University professors are under growing pressures to perform multiple roles with excellence. The changing landscape of education in the 21st century increasingly calls for professors to excel in both the craft of teaching and research scholarship in their fields of scholarship. In their core vision and purpose statements research universities are recommitting to achieving excellence in student engagement in learning by promoting scholarship and performance in teaching and by developing in-service education programs to assist faculty in meeting these expectations. However, how do faculty view the increasing commitments to excellence in instruction?This study reports on the perceptions of a group of faculty recently appointed to positions in a large research university regarding their understandings of the roles and expectations associated with their new positions. Findings were derived from in-depth semi-structured interviews with nine full-time faculty members at a public university in Western Canada. All interview participants had been hired within five years of the study’s commencement in the summer of 2013. Faculty perceptions of expectations and responsibilities for instruction, research, and service, were contrasted with their lived experiences of induction processes, institutional support, and the relative priorities seen as being attached to performance in research and teaching roles.Participating faculty reported a variety of experiences in their orientations and inductions by the university and their respective departments as new appointees. Participants described perceiving a sense of competing priorities between the pursuit of research in their disciplines and the demands of teaching. They also expressed beliefs that research activities are given greater weight than teaching performance in assessments for contract renewal, tenure, and promotion. Faculty hired specifically as Lecturers, without the expectation of developing research careers, expressed greater clarity regarding role expectations, although some still wished to conduct research as an optional extension to their job descriptions. The study offers suggestions for improvements to university induction practices and suggests that while induction and orientation are often focused on the early stages of an appointment to a new position, there is a need for on-going professional development directed both at teaching and research roles throughout the careers of university professors.
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Thesis advisor: McClaren, Milton
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