The Value of Coaching as a Resource for Faculty Development
Pressured by the challenges confronting higher education today, universities are searching for ways to improve productivity over the whole course of their faculty members’ academic careers. To win grants and establish substantial reputations in their fields, junior faculty often need support to make time for research and successful publication. Senior faculty may struggle with different obstacles and need support to re-energize their research agendas so they can continue to innovate and contribute to their fields. ACW’s individualized Academic Coaching & Writing Program can help attain these results, as these achievements of recent participants indicate.
An assistant professor with the University of Illinois, who worked with ACW throughout 2013, is delighted to report that she submitted ten articles in that period and has already seen three of those through peer review to acceptance.
A tenured professor at Harvard attests that coaching not only helped her make substantial progress on her new book, but provided her with “a new set of tools” which helped her become “more energized and focused” in all areas of her career.
An assistant professor at the University of Southern California recognizes that using the ACW’s Writing Room daily and meeting with her coach weekly helped her complete both a book chapter and an article in three months and made her feel “more optimistic” and “in control of her career.”
Though these are just a few examples, they illustrate the kinds of tools all faculty members gain through participation in the Academic Coaching & Writing Program—tools that allow them to thrive as researchers as well as teachers and to make meaningful contributions to their fields as well as on their home campuses.
How Coaching Addresses the Needs of Faculty
The need for greater support for faculty development cuts across diverse types of colleges and universities. Requirements for faculty publication have risen as universities compete for rankings. At the same time, support for developing research (in the form of sabbaticals and other substantial support) has declined as the number of tenure-track positions has declined. Further complicating the situation is a sea change in the relationship between higher education and the scholarly publishing industry, driven by rapidly rising costs and the transition to digital media. These trends pose serious questions about how best to cultivate excellence among faculty. Coaching offers an opportunity to make a critical difference in the success of faculty members.
Coaching differs from other types of support for faculty development in that it is tailored to the individual and sustained over time. Faculty members typically work with ACW coaches to:
Increase their writing productivity by establishing the habit of frequent and focused writing sessions;
Define their research agendas more clearly and prioritize tasks essential to successful publication;
Navigate the complex requirements of scholarly publishing, from preparing journal articles and book proposals to responding to peer review critiques.
The ACW Difference
ACW’s Academic Coaching & Writing Program complements university-based initiatives including writing retreats, workshops, and faculty writing groups. ACW coaches provide intensive, one-on-one support. The uniqueness of ACW’s approach lies in the structure and quality of our program.
Commitment to Sustained Progress. Writing retreats energize faculty and provide a critical time for writing. Sustaining that momentum, however, can be difficult. To address this challenge, faculty members working with ACW coaches meet weekly with their coach for at least three months, and some continue longer. This sustained focus helps faculty members integrate research and writing into their daily routine and maintain it across the different rhythms of semesters and summers.
Commitment to the Individual’s Development. Initiatives to support faculty in writing and publishing are often designed to help new faculty members. Coaching is tailored to the needs of the individual, across the faculty ladder. In the context of confidential, one-on-one meetings with their ACW coach, faculty members address the obstacles that confront them.
Commitment to the Process of Writing and Publication. All ACW writers have access to ACW’s Virtual Writing Room. This online program provides a structure that maximizes writing productivity. The Writing Room employs moderators who facilitate live writing sessions Monday through Friday. Participation in the writing room enhances both accountability and the sense of belonging to a larger community of writers. Research on faculty productivity shows that establishing a regular habit of daily writing is critical to long-term success. Writing Room moderators and each client’s coach work together to nurture the development of this critical practice in faculty members participating in the ACW program.