Academic journal article Adultspan Journal

Applying the Schlossberg 4S Transition Model to Retired University Faculty: Does It Fit?

Academic journal article Adultspan Journal

Applying the Schlossberg 4S Transition Model to Retired University Faculty: Does It Fit?

Article excerpt

The authors surveyed university faculty to investigate whether the Schlossberg 4S Transition Model was a useful way to look at retirement adjustment. Participants were asked questions regarding aspects of situation, self, support, and strategies before and after retirement. Results are described in relation to overall retirement satisfaction.

According to federal regulations, beginning on January 1, 1994, universities could no longer mandate faculty retirement at a specific age. This shift in federal regulations means that faculty members can generally work as long as they wish. This change has also spurred an interest in understanding some of the aspects of faculty retirement, from administrators, who often want to encourage retirement, and from social scientists, who want to better understand the transition. Although much of the published literature focuses on the financial aspects of retirement, several researchers have examined features of retirement satisfaction.

Walz, Craft, and Blum (1991) reviewed the literature on faculty retirement and concluded, "professors generally are positive about retirement and adjust well to retirement.... [They] however, have reported negatives associated with retirement: loss of contact with students and colleagues, loneliness, feelings of uselessness, lack of structure, and concern about finances" (p. 61). Dorfman (1992), who also examined faculty retirement, stated

The literature is quite conclusive in identifying what academics consider to be the positive aspects of retirement: free time to spend as one wishes, freedom from routine and responsibilities, more opportunity for service, and remembrance of work well done. (p. 346)

She identified negatives that were similar to those identified by Walz et al., (1991). Most of the studies cited in both articles found that retirees are satisfied with their retirement. Although they did not look at postretirement satisfaction, Monahan and Greene (1987) found that faculty members who opted for early retirement were less healthy, less satisfied with their teaching assignments and research productivity, and felt less recognized for their contributions than others. Waters and Goodman (1990) stated that a positive attitude and planning seem to be useful in constructing a successful retirement. They suggested that "the counseling perspective of looking at life-style, relationships, and internal needs and values can lead to a positive adjustment" (p. 99). Carter and Cook (1995) suggested that "increasing retirees' self efficacy will be enhanced through active participation in the planning process" (p. 79).

According to LaBauve and Robinson (1999), "there have been very few attempts to develop appropriate and viable interventions to help retirees cope with adjustment to new and different lifestyles"(p. 10). Our study is an attempt to evaluate one such intervention model by looking at the fit between that model and retirement for a particular group (i.e., college faculty).

Retirement can be viewed as one of many work transitions that people will experience during a lifetime. In discussing the retirement transition, in general, LaBauve and Robinson (1999) described it as not only a change in roles but also as an "expansion and redefinition of previous career roles" (p. 2). Today's world has become one of multiple transitions. Indeed, some experts say adults will experience as many as seven major career shifts during a working life (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998; Peterson, 1995). Other areas of life (e.g., relationships, health, internal needs) also involve transitions. Schlossberg (1984) proposed that looking at transitions was the best way to understand adult development. The Schlossberg model, when applied to retirement, suggests that successful coping depends on an evaluation of the retiree's unique situation, the qualities of the individual him- or herself, the support available, and the strategies used to plan retirement. …

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