COLLABORATION OPPORTUNITIES (OR REPORTS OF SUCH COLLABORATIONS) WITH OTHER EDUCATIONAL/CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, HISTORICAL SOCIETIES, MUSEUMS, PROFESSIONAL OR TRADE ASSOCIATIONS, PUBLIC SCHOOLS K-12, SOCIAL AGENCIES, ETC.
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College and university professors need ongoing opportunities for professional development in an era of rapid and continuous change. However, higher education institutions have limited resources to invest in their faculty as programs to work with diverse student populations, technology, and new initiatives compete for limited discretionary funds. In this context, collaboration is a powerful vehicle to promote faculty learning and professional development and an effective way to maximize the impact of institutional investments in faculty. Collaborative faculty development can help to maintain a dynamic institutional climate that sustains good faculty and ultimately promotes a healthy learning environment for students. Collaboration also requires individuals and institutions to step out of the comfort zones where they usually operate quite autonomously. To achieve the benefits that collaboration promises, the parties involved must learn how to work productively in tandem with others.
This article examines collaborative activities supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through its Faculty Career Enhancement (FCE) grant program. The grant program, which funded activities at twenty-three liberal arts colleges, led to the development of a variety of strategies to support faculty across the academic life cycle. Here we focus specifically on collaborative initiatives that emerged from the program and discuss their objectives, outcomes, and benefits. This research is drawn from examples at liberal arts colleges, but many of the faculty development model lessons learned here are very relevant to the efforts of other kinds of colleges. The article also shares lessons learned that can help other faculty groups and institutions to form collaborations that are productive, long-lasting, and successful.
During the 2006–7 academic year, we studied the implementation and impact of the Mellon Faculty Career Enhancement program in three ways. With the permission and cooperation of the institutions and the foundation, we reviewed proposals and annual reports submitted by the twenty-three institutions to the foundation. We surveyed chief academic officers of all twenty-three colleges concerning their institution’s involvement with the FCE program. Finally, we interviewed program participants, program leaders, and chief academic officers at eleven of the twenty-three participating colleges. We gathered information on the specific activities of FCE participants, project outcomes, and insights gained from implementing the FCE program within and across institutions. We made a special effort to understand the collaborative activities the FCE program facilitated. We used qualitative analysis methods to identify key themes, patterns, and insights that would be useful to other institutions and individuals interested in collaborative approaches to faculty development.