Academic journal article Planning and Changing

Roles and Responsibilities of Clinical Faculty in Selected Educational Leadership Programs

Academic journal article Planning and Changing

Roles and Responsibilities of Clinical Faculty in Selected Educational Leadership Programs

Article excerpt

Educational leadership programs often are criticized for being disconnected from administrative practice, with concerns expressed regarding the paucity of professors with administrative experience (Bredeson, 1996; Levine, 2005). Although practitioners assert that professors must connect with the field, academics traditionally are rewarded for scholarly research. The university culture discourages faculty from working with schools (Young, Petersen, & Short, 2002), and untenured professors who engage in field activities often do so at the peril of their academic careers (McCarthy, 1999).

Acknowledging practitioner credibility concerns, in 1987 the National Commission on Excellence in Educational Administration (NCEEA) recommended employing clinical professors in leadership preparation programs. The NCEEA stopped short of describing how these clinical positions would be conceptualized and structured although the report noted that some individuals could be practicing administrators and that clinical faculty could teach practice-oriented courses, develop mentoring programs, and supervise internships (NCEEA, 1987). Many programs currently employ administrators as adjunct instructors to address the clinical faculty goal (Shakeshaft, 2002), but the effectiveness of the adjunct model has been questioned in promoting effective school-university connections (Schneider, 2003). Trends indicate an overuse of part-time adjuncts, which can significantly diminish program quality (Levine, 2005).

In recent years, in response to state program mandates, increased national accreditation requirements, and increasing pressure from practitioners, educational leadership programs have begun to emphasize fieldbased elements within their curricula (Young et al., 2002). When addressing these requirements, Young et al. (2002) recommended that institutions consider expanding the number and types of faculty members to complement existing tenure-track lines. The full-time clinical position represents a feasible alternative that has been implemented within some educational leadership programs, but little research has been conducted on the clinical faculty appointment. Position responsibility statements may not exist, role ambiguity can be a source of frustration, and conflicts can occur when clinicians in newly created positions assume duties perceived to exceed the boundaries of their authority.

This article explores the full-time clinical faculty position in selected educational leadership programs. Due to a gap in the literature, the need exists to engage in research studies to gain a greater understanding of this position. Questions guiding this study included: What is the experiential background of individuals who assume full-time clinical positions, and what factors influenced them to assume these positions? How have clinical positions been conceptualized within the overall faculty structure, and do clinical faculty members' perceptions of their roles align with their responsibilities? Finally, what institutional factors influence clinical faculty members' feelings of their status and value as contributing members of their institutions? This article begins with a brief review of literature pertaining to clinical faculty in colleges of education and presents job choice theory as a theoretical framework to examine individuals' attraction to this position. It then presents the results of a qualitative study of full-time clinical faculty in education administration, discusses implications, and provides recommendations for the clinical position.

Review of Literature and Theoretical Framework

Professional school models have been embraced in some disciplines, such as law and medicine, to assist students with theory-to-practice connections, and clinical faculty appointments have been created to support this model. The NCEEA (1987) advocated that education administration preparation programs also should adopt the professional school approach, to emphasize both theoretical and clinical knowledge, applied research, and supervised practice. …

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