With so much change swirling around the academy today, stepping back to understand how faculty members’ practices and needs are actually changing is more importance than ever.
Earlier this academic year, Ithaka S+R fielded its fifth survey of faculty members at four-year colleges and universities in the United States. This morning it released those results in a report that sheds light on everything from how best to improve student research skills, and their views on peer networks and scholarly societies, to what guides faculty members’ publishing choices.
“Every day we read about the ways in which traditional approaches to teaching and learning, and how scholarly information is shared, may undergo major shifts using new technologies, ” said Roger Schonfeld, Ithaka S+R program director for Scholarly Practices and Libraries. “It’s invigorating, and amidst the excitement, it’s a good time to take a step back and to see how the nation’s faculty members see some core parts of their work evolving.”
The random sample of 5,261 faculty members replied to questions developed in consultation with an advisory committee of librarians, publishers, and a scholarly society executive. In addition to long-standing topics like the importance of libraries to the respondents’ work and their comfort levels with shifting library collections from print to digital, the survey also covers the expanding role of ebooks, developments in teaching methods, and the factors that shape research topics and projects. The survey, implemented using a rigorous methodological approach, also provides unique insight in its ability to track change over time against surveys conducted in 2003, 2006, and 2009.
Results of the survey were first shared with 300 participants at the Coalition of Networked Information meeting last Friday in San Antonio. The full report is now freely available online on the Ithaka S+R website and the complete dataset will be deposited with ICPSR shortly. For the first time, higher education institutions also have the opportunity to run the survey locally on their own campuses to gauge the views of their own faculty members and to compare those to the national trends.
“Deepening academic leaders’ understanding of what it will take to embrace the promising opportunities digital technologies are affording is at the heart of Ithaka S+R’s work,” commented Deanna Marcum, Ithaka S+R managing director. “We hope this timely survey – and the ability to run a local version – will contribute to the ideation and future planning happening within higher education institutions and the organizations that serve the needs of faculty members all around the country.”
The 2012 US Faculty Survey was supported by numerous learned societies, libraries, vendors, and publishers. Feedback about the survey is welcome from all corners of the educational and scholarly community. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.