Assistant Professors of Counselor Education: First and Second Year Experiences

By Magnuson, Sandy; Shaw, Holly et al. | Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

Assistant Professors of Counselor Education: First and Second Year Experiences


Magnuson, Sandy, Shaw, Holly, Tubin, Bosmat, Norem, Ken, Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research


Abstract

This article focuses on experiences of counselor education assistant professors during their first two years. Thirty-nine counselor education assistant professors rated their levels of satisfaction, connectedness, and stress at the end of both years. They also provided narrative data regarding experiences and circumstances that contributed to their satisfaction, connectedness, and stress. Findings revealed that initially high levels of job satisfaction diminished in the second year of employment as committee work and peer expectations mounted. Findings from this study strongly suggest the need for greater institutional care of new assistant professors beyond their first year.

Assistant professors have, appropriately, received attention of authors in a variety of professional sectors (e.g., Boice, 1992.1993; Cawyer & Friedrich, 1998; Cawyer, Siinonds, & Da vis, 2002; Finkelstein & LaCeIIePeterson, 1992; Luce & Murray, 1998; Reynolds, 1992; Sominelli, 1988, 1994; Turner & Boire, 1987, 1989; van der Bogen, 1991; Whill, 1991). Conclusions drawn by these authors suggest that many assistant professors experience high levels of stress, dissatisfaction, and loneliness during their "enormously critical" initiai years (Boice, 2000, p, 2; Magnuson, 2002). In fact, Whill (1991) suggested that "new assistant professors must hit the ground running . . . without ever stumbling, getting tired, or asking for help" (p. 193). Furthermore, Luce and Murray (1998) asserted that

colleges need to shift their attitude toward new faculty from 'survival of the fittest* to actively helping; new faculty establish a successful life in the academy. Colleges need to make a commitment to new faculty that matches the level of commitment new faculty make to their colleges. Colleges, new faculty, and the people they serve will all benefit, (p. 109).

Though Luce and Murray's assertion was generalized across disciplines, colleges, and universities, it provided impetus for this study. The counseling profession is grounded in traditions that support career development across the lifespan; thus, professional integrity would demand assurance that counselor educators are inducted into environments that are conducive to success and satisfaction. Recognizing potential disparity between expected arid existing conditions for new counselor education assistant professors, a longitudinal study was initiated with a focus on counselor educators in the United States who accepted their first full time faculty position in the Fall 2000 academic term. This article features a synthesis of these new counselor educators' (NCEs) experiences as described at the end of their first and second years. Additionally, results from seven research interviews conducted at the beginning of their third year are provided.

Method

A variety of strategies were enacted to identify, locate, and recruit participants for this study. First, position announcements in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Counseling Today were monitored between August 1999 and August 2000. Additionally, announcements posted on a counselor education listserv were retained and personal contacts were made. Prior to the beginning of the Fall, 2000 academic lerm, search committee chairs were contacted and requested to forward research materials to their new colleagues. Additionally, new counselor educators were contacted through professional associations and conferences. Ultimately, 43 new counselor education assistant professors agreed to participate voluntarily in this inquiry projected to continue for seven years; no one contacted declined. Repeated strategies wen; used to encourage participation during the spring term of the second year. Of the 43 original new counselor educators, 36 (84%) responded to the questionnaire distributed at the end of the first year, and 32 (74%) responded at. the end of the second year. Twenty-nine (67%) participants responded both years. …

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