SoTL as a Professional Development Tool for Non-Standard Faculty

SoTL as a Professional Development Tool for Non-Standard Faculty

Lauren Hays (University of Central Missouri, USA) and Lindsay McNiff (Dalhousie University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2212-7.ch007
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Non-standard faculty are individuals with faculty appointments, but whose responsibilities fall outside the traditional faculty role. Non-standard faculty are often overlooked in conversations about SoTL, but they play an integral part in the teaching and learning that occurs on post-secondary campuses. Due to the focus on local context within SoTL, non-standard faculty greatly benefit from this type of professional development. Using the micro, meso, macro, and mega framework, the authors of this chapter describe how educational developers can support non-standard faculty in using SoTL for professional development. This common SoTL framework helps educational developers bring non-standard faculty into SoTL conversations while also recognizing the unique teaching environments in which they work.
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Institutions of higher education are inherently learning organizations. Everyone who works with students is responsible for helping them gain new knowledge, grow, and learn. While academic teaching faculty are primarily responsible for teaching and learning, faculty whose responsibilities include instructing outside the traditional class setting also have a great deal to learn from SoTL. In the absence of a generally-accepted term for faculty in these roles, the term “non-standard” faculty will be used for the purposes of this chapter. Non-standard faculty may be faculty members who are expected to produce scholarship and engage in professional development, and who may teach or interact with students in a way that could benefit from closer scholarly inquiry, but whose responsibilities do not primarily involve teaching full credit courses. In Canada and the United States, these non-standard faculty include librarians, clinical faculty, counselors, and learning specialists. Each of these positions supports the academic institution’s instructional mission. The non-standard faculty role is in contrast to the standard faculty role. In this chapter, a standard faculty role is defined as a faculty member whose primary responsibilities include teaching, service, and scholarship. Their teaching is conducted in for-credit course settings where they are the principal instructor.

Librarians in the majority of Canadian academic institutions have academic status, defined as “recognition that the duties performed are integral to the academic mission of the institution, but that all the rights and responsibilities associated with faculty status are not necessarily to be expected” (Jacobs, 2013, pp. 9-10). Academic status approximates faculty status to different degrees depending on the institution. Many academic librarians in Canada are expected to engage in teaching, research, and service in order to achieve the equivalent of tenure at their institutions. Walters (2016) found that librarians at 52% of American research universities have faculty status. Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada also includes counselors in their faculty collective agreement, while other institutions have expanded their scope even further. Grant MacEwan University (2017) in Alberta, Canada, for example, includes “Professional Resource Faculty members” in their collective agreement, and these include counselors, learning specialists, librarians, Nursing Laboratory Resource Professionals, and Writing and Learning Consultants. Similarly, Antelope Valley College (2017) in Lancaster, California includes “counselors, librarians, transfer center coordinator, writing center specialist, learning disabilities specialist, math learning specialist, and any other regular, contract, or temporary faculty employees who are non-administrative academic personnel” (p. 4) in their faculty agreement. Likewise, Lakeland College (2016) in Canada includes counselors, public services librarians, learner success strategists, and the Faculty Development Coordinator or Researcher in their collective agreement.

At many schools, clinical faculty primarily have responsibilities for clinical supervision and direction outside of the traditional classroom. Individuals falling into these categories often work very closely with students in a variety of capacities and are also expected to produce scholarly work. They may not be aware of SoTL as a potential avenue for this, or they may need support as one of the few, if not the only person in their unit, who is working in this area.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Clinical Faculty: Faculty members whose primary responsibility is working with students in a laboratory or patient setting.

Non-Standard Faculty: Individuals whose job responsibilities are not traditional faculty duties, but who are included in faculty associations or unions and hold the rank of faculty at a post-secondary institution.

Mega Level: SoTL work that is conducted in national or international contexts.

Academic Librarians: Individuals who work in a post-secondary library, often with faculty rank.

Meso Level: SoTL work that is conducted at the department level.

Micro Level: SoTL work that is conducted at the level of individual faculty.

Learning Specialists: Individuals who tutor students and teach remedial courses, often with faculty rank.

Macro Level: SoTL work that is conducted at the university level.

Counselors: Individuals who work in a post-secondary medical or psychological setting, often with faculty rank.

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