The Role of Service Learning in Preparing Future Faculty: The UGA Model

The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program is a national initiative involving 43 doctoral degree- granting institutions and more than 295 partner institutions. Built upon partnership and cooperation, the PFF program transforms the way aspiring faculty members are prepared for academic careers, moving toward an education that is informed by the various roles and responsibilities faculty members have in a variety of institutional settings.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC& U), the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), the National Science Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and an anonymous donor have sponsored the PFF program to improve graduate education.

The goal of the PFF program is to expose students to the full range of academic roles and responsibilities of research, teaching, and service. PFF provides doctoral students with opportunities to observe and experience faculty responsibilities at a variety of academic institutions with varying missions, diverse student bodies, and differing expectations for faculty.

What Is the UGA PFF Program?

The PFF program at UGA is a collaboration among the three departments that have psychology doctoral programs. Drs. Rosemary Phelps (Counseling Psychology), Tarek Grantham (Educational Psychology) and Kecia Thomas (Applied Psychology) collaborate in order to provide this resource to the UGA community with the help of the partner institutions which include: Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, North Georgia College and State University, and Kennesaw State University. Started in the fall of 2000, the UGA PFF program is currently funded by the American Psychological Association. The program:

  • Focuses on the recruitment and training of doctoral students who may be considering academic careers in higher education

  • Has a strong commitment to and emphasis on issues of diversity and civic engagement

UGA PFF Program Design

The UGA PFF program is a 2-year developmentally-sequenced program. The focus of the first year involves mentoring and exposure to various academic institutions and departments of psychology, and acquisition of knowledge and skills related to instructional development. The second year focuses on practical application of knowledge and skills at various partner institutions.

UGA PFF Program Benefits

The UGA PFF program provides a variety of workshops, activities, and personalized experiences designed to help each PFF scholar develop his/her desired scholarship model. Core benefits include:

  • Gaining comprehensive knowledge of faculty roles and responsibilities at various types of institutions of higher learning

  • Learning how research, teaching, and service can be effectively combined to create a satisfying career

  • Facilitating entry into a competitive academic job market

  • Learning to navigate the early years in academe

UGA PFF Activities and Highlights

  • Learn state-of-the-art technological tools that lead to optimal instruction and student learning
  • Develop a personalized teaching philosophy
  • Develop a professional portfolio
  • Develop a vita that highlights personal and professional strengths
  • Present at regional and national conferences
  • Engage in grant writing and service learning activities

Role of Service Learning in the UGA-PFF Mission

Service learning plays an important role in the UGA-PFF model of faculty development. Through the valuable help and guidance of faculty at our partner institutions, PFF scholars are able to engage in academic work that benefits not only themselves but also the psychology departments at our partner institutions, their students, and the larger community. Service learning provides PFF scholars with the opportunity to comprehend that the faculty responsibilities of teaching, research, and service are best accomplished when they are integrated and serve to benefit each other. PFF students' service-oriented activities do not simply provide them with new experiences. These experiences become the basis of course development and pedagogical scholarship. In turn PFF students' scholarship and research help to inform the instruction and service they offer.

Through conferences with partner faculty, PFF scholars work to understand existing and future needs of the partner departments and together they work to fulfill those needs. PFF service activities include:

  • Working with faculty to develop instruction-oriented grant proposals to implement teaching innovations

  • Working with faculty to develop service-oriented grant proposals to improve the climate for student diversity

  • Developing content modules to fulfill gaps in a particular course under the guidance of a partner faculty member

  • Developing workshops for student organizations such as PSI CHI and the Psychology Clubs at the partner institutions.

  • Team teaching with partner faculty

  • Guest lecturing in classes at partner institutions about applying to graduate school and preparing for the graduate school experience

  • Assisting faculty in developing service-learning enhancements for existing courses