Post Tenure Review Post-Tenure Review: Envisioned Research Essay

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Post Tenure Review

Post-Tenure Review: Envisioned Research

Tenure is a practice which was originally put into action as a way to protect professional educators against administrative imposition, politically-motivated job insecurity and external threats to academic freedom. For educational professionals working in higher education settings especially, this is a deeply guarded practice that provides for continuity, consistency and experience amongst staffs and faculties. This same practice has come under heavy criticism in recent years though, with students, communities, administrators and public office holders volleying blame for low test scores, poor student performance, diminished overall university performance and other negative academic indicators. Among the many culprits which have been identified as we troubleshoot our educational system, educators have been subjected to significant measures of scrutiny and with them, so has the practice of tenure.

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As administrative figures have scrambled to find ways to address what is perceived as a diminished standard of educational professionalism, tenure has emerged as an easy target for intervention. This would bring to bear the practice of post-tenure review, a procedure designed almost explicitly to undermine the values and goals of tenure. The job security, academic freedom and political autonomy afforded by tenure are subverted by a process which is inherently intended to identify negative byproducts of the tenure practice. As a result, post-tenure review is discredited in much research and in the discourse of educational professionals, with both arguing that post-tenure review is simultaneously a threat to academic freedom which damages the flexibility and morale of educators and that the practice leads to a number of negative unintended consequences which suggest that it implementation is flawed.

TOPIC: Essay on Post Tenure Review Post-Tenure Review: Envisioned Research Assignment

The research which is envisioned here is designed to address the numerous conflicting viewpoints which characterize the current discussion. In particular, the research will proceed from the basic assumption that post-tenure review does not positively impact academic performance. Therefore, the impetus is on drawing a connection between the negative reception of educators to post-tenure review and the resultant failure to post-tenure review to effect a positive change in academic performance.

Envisioned Context:

Before proceeding to identify a specific case example to be used for the study proposed here, it is appropriate to identify a number of studies previously conducted which provide both a basis for our preconceived assumptions about the relative failure of post-tenure review and as a template for the envisioned context. In particular, we find that many of the studies previously conducted in this area have centered on the university setting, and have used self-contained universities faculties as sample sets when attempting to measure the general sentiment held by educational professionals on the subject.

To this end, a positive precedent in determining the envisioned context would be that provided by Wood & Johnsrud (2005), who report that "post-tenure review has been studied primarily as an administrative issue in higher education; less attention has been given to empirically examining the underlying assumptions of faculty regarding this phenomenon. By surveying a representative sample of over 400 instructional faculty at two research universities, this study contributes to what is known about faculty beliefs and values regarding post-tenure review in the context of organizational culture." (Wood & Johnsrud, 393)

This helps to point us toward a context which, as Wood & Johnsrud contend, is in need of further study and illumination. Namely, the notion of post-tenure review as having value seems largely to have emerged from sources other than the perspective of educational professionals. Administrators, politicians and other outsiders have had a hand in the design of post-tenure review policies, which means that much of the empirical research conducted to endorse it has been taken from these perspectives. This is why, Wood & Johnsrun argue, there is a scholastic value to identifying the perspective of educational professionals in the higher education context. For our research, there is a particular opportunity to distill any possible relationship between this perspective and real performance indicators in the academic context.

Also, as noted in our introduction, there is an interest in also illustrating that post-tenure review has produced certain negative impacts that were neither planned nor wanted. For this, we may also refer to previously conducted research, which offers a context for examination of such questions. Again, in a study by Wood & Des Jarlais (2006), an institution of higher learning is provided as the context for a study of the effects rendered by post-tenure review. Accordingly, the study by Wood & Des Jarlais reports that "the University of Hawaii at Manoa was one of the first institutions to implement posttenure review. A study conducted after 10 years reveals that the stated purposes of the policy had largely been lost in day-to-day practice, resulting in the perception that posttenure review had lost much of its impact and value." (Wood & Des Jarlais, 562)

These two studies serve as a basis for research endeavor that seeks to strengthen both of the arguments comprised there within. Thus, we are inclined to envision the context as being a set of institutions for higher learning. Indeed, there is a great deal which yet can be learned through a comparative examination of a set of universities, and particularly a comparative examination of universities both with and without post-tenure review practices. Moreover, the research conducted here above provides us with a focus within the envisioned context upon university faculties. The imperative to examine more exhaustively the view held by educators on the subject will be served effectively by the proposed context.

Envisioned Variables:

The proposed study foresees a wide spectrum of variables due for possible examination. This is why we have previously identified the Mixed Methods approach as the most suitable approach for encompassing all envisioned variables. This phase of envisioning the research is a valuable one because it allows us to identify a wide host of possible variables, many of which may ultimately not produce any meaningful conclusions. Envisioning our variables and contextualizing them in a Mixed Methods study will allow for something of a vetting process in which those variables of the greatest importance will emerge as such. Likewise, the Mixed Methods approach emerges as the preferred way of examining and identifying variables because it allows us to consider both those which are measured through the use of qualitative observation and quantitative data-collection. As the text by Creswell & Plano (2007) reports, "mixed methods research provides strengths that offset the weaknesses of both quantitative and qualitative research. This has been the historical argument for mixed methods research for the last 25 years. The argument goes that quantitative research is weak in understanding the context or setting in which people talk. Also, the voices of participants are not directly heard in quantitative research. . . . On the other hand, qualitative research is seen as deficient because of the personal interpretations made by the researcher." (Creswell & Plano, 9)

In our envisioned Mixed Methods study of post-tenure review, the independent variable is the presence of post-tenure review. This is the variable that we envision dedicating the study to better evaluating by distilling both control and experimental contexts in which to engage the variable. The dependent variables which we envision relating to the presence of post-tenure review are likely to be multilayered, underscoring the selection of the Mixed Methods approach. Here, variables will be based on the hypothesis that post-tenure review creates a sense of job insecurity, lowers morale and functions to intervene in the protection of those who have earned their entitlement to professional longevity without attaining the scholastic goals which are its primary intent. This promotes the essentially qualitative examination of the actual experiences of educators who have gained tenure and have subsequently been subjected to post-tenure review. This denotes that a single dependent variable can be identified as educator job contentment. Here, the open-ended discussion with instructors will identify such sub-variables as academic freedom, job satisfaction morale, motivation, flexibility, creativity, political pressure and other characteristics of the occupation. It is predicted that the index of job contentment will be lower where post-tenure review is in place.

The Mixed Methods approach also envisions confirming the assumption that post-tenure review will have unintended consequences by examining the dependent variables relating to academic performance. Here, both study contexts would be subjected to a thorough collection of numerical indicators of performance, including such features a student attendance, dropout rates, enrollment figures, classroom GPA and other figures used as indicators of performance. These variables are envisioned to be dependent upon educator job contentment indexes.

Envisioned Data Collection:

We envision creating a guiding instrument for personal and open-ended survey interviews with samples selected from the control and experimental envisioned contexts. Conducting survey interviews with a sample set of tenured professors, the intent would be to gain a descriptive data set outlining, highlighting and presenting consensus or a lack thereof on the impact to one's professional experience of post tenure review.

This could then be supplemented by a set of quantifiable figures concerning practical classroom realities. The gathering of quantitative data could be conducted in a number… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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