What's it like to be a professor? A handful of programs across the United States are giving psychology doctoral students the opportunity to learn firsthand through the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) in Psychology program. Participating students learn about the difference between faculty responsibilities at a variety of higher education settings, link with multiple mentors and get training in the full spectrum of faculty responsibilities-from teaching to service to research.
At first blush, it might seem unnecessary to prime students for the professoriate. After all, new graduates have spent years in academe earning their degrees. But PFF organizers say that most of that training focuses on research, which is only one part of the academic life. New faculty members may find they have little background in how to develop course syllabi, contribute to department committees or advise students.
So, in the 1990s, the Council of Graduate Schools and the Association of American Colleges and Universities founded PFF to help students interested in faculty positions develop those skills, first through the graduate deans of universities and later through academic disciplinary departments. Another aim of the national, multidisciplinary program is to show students the range of jobs in the professorate--at rural and urban institutions, and from community colleges through large research universities.
APA helped expand the program to psychology in 2000. The first PFF programs in psy-chology were at the University of Georgia, the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Miami University of Ohio, and the University of Colorado, Boulder, in partnership with Yale University. New programs have been developed or are being planned in psychology departments at Oklahoma State University, Auburn University, Fordham University, Old Dominion University, the University of Kansas, the University of South Dakota and California State University at Bakersfield.
The UNH program, for one, exposes students to academic life at UNH; Keene State College, a public institution; St. Anselm College, a private liberal arts college; and Howard University in Washington, D.C., an ethnic-minority-serving research institution. Students can participate in seminars and workshops, monthly PFF roundtables and campus visits to partner institutions. UNH also offers doctoral students the chance to take a 12-credit concentration in teaching or earn a MST--master of science for teachers--degree.
To expands its reach, the UNH program used APA PFF funding to begin offering an online summer course, "Preparing to Teach a Psychology Course," through the UNH Summer Institute on Teaching. Subjects include syllabi development, testing, grading and teaching approaches, and psychology doctoral students from any institution can apply.
-D. Smith Bailey