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February 11, 2013

What Do Professors Really Think?

From the blog The Quick & the Ed 

The Undergraduate Teaching Faculty The 2010-2011 HERI Faculty Survey , a survey of faculty at four-year universities by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, contains some interesting findings.

  • Almost a quarter of professors at four-year universities do not consider teaching their "principal activity" (pg 19)
  • The median teaching load is 2 courses per term (mean = 2.5) (pg 20)
  • One-third have paid sabbatical leave (pg 22)
  • Over 60 percent of professors spend 0-4 hours a week "advising and counseling" students (pg 27)
  • 56.2 percent of professors spend 8 or fewer hours a week teaching (pg 92)
  • 63.2 percent of professors spend 12 or fewer hours a week preparing for teaching, including grading (pg 92)
  • 62.7 percent of professors identify their political beliefs as "far left" or "liberal", 11.9 percent say they are "far right" or "conservative" (pg 36)
  • 42.6 percent of professors have received an award for outstanding teaching
  • Only 16.5 percent believe the statement "Faculty are rewarded for being good teachers" is very descriptive of their institution (pg 96) 47.3 percent have "Considered leaving this institution for another" (pg 95)
  • 36.7 percent agreed "strongly" or "somewhat" with the statement, "Most of the students I teach lack the basic skills for college level work" (pg 97)
  • 71.3 percent agreed that "To increase or maintain institutional prestige" was of "highest" or "high" priority (pg 98)
  • 55.2 percent agreed "strongly" or "somewhat" that "The chief benefit of a college education is that it increases one's earning power" (pg 98) [AG: Given the disproportionate number of op-eds by faculty declaring this to be untrue, I was (pleasantly) surprised by how high this number was.]

Note, I am very skeptical of the HERI survey numbers for part-time faculty. For example, the survey reports that less than 11 percent of part-time faculty earn less than $50,000 from their institution (pg 187), a number that seems much too low to me.

Andrew Gillen is the research director at Education Sector.

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