PFF: Frequently Asked Questions
About the Preparing Future Faculty Program
PFF (Preparing Future Faculty) 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.
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).
Current PFF participants include master's, doctoral, and postdoctoral students. Any student who has earned a bachelor's degree is eligible to join.
It is possible to complete all requirements in one year, though typically students finish the program in two to four years.
No. When completed over multiple years, Preparing Future Faculty will require only a small time commitment each semester.
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.
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 UC Canopy/Blackboard account.
Teaching Effectiveness is offered only in the fall semester. The Academic Job Search is offered only in the spring semester. Both courses are pass/fail.
You should plan to take Teaching Effectiveness a semester or two before you plan to start your mentoring experience; as part of the Teaching Effectiveness course, you will work on composing a mentorship proposal and agreement.
The Academic Job Search may be taken at any point. However, the students who are able to align course enrollment with their active job search are the ones who find the course the most valuable. Students—particularly doctoral students—who enroll in the course in their final or penultimate year find the course much more useful than those who complete the course early in their doctoral program.
Each semester, UC offers a variety of professional development workshops and seminars. Some of these workshops 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 workshop page or the PFF Blackboard organization to find out when and where workshops occur, what topics they will cover, and how to register for the workshops.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) describing the topic of the workshop and its relationship to PFF. Include the location and time of the workshop as well.
For any workshop offered through the Faculty Development OneStop, 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.
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 find out when these groups will occur, and what the readings for each meeting will be, either visit the Readings Groups page or 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. The Blackboard organization will also have the PDF files of the assigned readings (while the webpage will not). All you have to do from there is attend the group and participate in discussion.
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.
In-person reading groups are scheduled for 90 minutes. Typically, one online reading group is offered every semester. These online reading groups use a discussion board, which is open for three days.
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.
Online reading groups are offered 1–2 times per semester. The online reading groups take place via Google Classroom: http://classroom.google.com. You will need a Google account in order to participate. (Google accounts are free and easy to create.) The program coordinator creates specific "classroom" space for each group, and before the first day of the group arrives, he or she will send an email invitation with a special access code 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 guide the conversation as the group progresses.
The Mentorship Experience
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.
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.
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.
The PFF coordinator is available to help you find a mentor. If you want assistance with selecting a mentor, email email@example.com to schedule an appointment with the PFF coordinator.
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. If you want assistance with finding a mentor, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with the PFF coordinator.
Yes! If you want to pursue a teaching-focused academic career, then you may want to choose a faculty member from a non-research-intensive 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.
Completing the Certificate
You must submit a graduation application for the PFF certificate. Start your application here: https://gradapps.uc.edu/GraduationChecklist/. When you access the link and log in with your 6+2 (UC username), you will see all of the programs in which you are formally enrolled. Be sure to select the Preparing Future Faculty certificate program before you proceed. There is no cost to complete a graduation application for a certificate program.
Provided you have completed all requirements for the PFF program by the end of the semester, you should see a record of the completed certificate program on your transcript about 3 weeks after the end of the semester.
The graduation application deadlines for the current and upcoming semesters are posted here: https://gradapps.uc.edu/graduationdeadlines/graduation-deadlines.aspx.
If you miss the graduation application deadline, the earliest you will be able to apply to graduate is the next semester.
Whom should I contact for help or more information?