Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Mapping Tenureland: A Researcher Stalled

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Mapping Tenureland: A Researcher Stalled

Article excerpt

Ihave, in varying degrees of completeness, six or seven articles in progress. They reside in a folder on my laptop called, fittingly, "in progress " Some have languished there for a few years; others get reread for inspiration or revisited in hopes of my becoming invested in the topic or idea again Lately, I have been wondering why I begin writing, often furiously, and then stop, because I have another folder called "published articles" which holds evidence of writing that not only was completed, but saw the light of day What exactly drives research forward? How do we stay on track, especially when on the tenure track? Using narrative inquiry, I seek to illuminate the landscape of writing for a purpose, using the metaphor of maps as a way to help this writer, and others, to navigate the most arduous aspect of academia: publishing to ensure tenure And because we do not talk about the path to tenure with much transparency, I examine literature devoted to research passion and the mentoring of new faculty Finally, I survey colleagues and peers about their own research practices

Narrative or storytelling is instrumental in helping us understand our lives and the lives of others (Bolton, 2006; Ellis & Bochner, 2002; Goodall, 2008), which can lead to "new insights, compassionate judgment and the creation of shared knowledge and meaning that can inform professional practice" (Greene, 1991, p 8) A strong research practice is critical to earning tenure, and yet we rarely talk about how to develop a strong practice Once we leave the comfort of the dissertation advising stage and successfully defend, it is assumed that the new scholar understands how to keep producing Beane-Katner (2014) argued for a continuation of the research mentoring process for new faculty, as it is often a difficult transition In talking with others on the tenure track, I learned many of us are struggling to keep up While some of the reasons may seem apparent (balance, learning new skills), others are less visible

Where Am I?

First, an honest proclamation-I am stalled Let's call this place Tenureland (see Figure 1) It is a place I long to visit; I hope to be invited to travel there; and once there, I plan to spend my time proving my worth to the community so that I can reside there permanently Tenureland looks very appealing in the brochures I can see the beauty in the hills, so green and verdant Perhaps that is where my colleagues sit in the welcoming shade, talking respectfully about theory while they try out new words they have created, like "problematize" or "eroticization " But the hills block out the valleys below, where the things I cannot know are stalking about It is green in the valley, too, but darkly so, with heavy vines knotting and twisting across the pathway Here, I need a map-a detailed map with labels, colors, and elevations Maps provide a way to determine the journey ahead; they allow the traveler an understanding of the terrain, the miles, and the monuments; and maps give us the ability to say, "Here is where I am... this is where I want to be " Instead of a map that denotes the way from here to there, the Tenureland I find myself traversing has a set of detours A patch of quicksand labeled "service " A natural spring called "teaching " And, for me, on this travel day, a dusty clearing titled "publishing " I try to avoid the sucking pull of service I return to the spring often, quenching my thirst and refilling my love of teaching But that dried-up stretch of land called publishing is tough going I stand on the edge, waiting for a drop, a big fat inspiring drop of creative passion to fall and dampen the talcum-y dirt

Tenure track, the phrase itself at least, connotes a path from here to there Traveling it requires discipline and institutional support, just like the dissertation writing process-which has advising meetings, checkpoints, and specific guiding processes to ensure completion Once one is on the tenure track, there is a tacit understanding that new faculty know how to research; however, it is the staying on track part that gets lost along the way Neumann (2006, 2007, 2009) studied professors and the institution of the academy In telling their stories, she found that an emotional connection to a topic or interest is what drives research forward, but the idea of passion is often disregarded, thought of as less than rigorous or scientific "Some professors strive to teach in ways that awaken love for the learning of particular subjects in their students, but they rarely talk in public of their own intellectual loves, including how passion (or its absence) shapes their scholarship" (p 381) (2006) She primarily studied tenured professors-those she believed had entered the "mythic" space of safe scholarship-free to research their passion projects The professors she interviewed spoke excitedly about discovery, about complex thoughts and heightened consciousness as they research (Neumann, 2005, 2009) BeaneKatner (2014) studied mentoring programs for new faculty development and argued that the academy is changing rapidly New faculty have been working under additional requirements and hurdles not experienced by their tenured peers Tenure track typically comes with a protected period of time during which reduced teaching and service loads assist research progress; however, today's new faculty face institutional policies that privilege "market" ideologies, including student satisfaction, pressure to develop new delivery platforms, community outreach, assessment of student learning outcomes, and grant writing productivity (Barber, Donnelly, & Rizvi, 2013) As tenured faculty serve nationally and internationally, and lead large grants or extensive research projects, these local needs are often left to the assistant professors This is certainly the case in my academic home Finding time for research, and feeling passion for writing, becomes a difficult task

You Are Here

I love maps Despite my Google maps iPhone app and its moving blue dot, I prefer to use a paper map-one that allows me to see the big picture, the scope and scale of the journey ahead My enjoyment or need for mapping my world has made me a good navigator So why, now when I need to navigate the most critical journey of my academic life, am I seemingly rudderless? …

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