Faculty Perspectives on Baldwin and Chang's Mid-Career Faculty Development Model

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to determine the merit and applicability of the mid-career faculty development model proposed by Baldwin and Chang (2006). A total of 7 associate and 10 full professors participated in semi-structured interviews. Categories were developed from an inductive analysis. The results showed positive support for the model and revealed that participants perceived the importance of reflection and assessment. Participants focused on short term goals and agreed with career plans, and identified collégial support, time/sabbaticals, release time, and travel funds as central resources. Lastly, the participants supported reinforcement, but emphasized showing appreciation across the board.

Mid-career faculty members can often be overlooked on college and university campuses for professional development (Baldwin & Chang, 2006; Strage, Nelson, & Meyers, 2008). Romano, Hoesing, O'Donovan, and Weinsheimer (2004) stated "professional development programming that addresses the teaching and learning issues of this population has not been a priority" (p. 21). Baldwin, DeZure, Shaw, and Moretto (2008) define mid-career as "the lengthy period between the end of professors' probationary years and their preparation for retirement" (p. 48). According to Strage et al. (2008), "Nationwide, over half of higher education faculty are at mid-career" (p. 71). Since mid-career faculty comprise a large percentage of all college and university faculties, it is important to examine their professional development needs.

Scholarly papers have reported on faculty development programs for mid-career faculty, such as the Mid-Career Teaching Program (MCTP) at the University of Minnesota (Romano, et al. 2004), and provided suggestions for supporting the mid-career researcher (Nottis, 2005). One of the most informative studies on mid-career faculty professional development was completed by Baldwin and Chang (2006). In their study, the researchers completed "a national web-based investigation to identify strategies specifically designed to address the needs of mid-career faculty in colleges and universities" (p. 28). A variety of institutions, ranging from small to large and public and private, were reviewed for the support the schools provided for mid-career faculty. After compiling

and categorizing the support systems, the scholars proposed a model (Figure 1)1 that can provide a support system for faculty in the middle years of academic life. The steps in the mid-career faculty development process included: (a) career reflection and assessment, (b) career planning: short and long term goals, and (c) career action/ implementation. Additionally, three areas of support were proposed in the model to maintain the development process and included: (a) collégial support, (b) resources, and (c) reinforcement.

Under career reflection and assessment, the scholars highlighted activities, such as annual reviews, post-tenure reviews, and faculty retreats as "natural opportunities for mid-career reflection" (pp. 32-33). Baldwin and Chang (2006) emphasized that organizing these activities "to be more developmental than evaluative can stimulate the type of active career reflection that can promote renewal" (p. 33). The career planning step was discussed by the scholars as a way to keep mid-career faculty "moving professionally and align their professional growth with the direction in which their institution is moving" (p. 33). The development of short term (1 to 3 years) and long term goals (5 to 10 years) was presented in this phase of the model.

In the last development step, career action/ implementation, the scholars recommended that "growth opportunities should be aligned with professors' distinctive interests, situations, and developmental needs" (p. 33). It is suggested in this phase of the development process, that mid-career faculty have the opportunity to employ their career plans. Taken together, (i.e., career reflection and assessment, career planning, and career action/ implementation), the scholars anticipate these steps in the model may help engage and energize mid-career faculty. …