What is PFF?
PFF is a certificate program offered by UC. It is designed for students who plan to enter academia as instructors in search of tenure-track positions. It seeks to improve the teaching abilities of its students and to give students the tools they need to enter the academic job market.
Do other universities know what PFF is?
Yes! The Preparing Future Faculty program is a national movement, launched in 1993 by Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Many other institutions have PFF programs, such as The Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Kentucky (to name a few).
Who is eligible for the PFF program?
Current PFF participants include master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral students. Any student who has earned a bachelor’s degree is eligible to join.
What are the requirements to earn the certificate?
Students must take two required courses, Teaching Effectiveness and Academic Job Search; attend five credits of professional development workshops; participate in three reading groups and lead a fourth; and complete a forty hour mentorship with a university or college faculty member.
How long does it take to complete the program?
It is possible to complete all requirements in one year, though typically students finish the program in two to four years.
Will the program extend my time to degree?
No. When completed over multiple years, Preparing Future Faculty will require only a small time commitment each semester.
May I complete the requirements in any order?
You may work on most of the requirements in any order you choose, except that you must take Teaching Effectiveness before you begin your membership. Also, as the mentorship serves as the capstone experience, it should be one of the last requirements you complete.
May I begin completing program requirements before actually applying?
Yes. You may also participate without applying at all, but the certificate will not appear on your transcripts. Ask the PFF coordinator to add you to the PFF Blackboard group. At this point, we will start tracking your progress in the program.
What is the PFF Blackboard group, and do I need to join it?
The PFF Blackboard group is an online community organization that gives its members access to announcements, articles, reading group schedules, workshop dates and times, job opportunities, and a variety of other resources. In order to participate in PFF, you need to join this group. Once you’ve been accepted into the program (or arranged to participate in reading groups or workshops), the program coordinator will add you to the organization. You will then be able to access it through your Blackboard account.
When are Teaching Effectiveness and Academic Job Search offered?
In the Fall and Spring semesters, respectively. Both courses are pass/fail.
What are the workshops and how do I participate in them?
Each semester, UC offers a variety of professional development workshops and seminars. Many of these (though not all) are related to teaching and academic work. The PFF program coordinator chooses appropriate workshops and lists them in the PFF organization on Blackboard and on the PFF website. Visit the PFF website or the PFF Blackboard organization to find out when and where workshops occur, and what topics they will cover, and how to register for the workshops.
May I receive credit for participating in workshops not listed as approved PFF courses?
Possibly. If you are interested in attending a workshop not listed by the program coordinator, you must receive the coordinator’s approval to earn credit. Send the coordinator an email describing the topic of the workshop and its relationship to PFF. Include the location and time of the workshop as well.
How do I report my attendance of a workshop?
For any workshop offered through the Faculty Development One Stop (http://www.uc.edu/facdev/Home.aspx), click on the “Transcripts” button on the left side of the page, download copies of your attendance records, and send them to the program coordinator at email@example.com. For other workshops, students must write a summary of the material presented and send it to the program coordinator.
What are the reading groups?
Each semester, the PFF program offers five reading groups on topics related to teaching. For example, the reading groups may cover such topics as Women in Academia, Building a Rapport with Students, Teaching Critical Thinking, Issues of Ethics for College Teachers, or Collaborative Learning. To determine when these groups will occur, and what the readings for each meeting will be, log into your Blackboard account, click the PFF Organization link, and then click the Reading Groups tab. This tab will provide meeting dates and times and the required readings. All you have to do from there is attend the group and participate in discussion.
How do I lead a reading group?
You are required to lead one reading group, which means preparing discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and doing some extra research so that you can discuss the topic in a little extra detail. If you would like to lead a specific group, email the program coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. On occasion, the coordinator will solicit leaders if there aren’t enough volunteers.
How long are the reading groups?
How do I report my attendance at a reading group?
Whenever you plan to attend a group, you are required to register. To do this, find the schedule in the Reading Group tab and click on the registration link. This will take you to a short form, which will be visible to the program coordinator. When you go the group, you will also need to sign an attendance sheet, which will be given to the coordinator by the group leader.
How do I participate in an online reading group?
Online reading groups are offered 1–2 times per semester. The online reading groups take place in online Wiki forums: http://www.wikispaces.com. You will have to visit the site and create a free account to participate. The program coordinator creates specific spaces for each group, and when the first day of the group arrives, he or she sends an email invitation with special access codes to each registered participant. At that point, the leaders will have already accessed the group space and posted questions, and they will ask additional questions and stir conversation as the group progresses.
What is the mentorship?
In the mentoring experience, students establish a relationship with a faculty member from an institution of higher education. The student and mentor plan for and spend 40 hours of time together, during which the mentor may evaluate the student’s teaching or otherwise broaden the student’s knowledge of the academic career.
What if I have a lot of teaching experience? How will the mentorship experience benefit me?
If a student has a lot of teaching experience, he or she may qualify for a nonstandard experience. To qualify, the PFF student must have been primarily responsible for teaching and assessing at least ten undergraduate classes. Students who pursue nonstandard experiences are also held to a higher standard in their mentoring agreement contracts and must work on a more advanced pedagogical issue than those in a standard mentorship. For example, a nonstandard mentorship might be geared toward creating and designing a new course or a jointly-taught course.
Whom may I choose as my mentor?
You may choose any faculty member from a university or college (excepting your academic advisor), but you should consider your own interests and career goals before making a decision. If, for example, you’re interested in working for a community college rather than a university (where teaching is emphasized over research), consider choosing a faculty member from a local community college. Additionally, you will probably want to choose an instructor working in an area similar to yours.
How do I find a mentor?
The University of Cincinnati has connections with Xavier University, Mount St. Joseph University, Northern Kentucky University, UC Blue Ash College, and other area institutions which will enable you to find a mentor. You may survey the faculty members from these colleges and either contact them directly or request that the program coordinator facilitate. The PFF program maintains a contact person at each institution who can assist a student with finding a mentor at that institution.
Is there a benefit to completing my mentoring with a non-UC faculty member?
Possibly. If you want to pursue a teaching-focused academic career, then you may want to choose a faculty member from a non-research institution (such as a community college) as your mentor. Additionally, choosing a non-UC faculty member broadens your experience of academic life, exposing you to different methods, styles, and techniques. Mount St. Joseph University, for example, is much smaller than UC, and thus an academic position there will be much different than one at a larger institution. Ultimately, you must choose a faculty member in a position and at a location that will most benefit your career and pedagogical goals.
How do I get PFF to appear on my transcript?
You must apply to graduate for PFF to certify you. You can begin your application process by submitting a graduation checklist here: http://grad.uc.edu/student-life/graduation.html. When you access the link and log in with your 6+2, you should see each of the programs in which you are formally enrolled and be able to apply for graduation from each program. If you miss the graduation application deadline (posted here: http://gradapps.uc.edu/graduationdeadlines/graduation-deadlines.aspx), the earliest you will be able to apply to graduate is the next semester.
Whom should I contact for help?
You should contact the current program coordinator, Patrick Barney, at email@example.com with any questions or concerns you have. You may also contact Megan Tischner, the Coordinator of Special Projects and Programs at the Graduate School, at firstname.lastname@example.org.