The results are presented by research question, where we begin by exploring the intended goals stakeholders had when hiring PoT (RQ1). Then we take into consideration whether these goals are met by PoT both in their departments and respective fields (RQ2). Finally, we investigate barriers PoT face while trying to meet their goals (RQ3). As the write-up of our findings is in response to our research questions, some codes in our codebook do not show up here. We wanted to answer our research questions with exemplar quotes and therefore only include the main codes. We included the full codebook for transparency in Table 1. Each quote includes the numeric participant indicator, with the first number representing the campus (1, 2, or 3) and the second two numbers representing the interview number.

Research question 1: what are stakeholders’ goals for hiring professors of teaching?

One of the main reasons for hiring teaching-focused faculty into the PoT series identified by stakeholders was to ease the departmental teaching responsibilities with a smaller financial investment compared to hiring a research faculty. Nearly every participant commented on this intended outcome. For example:

“[W]e get more teaching done with people that also don’t occupy much space… and that is a real concern within biological sciences, because if you bring in a line faculty, it’s not just the classes they teach. It’s not even the setup [cost], which can be enormously expensive. But it’s also that they occupy several thousand square feet of laboratory space (Interview 103).”

Since PoT are expected to have higher teaching responsibilities, they can cover more classes (ease the burden) in a more economical fashion relative to research-focused professors (comparisons to research-focused professors).

Most stakeholders identified that PoT brought consistency to the department’s teaching mission (internal impact). Rather than relying on adjuncts, stakeholders favored the idea of having “faculty who were able to focus more of their time on teaching, [and] also who were expected to think creatively about how we were going to educate engineers in a better way (Interview 206).” Stakeholders also viewed the PoT as working to improve their colleagues’ teaching practices (internal impact).

Stakeholders noted that PoT had the potential to contribute to teaching-related service within the department (ease the burden). One stakeholder said that they hired PoT to “address specialized teaching needs that our ladder-rank faculty are not well suited to (Interview 305),” and have “somebody who is primarily involved in teaching … [and can] help us with ABET [accreditation] so that, you know, we could take care of two things at once with one of these positions (Interview 208)”. Examples of these needs stakeholders described included accreditation, revising laboratory courses, improving student outcomes in large courses, creating new assessment tools, designing capstone courses, and improving laboratory safety (internal impact).

These excerpts highlight that stakeholders identified many benefits (value) PoT can provide to a department including providing consistency to a higher number of teaching tasks (as compared with their research-focused faculty peers), taking on service responsibilities, or informing their department about trends in the education research literature.

Research Question 2: from the perspective of the stakeholders, to what extent are the goals for hiring being met?

The stakeholders identified three main goals for hiring PoT: (1) easing the departmental teaching load, (2) bringing consistency to department teaching-related efforts and service, and (3) meeting specialized teaching and service needs. For the majority of stakeholders, they reported feeling these goals were being met, and even exceeding expectations.

For example, in describing how a PoT was easing the teaching load, one stakeholder described that:

“I think before they were hired, we were so much struggling to cover our courses. And having them, now, here and teaching their courses, I feel like that has been really positive; and then, in the more long distance is what we hope, is that they can develop new courses for our students that we just never had the capacity to do, because we were just worried about covering the basics without thinking about being creative. And then again, I think helping all of us be better teachers for our students (Interview 203).”

Another explained that the goal of bringing consistency to the teaching mission of a department was being met, and in addition, the PoT is publishing educational research on a national level. One stakeholder explained:

“[T]hey provide consistency, so we no longer have to try to scrounge up temporary lecturers in order to move forward… I would say the teaching mission they are handling it quite extensively… the research mission – in order for them to contribute to that, we need to be able to recognize that chemical education is a component of our research mission. It is recognized by the American Chemical Society, it is recognized by NSF (Interview 202).”

