Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Fred Danner

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeff Bieber


This study examines perceptions of 12 full-time non-tenure track faculty members about their professional and academic selves in a research-intensive university. A phenomenological approach is used to gain insight into the complexities of the experience of being a full-time faculty member, off the tenure-track, whose primary responsibility is teaching within a research-intensive institution. The notion of tenurestream as the only desired path to being an academic is challenged by these faculty members’ understanding of their identities. This researcher considers how professional identities may be understood and suggests that the meanings and values these faculty members attach to their professional roles may be embedded in their perceptions of how their role fits within the department.

Throughout this qualitative inquiry, the perspectives of these faculty members are positioned as a primary source of data about the experience of being a full-time non-tenure track faculty member. By using a phenomenological approach and taking a constructivist perspective this researcher finds that extant theories that view this population through a deficit model are inaccurate. Additionally, essentialist and homogenizing descriptions of this population are also found to be insufficient. A qualitative analysis suggests the viability of an alternative description of this population, one which reflects the nuanced view of professional identity these participants expressed. Based on structural categories adapted from Martin’s (2002) three perspective view of organizational culture, their perceptions are categorized according to the congruence expressed between their social identity and their professional role. Perceptions shared about their departmental culture are similarly categorized which provides insight about the influence of policies, practices, and collegial interactions on professional lives.