We do a lot of reporting on student trends and data, so when the opportunity arises every three years to talk about faculty and their campus experience, we are excited to do so. The 2010-2011 HERI Faculty report, which we released on October 23, 2012, has many compelling findings.
We weren’t surprised to see that the economy has had its effect on faculty. Faculty at public institutions, in particular, cited budget cuts and personal finances as major sources of stress. But even private institutions felt the impact too. A total of 74.2 percent of all faculty at four-year institutions felt stressed by budget cuts, rivaling the traditional top sources of stress from past HERI faculty surveys. These include self-imposed high expectations and lack of personal time.
It was discouraging to learn that part-time faculty feel unsupported on campus due to a lack of access to key institutional resources. More than one third don’t have access to an office on campus, and only two out of five had access to a computer provided by their institution. Yet, institutions are increasingly relying on part-time faculty, who are an integral part of the higher education workforce.
We also saw some positive trends relating to teaching methods. Faculty are doing more student-centered teaching, and incorporating more cooperative learning, class discussions and student presentations. That’s not to say they are doing less lecturing (that figure has remained relatively stable) especially those in STEM fields, but we did see that roughly 60 percent of female professors in STEM used cooperative learning methods in the classroom, exceeding male faculty in both STEM and in other fields.
In general, more women than men used student-centered instruction methods in undergraduate classes, and were less likely to use extensive lecturing.
We anticipate this report will stimulate discussions on campus about the importance of evaluating and improving the faculty experience on campus.