Finally, numerous stakeholders discussed the contribution of PoT to specialized teaching and service needs, such as accreditation and laboratory experiences being met, and in addition, focusing on the undergraduate education experience in the department more generally. One stakeholder described:

“[B]esides just the fact that they do a little additional teaching. I think the primary role … is taking on this aspect of the undergraduate education in general. Because we as faculty tend to focus mostly on our research, on graduate education. We take for granted what happens to the undergraduates… we just teach our classes and move on. But then we realize there is this whole other layer to it, you know? Which involves coming up with assessment tools. I don’t think as regular faculty we have time to do that (Interview 208).”

Thus far, we have presented results on the extent to which the stakeholders thought PoT were meeting the expected goals identified. And as they described meeting the expectations, the stakeholders noted numerous instances of PoT contributing in unexpected and surprising ways that went beyond the initial reasons for hiring faculty into the series. As one stakeholder noted:

“I thought it was a crazy idea. Not because I didn’t appreciate the LPSOEs who had been in our department for a long time, but I just thought, it’s FTEs, we could use research faculty, and I was completely wrong. I think it’s transformed some aspects of how we do things in biology in the sense that these are just dedicated people who are thinking about what’s the best way to teach (Interview 101).”

This quote emphasizes that stakeholders felt their expectations were met when hiring these PoT. Even when an FTE (full-time equivalent) faculty line was filled by a PoT, departments often benefited from their unexpected contributions. The unexpected contributions included winning large research grants for pedagogical research (also external impact), educating colleagues on best practices for teaching (also internal impact), and supporting graduate students who were interested in teaching and becoming future faculty members (also value).

Stakeholders pointed out that PoT were also serving the role of a professional development expert (internal impact), including one who noted:

“She also runs the Teaching Education Series. That’s been wonderful… it transformed the whole department’s opinion of what teaching was, and how it could be done differently but also more consciously, and we had fantastic seminar speakers…and then post-docs got interested, and I think there’s more post-docs and/or graduate students than ever that want to be a teaching professor-type person (Interview 302).”

The positive impact on teaching practices was not only felt by departmental faculty, but also by graduate students, who PoT are working with “to be users of evidence-based teaching practices (Interview 105)” as well (internal impact, value). Of course, the physical proximity of a PoT being in the same disciplinary department office may also be the reason for these conversations happening (internal impact). The need for inclusive integration of PoT in their departments is discussed in research question 3 below.

Multiple stakeholders were surprised by the value PoT had beyond their departments (external impact). One stakeholder described intentionally hiring a PoT for their familiarity with the education research literature but was still surprised by the extent that they could contribute as a researcher (unexpected contribution). Another stakeholder commented on an external grant awarded to a PoT:

“I think the other epiphany that people have seen is that there is… always very powerful, money speaks, that there’s money out there. That you can get million dollars grants. That these people can contribute to the overhead, that these people can improve rankings, that these people can contribute to research grants in a very profound way because foundations like NSF want to see not just your usual, you know, community impact, which can be easily checked off and, um, with usual things, but, that for example center grants, they have significant education components in there (Interview 302).”

PoT were also contributing to education research fields (external impact). One stakeholder explained:

“They’re contributing enormously to pedagogy research, that’s both published in discipline journals, in education journals. They’re out giving talks. Not just at the universities, but at conferences, and so that’s the contribution to not just use of evidence-based practices, but actually putting in place new evidence-based practices based on their scholarly activity (Interview 106).”

In addition to making unexpected contributions, all stakeholders noted PoT were considered to be superior teachers (value) by themselves as well as by others in the departments more broadly. While PoT were expected to ease the teaching load, they were doing so with exceptional teaching. For example:

“It seems to me that overall they do a tremendous job at teaching… What I find is that they’re very enthusiastic about engaging with the students, and they really care about the students… Not just the undergraduates, but also the instructional assistants who are helping the students learn (Interview 303).”

