Preparing the professoriate of the future: An assessment case study

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Joseph Shedd


Graduate education, Teaching assistant, Faculty development, Professoriate

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Teacher Education and Professional Development


For the past decade, new initiatives have been created all over the country to enhance the preparation of graduate students for faculty positions. Many institutions of higher education, building on the teaching assistant development movement have developed programs to prepare graduate students for both the creation of new knowledge (e.g., research) and the dissemination of knowledge (e.g., teaching).

The Future Professoriate Project (FPP) at Syracuse University is an example of this type of effort. Created in 1992, this initiative is one of the first of its kind in the United States. All too often, such innovations as the FPP are established with enthusiasm and once the novelty wears off the initiative is left to either flounder or succeed without any attention to which aspects of the effort are effective and which aspects are not working. This study aims to develop a framework and process for evaluating the FPP and similar programs, and in the process, provide valuable feedback about the strengths and limitations of the immediate program.

Based on frameworks developed by Ewell (1991) and the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) (1992), this study makes use of five sources of data, including: (1) an analysis of existing documents; (2) a review of student characteristics; (3) alumni interviews about their perceptions of the FPP; (4) a survey of department chairpersons who hired FPP alumni; and (5) a content analysis of the portfolios that have been submitted for the certificate in University Teaching. Within each of these sections there is an analysis of the data as well as observations and questions and issues and recommendations that are gleaned from the data. In an era when assessment initiatives are rapidly emerging throughout the United States this study provides useful information and suggestions for improvement of the FPP, and develops and refines an assessment framework that could be used in the future by this and other such efforts. Three important conclusions that emerged from this study include: (1) the value of formative assessment; (2) the roles of centralized and decentralized units in a university-wide initiative; and (3)the importance of the assessment framework.


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