Case Study of a Faculty Development Program: Walden University's Research Dissemination Support Program
Faculty teaching at most graduate and undergraduate institutions are required to meet institutional expectations for scholarship and service. To demonstrate scholarship, faculty must contribute to their discipline through conducting research, publishing and presenting at conferences. While many institutions of higher learning have established policies that stipulate what faculty are expected to produce in order to meet scholarship requirements, programs that support faculty professional development to engage in and disseminate research are less evident. Implementing such programs in online learning environments, where the faculty body is often widely disbursed around the world, presents an additional and unique set of challenges. In 2009, facilitated by the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs, Walden University (an online university) introduced the Research Dissemination Support (RDS) Program, which is intended to support faculty in their efforts to publish and present the findings of their research and research-related activities. The RDS Program offers two types of awards: Presentation RSD, which provides support for faculty presenting their research at professional conferences; and Publication RDS, which offers an award to faculty that publish their research in professional journals. Three years of program data evidence an upward trend in faculty research dissemination activity (79 RDS awarded in 2009, 144 in 2010, and 190 in 2011), indicating that Walden faculty have become increasingly more active in disseminating their research as scholar-practitioners in the local, national, domestic, and international professional arenas.
In this session the program structure and goals of the Walden RDS Program will be discussed. Program data collected during the three years that the RDS program has been in place will be presented to demonstrate faculty application/award rates and contextualize the University-wide expectations of scholarship within college rates of RDS program participation. The Walden RDS program has matured into a robust program, and as college level RDS program data indicates, the program is now on the cusp of undergoing a transition that will grapple with questions about how to address quality and rigor in the dissemination of research to meet scholarship and service requirements. Possible next steps in program revision to respond to issues of quality and rigor while recognizing differences between the five colleges within Walden University will be explored.
Participants in this session will engage in a discussion about program development, implementation and revision at the crossroads of supporting faculty development and upholding scholarly/professional rigor. College/university faculty, department/program chairs, and administrators in both online and blended learning environments would benefit from participating in this session.