Learning from the Locals

Learning from the Locals

April 08, 2019 | ITHAKA | NEWS

In 2012, Ithaka S+R began offering colleges and universities the opportunity to field a customized instance of the US Faculty Survey, which tracks the research and teaching practices, perceptions, and needs of faculty members at four-year colleges and universities on a triennial basis. In more recent years, we began fielding our parallel surveys of undergraduate and graduate students as a means to gain better insight into the needs of these important stakeholders. To date, these localized versions of the faculty and student surveys have been fielded at well over 100 institutions. As we prepare to publish findings from the US Faculty Survey 2018 on Friday, April 12, we are reflecting on the unique role that these local survey partner institutions play.

Concurrent with the 2018 cycle, we partnered with 13 institutions that fielded localized versions of the survey alongside the national survey. We have enhanced our national dataset by incorporating survey responses from these thirteen institutions who will now be able to see how their local findings directly compare against the responses of the national survey that were collected during the same timeframe. These local survey participants include:

  • Arkansas State University
  • Brandeis University
  • Brooklyn College
  • Drake University
  • San Jose State University
  • State University of New York at Potsdam
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • University of Florida
  • University of Miami
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Wheaton College

In the years leading up to the 2018 survey cycle, our local survey participants and the broader academic community expressed interest in gathering additional insights into issues on data fabrication and research fraud, open access publishing models, open educational resources, learning analytics tools, and the role of the library in contributing to student success. Based on this feedback, we added a series of questions on these topics to the 2018 cycle. We hope that the national level data we will be releasing on these topics will help inform the strategies of higher education institutions, their libraries, and other service providers.

Our expertise in higher education survey administration has also been considerably enriched by our experiences with past and current local survey participants. We have documented many of these practices through a series of detailed guidelines on best practices for designing survey questionnaires, crafting effective invitation and reminder messages, determining when to send these messages and what incentives, if any, to offer, and ensuring that survey invitations and reminder messaging are received and opened. By applying these strategies to the administration of the US Faculty Survey 2018, we have achieved our highest response rate and number of participants for the national survey to date.

Our partnerships with local survey participants have also allowed us collaborate more deeply with libraries, to expand upon our understanding of survey administration practices and strategies within the higher education sector, and to substantially enhance the quality of the national survey. We are grateful for the opportunity to engage with these and many other institutions and look forward to sharing results from the national faculty survey this week.

The Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey 2018 public report of findings will be published in conjunction with the ACRL 2019 conference in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 12th, 2019 at 10:30am, where Christine Wolff-Eisenberg and Roger Schonfeld will present key findings from the survey for the first time.

If you can’t join us at ACRL, register for our free webinar on April 17 at 3:00 pm.

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