Whitepapers

Benchmark Best Practices: Tenure and Promotion
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Tenure and Promotion. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing the general thrust of faculty satisfaction along key themes. This white paper discusses the themes of tenure policies, tenure clarity, and promotion.

Administrators and faculty alike acknowledge that, at most institutions, the bar to achieve tenure has risen over time. While it is impossible to eliminate anxiety from the minds of all pre-tenure faculty members, or the pressures exerted on their lives en route to tenure, academic leaders can improve the clarity of tenure policies and expectations without sacrificing rigor. And while the academy has recently improved many policies for assistant professors (e.g., research leave; stop-the-tenure-clock; part-time tenure-track options), it has done far less for associate professors. Ideas have emerged from COACHE research on tenured faculty.

Benchmark Best Practices: Nature of Work: Teaching
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Nature of Work: Teaching. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing faculty satisfaction along key themes. This white paper examines teaching, based on survey responses that measure satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the portion of faculty members’ time spent on teaching, the number and level of courses taught, the number and quality of students taught, discretion over course content, and the distribution of teaching workload across department faculty.

The challenge for every faculty member is to strike a balance between institutional expectations for teaching and the time available to invest in it. Dissatisfaction can occur when faculty members feel expectations for teaching are unreasonable, institutional support is lacking, or the distribution of work is inequitable. Satisfaction can be raised through workshops about improving teaching, mentoring students, using instructional technologies, and experimenting with new techniques.

Benchmark Best Practices: Nature of Work: Service
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Nature of Work: Service. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing faculty satisfaction along key themes. This white paper examines service: faculty satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the portion of their time spent on service, the number of committees on which they serve, the attractiveness of those committees, and the discretion faculty have to choose them.

The COACHE survey instrument asks questions about the quantity, quality, and equitable distribution of their service work, as well as their institutions’ efforts to help faculty be service leaders and sustain their other commitments. In follow-up interviews with faculty and institutional leaders, a common refrain emerged: faculty are eager to participate not in more service, but in more meaningful service, and institutions must do better to engage and to reward those contributions.

Benchmark Best Practices: Nature of Work: Research
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Nature of Work: Research. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing faculty satisfaction. This white paper discusses research, including the portion of faculty time spent on research, external funding, the influence faculty have over the focus of their research/scholarly/creative work, the availability of course release time, and institutional support. Faculty satisfaction with research is a function not just of the time faculty members have to commit to research, but of the clarity and consistency of institutional expectations for research productivity and the resources colleges and universities provide faculty to meet them.

COACHE researchers interviewed leaders from member institutions whose faculty rated items in this theme exceptionally well. While several of the highest ratings were found at baccalaureate institutions, the lessons derived from our interviews with their leaders are transferrable to universities at the school-, college-, or division-level.

Benchmark Best Practices: Mentoring
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Mentoring. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing faculty satisfaction. This white paper examines the effectiveness of mentoring within departments, outside departments but at the same institution, and outside the institution.

Mentoring has always been important in the academic workplace. Only in recent years, however, has the practice evolved more widely from incidental to intentional as academic leaders have come to appreciate that mentorship is too valuable to be left to chance.

Many pre-tenure faculty members feel mentoring is essential to their success, but such support is also instrumental for associate professors on their path to promotion. While some institutions rely on the mentor-protégé approach (a senior faculty member formally paired with a junior faculty member), new models encourage mutual mentoring, team mentoring, and strategic collaborations beyond the department.

Benchmark Best Practices: Interdisciplinary Work & Collaboration
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Interdisciplinary Work & Collaboration. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing faculty satisfaction. This white paper examines collaboration—within departments, outside of departments but at the same institution, and outside the institution—and attitudes toward interdisciplinary work.

While interest in interdisciplinary work has increased, and this type of work attracts many graduate students and early-career faculty, the academy has not yet fully embraced interdisciplinary work. Unchanged policies, structures and cultures are institutional disincentives, as they are still best-suited to narrower work within disciplines. This includes publication vehicles, multiple authors, peer review, and reward structures.

Benchmark Best Practices: Department Engagement, Quality, and Collegiality
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Department Engagement, Quality, and Collegiality. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing faculty satisfaction. This white paper discusses departmental engagement, quality, and collegiality.

Departmental quality is a function of the intellectual vitality of faculty, the scholarship that is produced, the effectiveness of teaching, how well the department recruits and retains excellent faculty, and whether and how poor faculty performance is handled. While many factors comprise faculty members’ sense of departmental collegiality, COACHE has discovered that faculty are especially cognizant of their “fit” among their colleagues, their personal interactions with colleagues, whether their colleagues “pitch in” when needed, and colleague support for work/life balance. There is no substitute for a collegial department when it comes to faculty satisfaction, and campus leaders—both faculty and administrators—can create opportunities for better informal engagement.

