22 SES 10 C, Faculty and Their Working Context
Problem and Purpose
In spite of the multiple studies addressing the changing nature of the academic profession (e.g., Seddon & Levin, 2013), there is limited discussion about the ways in which academic productivity is defined and its effectiveness assessed. Current definitions and assessments of academic productivity are primarily based on institutional perspectives; faculty voices about what productivity involves and how it is and can be rewarded are excluded in the discussion.
Standardized measurements of productivity do not consider differences in faculty’s work by disciplinary field, gender, or career stage. Although academics are expected to participate in three main activities (research, teaching, and service) with equal levels of quality, there is lack of clarity over the ways in which institutional expectations for each activity match faculty’s’ concerns, goals, and projects. Additionally, there are “invisible activities” that faculty perform and consider part of their work but that are neither acknowledged nor rewarded.
Through this investigation, we explain the construction of academic productivity in higher education institutions by examining (a) faculty members’ understanding of productivity within the context of increasing work demands and (b) the ways in which faculty members’ understandings guide their pursuit of academic outcomes as part of their professional practice.
We use a social psychology approach to understand the ways in which individuals’ personal constructs guide the development of certain forms of behavior (e.g., achievement and decision-making). Specifically, we rely on Dweck and associates’ work to understand the role that individuals’ implicit theories play in shaping social action (Dweck, Chiu, & Hong, 1995a; Schunk, 1995).
Implicit theories refer to cognitive resources (i.e., knowledge structures) that guide individuals’ perceptions, emotions, and actions (Anderson, 1995). An implicit theory is a domain-specific conceptual framework an individual holds as an alternate way of constructing their social reality (Dweck et al., 1995a; Schunk, 1995). Individuals’ assumptions (i.e., implicit theories) about specific domains can orient them cognitively to different types of understandings about their social reality and guide their reactions (Dweck, Chiu, & Hong, 1995b). Implicit theories create a meaning framework in which attributions occur. Socialization practices play a critical role in the construction of these theories (Anderson, 1995). Implicit theories tend to be poorly articulated or even unacknowledged or unknown; however, they are relatively stable and malleable (Dweck et al., 1995a).
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