The statement highlights the faith stakeholders have that PoT are providing superior instruction relative to their research-focused professor colleagues. However, it is important to note that this belief in superior instruction is a belief and not necessarily fact. When one stakeholder was asked why they believed PoT were better instructors, they said:

“We are an institution of higher education, so having colleagues whose expertise is in education in the broader sense, understanding how people learn, the research… so it’s really important for the mission of a university, and they can significantly contribute to this (Interview 302).”

These excerpts highlight the variety of levels at which PoT scholarly activities impacted the departments’ education mission and their contributions to pedagogical research that extend beyond their departments.

In response to research question 2, we see that the stakeholders commented on the PoT not only meeting the goals identified in research question 1, but also exceeding those expectations in numerous ways. The additional contributions included impacting teaching methods and educational research beyond the department, and teaching exceptionally well.

Research question 3: what are the organizational barriers that hinder achievement of these goals?

A number of issues were identified that potentially limit PoT achieving the goals, both intended and unexpected, identified by the stakeholders. These barriers include items that stakeholders recognized as problems, but also those that we gleaned from the data, which may not have been perceived as issues from the stakeholders’ perspectives. The challenges will be described first in terms of the intended goals the stakeholders identified for the PoT, and second in terms of the unexpected.

As described in research question 1 section, the expected goals for the PoT were: (1) easing the departmental teaching load, (2) bringing consistency to department teaching-related efforts and service, and (3) meeting specialized teaching and service needs. In research question 2, we saw that all these goals were being met, and two additional unexpected goals were being met: (1) impact of teaching methods and educational research beyond the department, and (2) teaching exceptionally well.

A major challenge to achieving any of the goals mentioned by all stakeholders was a lack of clarity in regard to tenure requirements (promotion expectations-unclear/unfair). The bulk of the confusion centered on the uncertainty for how one evaluates successful teaching (promotion expectations-teaching), which is especially concerning since PoT are by definition supposed to be evaluated for tenure and promotion based mainly on their teaching. One stakeholder noted:

“They’re expected to be excellent teachers. And we’re still figuring out what that means to be an excellent teacher. How we base it. Is it based on student evaluations? Probably initially, yes. But in the long run, I hope that we have better metrics for their evaluation as being excellent teachers (Interview 206).”

The need for more meaningful evaluation systems is key as universities often rely solely on student evaluations that are biased and may not consistently reflect teaching quality. Another stakeholder highlighted the nonempirical manner teaching is often evaluated when he admitted: “I haven’t reviewed all of their teaching records or done a review of their teaching, but I’m assuming it’s all excellent (Interview 205).”

In addition to the lack of clarity in evaluating teaching excellence, all but one stakeholder mentioned the uncertainty for how to measure PoT research quality (promotion expectations-research). While some sort of scholarly or creative activity is an expectation of PoT, quality and quantity metrics remain unclear. One stakeholder stated:

“Research faculty, we know exactly what we have to be doing with our research programs and trying to get those to thrive…For teaching faculty, I think that the pedagogical research component is amorphous and not clear (Interview 102).”

All stakeholders also recognized this lack of equity in the evaluation process (promotion expectations-unclear/unfair), pointing out that the Committee on Academic Personnel “doesn’t have a single teaching faculty (Interview 102).” One stakeholder pointed out: “That gets into a whole discussion about what is the criteria in order to evaluate quality of teaching (Interview 202).” Both comments illustrate that the traditional research-focused professors evaluating PoT may not be the most appropriate for that role.

One issue that arose in the data was the misalignment between the unexpected positive impacts highlighted by our findings in research question 2 and stakeholder comments regarding future hiring of PoT (intended roles—future). While acknowledging that PoT contributed in multiple ways beyond a heavy teaching load, many stakeholders reverted to the mentality that the main impetus to hire PoT in the future would be to ease the departmental teaching burden (ease the burden), rather than support and promote the additional beneficial contributions PoT are making. One stakeholder responded to the question of whether the department would hire additional PoT in the future as follows: “I would say no at the moment, because I think we’re meeting our teaching expectations (Interview 201).”

