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:
|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.
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, underprepared 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
|Students who come to class unprepared||6.64%||27.42%||39.18%||26.77%|
|Institutional budget cuts||20.42%||28.42%||26.09%||25.07%|
|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%|
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.
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%).
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.
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.