Becoming faculty: an exploratory study of the factors influencing the decisions of Canadian faculty to choose and remain in academe
The purpose of this study was to examine the factors influencing the decisions of Canadian faculty members to choose, and remain in, academe. In addition, the study examined why faculty chose to work, and remain, at their current institution. The role of some factors in faculty decisions to become and remain as academics was examined. The study also sought participants’ views on ways in which Canadian universities can attract and retain young individuals in academe. This study is a case study of faculty at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. Gerring (2004) defined a case study as an intensive study of a single unit with an aim to generalize or transfer findings across a larger set of units. In understanding the factors influencing the decisions of Canadian faculty to choose and remain in academe, this study concentrated “on one among others” (Stake, 2005, p. 444) – faculty members at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. All faculty members at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon were invited to participate in the study through the University of Saskatchewan’s Personalized Access to Web Services (PAWS). Participants were provided with a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) link that directed them to complete the survey instrument. A total of ninety two faculty members participated in the survey. The data were collected between the months of October 2007 and May 2008. It was found in the study that an individual’s decision to pursue an academic career is a product of interrelated factors that are personal, social and environmental. The study found that motivations for pursuing an academic career are both intrinsic and extrinsic, but largely intrinsic. The study found that graduate school experience played an important role in participants’ decisions to become faculty members, and that financial considerations were unimportant in participants’ decisions to become faculty members. The study found that mentoring and awareness creation about the professoriate are important in attracting and retaining young individuals in academe. This study has implications for universities, graduate programs and graduate faculty that could better enable aspiring faculty envision the professoriate and its demands. Educating aspiring faculty about the professoriate will provide them “a rich, full understanding of academic life and faculty careers” (Austin, 2002, p. 109). The study has an implication for aspiring faculty that the love of one’s field and the desire to teach and do research is a pre-requisite for becoming a faculty member. The study found that an individual’s decision to become a faculty is not exclusively influenced by personal or environmental factors, but by interrelated factors that are personal, social and environmental. An implication of the study is that a more interactive and holistic approach to understanding career decisions is necessary in academe. Such an interactive and holistic approach will provide a basis for understanding how to attract and retain young individuals in academe.
Faculty, Higher Education, Professoriate, Academe
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)