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APA Good Practices Guide Public Discussion Series, Part 3: Professional development and placement

by Amy Ferrer

This post is part of a series of posts soliciting public comment on the APA’s new Good Practices Guide. In the first post in this series, I provided some background on how the APA Good Practices Guide came about and presented its preface and first section. For more on the guide and this series, go back and read that post.

In this third post of the series, we’ll be talking about section 3 of the Good Practices Guide, which covers professional development and placement. This section provides guidance on how to approach and support professional development for students and faculty alike, and includes suggestions about placement processes. I’ll summarize it here, but I also suggest you review it in its entirety.

The section opens with a discussion of professional development for graduate students, with a focus on placement. It includes advice for those mentoring and supervising students, as well as for departments. It provides suggestions for how departments should report on their own students’ placements (such as tracking both academic and non-academic placements and following students beyond their first position) and steps departments can take to ensure their students are as prepared as possible to go on the job market (including workshops on publishing and presenting work, support for non-academic career paths, and talks by past students who can give advice on careers both within and outside academia).

The GPG then goes on to address professional development in undergraduate programs, with advice on providing information about career paths for students not planning to go on to advanced study in philosophy as well as suggestions for preparing students to apply for philosophy graduate programs. Again, one excellent suggestion is bringing in alumni from a variety of career paths to talk about their experiences and offer their advice.

Last, the section addresses professional development for faculty—first tenure-track faculty, and then non-tenure-track faculty. For those on the tenure track, the document offers guidance on both formal and informal mentoring efforts, and also looks beyond mentoring to other ways for departments and individual faculty members to support their junior colleagues, with special attention to faculty doing interdisciplinary work and those belonging to underrepresented groups. For non-tenure-track faculty, the guide encourages departments to recognize their importance to teaching and graduate training within departments and to research in the field, noting the tenuous nature of these faculty members’ employment, offering support and mentoring, and, where possible, developing formal processes for things such as review and promotion.

Professional development is key to the success of both individual philosophers and the discipline, so we think it’s crucial that departments and individuals be attentive to it. After reviewing this section of the GPG, do you have suggestions for improvement?

  • Does this section of the Good Practices Guide sufficiently cover the range of professional development needs within the discipline? If not, what’s missing?
  • Given that resources for professional development vary widely across institutions, does the GPG provide suggestions to meet these various resource levels?
  • Are there professional development strategies that are not covered that should be included? Resources for further information that should be added?

Amy Ferrer has been Executive Director of the APA since 2012.

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GPG Public Comment Series: / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

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