of color, representing both natural science and social science disciplines – responding to a face-to-face interview protocol of open-ended and broad questions: queries seeking responses to eight topical areas primarily focused on teaching and diversity, race and gendered experiences, general diversity issues in higher education, and agential roles in supporting or bringing change involving diversity and multiculturalism (26-28).
This work’s broad purpose is to explore how university faculty members of various races, ethnicities, and genders – awarded for undergraduate teaching effectiveness in diverse classroom environments – engage demands and expectations from students, from higher education as a social institution, and from themselves, in racially and ethnically diverse classrooms: especially toward improving the teaching-learning process (viii-ix).
The book comprises four parts: background and context, difference and diversity in classroom interactions, identity role examination, and larger contexts and change. Each part contains three chapters. References are extensive and effectively utilized and the index is well-designed.
The opening chapter argues that white male dominance in university settings significantly affects white women and faculty of color, as well as students, especially of non-majority groups. Negatively, this includes exclusion and discrimination via traditions that focus on individualistic value orientation and norms that “diminish the importance of teamwork and skills in interactions among the faculty,” leading to a sense of isolation and lack of community (3). In the classroom the individual achievement emphasis, combined with presumed universalistic norms related to tests or criteria as indicators of merit, entail pedagogical approaches that minimize students’ cultural and socioeconomic identities, backgrounds, and relationships, undermining collaborative learning. Nevertheless, all faculty are responsible for personal and organizational change, whether white faculty especially using their authority to adopt practices that challenge the commonplace habitus, or underrepresented faculty utilizing the margin for building communities of marginalized faculty and links to communities and groups outside academia (19).
Chapter 2 outlines the project/study design and purpose, “to explore the ways in which faculty members’ social identities impact their experience in the university, especially but not solely in the classroom” (21), while Chapter 3 describes and elaborates “five major constitutive elements of conflict in the educational setting” – the instructor, the student, the pedagogical approach, the classroom space, and the course material – that help readers decipher “how varied forms of conflict emerge given the different ways in which these elements converge” (39). Each element is expounded in later chapters.
It seems appropriate to conclude this review with a primary thesis of the book: “ultimately, whatever the causes of perceived challenges to authority and expertise, the key pedagogical dilemma for faculty is to work at ensuring and preserving the authority that has a place in relationships with students while also maintaining an inquiring, empowering, and vibrant educational climate” (63).