Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Off the track: The full-time nontenure -track faculty experience in English
by Shaker, Genevieve, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2008, 318; 3387054
Abstract (Summary)

Few are more interested in the full-time nontenure-track (FTNT) faculty trend than those in English, a discipline substantially affected by the new landscape of faculty employment. This study asked: What are the essential features of the experience of being FTNT faculty in English?

Literature about FTNT faculty, academic and faculty culture, and the discipline of English informed the study, as did dual labor market theory. In the phenomenological qualitative study with critical and postmodern underpinnings, 18 FTNT English faculty from three public institutions participated in semi-structured interviews. All engaged with their English departments' composition programs in varying degrees.

The participants were broadly positive about the nature of their work as FTNT faculty in English, but struggled with the day-to-day realities of being nontenure-track. The participants sought balance between positive and negative aspects of the work, a process necessitating ongoing adjustment and reorientation. Conclusions include: (1) The FTNT faculty followed nontraditional academic career paths, often situating personal priorities first; they planned to continue working in higher education. (2) The FTNT faculty struggled with heavy workloads, salary structures out of balance with their contributions, and often underdeveloped reappointment and promotion policies. (3) Workplace environmental attitudes, while generally positive, were best in the composition program, slightly more middling departmentally, and at times negative institutionally. (4) The FTNT experience in English was deeply and damagingly impacted by composition's position in the discipline. (5) Although most participants professed stronger disciplinary than institutional loyalties, their close connections to their students, workplaces, and communities were repeatedly demonstrated. (6) The FTNT participants' secondary status, due to the nontenure categoration, was amplified by connections to composition and by lingering and outdated stereotypes about "the faculty" and professorial work. (7) Despite undesirable aspects of FTNT work-life, the faculty chose to continue in these appointments because they loved their work; they opted to manage difficult components of their professional lives, rather than surrender their faculty positions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chism, Nancy V. N.
Commitee: Nelson-Laird, Thomas, Palmer, Megan M., Tempel, Eugene
School: Indiana University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher education
Keywords: Composition faculty, Contingent faculty, English faculty, Faculty, Nontenure
Publication Number: 3387054
ISBN: 978-1-109-52914-2
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