COACHE in the Time of Coronavirus: An Update for our Partners Currently Administering the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey

March 18, 2020

by Kiernan R. Mathews
Executive Director & Principal Investigator

This post provides details, up to March 18, on the COACHE Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey cycle for approximately 40 colleges and universities. 
 

This is a note of reassurance: we are not asking anything of our partners right now. We appreciate that their attention is deservedly on the most urgent needs of their campus (and increasingly off-campus) communities.  

For our part, the COACHE team is making a few, small adjustments to administrative protocols to ensure a swift and successful completion of this survey cycle. The data we have collected, and will collect, will be ready for our partners when you are ready to return to addressing the broader needs of faculty.

These are the key updates for colleges and universities in an active survey period: 

1. All COACHE staff are working remotely and (pretty much) at full capacity.

 

Your calls to (617) 495-5285 are routed to our mobile phones; voicemail messages are immediately sent to our email inbox. (If you are calling about survey administration, press “2”.) 

2. Thanks to the hard work of research partners like you, survey response rates are exceptionally strong.

 

On average, larger universities have already exceeded 40 percent and small colleges are nearing 70 percent rates of response. COACHE response rates have never been this high so early in the survey administration cycle. These results were evident even before our reminder on March 11. Your engagement in our Strategy Workshop, your COACHE team activities, and your communication plan execution are paying off. 

Therefore, we have no evidence for extending the survey administration period beyond the scheduled close date of April 12. If you are one of the few campuses suffering from a response rate below 30 percent, our team is prepared to support your ongoing communication plan for the final two reminders.

3. We are making changes to the reminder messages scheduled for the weeks of March 23 and April 6. 

 
  • We will adjust the content of these final emails to acknowledge the current, extraordinary circumstances.  

Our broadly-applicable reminder messages are appropriate in ordinary times, but might seem out of touch with the current circumstances. With Harvard IRB approval, we are making small adjustments to the final messages in order to briefly and respectfully acknowledge what many faculty are going through. Read the proposed outbound language. 

Even as we make these adjustments, we recommend that you, too, revisit your COACHE communication strategy in light of developing events. For example, your updated messaging might emphasize that, although the current focus of your campus is on continuing your educational mission during a national emergency, you will rely on faculty responses to the COACHE survey to understand the broader context of their work—teaching, of course, but also research, service, collaboration, governance, and so on. 

  • Partners may contact us by March 23 if they wish to cease our communication to their faculty.   

Given the high response rates up to last week and the diminishing returns of subsequent survey reminders, most COACHE partners could conclude the survey period early with little impact on their results. Since priorities have changed across all campuses concerning communications with faculty, partners who are satisfied with their current response rate and believe additional reminders will be burdensome to their faculty can contact the COACHE team (coache@gse.harvard.edu) to cease reminders for the Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey. If you do opt of out the remaining reminder emails, the survey will remain open and your faculty can contact our support team (coachefaculty@abtassoc.com) to have links resent.  

Looking ahead... to the best of our capabilities 

 

In the short term, our team will be monitoring the situation and posting updates to our website regarding survey administration and other partner services. (For example, Todd Benson, COACHE’s Associate Director, has posted his thoughts on including part-time faculty in your response strategy.) 

In the medium term, we have scheduled the next COACHE Strategy Workshops for partners who will be receiving their reports this summer. This year, we will be offering two separate workshops to tailor our content to our partners' context. For baccalaureate institutions, the workshop will take place on Friday, August 7, 2020* at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. For all other institutions, the workshop will take place on Friday, July 31, 2020* here at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Please mark your calendars for the time being. While we hope to conduct these workshops in-person, we are already preparing the workshop curriculum to be executed successfully in an online format.

In the long term, we will be learning from developing events to equip our partners to better lead and care for their faculty--and to do so in an equitable way.  Faculty are dealing with unprecedented demands on their time and talents. We will do all we can to support academic leaders in supporting them.

Of course, we stand ready to support our COACHE partners right now. Contact us at coache@gse.harvard.edu to share your thoughts. 

 

*Note: Due to shifting commencement schedules, the workshop dates initially announced on 3/18/20 have had to be changed. Baccalaureate institutions will meet in Easton, PA on Friday, August 7th. All other instiutions will meet in Cambridge, MA on Friday, July 31. We apologize for any inconvenience.