Developmental Relationships in Engineering
This RESEARCH paper discusses a study exploring informal faculty development of engineering faculty leaders; specifically, the purpose of this study is to better understand how mentoring relationships help promote faculty career advancement. Higher education rarely develops the capacity of its leaders in an intentional way (Eckel & Hartley, 2011). “Colleges and universities, unlike many similarly sized corporations, do not view talent development as a strategic priority” (Eckel & Hartley, 2011, p. 29). The complexity of higher education, as well as the increased demands and challenges, require better prepared leaders. Despite this need, there is little research on informal one-on-one leadership development tactics in higher education. To understand how leadership is fostered informally, this study focused on developmental relationships experienced by engineering faculty leaders. The research question answered by this study is: What functions of developmental relationships, such as role modeling, stretch assignments, and networking, help engineering faculty leaders along their career journeys?
This paper highlights preliminary findings of a study which utilizes a qualitative approach using interviews with engineering faculty leaders at two institutions. Through the interviews, data were gathered about what happened in the faculty member’s developmental relationship experiences, and to what extent the individual developmental relationship functions impacted their leadership development and career advancement. Through the data collection and analysis the researcher identified emergent developmental relationship functions specific to engineering faculty. The power of observation, highlighting the significance of role modeling in developmental relationships experienced by the participants will be discussed. In addition, the findings identified a unique set of functions of developmental relationships experienced by these higher education leaders that are not identical to the developmental relationship functions in business sectors. The new functions specific to the population of higher education leaders represented by the sample were collaboration and problem solving. The importance of peer relationships and the existence of multiple developers are also consistent with previous findings. Results from this study inform a mentoring model which helps faculty focus on being intention about relationship building that can make a difference in career success, exploring networks, sponsors, mentors, and collaborators. The proposed model highlights a duality of strategies to serve faculty early in their career (mentee) and more senior in their career (mentor).
Preferred presentation mode is traditional lecture.
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