"Being the Faculty Face:" A Grounded Theory of Living-Learning Program Faculty Motives and Experiences

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Drechsler Sharp, Marybeth Joy
Quaye, Stephen J
Few evident incentives exist for faculty to become involved with living-learning programs. The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory study was to investigate the motives and experiences of faculty members working with living-learning programs at doctoral-granting research institutions. Illuminating the experiences of living-learning faculty is necessary, because for these environments, their participation is a signature element. An enhanced understanding of what motivates faculty members to participate in living-learning programs can help administrators recruit and retain faculty partners, allow administrators to better structure opportunities to meet faculty's needs, and provide voice to living-learning faculty to potentially yield new theoretical understanding. The findings of this study revealed participants' different paths into and through work with living-learning programs. A grounded theory approach resulted in a model to guide practice for living-learning practice and research. The subsequent theory suggests that faculty members' interactions with living-learning environments are propelled by personal motivations and attributes, academic environment, and perceived advantages and disadvantages of involvement; these factors are depicted in the model by overlapping gears. In the model, a large gear represents living-learning faculty members' experiences, including their different roles and varied responsibilities, assorted challenges they navigate, and perspectives they hold about living-learning environments. For administrators seeking to involve faculty, the study's findings regarding what motivates faculty members to work within living-learning settings and their perspectives on their experiences can help with recruiting new faculty, assisting faculty with the transition to living-learning work, incentivizing living-learning involvement for faculty, developing relationships with faculty participants, and providing necessary support for faculty. For involved faculty, this study may help them investigate their own motives with an eye toward improving their living-learning experiences, point them toward resources or approaches they can integrate in their work, and promote self-exploration of what makes living-learning involvement meaningful to them.