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Learning the Ropes as a New Faculty Member

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Content originally published on data180.com. Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.

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For a newly minted Ph.D., landing a tenure-track faculty position at a college or university can be the thrilling culmination of a long road of advanced study. But after two decades of experiencing academia as students, new professors can face an unexpected learning curve while navigating the subtleties of higher education.

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an advice article in September that relates the experiences of four new professors and contains their tips to other young faculty members entering the field. The article was composed by four friends who had attended graduate school together, then went on to take assistant professor of psychology positions at various institutions.

The four friends touched base weekly via video conference to compare notes on their experiences, and compiled a list of advice on topics ranging from teaching schedules to research, grant writing, professional development and social life. Here are some of their insights.

On teaching: “One of us teaches on a campus where many students seem accustomed to getting As, and she found it necessary to help them cope with Bs and Cs. In contrast, some of us found that exam averages were significantly lower than we had expected. We responded in a variety of ways: adapting our exams, managing student expectations, and offering opportunities for test corrections.”

On scholarly research: “Most four-year institutions, even teaching-intensive liberal-arts colleges, expect junior faculty in psychology to conduct research. Despite the best of intentions, we spent much of our first year preparing to do research, rather than doing it.

On preparing for reviews: “We learned to hoard supporting materials, like thank-you cards from students and electronic records of university workshops we had attended. We all make a point now of writing down our activities as we go, rather than waiting until the annual report is due to remember which panels we served on or what research we presented.”

The authors also included anecdotes about learning university procurement systems, scheduling course periods and setting up labs for research.

The complete article from The Chronicle of Higher Education is available here: http://chronicle.com/article/Once-in-a-Lifetime/148515/

Content originally published on data180.com. Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.