How faculty differ: examining college faculty members' expectations, teaching styles, and behavior using Holland's theory of career

Longley, Mark
Major Professor
Daniel C. Robinson
Committee Member
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

This research was an empirical study incorporating a path analysis methodology to further explore differences in faculty behavior in higher education. Academic disciplines (Smart, Feldman, & Ethington, 2000) served as a model for the study. To complement the research questions, a literature review was conducted to explore specific items related to faculty performance, including faculty attitudes regarding how students learn best, teaching practices, and faculty-student interaction. Data were used from the 2003 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE). Faculty members were grouped by their course listing according to The College Majors Finder (Rosen, Holmberg, & Holland, 1989). Holland (1973, 1985, 1997) classified academic majors into one of six faculty groups (environments): Social, Investigative, Artistic, Conventional, Realistic, and Enterprising. In addition, Holland's theory of careers served as the theoretical framework for the study. For example, stereotypes exist regarding faculty members who teach subjects in the natural sciences (Investigative) as faculty interested primarily in conducting research, as opposed to faculty who teach subjects in the social sciences (Social) and prefer student interaction to research.;Results of the study revealed differences in faculty teaching practices, student interaction, and attitudes about learning across the Holland environments. Common perceptions about natural science (Investigative) faculty's preference for conducting research over teaching undergraduate students was supported. Faculty in this group displayed interest in "student interaction only for the purpose of conducting research." Faculty in Conventional groups which included accounting members, also demonstrated little interest in student interaction. Faculty in Social and Enterprising (business) majors displayed the highest level of interest in student interaction and teaching. These groups had low scores for their interest in "student interaction solely for the purpose of conducting research.";One topic examined briefly in this research was faculty expectations. Future studies should include additional areas about faculty differences and expectations. Successful educators have long recognized the importance of teachers who have high expectations for students to achieve. Recommendations for practice include the need for professionals who advise undergraduates in selecting a major to be mindful of the differences among faculty groups regarding attitudes about learning, teaching practices, and levels of student interaction.