July 16, 2014

Nearly 75 Percent of Faculty Incorporated Technology into their Teaching in the Past Year

By: in Teaching and Learning

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When it comes to technology in the classroom, phrases like “faculty resistance” and the importance of getting “faculty buy-in” are tossed around with great frequency. But is that perception still valid? Are all instructors so set in their ways, skeptical of anything new, and fearful of deviating from what they’ve done that it’s nearly impossible to get them to try something new?

Hardly. Just look at the results of the Faculty Focus reader survey conducted earlier this year. A full 73.67 percent of readers who took the survey said they incorporated technology into their class during the past year. It was the third most popular activity, exceeded only by an impressive 85.81 percent who attended a professional development workshop or conference and 83.92 percent who used a rubric.

During the past year, have you engaged in the following:

Yes No N/A
Incorporated a new technology into your course 73.67% 20.58% 5.76%
Taught a capstone course 23.88% 61.38% 14.75%
Taught a service learning course 24.02% 62.92% 13.06%
Used a rubric 83.92% 11.38% 4.71%
Attended a professional development workshop or conference 85.81% 12.71% 1.47%
Taught a course you’ve never taught before 50.91% 42.28% 6.81%
Taught a flipped course 27.18% 62.71% 10.11%
Participated in a faculty mentoring program 40.80% 52.39% 6.81%

 

That was one of the key findings from the annual survey, which was distributed to Faculty Focus readers this spring seeking their feedback on everything from their biggest day-to-day challenges to the types of articles they’re most interested in reading. And, like last year, we asked if their job was more difficult than it was five years ago. Of those who responded, 48.38% said “more difficult.” This was a slight, but statistically insignificant, dip from 50% in 2013. More than a third (35.54%) said “about the same,” 9.53 said “less difficult,” and for 6.55% the question didn’t apply.

Is your job more difficult

For those who find their job more challenging, the reasons are varied, but largely unchanged from the previous year. Many readers commented that today’s students seem less prepared and less motivated for the rigors of college, are more likely to argue about assignments and grades, and often have unrealistic expectations for how quickly faculty should respond to emails. Some mentioned larger classes or a heavier course load, while for others it’s keeping up with technology (often without proper training on how to use it), or a move to an online or blended classroom that’s adding extra hours to their work day. Additional committee work and administrative responsibilities also were mentioned frequently, as were budget cuts that have reduced the availability of resources and support.

Readers’ explanations for why their job is more challenging were reiterated in their rating of the biggest day-to-day challenges. For the third year in a row, unmotivated and unprepared students were identified as the biggest day-to-day challenges. Readers rated as “very problematic” students who are not prepared for the rigors of college (29.44%) and students who come to class unprepared (26.77%). They rated as “moderately problematic” student motivation (33.98%)

What are some of your biggest day-to-day challenges? Please rate these issues.

Not a Problem Slightly Problematic Moderately Problematic Very Problematic
Students who are not prepared for the
rigors of college
8.44% 26.77% 35.35% 29.44%
Students who come to class unprepared 6.64% 27.42% 39.18% 26.77%
Student motivation 12.87% 35.86% 33.98% 17.28%
Institutional budget cuts 20.42% 28.42% 26.09% 25.07%
Technology distractions 18.80% 35.50% 31.45% 14.24%
Demands outside of teaching (e.g. committee work, research, publishing demands) 24.62% 29.76% 26.36% 19.26%
Keeping up with technology 27.30% 38.60% 25.56% 8.54%
Increased class size 48.23% 24.01% 17.64% 10.12%
Lack of collegiality in the workplace 44.76% 31.44% 15.65% 8.15%
Student incivility 54.08% 31.73% 11.86% 2.33%

 

As a follow-up to this question, readers were given the option to share some of the other challenges they face on a regular basis. Here are just some of the comments we received:

