Tenure: Perceptions of Online Professors Essay

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Post Tenure

The Perceptions of Online Professors Regarding Tenure and Post-Tenure Review

Over the course of several months, researchers here have compiled a wealth of resources relating to the subjects of academic tenure and post-tenure review. These resources have served in the preliminary capacity to prepare for a focused scientific inquiry on the subject, producing a full spectrum of opinions and findings relating to the institution of tenure. Among these opinions and findings are those endorsing the importance of tenure; arguing on the behalf of its protection; espousing such imperatives as the need for academic freedom; and responding with defensiveness, resistance and concern over the notion of post-tenure review. Conversely, research has also produced a bevy of opinions and findings to the support of post-tenure review based on the impression that this is necessary to reign in performance shortcomings on the part of tenured instructors; that tenure is a system which is broken and in need of scrutiny and repair; that higher education instructors in particular have used tenure as a way to lapse into dereliction of teaching duties; and that many of the claimed imperatives for the protection of tenure are exaggerated.

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TOPIC: Essay on Tenure: Perceptions of Online Professors Assignment

O'Meara (2004) presents us with a clear statement of this disagreement. The article reports that "critics argue that post-tenure review 'dampens creativity and collegial relationships and threatens academic freedom' (AAUP, 1995, p. 49) while advocates suggest that it enhances faculty performance by guaranteeing systematic, continuous, and comprehensive feedback and opportunities for professional growth." (O'Meara, 178) This presents researchers with a distinct conflict and demonstrates that there is no consensus in the field. Quite to the contrary, the research discussed hereafter will be based largely on the view that controversy continues to escalate around this issue. Researchers speculate based on much of the research encountered and applied here throughout that of the many reasons why this may have become a prominent issue of late, the political imperative to assign blame for a perceived declination in higher education standards has cast professorship and tenure into doubt. This somewhat speculative hypothesis has helped to invoke an interest in the perspective of higher education instructors, who it may be argued have received the brunt of blame for a shared set of problems and responsibilities. Therefore, the research to be conducted will set its focus on the specifically identified subset of higher education instructors distinguished by those who teach through the online medium.

Under the view that this is a group impacted by the controversy but often not consulted on the subject, it is seen as valuable to proceed with a research investigation that may confirm or refute the speculative assumptions driving this research. Namely, the view that an attack on the tenure system is politically motivated and misdirected contributes to the research assumptions that post-tenure review is a negative force in its current form. The hypothesis is that a scientific inquiry where online professors are concerned will confirm this view.

Problem Statement

As is noted here above, the research has been invoked by what may be characterized as a research problem. Where advocates of post-tenure review will characterize tenure as a subject due for scrutiny, critics of post-tenure review will characterize this subject as the 'problem' subject. This is the view taken by researchers, who argue here that the central problem of the research is a lack of consensus or empirical certainty concerning the impact which post-tenure review has on the job performance of online university professors. This lack of consensus or empirical certainty is underscored by the point of contradiction between those that do and do not support the practice of post-tenure review. Accordingly, Helms et al. (2001) describe the juxtaposing positions on this subject, reiterating the argument stated by O'Meara in the Introduction section that "critics argue tenured faculty are less productive and the tenure system harbors unproductive faculty, or 'deadwood' for years (Conrad and Trosch, 1998). Antony and Raveling (1998) studied the link between tenure and the productivity of college faculty and found no difference in productivity between tenured and non-tenured faculty." (Helms et al., 6) These two differing viewpoints underscore the primary problem that extends to our understanding of online educators. Therefore, it can be stated that the primary research problem is the impact of post-tenure review according to the perception of online professors.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the proposed research is to prove that online professors view post-tenure review as a negative policy which attacks the security provided by tenure without achieving any significant gains in the areas of job performance or quality of education.

Research Method

The research method is a Quantitative approach facilitated by a structured survey instrument (quantitative) using a basic Likert Scale.

Research Design

The research design is a single trial, non-experimental scientific inquiry. Constructs

The proposed study to examine the impact of post-tenure review on the performance quality of online professors proceeds from a number of measurement bases provided by prior research. The measurement of key variables is initiated by the framework offered in such work as that by Wood & Johnsrud (2005). Here, the authors operationally define post-tenure review as both formative and summative, with the former of these using the review process to help direct future academic and research participation on the part of educators and the latter of these using the review process as a way of cataloguing and assessing the performance of these educator in an ongoing way. Both definitions apply to our intent to operationalization of post-tenure review as the independent variable.

As to operationalizing the dependent variable, the study by Wood & Johnsrud also provides us with a framework for measuring 'quality of performance' by offering four categories for evaluation. These, according to the 'Design of the Study' are "a) demographic variables; b) institutional contexts; c) value-based constructs; and d) outcome variables." (Wood & Johnsurd, 397) These items may be used to draw a correlation with what instructors have perceived as the practical impact of post-tenure review on personal performance qualities. These constructs will be examined using a 436 online professors at one university as the non-randomized sample population.

Research Questions

Introduction

It is believed that one of the key reasons for the lack of resolution on the subject of post-tenure review is the glut of divergent positions which confound the issue. Researchers have tended through the course of the literature which this account has appealed to for foundation to reaffirm the manner in which this din of contrasting viewpoints has undermined the possibility of compromise. For instance, Dnes & Garoupa (2005) take the view that tenure is a valuable and necessary protection for the job security and academic freedom of instructors but that change is needed to ensure the effectiveness of the system. By contrast, such works as that by Roepnack & Lewis (2007) are that claims as to the connection between the protection of tenure and the presence of academic freedom for educators have been exaggerated and tend to prevent effective peer-review. This divide underscores the problem statement guiding the research process as well as the set of research questions which have been developed to help bring to the surface what are here viewed as the issues most essentially to achieving that elusive compromise.

Research Questions

The research process has been engaged with the intent to address the following research questions:
  1. Do you believe that academic freedom/tenure is a sufficient protection?
  2. Does post-tenure review impact teaching, service, and research?
  3. Do you feel that collegiality should be an important factor in making academic tenure decisions?
  4. Does granting tenure enhance organizational effectiveness?
  5. Does tenure destroy mobility in the higher education job market?
  6. Does the post-tenure review model diminish collegiality?
  7. Does the post-tenure review policy have unintended consequences for related campus systems and culture?
Hypothesis

The overarching hypothesis is that a consideration of these research questions through the proposed research design will confirm the argument that post-tenure review negatively impacts the performance of online professors.

Rationale

This is supported by the view that higher education instructors will generally trend to reject the claims driving post-tenure review. So is this denoted in the research by sources connected post-tenure review to an attack on the system of tenure. Zemsky's (2008) article is instructive in informing this research assumption. Most particularly, the researchers here are motivated by the view that post-tenure review is genuinely attached to a broader movement to dismantle or erode the patterns relating to tenure. Namely, Zemsky reports that "the proportion of university and college faculty members with full academic qualifications -- which usually means those with earned doctorates -- who either have tenure or are serving a probationary period for tenure has… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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