Preparing Future Faculty Program

Preparing Future Faculty program

Our department has a distinguished history of training and supporting graduate students as they prepare to enter their own classrooms for the first time. The establishment of a Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program brought our commitment to training students in all the primary roles of faculty members—teaching, research, and service—to a new level.

The program’s focus is to ready our graduate students to enter faculty positions as competent professionals who have already begun a process of growth as teachers, scholars, and members of an academic community. It provides advanced coursework, training, and experiences in teaching and scholarship in a variety of settings, including liberal arts colleges.

The architects of our PFF program were outstanding scholars/teachers—Distinguished Professor Bernice Pescosolido and Rudy Professor Brian Powell, and (later) Chancellor’s Professor Rob Robinson.

Components of the Preparing Future Faculty program

The first course, The Teaching of Undergraduate Sociology (SOC-S506), is taught by award-winning faculty and is required of all of our first-time teachers to help them prepare their syllabi, deliver informative lectures, lead effective discussions, deal with student problems, and so on.

The second course, Issues in College Pedagogy (SOC-S606), is an optional course that allows you to take a more reflective look at your teaching, become conversant with issues and problems facing higher education today, and link their own experiences in teaching to these larger issues.

The third course, Research in Higher Education (SOC-S706), which is also optional, allows you to connect your teaching and research interests by engaging in active scholarship on teaching and learning. This is usually a collaborative research project undertaken by the entire class. Often, the results of this research have been published in Teaching Sociology, the leading pedagogy journal in sociology.

The shadowing experience results from a unique partnership that we’ve developed with the Sociology departments at several liberal arts schools. This provides our students with a mentoring experience that we could not otherwise offer them at IU.

Shadowing has allowed our PFF students to work with a carefully-selected faculty mentor at DePauw University or Hanover College, so that they can discuss, among other topics, their goals for future employment, prior teaching experiences, and objectives in their current teaching. The liberal arts faculty mentors discuss and share their teaching strategies, how they balance teaching with service and research, how their teaching experiences contrast with the teaching styles and strategies the graduate student may be practicing or observing at IU, and what the student can do to prepare for the academic job market and for a career at a liberal arts school.

PFF mentees visit classes at their host institution, talk with undergraduates, attend faculty meetings, and sit in on departmental hiring committees to get a sense of what makes a strong job candidate at such institutions. They also participate in the orientation workshops that these schools offer for new faculty on such topics as course development, creating classroom climates that are welcoming to all students, using technology in teaching and research, handling difficult students, and so on.

For students aiming for careers in liberal arts teaching, this experience allows them to hit the ground running at their first jobs. It can also result in teaching courses at the host institution, invaluable experience for getting a job at a liberal arts college.

We offer full slate of Preparing Future Faculty workshops for the entire department on issues of teaching, careers in sociology, and the professorate. These workshops bring in faculty from a range of institutions, editors of various sociology journals (e.g., Teaching Sociology, Sociology of Education), sociologists in government and the private sector, and other visitors.

Recent workshop topics have included:

  • Using a teaching assistantship as a bridge to teaching on your own
  • Finding a research mentor
  • Balancing work and family life as an academic
  • Applying for grants
  • Compiling teaching and research dossiers for the job market
  • Managing your time
  • Life as a faculty member at research, comprehensive, and liberal arts schools

We offer pportunities to participate in the campus-wide Preparing Future Faculty Conference held annually at IU, in which students and faculty present papers on issues related to teaching and the future careers of graduate students. Our students also have opportunities to participate in regional and national conferences focused on higher education and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Visit the PPFc website

Each year we provide a Preparing Future Faculty Fellowship to support a graduate student interested in college pedagogy and other issues in higher education. The PFF Fellow assists in teaching The Teaching of Undergraduate Sociology, organizes the PFF workshops, plans and organizes the annual Preparing Future Faculty Conference, and participates in regional and national conferences on higher education.

Learn about the PFF Fellowship