New faculty orientation : a transformational initiative toward learning centeredness at the community college
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As many of the founding full-time community college faculty began to retire, colleges across the nation intensified their full-time faculty recruitment and retention efforts. They began to replace the retiring full-time faculty with the new generation faculty cohort. The purpose of this study was to understand the role that a comprehensive orientation program played in the socialization process of new community college faculty. Additionally, the study examined the choice of orientation tactics used to socialize the new faculty. Relying on the reported socialization experiences of seven full-time faculty members from six of the seven colleges that comprised a community college district, the study explored how an orientation program facilitated their adjustment process. Finally, the researcher sought to identify ways to improve full-time community college faculty socialization experience. Most of the faculty in this study, although having no specific training to teach at the community college, were able to build relationships outside their individual colleges, acquired new skills, and gained access to valuable district resources, as a result of their participation in a yearlong comprehensive orientation program. Three significant findings resulted from this study. The first major significant finding of this study was that the incorporation of a social apparatus, such as the “retreat” into an orientation program, facilitated group cohesion and identity among the new faculty. The social structure of the retreat provided new faculty with an opportunity to connect with one another at an emotional level. They were able to expand their social networks beyond their immediate colleges. A second significant finding was that faculty became more confident and comfortable in their teaching roles as a result of the skills they acquired following their completion of the comprehensive orientation program. The monthly sessions, which were held every 4th Friday provided the faculty the opportunity to acquire and develop new skills to effectively discharge their responsibilities. The third major finding of this study was that because faculty had access to district resources, to develop their skills, they became more closely tied to their institutions. Finally, recommendations are made to improve new faculty socialization experience during their adjustment process.