Tenure and the Post-Tenure Review System Thesis

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¶ … Tenure and the Post-Tenure review system

The tenure system was initially implemented to ensure that academic institutions retain the research prowess and teaching expertise of their long-term staff. However, not being regulated in many cases has caused considerable controversy in both internal and external academic circles. Indeed, according to Wood and Des Jarlais (2006, p. 566), the tenure system has attracted the close scrutiny of both legislators and funding agents, who regarded tenure as "a free ride designed to protect non-productive faculty members." On the other hand, proponents of the system have regarded it as a protection measure for academic freedom. This controversy has sparked considerable debate before the implementation of post-tenure review, a system to measure the effectiveness and exercise control over the tenure system.

Post-tenure itself, however, has sparked new debate and fresh controversy (Wood & Jonsrud, 2005, p. 393). The controversy is centrally connected to the original debate surrounding tenure. Many academic institutions regard it as an attack on their professional autonomy and the tenure system itself. Administrators on the other hand believe that post-tenure review is a valuable system to ensure accountability within the academic institution, to ensure both the quality of academic work and the suitable application of funding. Legislators in turn regard it as a way to clean up higher education and ensure the quality of education to the public.

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O'Maera (2004, p. 178) cites further opinions that expand the reasons given for and against post-tenure review: "Critics argue that post-tenure review 'dampens creativity and collegial relationships & #8230;, while advocates suggest that it enhances faculty performance by guaranteeing systematic, continuous, and comprehensive feedback and opportunities for professional growth."

TOPIC: Thesis on Tenure and the Post-Tenure Review System the Assignment

The problem is however that neither side has much empirical evidence to support their positions (O'Maera, 2004, p. 178). Wood & Jonsrud (2005, 394) agree that few empirical studies have addressed the post-tenure issue in great depth. While the authors address the issue from the point-of-view of those involved in the post-tenure review process, they provide a valuable springboard for further study.

To place the research methodology and design in perspective, the research problem, purpose, and questions are briefly addressed below:

Research Problem, Purpose, and Questions

The research problem revolves around the controversy regarding the tenure system. In extreme cases, it has sparked public hostility. Post-tenure review in turn has attracted resistance and hostility from academic institutions and individuals.

The purpose of the study is therefore to highlight the issues inherent in the tenure and post-tenure review systems. This is done by means of three research questions: 1) What is the impact of post-tenure review on teaching, research, and service?; 2) Does the post-tenure review policy diminish collegiality and obstruct academic freedom?; 3) Does the post-tenure review policy have unintended consequences for related campus systems and culture?

Research Design and Methods

It is proposed that a mixed methods research design be implemented to study the issues highlighted. This means that a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods will be used. According to Creswell (2009, p. 4), qualitative research explores and understands a social or human problem means of investigating the meanings that people attach to this problem. Creswell also states that a qualitative approach is best when investigating a problem that has not yet been studied in all its aspects and the full depth of research potential it offers (Creswell,

2009, p. 18). The reason for this is the exploratory nature of qualitative research.

A qualitative research design lends itself well to the area of study, because little research has been done on the issue, and variables are unknown. Qualitative research can provide variables in order to study the phenomenon of tenure and post-tenure further. This method is particularly useful in terms of Question 3, which contains an open-ended result that cannot be hypothesized. Qualitative research can also be applied to Question 1 and 2, although these questions are best explored by also using quantitative methods.

Because research has already been conducted regarding the issue of tenure and post-tenure, it is also useful to include quantitative research methods. While the issue is relatively new to the empirical research, I believe it is necessary to include quantitative methods to explore the issue in full. Question 1 and 2 lend themselves well to a combined approach of qualitative and quantitative methods.

According to Creswell (2009, p. 4), quantitative research tests objective theories by means of variables. The relationship between these variables are measured by means of instruments, after which an analysis can be conducted. Generally, quantitative data are numerical, whereas qualitative research is narrative. In order to test the effectiveness of tenure and post-tenure review, some form of numerical data should be examined, along with verbal and narrative data as collected from research participants.

Creswell (2009, p. 4) notes that mixed methods research combines the qualitative and quantitative research. In addition, it includes philosophical assumptions. This is relevant to the research, as tenure and post-tenure review concerns more than data and opinion. It includes an underlying philosophy regarding the purpose of an academic career, and the imposition of controls upon such a career. Indeed, this is the very basis of the conflict involved. Creswell notes that the purpose of a mixed methods study design is to obtain a result that is greater than either qualitative or quantitative research on its own.

Creswell (2009, p. 14) also describes the sequential mixed methods procedure, which uses the qualitative and quantitative methods in sequence in order to elaborate and expand the methods of the first by means of the second. Either the qualitative or quantitative method can be used as a basis for the second method. This has been discarded as a possibility for the research, in favor of using the methods at the same time. The reason for this is that existing numerical data will be obtained by means of investigation, while interviews and surveys will be used to supplement these data. The data will not necessarily be sequential, and will not be treated as such. Instead, Question 1 and 2 will be investigated by a combination of methods.

Research Methods

Participants will be chosen from three groups: an academic institution where the tenure and post-tenure review systems are implemented; the administrator of these programs; and a legal or funding body that represents the public interest in terms of quality of service and education.

Data for analysis will be gathered by means of various methods. In terms of quantitative data, surveys and existing data will be obtained from the chosen academic institutions. Surveys will be conducted to determine the degree of positive or negative effects of tenure or post-tenure positions. Data gathered in this way will relate to the academic publications and success rates of student programs for specific lecturers.

In order to conduct such surveys, it is also important to consider the ethical aspect of the research. Permission will be obtained from all departments and individuals being surveyed. The data will be disclosed in an anonymous, quantitative way, where participants will be distinguished either by pseudonym or by number.

Surveys will also be conducted by means of structured and multiple-choice questionnaires, where participants indicate their view by choosing from a number of predetermined answers. These questions will be intermittently supplemented by open-ended answer options, where participants are invited to add to the existing choices if their answer falls within the "other" category. In administering all these surveys, the researcher will maintain a professional aspect at all times, providing participants with both privacy and anonymity wherever this is possible and/or required.

An advantage of quantitative study is that it provides a numerical indicator of variables and trends. It provides a sense of certainty and verifiability. This will be particularly useful in determining whether the post-tenure review system has impacted the quality of research output and education in terms of pass rates and grades for particular tenured staff.

Qualitative data will be gathered by means of interviews and open-ended questionnaires. Interviews are a very interesting method of research, as it provides a variety of possibilities in terms of gathering qualitative data. In this research, three types of interviews will be conducted; one with individuals from each sector of study participants; one with groups from each sector, and one with a group included representatives from each sector. These comprehensive interviews will ensure a global view of the issues involved, and also highlight issues that are potentially unforeseen by the hypotheses and research questions.

Interviews are therefore also a valuable way to address Question 3 within the research questions. A disadvantage of the interview method is the potential for interviewer bias. The interviewer may view an issue in a certain way and apply his or her own values, beliefs or opinions upon the interpretation of the data. Furthermore, facial expressions and potentially extreme reactions to the questions raised could compromise the validity of the data. To mitigate this limitation, open-ended questionnaires will be used to supplement the interviews. Questionnaires will be administered to a different set of participants than the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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