COVID-19: COACHE Community Updates

We know this is a challenging time for our partners due to the myriad of concerns posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus). As always, the COACHE team remains committed to and focused on supporting our partners in survey administration and beyond. This page will continue to be updated as more resources are released. (last updated: 5/19/20)

Frequently Asked Questions

For our partners:

For prospective partners:

 

For our partners:

How can I use the results to inform my institution’s COVID-19 responses? 

Partners with COACHE data may use it to identify their institutions’ “pre-existing conditions”: faculty inequities likely to be inflamed and their preparedness for this extraordinary undertaking. The most respected higher education associations and scholars are calling on colleges to plan for a fall semester that is partly or even entirely online. COACHE’s Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey reveal which corners of your institutions can lead and which can learn in a more thoughtful shift to remote teaching, research, and other academic work.  

For example, the survey asks faculty to rate the support they receive for developing online or hybrid courses, teaching online or hybrid courses, assessing students’ learning, and for improving teaching generally. Our data suggest that faculty in community colleges are much more comfortable with these tasks (p<.001) than are faculty in all other higher ed sectors. The dean of a small college (where these dimensions tend to be rated poorly) might reach out to collaborate with her counterpart at a two-year college, or perhaps, search her own COACHE data for the disciplines on her campus that can guide others into this new territory. 

Ultimately, COACHE data can identify organizational role models and blind spots. Always with an eye on equity and our most vulnerable faculty, keep asking not “Do faculty …?” but “Which faculty…?” In the current crisis, our partners’ existing data answer questions like: 

  • Which faculty on campus agreed that departmental colleagues “pitch in” when needed? Which faculty did not feel this support? 
  • Which departments were already discussing effective teaching practices and the effective use of technology? Which were most likely to have been caught by surprise by recent events? 
  • What can the faculty engaged in collaborative, interdisciplinary teaching or research contribute to the conversation? Who are the faculty who expressed an interest in such activity, but didn’t feel supported to do it? 
  • Which faculty were already feeling appreciated and recognized, and which faculty do leaders tend to overlook? 

One college president recently wrote that colleges with a healthy shared governance system perform better in crises, but how do we tell a “healthy” model from a sick one? We advise our partners to interrogate their COACHE leadership and governance data. Their results reveal where trust is pervasive, issues are widely understood, models are adaptable, efforts are productive, and a sense of purpose is shared. Our presidents and provost can learn:  

  • Are their faculty governing bodies inclusive in their decision making? Which faculty are feeling left out right now? 
  • In which disciplines are faculty and administrators able to discuss difficult issues in good faith, and in which were they not? 
  • How effective are senior administrators and faculty leaders at cultivating consensus, at ensuring that there is sufficient time for faculty to provide input on important decisions, and at communicating the rationale for important decisions? 
  • Will their shared governance model hold up under unusual situations, and can faculty expect a systematic review of institutional decision-making?  

If your institution is already using its COACHE data as evidence to drive institutional focus, policies, and practice in response the COVID-19 fallout, please share your examples with us.  

 

Have institutional responses to COVID-19 impacted our results?

The answer to this question is complicated by a host of factors. First and foremost, it is important to note that while this is truly an unprecedented historic event, every institution in the cohort experienced that same event. That does not eliminate the need for scrutiny, but it does help us to contextualize these results across institutions.

The Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey was fully in the field when most institutions began responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Most of the responses occurred in late February or early March (prior to most institutional responses).

In addition to the question of when faculty completed the survey, we are also considering what aspect of the survey are most likely to be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Intuitively, we expect faculty to have enhanced concerns about support for teaching, senior leadership, and shared governance. For some subsets of faculty, issues like tenure and promotion will be more pressing. In short, we suspect that there are many sections of the survey that will show negligible differences pre and post COVID-19. Other dimensions will warrant greater scrutiny.

Because the survey was in the field during this historic event, we are making some changes to our report deliverables so that you can assess the implications for your institution. As part of our suite of reporting materials, COACHE will provide an analysis of response completion dates. You will have the opportunity to see what proportion of your faculty completed the survey prior to your institution’s response to the outbreak. Based on the aggregate data, it appears that the majority of responses were collected prior to mid-March.

