News

Shaping the Preparation of Future Social Science and Humanities Faculty

Noralee Frankel, September 2000

The AHA proudly announces that the history departments of Boston College, Arizona State University (ASU), Howard University, and Florida State University have been granted matching funds to participate in the AHA's new program, Shaping the Preparation of Future Social Science and Humanities Faculty. These four departments have forged partnerships within the discipline of history to better prepare future history faculty for a variety of faculty positions. The program will prepare graduate students aspiring to join higher education to enter as competent professionals who have already begun a process of growth and self-reflection as teachers, as scholars, and as members of an academic community.

Each department is part of a cluster of history departments. The four clusters will develop mentor strategies that are effective for individual cluster needs. In Boston, the cluster is Boston College, Emmanuel College, Simmons College, and Framingham State College. In Arizona, Arizona State University, Arizona State University-West, Arizona State University-East, Grand Canyon University, Phoenix College, and Maricopa Community College Systems. The cluster with Howard University includes The Catholic University of America, Marymount College, and Howard Community College. Florida State University is in a cluster with Florida A & M University, Tallahassee Community College, Bainbridge College, and Valdosta State University, Georgia. Each cluster has a hard-working steering committee to plan and oversee the collaboration.

All four clusters have stimulating and creative programs planned for the project building upon the fine work in which they are already engaged. The history departments at Arizona State University, Howard University, Florida State University, and Boston College are already actively helping their graduate students' professional development in many areas. Each cluster's steering committee plans and oversees the collaboration.

Florida State University's PFF plan is to foster professional development in teaching, service, and research to prepare for careers at various institutions. The history department plan is designed to further students' professionalization beyond the confines of the classroom by providing them with experience and insight into other aspects of life in academia. Graduate students in the history PFF program participate in a mentoring program with a partner institution. Mentor activities included attending a faculty meeting or committee meeting, participating in office conversations with a mentor, observing faculty advising and discussing activities observed, talking to students of the partner institution, and teaching a single class or multi-class unit. The history department at FSU will expand the mentor component by reimbursing students for their gas and mileage costs and will send students to history conferences to discuss PFF. Students will be offered workshops on teaching issues including technology in the classroom, planning a course, and assessing essays, professional activities, and job search preparation.

The history department at Arizona State University plans to introduce students to educational technology, new teaching methodologies, and other instructional innovations. The department is developing courses that link scholarship in several fields to teaching in the undergraduate classroom as well as introducing a seminar on faculty professional issues. A seminar with six senior scholars will be held. They will discuss their research and share their own academic career experience. At the same time, the department will offer more workshops on various topics using
cluster faculty to discuss issues ranging from media relations to public inquiries to forms of service in the community and the profession. The Arizona cluster will offer graduate students the chance to investigate and experience life at several different postsecondary institutions; it will allow them to form and maintain collegial partnerships with these institutions, partly through providing a pool of instructors and partly through holding collaborative workshops on various topics. ASU will look to establish internships and have PFF participants create and teach courses, either on their own or in teams, at area institutions. Each of the members of this cluster are currently participating in the Graduate College's PFF program and are fully acquainted with PFF activity; ASU is adding, for the first time, a structured systematic approach to incorporating a discipline-based component within the PFF work.

The history department at Boston College plans to do more to acquaint their students with the problems and challenges of teaching world history survey courses. Because of the extraordinary technological changes sweeping the academy, the history department wants to insure that all of the new Boston College Teaching Fellows are taught web technology. Lastly, the Boston College students need to learn how to teach non-traditional students who are different than those at Boston College. To meet these needs, the history department plans workshops on teaching world history and one on web training. A third weekend workshop would be held with the partner faculty to discuss teaching in a variety of academic cultures and teaching environments, each with its own peculiar balance between teaching, committee work, and research. The following fall, the cluster school mentors will then spend an afternoon at Boston College talking, as a group, with their mentees about interviewing strategies.

At Howard University, the history department seeks to strengthen teaching, technical competence, and career development of graduate students. Students who visit the cluster institutions through the Preparing Future Faculty program have the chance to give guest presentations and attend faculty meetings. The graduate students have the opportunity to experience another academic ambiance and to interact with a diverse group of students. The students will examine their own teaching styles and receive feedback. Workshops would provide the basis for an ongoing course in pedagogy for PFF students. The history department also plans to offer workshops in professional development including discussions of the tenure process and publishing. The graduate students will be encouraged to attend and present at local, regional, or national professional meetings. The department also proposes to sponsor three workshops on developments in long-distance learning, the use of Power Point, the function of the "Smart Classroom," and the use of computers in research.

Over the next two years, each cluster will write about their experiences for Perspectives. The AHA hopes that these four different and exemplary Preparing Future Faculty programs can serve as models for other history departments. The AHA staff looks forward to working with the splendid faculty involved in this project.

For updated information about the project, visit our web site at http://www.historians.org/Teaching/PreparingFaculty.htm and the Preparing Future Faculty web site, http://www.preparing-faculty.org.

—Noralee Frankel is AHA's assistant director for women, minorities, and teaching.