Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Major

Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense

7-14-2006

Graduate Advisor

John A. Henschke, Ed.D.

Committee

Cheryl L. Bielema, Ph. D.

Philip M. Ferguson, Ph. D.

Nancy R. Singer, Ph. D.

Abstract

Using a two-stage, mixed-method strategy of inquiry that follows symbolic interactionism, this study explores professional development/faculty development (PD/FD) practices and perspectives in the university setting. Four Midwestern universities, two public and two private, provided the setting for the research. The primary purpose of this study was to answer the question: What is the experience university professors have with professional development/faculty development (PD/FD). The literature presents many studies for K-12 and community college faculties; however, there is a need to study the topic within the university subculture. On-campus PD/FD programs offer faculty opportunities to improve and expand their teaching methodologies yet not all faculty participate. In Phase One, 180 faculty members representing five academic ranks from various disciplines in the College of Arts and Sciences were invited to complete a Faculty Questionnaire concerning their PD/FD practice and perspectives. In Phase Two, faculty participants (n = 9), who came from a convenience sampling of Phase One participants, shared their experience during face-to-face interviews that followed a semi-structure protocol. Although the initial response rate was 36% with 54 participants, only 32 surveys, 21.3% of the total mailing, met the delimitations. Additionally, 22 % reported that they do not currently participate in on-campus PD/FD programs because they either do not believe the programs meet their needs or they believe the programs are elementary in nature. The results of this study are in agreement with the literature reviewed. Using inductive thematic analysis, PD/FD experiences may be classified along a time continuum from the developing faculty member¿s Teaching Assistant (TA) experience, where critical self-reflection and commitment to teaching develop, to the senior professor, where obtaining tenure and promotions take precedence. There are three main areas of perceived learning needs: research, pedagogy, and administrative-functions-related topics. With regard to pedagogy, for change to occur in the classroom from PD/FD programs three conditions are primary: positive role models from faculty, supervisors, or mentors; openness to change; and feedback or social interactions with students, other faculty, and administrators. One¿s self-directed learning practices and personal philosophy also contribute to faculties¿ attitude and participation in PD/FD. Recommendations for further studies are suggested.

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