Educational Policy & Social Context Lab Meeting
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
12:00 - 1:00 pm
During the EPSC lab meeting on June 5, the final meeting of the 20218-2019 academic year, PhD student Ashley Harlow presents her research on the experiences and perspectives of tenure-track teaching faculty.
In conjunction with increasing enrollment in institutions of higher education, faculty positions outside of the traditional tenure-track research faculty have grown in popularity. These include adjuncts, lecturers, and teaching faculty. The University of California employs individuals in its own unique position called Lecturer with Security of Employment (LSOE). The LSOE position is tenure-track with a primary expectation of teaching while also performing scholarly activity and campus service. There is a growing body of research that focuses on the perspectives of teaching faculty, but few studies examine how those within the department view these teaching focused roles. In this study, we present findings from interviews with 25 administrators in STEM departments from 3 different UC campuses who all were actively involved with the LSOE hiring process. We found that all administrators acknowledged that LSOEs were hired to fill perceived holes in the curriculum, a pragmatic approach, but later were appreciated for an array of unexpected internal and external contributions. These included serving as instructional resources for their colleagues and publishing education-focused research. Despite these positive impacts, there were considerable challenges that we identified for LSOE faculty. These included integration issues, negative connotations of the LSOE title, and a lack of clarity regarding how LSOE faculty are evaluated. Additionally, despite the unexpected positive impacts highlighted by administrators, most were uncertain regarding the prospects of additional future LSOE hires. Overall, this study argues for the need to have clearer expectations for tenuretrack teaching faculty and highlights the value that LSOEs bring to STEM departments.