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Professional Development Opportunities

Professional Development in Teaching and Scholarly/Creative Activity:
Opportunities for Faculty in Liberal Arts

Updated May 21, 2008

College-wide activities for professional development of faculty as teachers, scholars, and practitioners

Professional development through faculty evaluation. The College of Liberal Arts supports the professional development of faculty by implementing evaluation policies established by the State of Texas (Education Code, Section 51.942) and Texas State University (PPS 8.09). The College concurs with the goals of faculty evaluation listed in the Faculty Senate’s Faculty Handbook:

The purposes of annual faculty evaluation are to provide for self-development; to identify, reinforce, and share the strengths of faculty; to extend opportunities for continuous professional development; and to provide for identifying and strengthening the role of faculty members within their departments. (pp. 39-40)

In accord with State and University policies, the College ensures that each department develops and publicizes to faculty a policy regarding their evaluation in areas that include teaching and scholarly/creative activities. The College collects data for annual evaluation by means of its Faculty Annual Review and Reporting System (FARRS) (found here), and each faculty member (tenured, tenure-track, senior lecturer, lecturer, full- or part-time adjunct) receives an annual evaluation completed by the departmental personnel committee, the departmental chair, and the dean. The review process requires the annual collection of student evaluations for each faculty member.

Development of tenure-track faculty. All departments in the College of Liberal Arts have developed a policy to mentor tenure-track faculty and ensure that they are aware of specific requirements for tenure and resources available to them. As required by Texas State University (PPS 8.01), all tenure-track faculty in Liberal Arts receive annual formative reviews as well as summative reviews in at least the third and sixth years. Tenured faculty serve as individual mentors for tenure-track faculty, observe and report on their classroom teaching, offer advice related to teaching, research, and publication agendas, and share relevant information with personnel committees and chairs who also advise and review tenure-track faculty to ensure that they develop as teachers and researchers/scholars/creative writers.

Development of new and interim chairs. The Dean of Liberal Arts mentors new and interim chairs by meeting with them weekly during their first year.

Developmental leaves. Every six years, eligible faculty in Liberal Arts may apply to the Faculty Senate for developmental leaves to complete scholarly/creative projects. Applicants reviewed favorably receive 100% support for a single semester or 50% support for an academic year.

University-sponsored workshops. Liberal Arts encourages faculty to participate in on-campus workshops and programs designed to improve teaching and scholarly/creative activity, such as those offered by the offices of Academic Development and Assessment, Institutional Effectiveness and Research, Instructional Technologies, Multicultural/Gender Studies, Study Abroad, Development Research, Sponsored Programs, Testing Research / Support and Evaluation.

Support for Grants and Awards. The College employs a Grants Assistant to help faculty develop proposals for external grants that support teaching and scholarly/creative activities. Staff in the Liberal Arts office help faculty prepare materials to be submitted for internal grants and awards. In collaboration with the Office of Sponsored Programs, the dean funds additional assistance in grant development, often mentors junior faculty writing grants, and reads and edits drafts of faculty grant proposals. In addition, the Department of History has established a Nominations Committee to help faculty complete competitive applications for scholarships, grants, and awards, and the Associate Chair of the Department of English offers similar assistance.

Travel. Departments have developed policies to allocate funds for faculty participation in professional conferences and other scholarly/creative activities. Teaching assistants apply to the department, College of Liberal Arts, and the Graduate College for funds to support travel for professional development. The Department of Geography and the Centers for the Study of the Southwest and International Studies supplement University travel funds with endowments and, in the case of the Center for International Studies, with a Department of Education grant for international travel and course development.

College-Sponsored Workshops and Institutes. The College offers workshops for its new faculty on the assignment and evaluation of writing in small and large classes, and the Center for Multicultural and Gender Studies offers an institute annually that assists faculty who wish to incorporate multicultural materials and activities into new courses and transform existing courses.

Program-specific activities

Lecture series and regional /national / international conferences. The Departments of Anthropology, English, Geography, History, and Philosophy, as well as the Center for International Studies and the Center for Study of the Southwest offer annual lecture series funded by the academic units, grants, or endowments. The series bring to campus exemplary public figures, scholars, researchers, and creative writers and offer opportunities for visitors’ collaboration with Texas State faculty and students. Within the past three years, the Departments of Anthropology and Geography and the Center for the Study of the Southwest have brought regional, national, and international conferences and workshops to campus.

Development of graduate assistants. All Liberal Arts departments hire graduate assistants (GAs) as instructional assistants (IAs, with fewer than 18 hours in the graduate major) and/or as teaching assistants (TAs, with 18 hours or more in the graduate major). All GAs with teaching duties enroll in for-credit practica and receive training specific to their discipline. In English, separate practica for IAs and TAs are designed to help teachers at both levels learn appropriate teaching activities, including how to evaluate student work efficiently and effectively, develop effective classroom activities and conferencing techniques, and create teaching portfolios (calendars/syllabi, writing prompts, and handouts). TAs receive evaluations of the materials and performance in the classroom. The department maintains a collection of resources for TAs and IAs, as well as resource notebooks and exemplary models of teaching materials and prompts. The Department of Geography has developed a TA/Adjunct Mentoring and Review Committee that worksalong with the TA practicum and other activities to develop effective teachers.

Specialized teaching opportunities. Many Liberal Arts faculty teach courses in specialized circumstances that contribute to their development as teachers and scholars/creative writers. Courses offered in Honors, study abroad, distance learning, Reach-for-the-Stars, ESL, and other specialized programs at Texas State encourage development of improved teaching techniques and extend the reach of faculty knowledge and expertise. Faculty in History participate in teaching institutes funded by the Department of Education for K-12 teachers and receive opportunities for reflection upon and development of effective teaching techniques as well as development of expertise in specialized research.

Departmental workshops, symposia, and other development activities. Each year Liberal Arts departments offer a rich blend of workshops and colloquia for faculty as well as graduate and/or undergraduate participation. The Departments of Anthropology and Geography offer opportunities to share faculty research at brown-bag lunches, and the Department of Philosophy annually presents a Dialogue Series with presentations focused on philosophical topics. The Dialogue Series continues throughout the year with presentations by faculty on- and off-campus, public figures, and students. Other development activities include the following:

  • Sharing of drafts of works-in-progress among colleagues
  • Collaborative research projects within or across disciplines
  • Team-teaching opportunities in Honors courses
  • Workshops to help English graduate students prepare applications for doctoral programs
  • Colloquia and other events at which faculty hear and offer advice to graduate students who are preparing conference presentations
  • Mentoring of faculty preparing Research Enhancement Grant proposals
  • Faculty participation as book reviewers for academic publications housed at Texas State
  • Faculty interaction and collaboration on International Studies Boards of Advisors for Asian Studies and Latin American Studies
  • The Jones Professorship and the Supple Endowed Chair in Southwest Studies offer release time to support research in Southwest Studies