A Round of Applause, Please – Showing our Appreciation for Faculty Work
The University of Toronto is able to attain the status of a top 20 university in the world because of the strength, dedication and innovation of our faculty members. We need to ensure that faculty are recognized for their contributions. The COACHE survey measures levels of faculty satisfaction with the recognition they receive for the primary aspects of their work (teaching, scholarship and service), their sense that the work that they do is appreciated, and the opportunities that are provided for interdisciplinarity and collaboration. In this, the fifth article reporting on findings from the COACHE survey, we will look at the results related to recognition and appreciation as well as interdisciplinarity and collaboration.
Recognition and Appreciation
The COACHE survey assessed the satisfaction of tenure stream faculty across a number of areas, including teaching, scholarship and service; as well as their satisfaction with the appreciation they receive for their work from colleagues, their chair and dean and the provost.
In more than half of the questions asked in this theme, we were ranked number one in relation to our peers, with a benchmark mean of 3.44 (nearest peer is 3.42). In particular, faculty express satisfaction with the recognition they receive at the local level – from their colleagues (68.3%), for the teaching that they do (67.9%) and for their research (61.1%). While faculty indicate a good amount of satisfaction with the recognition that they receive from their Chair (64.3%), this is actually below the score for most of our peer institutions.
When we start to move away from the Department to the broader institution, we find that faculty members’ satisfaction with the appreciation and recognition that they receive begins to decline. Faculty indicate less satisfaction with the recognition from their Dean (mean score of 3.24) and the Provost (mean score of 3.04). In addition, many are less satisfied when it comes to feeling that their department is valued by the President and/or Provost (mean score of 3.27). While in general we do well in comparison to our peers, there is clearly room for improvement.
“We know that good practices exist in some departments for recognizing the teaching, research and service of our faculty,” says Cheryl Regehr, vice president and provost. “These can serve as excellent examples for cultivating a culture of recognition where the accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students can be highlighted”.
Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration
Most faculty work requires collaboration – with students, with peers, with administrators and with colleagues inside and outside of the institution. In general, across the higher education sector there has been a growth in collaborative and interdisciplinary research. Increasingly, funding is being directed to interdisciplinary and collaborative projects. The COACHE survey assessed the satisfaction of tenure stream faculty with opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinarity as well as considering the impact of funding mechanisms and reward structures on the ability of faculty to undertake this kind of research. Across the cohort, the results were telling.
In general, faculty indicated the most satisfaction with opportunities to collaborate outside of the institution (74.7% compared to peers at 70.2%), followed by opportunities to collaborate within their own department (67.4% on par with our peers at 67.7%). They were least satisfied with opportunities to collaborate within the institution but outside of their department (59.8% compared to 60.9%).
Across the cohort, faculty expressed significant dissatisfaction with the way in which interdisciplinary research is encouraged, supported and rewarded. The benchmark overall was extremely low and while our score of 2.77 puts us 4th in comparison to our peer institutions, none of them scored over 3.0 on this particular benchmark. Faculty expressed dissatisfaction in relation to structures to support interdisciplinary work (e.g. budget mechanisms or space) and the processes by which interdisciplinary work is recognized (e.g. the merit process). Faculty did however express satisfaction in relation to the department’s ability to assess interdisciplinary work.
“We need to open up the discussion on collaboration and interdisciplinarity at U of T and begin to think seriously about what barriers exist and what can be done to facilitate, support and reward it” remarked Edith Hillan, vice provost faculty & academic life, “the results from the survey give us a real opportunity to think about the various forms that interdisciplinary work can take and how it can be encouraged.”
The COACHE survey was conducted in October of 2012 by the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Almost 50% of our tenured and pre-tenure faculty participated in this round (pre-tenure faculty had been invited to participate in 2007).
This month, we’ll be provide two further articles that look at the results on questions related to leadership and finally on our policies and benefits.. In previous weeks we’ve discussed some overall results of the survey, the department culture and tenure, promotion and mentoring, and the nature of faculty work.
Article: Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life
Graphics: NATIONAL Public Relations