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Advice to New Faculty

The I AM A GOV: First-Year Faculty Program

The First-Year Faculty Program supports the professional success of tenure-track first-year faculty at Austin Peay State University. Program participants will develop an in-depth understanding of retention, tenure, and promotion criteria through an exploration of teaching, creative or scholarly achievement, service, and advising in predominantly active-learning environments with extensive peer interactions for cohort cohesion and community building.

To acquire the necessary time to fully engage and benefit from this program, participating faculty will receive a 3-credit-hour course release during the fall semester and a 3-credit-hour course release during the spring semester. Obligations for successful completion of the program include attending weekly program workshops during the fall and spring semesters, completing assignments, and working individually or in teams to develop a mock grant proposal. Workshop topics include: 

  • First Year Survival Skills for Faculty
  • Preparing a Syllabus
  • Retention, Tenure, and  Promotion (RTP)
  • Faculty Senate Information
  • Complying with Title VI, Title IX, and ADA
  • Using the Quality Matters Rubric for Online Classes
  • Grading Information
  • Developing a Grading Rubric
  • Managing a Classroom
  • Accessing Library Resources
  • Planning a Research Agenda
  • Writing Grants
  • Organizing an E-Dossier
  • Setting Professional Goals
  • Building Community in the Classroom
  • Teaching Adult Learners
  • Engaging Students with Technology
  • Working with iGen Students
  • Tutoring Services
  • Using Reference Tools
  • Understanding the University Structure of APSU
  • Advising with Degree Works and Course Substitutions
  • Using the Early Alert System
  • Setting Professional Goals

More information about this program can be found at I AM A GOV: First-Year Faculty Program 

The following checklist will serve as a quick review of the steps in course planning.

Printable Version

What are your beliefs about the purpose of education?

  • To enable social change
  • To teach effective thinking
  • To facilitate systematic instruction
  • To provide personally enriching experiences
  • To teach the great ideas and discoveries of humankind
  • To teach life skills
  • To teach value clarification

Are your course goals affected by any of the following?

  • Those of a senior lecturer for whom you teach Your program
  • Your college mission
  • The expectations of faculty teaching more advanced courses in which your students will enroll later
  • Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for the degree program
  • College achievement tests

On which is a greater emphasis placed?

  • Teaching practical knowledge or teaching theory
  • Teaching facts or teaching problem-solving skills
  • Direct career entry after college or enrollment in graduate/professional school
  • The discipline or student development

Where is your course located on the “curricular map?

  • General education course for anyone
  • General education course for majors and others
  • Introductory course for majors
  • Introductory course in a technical career program
  • Advanced course for majors
  • Capstone course for degree program
  • Division-wide core course
  • College-wide core course

What are the reasons for selecting content?

  • Students find it enjoyable.
  • It is easy to learn.
  • It is a fundamental discipline concept.
  • It teaches important skills.
  • It illustrates the discipline’s mode of research.
  • It stimulates students to search for meaning.
  • It encourages students to pursue the quest for knowledge.
  • It inter-relates fundamental/lower level concepts into broader/higher level concepts.

Which of the following schemes do you use for arranging content?

  • Naturally occurring relationships
  • A desire to teach problem-solving skills
  • The organization of major concepts
  • How students learn knowledge Students’ future career needs
  • A desire to help students clarify values

What are the goals of your students?

  • To learn about the structure of the field
  • To learn to see relationships in the field
  • To learn to see relationships between fields
  • To understand scientific principles and concepts
  • To learn to think critically and logically
  • To learn to interpret data
  • To become aware of and open to diverse views
  • To gain a historic perspective
  • To acquire aesthetic sensitivity
  • To enhance creative abilities
  • To learn effective communication skills
  • To improve study skills
  • To develop a personal code of ethics and values
  • To look for meaning in life
  • To acquire social skills
  • To become aware of social issues
  • To learn to help others
  • To become a good citizen
  • To pass an exam
  • To prepare for a career
  • To prepare for graduate or professional school 

What are the characteristics of your students?

