How Many Hats Do You Wear: Building Research Capacity for STEM Faculty Development Workshop
Expectations for faculty members in the 21st century are high: Early career STEM faculty are expected to establish a sustainable research trajectory, a teaching practice, and a leadership role all while pursuing tenure success. Many colleges and universities have established faculty development programs, but there remains a deficiency in holistic professional support that integrates these disparate professional activities and aligns them with desired individual and institutional goals, especially for faculty in STEM. This paper will summarize the proceedings for a NSF funded workshop (NSF grant #1638888) designed to bring together multiple stakeholders in academia, government, and industry to establish a research agenda for STEM faculty development. This workshop will be held February 16-18, 2017.
The preparation and continued education of STEM faculty is more important than ever as we face a significant deficit in STEM graduates needed for workforce development. It is therefore important that holistic faculty development reinforce the importance of all aspects of faculty responsibility, including research, leadership, service and teaching. Unfortunately, many faculty struggle with balancing the sometimes competing goals of these responsibilities, and are often influenced by a reward structure that pushes research. However, research on teaching suggests that external motivation such as university reward structures can transition to more internal motivation through professional development experiences. Furthermore, research suggests that faculty support beyond the initial introductory workshop is needed for continued implementation of new teaching strategies. The same may be true for implementation of new strategies to enhance research, mentoring of graduate students, publishing, and the other requirements for tenure, highlighting the importance of sustained holistic faculty development.
To meet the grand challenges facing society, it is imperative that all are given an opportunity to contribute, including women and underrepresented minorities. Several efforts have used mentoring as a strategy to broaden participation in STEM. For example, women who were mentored as assistant professors were more likely to win grant funding than women who were not mentored. Other initiatives recommend that faculty development include topics such as teaching, service, collegiality, and racism to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented minority faculty at predominantly white institutions. These kinds of strategies build an inclusive environment that is likely to improve job satisfaction and productivity leading to enhanced retention of all faculty.
Many other aspects of faculty development remain to be discussed and studied, including managing research agendas, participating in college service programs, and navigating the complicated requirements of tenure. Thus it is essential that proper professional support is provided to STEM faculty. This paper will present the proceedings of the 2017 faculty development workshop and the research agenda intended to 1) establish the characteristics of needed professional support; 2) construct a community of practice centered around evidence-based professional development; and 3) initiate changes in institutional reward structures that could encourage faculty engagement in professional development. It is our hope that these recommendations will spark a national conversation on STEM faculty development.
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