By Wendy Trevor, PhD
Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Assessment (CETLA)
Office of Student and Faculty Services
The results of the 2015 Faculty Satisfaction are now available. Thank you for your participation and helping to make this a record response rate, up from 32 percent last year to 42 percent this year.
As you know, the information gleaned from this survey helps us to learn more about how we may further support the work you do and make your experience as an instructional faculty member even better. Here are some key findings and an explanation of how initiatives taken by the Office of Student and Faculty Services are responding/have responded to faculty feedback.
- There has been increased satisfaction with the timeliness and usefulness of feedback regarding teaching performance.
This was an issue that arose in the 2014 survey and we are delighted to learn that steps taken to ensure that timely evaluations are a priority have yielded a positive result. Here are some additional steps taken/are in process related to providing feedback for instructional faculty:
The Student End of Course Survey has been revised to reflect those aspects of the learning experience that students are in a position to evaluate. Survey results have been automated and individual course results appear in My Faculty Desk shortly after the end of a course so that faculty may review them.
The Faculty Teaching Evaluation is undergoing revision. We are working to ensure that teaching evaluations offer meaningful guidance to faculty on ways to further develop teaching behaviors that demonstrate excellence. The Faculty Steering Committee (which includes instructional faculty and faculty program director representatives from each school) are working with the Schools to redesign the Faculty Teaching Evaluation to do just that and this will include providing links to teaching resources therein.
- Some faculty reported they did not have an understanding of key policies that impact students.
This is an issue that arose on last year’s survey as well and in response we provided a link to policies with which faculty need to be familiar in CETLA under “Tools & Services Quick Links,” “Excelsior Policies”, “Faculty Policies.” These include Absenteeism, Academic Honesty, ADA and Reasonable Accommodations, Course Extensions and Withdrawals, FERPA, Intellectual Property and Student Complaints and Appeals. https://my.excelsior.edu/group/faculty-myexcelsior/policies
In addition, all new faculty now receive a welcome email from CETLA providing an asynchronous tour of CETLA and My Faculty Desk which directs them to information that will assist them to undertake their teaching, access their courses and retrieve payment information.
- There was a slight reduction in the belief that students are prepared for courses and that Excelsior is committed to supporting student success. Areas cited as needing attention were writing skills, time management and research skills.
There have been several initiatives aimed at addressing student readiness and academic skill support, particularly related to writing:
All students enrolling on or after December 1, 2014 complete the new student orientation, CCS 100 EC Student Experience. This orientation is a self-paced tutorial in which students learn about multiple services and learning support resources at the College.
This year the College invested in the new Excelsior College Student Success Center (SSC) to support at-risk students who have already begun to attempt credit toward their degree requirements. Academic coaches have been trained to work to support students to overcome academic and non-academic challenges including time management, managing multiple commitments, study skills, facing personal obstacles, and navigation of learning resources. Support for newly enrolled students began on December 1 with Strong Start coaches offering coaching services, directing students to orientations and other resources, explaining next steps, and partnering with academic advisors to guide students through the onboarding process. At-risk students have been identified through the use of data analytics. There is a plan to expand the work of the center in the coming years.
The Center for Online Education, Learning and Academic Services (COELAS) re-launched the redesigned Student Success Guide in April 2016. This self-paced resource includes strategies to succeed in an online learning environment, study tips, and information on goal-setting and time management.
The College has committed to the improvement of writing outcomes as part of a strategic initiative. It has formed a task force led by Joe Bocchi, faculty program director, writing, to address college-wide writing standards to include creation of resources, evaluation, and professional development for faculty serving in an instructional and course development role to support this work.
- In April of this year, FAC 104 Writing across the Curriculum, a self-paced professional development resource for faculty and course developers was developed by task force members as an extension of an Excelsior webinar and campus workshop on writing assignment design recorded late last year.
The Executive Director of Excelsior’s award-winning Online Writing Lab (OWL), Mark Oppenneer, and his team have been working on additional content for the repository including resources to promote active reading strategies and support writing development.
- We were delighted to learn of increased satisfaction with faculty peer interaction, professional development opportunities and feelings of belonging to the Excelsior community.
This year we launched the Distinguished Faculty Webinar Series offering opportunities for faculty who received or were nominated for a distinguished faculty award to share their expertise and discuss teaching topics and issues with teaching peers across disciplines and schools at Excelsior. We’ve had enthusiastic participation related to online communication and class/time management, discussion facilitation, grade inflation and using technology to improve the impact of student feedback, to name a few. Thank you!
We continue hosting faculty “meet-ups” – regional faculty meetings in destination cities when FPDs/staff were attending conferences and meetings. This year we met with faculty in Albany, Denver, Lubbock, and San Antonio.
At the Academic Affairs retreat in September this year we identified pillars of teaching excellence and teaching behaviors that serve to underpin them. CETLA has shared them with faculty as a theme for each term: Inspire, Individualize, Promote “outside of the box” thinking and create opportunities and a learning environment where it is safe to test ideas and fail.
Several additional self-paced professional development resources were deployed in addition to FAC 104 Writing across the Curriculum:
- FAC 112 Overcoming Unconscious and Hidden Bias
- FAC 114 The Power of Teaching Presence
- FAC 116 Introduction to Open Educational Resources
This year we expanded Quality Matters professional development opportunities to instructional faculty at a distance by facilitating an online Quality Matters APPQMR (applying the rubric) training. This training will assist especially those faculty serving as course developers. The first cohort of faculty to participate completed the training in February 2016. We are currently planning a session for the summer and have a waitlist. If you are interested in any subsequent training, please contact me.
- There has been decreased satisfaction with communication related to teaching expectations and the importance of the FAC 100 orientation, and information and tools to successfully begin teaching at Excelsior.
This is an important finding which we have recognized can be exacerbated by the transition period when one faculty program director (FPD) leaves the College and another arrives. We understand that this can be unsettling for newly-hired and existing instructional faculty. This has been addressed through a working group tasked with creating a more formalized approach to the FPD orientation process. The group has developed a detailed guidance document for use by schools which specifically address the hiring, onboarding and development of instructional faculty. This document addresses faculty outreach related to teaching and contractual expectations.
In addition, the introductory email sent from CETLA to all new faculty (as mentioned above) outlines teaching resources and where to find them. We are currently working on ensuring that all self-paced professional development resources (FAC 104, 112, 114, 116) are released to all new faculty at the same time they receive FAC 100 so they may better prepare for their teaching with us.
- Faculty want to teach more for us and some on a full-time basis and look for more predictability in teaching assignments.
This continues to be something that we view in a positive light, as it suggests that you enjoy your work with us! At the present time there are no plans to offer full-time faculty positions, but your question continues to be a part of an ongoing conversation about how we may best meet the needs of our faculty and our students. Through the new faculty program director onboarding document we are addressing communication with faculty, particularly related to teaching assignments, class enrollments that impact assignments and the faculty evaluation process in order to create more transparency.
You may review the 2015 Faculty Satisfaction Survey Final Report in its entirety on CETLA under “Tools & Services Quick Links”, “Handbooks, Reports, and Catalogs”.
Again, many thanks for your participation and the work you do in supporting our mission.