December 22, 2008

How to Create Appropriate Online Faculty Incentive Policies

By: in Academic Leadership, Distance Learning Administration, Online Education

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Has the rapid expansion of online education put your institution on a collision course with faculty incentive policies? Although more and more faculty are teaching online, few colleges and universities are proactively addressing faculty workload, promotion, and tenure policies to more accurately reflect the differences between teaching online and teaching face-to-face, said Philip DiSalvio, assistant provost and director of SetonWorldWide at Seton Hall University.

The result? Non-tenure track and untenured faculty have a decreased desire to teach online because of inadequate compensation for online course development and online teaching, as well as administration’s failure to recognize the additional work involved in teaching online versus teaching in a traditional classroom, DiSalvio said. This, he noted, has the potential of creating a teaching vacuum, particularly at research institutions where the research and publishing requirements for tenure and promotions are most intense.


Recommendations for Online Faculty Incentives
In a recent online seminar, Aligning Faculty Incentives with Shifting Modes of Delivery, DiSalvio provided numerous lessons learned from his experiences at SetonWorldWide, as well as recommendations on how to adapt traditional faculty incentives to web-based educational environments. His recommendations include:

  • Have a thorough understanding of what web-based strategy means for the complexities of the particular institution and the needs of its faculty.
  • Understand policy choices based on the institution’s knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses, its environment and the market in which it must compete for resources (students, faculty, funding and public perception).
  • Know that there is no one right answer to a policy choice — only choices that might be better or more appropriate for one institution at a point in time.
  • Know that policy changes generate all types of suspicions and responses from faculty and others who may have something to lose or gain by the change.
  • Heed the needs of the department, college/school and the institution in terms of strategic vision, goals and challenges and know how faculty reward systems affect the respective agendas.

“I think it starts with the departmental leadership and the recognition of the department chair’s pivotal role in setting the direction and establishing a reward system and really articulating how Web-based teaching affects workload, promotion, and tenure,” DiSalvio said.

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