One of the areas in which faculty undergo formal evaluation is “Professional Contributions
and Activities.” This area addresses faculty service which stems either from one’s
discipline or from one’s profession as a teacher. Listed are a few examples of professional
contributions and activities:
- Meaningful participation in professional organizations
- Leadership positions in state, regional, national organizations
- Development of new courses or programs in one’s department
- Direction of student research for which no teaching load credit is given
- Involvement in continuing education programs
- Voluntary advisement of student groups
Just as scholarship, research and creative activity assist the instructor in the classroom,
many forms of professional service do likewise. One learns from others in the same
profession. If you are a panel member at a professional meeting or conference, you
not only will benefit from the process of developing your thoughts for the panel,
but you also will be enriched through the inevitable exchange of ideas with your colleagues
who are present. Some of these thoughts will find their way into your classroom, thereby
assisting you as a teacher and enlightening the students you serve.
Because of the advantages that accrue from such learning, it behooves us to identify
opportunities to expand our professional horizons through state, regional, national
and, whenever possible, international conferences and meetings. Such functions require
funding. When possible, Austin Peay attempts to assist faculty members in their efforts
to attend meetings, conferences and conventions that will be of benefit to the faculty
and, ultimately, to their students.
Although involvement in an organization within one’s discipline is an excellent means
of engaging in professional activity, it is not the only way. As a teacher, you may
wish to serve as a faculty adviser to a student group on campus, or you may wish to
direct special student research, although it is not a part of your assignment. Thus,
your professional contributions may come from responsibilities attached to your discipline
as well as from responsibilities that you willingly shoulder in the name of the broader
profession of teaching.
The complexity of your activities may vary considerably. For instance, there is a
significant difference in the level of involvement that it takes to chair a panel
at a state conference in comparison to serving as the secretary for a national professional
organization. One is to be commended for either of these commitments, but the latter
task will consume much more time and effort to successfully execute.
Regardless of the complexity of your professional activities, it is essential that
your efforts should be of the highest quality. Your reputation as a professional will
be more greatly enhanced by selecting several carefully chosen activities and doing
them well than by completing a multitude of activities in mediocre fashion.