Similarly, a number of stakeholders were concerned that hiring additional PoT would negatively impact the perception of their department (intended roles—future). One noted:

“From the perspective of raising the profile of the department and the ranking of the department, there are some who perceive that these kinds of hires don’t necessarily contribute to … the research profile of the department. And our visibility, you know a particular department is visible for doing research that is known nationwide and worldwide, but with people completely engaged with teaching, you know their contributions are not so visible outside the campus. (Interview 208).”

Another stakeholder said a small contingent of their professors “don’t want [our university] to look like a [teaching-focused university] (Interview 102)” with a third stating, “You know, we are a research university, so we don’t want teaching professors to dominate our staff (Interview 107).” It is worth noting that in the departments represented by the stakeholders interviewed, PoT make up no more than 10% of the total faculty. However, there is still a concern that these individuals could be perceived as taking over the department.

Another organizational issue that was commonly noted by stakeholders was the lack of integration of PoT within their departments (negative integration). A lack of integration in their departments could mean disruption to PoT fulfilling their goals of teaching more and bringing consistency to the curriculum. Many stakeholders commented that PoT were exposed to unwelcoming environments at times. One stakeholder explained a reason for the lack of integration is:

“…that they’re not doing basic biology research, which is a lot of the focal point for interactions for most of our faculty. Also, their offices are kind of clustered in the teaching laboratory. So … they’re not in the same building as most of their colleagues (Interview 305).”

This lack of integration was also evident as most stakeholders discussed how PoT did not have a formal mentor within the department (support-mentorship). One stakeholder stated:

“She doesn’t have anyone to speak for her. She doesn’t have a group. And that, that’s gotta be a little scary (Interview 106).”

In many cases, stakeholders instead described how PoT have grown to support and seek informal guidance from one another (support-mentorship). In fact, creating a supportive network among themselves was one way stakeholders saw PoT feeling integrated on campus (integration—positive), despite this, total integration has not occurred. One stakeholder explained: “The teaching professors have a strong community of their own, which is great, but it’s definitely a challenge for them to integrate into the rest of the academic culture of the department for many reasons (Interview 305).” Another explained that the voting rights in departments are not always equal between PoT and traditional research-focused professors, explaining that “for me the voting right is a proxy for not having a culture that accepts this faculty position as a faculty position (Interview 302).”

While people in these positions at UC campuses are often referred to as Professors of Teaching or Teaching Professors, the official formal title is Lecturer with (Potential) Security of Employment (L(P)SOE). The official title was identified as a problem by almost all stakeholders interviewed (LPSOE name implications). One stakeholder noted “It’s a little bit like the scarlet letter… (Interview 104),” which frames the negative perception of these PoT within the department (negative integration). This perception of PoT as being second-class citizens possibly extends beyond the UC system due to confusion caused by the title. One stakeholder noted that “no one outside the University of California has any idea what is an SOE. And I think it does hurt them professionally (Interview 107).” Another explained “it keeps the lecturer thing in, which here has a history of being temporary people that aren’t considered to be part of the faculty” (Interview 309). Other stakeholders noted that this could impact the success of PoT when applying for external funding or that it could decrease the weight given to letters of recommendation that they author. Confusion caused by the title was also cited as an internal issue, for example, as university officials have misunderstood that PoT were entitled to similar benefits as their research-focused professor colleagues, including housing stipends and sabbaticals (LPSOE name implications; negative integration).

From the examples in this section, we see that PoT face numerous barriers to meeting the initial goals the stakeholders identified, as well as meeting the unexpected goals of external impact, educational research, and exemplary teaching. While the stakeholders felt that PoT were meeting their goals, they acknowledged that the climate of their departments and universities may not be supportive or welcoming, and lack clear guidelines for achieving success.

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