  • Abilities and capacities
  • Preparation
  • Motivation
  • Expectations
  • Out-of-class pressures
  • Previous college experiences
  • Intended majors
  • Learning styles

To what extent is your choice of instructional mode affected by the following?

  • Student characteristics
  • Class size
  • Time constraints
  • Financial Constraints
  • Discipline constraints

What teaching methods do you plan to use?

  • Passive methods (lectures, films, readings, etc.)
  • Active methods (discussions, laboratory or clinic)
  • Projects, field trips, research projects, etc.

Will you use one or more textbooks, journal articles, or monographs? 

      Yes                 No

If you require students to purchase textbooks, do they meet the following criteria?

  • Absolutely necessary
  • Reasonably priced and readily available
  • Well-organized and visually appealing
  • Unbiased – racially, sexually, or ethnically

What methods will you use to obtain feedback from students?

  • Quizzes or tests
  • Papers or projects
  • Attendance
  • Facial or body language
  • Class participation
  • Coming to office hours
  • Course evaluations

How often will you obtain feedback?

What types of people are most readily available to give you advice?

  • Faculty mentor
  • Department chair
  • Media specialist
  • Instructional Designer 

For additional help with course design, planning, and/or facilitation, contact the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE) and/or the Distance Education Department.


Academic advising is a complex activity that should help students realize maximum educational benefits. Advising includes:

  • Helping students to clarify their values and goals and to better understand themselves as persons.
  • Helping students understand the nature and purpose of higher education.
  • Helping students explore educational and career options, and links between academic preparation and the world of work. 
  • Helping students plan educational programs consistent with their interests and abilities.
  • Assisting students in a continual monitoring and evaluation of their educational progress.
  • Integrating the institution’s many resources to meet students’ special educational needs and aspirations.

In brief, the academic adviser serves as a coordinator of the educational experience.

The adviser needs to help students define and develop realistic goals, to perceive their needs accurately and to match these needs with appropriate institutional resources. This is done best in the context of a caring and trusting relationship.

Academic advising, properly delivered, can be a powerful institutional influence on student growth and development. In addition, it can enrich the educational program of any college or University and interpret that program more effectively to students.

Some of the benefits students derive from effective advising include:

  • Remaining in school.
  • Attaining their educational/career objectives.
  • Achieving GPAs consistent with their abilities.
  • Developing a positive attitude toward the institution and the educational process.
  • Developing a meaningful relationship with the adviser.
  • Understanding educational benefits such as VA and financial aid may not pay for non-required courses 

The quality of each student’s education/career decisions is directly related to the amount of relevant information available to the student and the adviser. All good advising programs have an information base for use by both advisee and adviser during the advising process.

From The American College Testing Program, 1983. Reprinted by permission.

There are many advantages to involving students in class discussion. It encourages active participation and learning of subject matter. Specifically, discussion is beneficial for the following objectives:

  • To discover the extent to which students understand the material
  • To lead students through a series of inquiries for greater understanding of concepts and principles
  • To discover the details or points that need to be refreshed or expanded
  • To provide feedback to the instructor on level of mastery of content or skills
  • To help students respond to questions in front of peers
  • To enhance verbal communication skills
  • To facilitate closer working relationships among students in the class
  • To help students verbalize their thoughts, attitudes and opinions
  • To encourage respect for the ideas of others
  • To help students with critical evaluation, synthesis and transfer of knowledge

Strategies for directing questions to students:

  1. Start asking questions early in the course – within the first few minutes of the first session.
  2. Wait for the answer, patiently, calmly and with a smile.
  3. Ask only one question at a time, making it specific and clear.
  4. Don’t answer your own question – students will wait you out.
  5. State your question in advance, allowing students time to think.

Strategies for dealing with students’ answers:

  1. Praise right answers appropriately.
  2. Respond to wrong answers sensitively, encouraging the effort.
  3. Encourage more than one answer.
  4. Encourage a variety of students to participate.