For institutions receiving unit record data, the dataset will include timestamps. The timestamp data will allow you compare faculty responses prior to and after your institution’s response. At the same time, COACHE has recruited a Doctoral Fellow. One of his primary responsibilities will be to analyze the aggregate results for differences in response patterns over time. We hope to share these analyses as they become available.

 

When will I receive my report?

Typically, COACHE reports are delivered mid-July. We appreciate, however, that our partners are facing a new urgency to have their survey results in hand. In response to this urgency, we have accelerated our typical operations in an effort to deliver reports to partners by July 1, 2020. Unforeseen circumstances may interfere with this target, but we will alert all partners if we expect report delivery to be delayed beyond July 31. 
 
 

What steps have you taken or are you taking to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis?

We made a few small adjustments to the administration of the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey for the 2019-20 cohort that should not affect future administrations. These adjustments include extending the administration window by one week for select institutions, adjusting the language of the reminder email(s), adding in an additional reminder email for select institutions, and adding time stamps to all responses for institutions that have chosen to receive unit-level data.  

COACHE is currently assessing how we might be able to adapt both our Faculty Job Satisfaction and Faculty Retention & Exit survey instruments to account for the many questions that have arisen because of this crisis.  

Administratively, the entire COACHE team is working remotely but is still accessible via phone and email. Questions regarding any outstanding invoice payments may be directed to Giang Pham, Finance and Operations Associate, at rachel_pham@gse.harvard.edu.  

 

Should I plan on attending a Strategy Workshop this summer? 

As of now, we are planning to host all workshops in person but are preparing to shift the curriculum online if necessary. We will decide by June 5, 2020 and update partners accordingly.  

July 31, Cambridge, MA – For institutions that are receiving their Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey Reports this summer. Register for the workshop → 

August 7, Easton, PA – For baccalaureate institutions that are receiving their Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey Reports this summer. Note: Baccalaureate institutions may attend either the July 31 or August 7 events, but the baccalaureate-only event will contain more tailored content. Register for the workshop → 

 

Can I pay out of FY20 funds given looming budgetary uncertainty? 

Yes, partners wishing to pay their outstanding invoices out of FY20 budgets may contact Giang Pham, Finance and Operations Associate, at rachel_pham@gse.harvard.edu in order to coordinate payment. 

 

For propective partners: 

Will your survey instruments change in response to the COVID-19 crisis?

We are currently speaking with our partners and scholars to make appropriate adjustments to ensure that both of our survey instruments adequately capture the faculty experience and account for the many questions that have arisen because of this crisis.  

We invite your suggestions, based on your experience and/or scholarship, on how we might adapt our instruments. To submit a suggestion please email our team

 

My institution is still undergoing a lot of transition. Why should I commit to surveying my faculty this year? 

The importance of understanding what your faculty are feeling and thinking could never be greater. Whatever your uncertainties about what lies ahead, you will be relying on faculty leaders to present you with evidence about what is working, what needs working on, and what should come next.  

Yet, in our observation and yours, equity and inclusion are always described as important, but are less often treated as essential. Now is the time when presidents and provost will be tested to back up their talk with real commitments. For our partners, the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey is part of that commitment. Like them, you can be broadcasting now that in Spring 2021--the anniversary of the “COVID-19 pivot”--you will be asking faculty how they are doing and how you are doing.  

If you are a renewing COACHE partner institution, or a prospective partner wondering if you should conduct the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey next year, consider it your commitment to continue checking your institution's health—and comparing it to others. 

If you are considering conducting, or continuing to conduct, the Faculty Retention & Exit Survey, know that this tool will help you to understand why faculty are leaving your institution at a time when the faculty job market is going to be in flux. While budgets are under more scrutiny, this data could be used to reduce the costs of searches, startups, and retention actions, and possibly to prevent the loss of indirect costs when faculty take their grants, or grant potential, to another institution. 

 

I am unsure of what my budget will look like next year. Can I pay for the survey out of this year’s remaining budget? 

Yes. We offer flexible payment options, including paying the full base fee out of FY20 budgets, spreading payment across three fiscal years, or making small upfront commitment with the balance due in a future fiscal year.