  • Large variation of basic skill levels within classroom.
  • Keeping up with the advancements in science and what our students are expected to know.
  • Students seem split: Some are very prepared, some lack basic skills. This results in tensions in a bi-level group.
  • Handling change at the rate that it’s coming now—surviving, adapting, evolving, doing it all again—while maintaining vital relationships with colleagues.
  • As an adjunct, the biggest problem is lack of job stability/security, and lack of access to tech smart rooms. We are simply not first in line for resources that should be available.
  • Discipline in the classroom, something I did not expect on the college level.
  • Lack of time to implement new technology and learn it.
  • Teacher burn-out; student cheating or plagiarism; rapport between instructors and students; administrators obsessed with enrollment; faculty evaluations.
  • Providing timely, meaningful feedback.
  • Lack of student motivation in required courses.
  • Course redesign without devotion of enough time to see what is working; the drive to change without sufficient data to warrant the change
  • Constantly upping the requirements for tenure
  • I have a contract teaching position, and I have no clear path to promotion, much less job security. We contract hires do not have an advocate / mentor manager in the administration.
  • Lack of college readiness is definitely the biggest issue — specifically in terms of critical thinking ability.
  • Keeping up with grading in general. Also, wanting to correct writing—paragraph and sentence structure, grammar, word choice— while dealing with content issues.
  • Grading load. I teach almost all Core classes (freshmen), and the grading load is intensified by students’ lack of basic skills in reading comprehension, writing, and research.
  • Institution’s focus on publication and research, which takes time away from class preparation.
  • Students who feel entitled and expect grades of A for poor work.
  • Lack of professional development opportunities at institution.
  • Faculty stubbornness / resistance to change.
  • Too many demands on my time; no way to deal with them all.
  • Lack of communication and sharing within our department.

Survey demographics
The annual Faculty Focus survey was conducted in March and April of this year with 1,628 readers completing the online survey. Approximately 65 percent identified themselves as professor/instructor. The largest percentage (29.36%) working at four-year public institutions, followed by four-year private institutions (26.5%), and two-year public institutions (24.06%). In terms of how long they have worked in higher education, it ranged from fewer than five years (18.37%), six to 10 years (21.74%), 11-15 years (17.57%), 16-20 years (13.64%) and more than 20 years (28.69%).

What is your role on campus
Institution
How many years have you worked in higher education

For the third year in a row, the number of readers who teach, manage or support at least one online and blended course went largely unchanged—63.86 percent in 2014 compared to 64 percent in 2013 and 62 percent in 2012. The number stood at 55 percent percent in 2011.

Do you teach any online or blended courses

Another question that delivers consistent responses each year asked readers to rate article topics. Learner-centered teaching, teaching with technology, assignment strategies, course design, and facilitating discussion continue to gather the highest interest and will remain at the heart of what we do here at Faculty Focus.

Thank you for your feedback
Our 2014 survey marks the fourth year we’ve conducted a reader survey and each survey brings new insight into our readers’ challenges, needs, and interests. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts. The feedback has helped to confirm suspicions, challenge assumptions, and offer valuable perspective to the work we do.

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Comments

Neil Haave | July 16, 2014

This is really interesting, thanks for making this available. I wonder how this survey of readership compares to academia in general? For example, how would the 74% of us incorporating technology into our classes compare to all instructors in higher education? Not sure there is an answer – just putting it out there for anyone to shed further light. My suspicion is that the readership of Faculty Focus are a particular engaged group of educators and that 74%, for example, is higher than would be found among the entire teaching professoriate.

Thanks again for this Mary.

Mary Bart | July 16, 2014

Yes, I think your assumptions are probably correct, and they are quite similar to mine. It would be interesting to see how these numbers compare across academia as a whole. The percentage of faculty participating in faculty development also was wonderful to see, but again I think our readers are among the most engaged and are more likely to seek out those activities.

Yet despite any shortcomings, the annual survey is always a real treat for me as I never fail to learn something new about our readers. Thanks for sharing your comments, Neil.

Gardner Lepp | July 16, 2014

The NCES used to publish a report every 4 years outlining this specific information, along with much other interesting bits of a data. And the respondents numbered in the thousands, across every conceivable discipline. The most recent report I looked at (in 2010), indicated a much lower percentage of faculty using methods other than lecture, which was by far the most popular instructional method being used about 85% of total teaching time. Also, this report indicated "time" using each method. In other words, using technology in a single session would be reflected as a single hour among many. I think one of the misleading things about this survey is simply capturing these one-time users and lumping them with people who truly integrate technology into the learning experience.


Trackbacks

  1. How much Technology Did Professors Include in Their Teaching? | My Educational Technology Blog: A Place of Resources and Tools for Educators
  2. Nearly 75 Percent of Faculty Incorporated Technology into their Teaching in the Past Year | EduWire.com
  3. Communities of Practice | The Learning & Technology Plunge

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