Strategies for answering student questions:

  1. Ask students to rephrase questions you don’t understand.
  2. Recognize the value of questions, even if they are irrelevant or inappropriate at the time.
  3. Respond to the question, indicate that you will address it later, and keep the group on track.
  4. Be honest if you don’t know the answer to a question, and involve students in the search for the answer.
Adapted from Neff, R.A. & Weimer, M. (1990). Teaching College.  Madison, Wisconsin:  Magna Publication.

The lecture is the most widely used teaching format in higher education in the U.S. It focuses upon teaching by speaking to students with emphasis on one-way communication. The approach has two specific strengths: It can convey the instructor’s enthusiasm in the subject matter, and it can present the newest material in the discipline. The lecture format also is popular because it can convey large amounts of information, communicate to many listeners, and maximize instructor control. 

The lecture format has been criticized for reinforcing passive learning and not being interactive. It may not be as well suited for higher levels of learning or for complex, detailed, or abstract material. To be effective the lecture requires both an effective speaker and active listeners.

The following recommendations are offered for improving lectures. They have been compiled from several authors who consider lecturing a learned set of skills.

  • Fit the lecture to your audience in terms of relevancy and level of knowledge.
  • Prepare an outline of five to nine major points. 
  • Organize your points in a logical manner. 
  • Select examples that illustrate the main points. 
  • Avoid distracting mannerisms, such as verbal tics or fumbling with notes.
  • Present an outline. 
  • Emphasize principles and generalizations.
  • Highlight important points.
  • Use effective speech techniques in delivery.
  • Do not read your lecture but know it well enough to talk to the audience. 
  • Be enthusiastic and relevant. 
  • Use technology to engage students. 
  • Ask and solicit questions to check on student understanding.
  • Provide variation to keep student attention and interest.
  • Encourage discussion.
Adapted from Neff, R.A. & Weimer, M. (1990). Teaching College.  Madison, Wisconsin:  Magna Publication.
  • All faculty are expected to conduct research, especially research which enhances teaching, including research that improves a faculty member’s knowledge in a specific area and thus improves course Such research is important because it helps APSU faculty members teach fresh, cutting-edge content and could give our students an advantage in the job market and in applications for graduate school.
  • All faculty are expected to be engaged in The kind of service expectation will change over time, but at present our primary focus is recruiting and retaining our students, whilst ensuring that they are as successful as possible while they are here. Thus, faculty should make recruitment, retention and efforts toward student success a top service priority.
  • Within available resources, the University should promote a symbiotic relationship between teaching and research.
  • Faculty should consider grant writing to promote our research Every effort will be made to provide reassigned time to write a grant with the clear understanding that the reassigned time is “seed” money that will be repaid either by money provided for reassigned time when the grant is funded or, should the grant not be funded, by teaching more in a future semester to repay the reassigned time.
  • The integration of teaching and research at the undergraduate level is Research is essential to the academic life, and undergraduate students should be involved in the process when possible.
  • Within available resources, APSU will strive to promote the value of pedagogical Good pedagogical research, like any good research, is based on a conversation with the written works of colleagues. The “this-is-what-I-did-in-class” article without grounding in the literature about a particular pedagogical technique is far less useful than the article or book that demonstrates an engagement with the literature about pedagogy. Rigorous research on pedagogy should be honored in the same manner as rigorous research in the content area.
  • Faculty development in teaching is to be The University will schedule faculty development seminars on teaching by calling upon the expertise of the faculty. Deans will be asked to facilitate effective teaching in their colleges. The services of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning are also available.
  • The University will strive to make administrative appointments for chairs, deans and directors of academic units who have a vision for integrating teaching and A person’s publication record will be considered and valued, but it will not be the determining factor when making appointments to leadership positions.
  • Departments will continue to be consulted to determine what constitutes quality and amount of research necessary to promote teaching.
  • Within available resources, the University will strive to ensure that APSU is known as an institution where teaching, research, and service continue to be prized.

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.