Benchmark Best Practices: Departmental Leadership
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Departmental Leadership. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing faculty satisfaction. This white paper examines departmental leadership and faculty satisfaction with chairs’ or department heads’ pace of decision-making, stated priorities, and fairness in evaluating faculty work.

COACHE’s 2010 pilot study of tenured faculty found that faculty desire from the administration a clearly articulated institutional mission and vision that do not change in ways that adversely affect faculty work. Faculty also wish for clear expectations for the mix of research, teaching, and service or outreach; support for research and teaching; and a sense that their work is valued. Deans and department chairs can improve faculty morale through communication, and particularly by involving faculty in meaningful decisions that affect them. Deans and chairs are also responsible for supporting faculty in adapting to any changes to mission and institutional priorities.

Benchmark Best Practices: Appreciation & Recognition
(2014). Benchmark Best Practices: Appreciation & Recognition . The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. Read the reportAbstract

The COACHE surveys of college faculty produce data that are both salient to full-time college faculty and actionable by academic leaders. The survey items are aggregated into 20 benchmarks representing faculty satisfaction. This white paper examines appreciation and recognition for faculty teaching efforts, student advising, scholarly/creative work, service contributions, and outreach.

Focus group research conducted by COACHE showed that while many tenured faculty members feel valued by undergraduate and graduate students, they do not receive much recognition from other faculty and upper-level administrators. The degree to which appreciation/recognition themes appeared in our 2010 study of tenured faculty far surpassed their appearance in our pre-tenure faculty research. In our recent study, tenured faculty felt that extramural service that increases the reputation of their colleges, while expected of them, is not recognized and goes unrewarded. This gap between expectations and appreciation discouraged many faculty from serving their institutions in this way.

Effective Academic Governance: Five Ingredients for CAOs and Faculty
Ott, M. W., & Mathews, K. (2015). Effective Academic Governance: Five Ingredients for CAOs and Faculty. The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. Download the full textAbstract
The COACHE research-practice partnership is designed to enact organizational change for the benefit of faculty and, by extension, the institution. But does every college's system of shared governance have what it takes to meet their own or, indeed, higher education’s most pressing challenges? This white paper looks beyond the rhetoric toward a more differentiated understanding of the ingredients of effective academic governance. Ott and Mathews offer a five-factor framework grounded in the literature, developed from interviews, and, now, tested in a survey of thousands of faculty. The report concludes with advice for assessing and fostering the qualities of “hard” and “soft” governance practices essential to sustainable change in the “real world” decision-making of committees, assemblies, senates, councils, and unions.
Perspectives on Midcareer Faculty and Advice for Supporting Them
Mathews, K. (2014). Perspectives on Midcareer Faculty and Advice for Supporting Them . Cambridge, Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. Download the full textAbstract
This 8-page white paper was produced for an invited presentation at the Association of Public Land-grant Universities' (APLU) Council on Academic Affairs Summer Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The paper examines the experiences of midcareer faculty, who face an increased teaching load, greater expectations for service and advising, a more competitive market for grants, and the disappearance of mentoring programs that supported them as early-career faculty. The toll of these obligations is heavier on women and faculty of color. Institutions can address the challenges midcareer faculty face by designing orientations that cover the entire career, implementing career re-visioning programs, providing opportunities for re-engagement, and mentoring associate professors.
Trower, C. (2011). Senior Faculty Satisfaction: Perceptions of Associate and Full Professors at Seven Public Research Universities. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This TIAA-CREF paper presents data from a survey of 1,775 tenured associate and full professors at seven public universities, showing that many are frustrated about leadership turnover and the corresponding shifts in mission, focus, and priorities, and also about salary. In addition, associate professors are less satisfied than full professors on critical factors such as support for research, collaboration, and clarity of promotion, and women are less satisfied than men on numerous dimensions including mentoring support for research and interdisciplinary work, and clarity of promotion.
New Challenges, New Priorities: The Experience of Generation X Faculty
Helms, R. (2010). New Challenges, New Priorities: The Experience of Generation X Faculty . Cambridge, Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. Read the studyAbstract

This study explores how Generation X (born 1964-1980) faculty are approaching their jobs, long-term careers, and work-life balance, and examines if and how the generational “clashes” reportedly arising in the workforce are being manifested in the academic environment. The study was designed to complement and build upon the coache Tenure-Track Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey by using qualitative interviews to explore many of the same themes in greater depth with a limited number of participants, and provide insights into how those themes play out in the day-to-day lives of individual faculty members. While the survey provides a snapshot of how tenure-track faculty are feeling about their current job situation, this study examines the broader context of faculty members’ long-term careers, and the interplay between their work and non-work lives.