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Teaching the US Faculty Survey

The new faculty survey report has arrived! As an LIS faculty member teaching in the areas of Academic Libraries and Sources and Services in the Humanities and Social Sciences, I couldn’t be more excited.

Over the past several iterations, I have found the survey reports invaluable in my work as both an educator of future practitioners and a researcher exploring the role of libraries in the 21st Century Academy. The common thread through much of my teaching and research concerns “things I wish I’d known” when I was an academic librarian; chief among them, how and why faculty behave and work as they do. The reports are a remarkable window on how faculty interact with information, libraries, librarians, and their students in these contexts. They provide fodder for my current teaching and guidance as I develop and revise my course content for future semesters.

I use findings from the reports in at least three of the five courses I teach regularly (I’ve even created my own graphics!) in lectures and to jump-start discussions and activities. I am currently teaching UTK’s Academic Libraries course and will add data from the 2015 report to my upcoming lectures on liaison activities, including strategies for working with faculty and students. This summer and fall I will teach the Sources and Services in the Social Sciences and Sources and Services in the Humanities courses, respectively, and will incorporate report findings into my general overview of disciplinary culture, scholarly communication, and information seeking.

Below, I’ve outlined a few of the questions I’ve used in the past as well as some new ones that have come to mind while reviewing the 2015 report. I hope they might provide a jumping-off point for others’ instructional efforts, or perhaps just serve as a resource for a closer reading of the report.

Academic Culture:

  1. One of the major hallmarks of a culture is its modes of communication. Can you identify any trends or changes in scholarly communication norms and practices as described in the Reports from 2003-15?

Disciplinary Differences:

  1. How do expectations for scholarly output differ among the broad disciplinary divisions as established in the survey?

Support for Teaching and Learning:

  1. What do the findings suggest regarding faculty understanding of undergraduate students’ research skills?
  2. How might you use these findings to inform an outreach strategy for promoting library instructional services?

Ascendant Areas of Interest for Academic Libraries/Librarians:

  1. What “hot spots” can you identify in the most recent reports in terms of new areas of interest or focus for academic librarians?

Research Design and Methods (respondents’ research):

  1. How have norms or approaches to conducting research changed in each of the major disciplinary areas from 2003-15?

Research Design and Methods (the survey itself):

  1. How has the instrument changed over the years? What additions or changes do you think Ithaka S+R should consider for 2018?
  2. Outline the sampling and distribution model used for the survey as described in the “Methodology” section. What strategies might you employ to improve or alter response patterns?
  3. What questions would you like to see added to future iterations of the survey?

This list is certainly not exhaustive, and I’m sure that more will occur to me as I read the 2015 Report a second time. What suggestions do you have? Please share them in the comments!

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