- Investing in faculty success is an investment in an institution’s future
- Faculty success software creates a hub for faculty activity data to support faculty development and engagement
- See related article: How to support new diverse faculty at your institution
Student and institutional success begin with faculty. Faculty are the heart and soul of higher education, and their success ensures their knowledge and experiences will be passed on to their students. With mounting pressure on administrators to ensure positive student outcomes and provide transparency into how faculty are offered contracts, promotions, and tenure, institutions are looking for ways to improve and support faculty success. But how do colleges and universities guarantee faculty have the support needed to be successful?
Leveraging technology to capture and track faculty accomplishments is an excellent place to start. It’s difficult to maintain current and accurate data when there isn’t a centralized system that holds faculty credentials, research, teaching, and service activity. In many cases, faculty data is stored disparately across multiple departments using spreadsheets or stand-alone systems requiring significant time from both administrators and faculty to manually compile data necessary for a multitude of initiatives. This presents a significant, yet solvable, obstacle that foundationally undermines success. Removing the obstacle returns the focus where it should be – on the faculty and students.
Faculty engagement and development
A significant part of advancing faculty success is supporting faculty engagement and professional development. According to consulting and research firm Gallup, faculty who are more engaged are less likely to depart from their institution and are more committed to student success. Additionally, any opportunity an institution has to support faculty professional development is critical, as the American Council on Education found that 90 percent of higher education faculty members find professional development to be important for their careers and for improving student outcomes. Up-to-date and consumable data is required to support both aspects of faculty success adequately, but many colleges and universities often lack the necessary tools to gather and understand their faculty’s achievements, success, and opportunities.
Institutions can rely on faculty success software to create a hub for faculty activity data to support both faculty development and engagement. Comprehensive systems ensure that up-to-date data is included from multiple sources such as other campus systems, CV imports, and publication databases. Student insight also factors in by incorporating student course evaluation data to determine what support is needed for faculty to enhance their teaching and classroom culture.
Having actionable faculty data insights gives higher education leaders a better understanding of faculty challenges, enabling more precise strategies to grow faculty success. Using this data to drive decision-making and invest in professional development directly enhances the student experience, supporting a more positive culture and reputation for the institution and giving the school a competitive edge.
Faculty reviews have far-reaching effects on the entire college or university. As a key part of faculty development, faculty reviews provide critical insights for the institution and faculty members as they typically discover areas for improvement and what resources they need to be successful. Reviews create opportunities for professional development among faculty, and they provide actionable data for the institution. However, faculty reviews are often conducted in unfriendly, outdated systems or, in some cases, paper-filled binders. The lack of a digital system for reference and workflow diminishes transparency between the institution and faculty and further hinders improvements.
Faculty success software helps streamline the review process by tapping into centralized data, such as teaching feedback, service, awards, and research activity, enabling submissions to be compiled quickly. This further streamlines the process for those involved in the review so that they can focus on productive conversations rather than the logistics of the process itself. After discussing opportunities for improvement and providing the institution with an eye-opening look into the support needed, faculty can incorporate feedback to foster a more valuable and attractive learning environment.
Tenure is a time-honored cornerstone of academia that many faculty members benefit from, but embarking on a tenure track is no easy feat. Faculty have, on average, seven years to showcase evidence of excellence in research, student engagement, commitment to the institution, service, and promotion of successful student outcomes. To help them reach this accomplishment, a comprehensive solution guides them to the finish line through holistic faculty information that is easily accessible when needed.
Once achieved, tenure can benefit all stakeholders, including students, faculty, the institution, and the local community. Tenure also supports academic growth and enhances institutional reputation. Institutions can leverage software to track instructor tenure progress on the faculty’s profile, significantly reducing the time spent collecting the information manually.
Seeking and maintaining accreditation is vital to the very foundation of an institution, but accreditation preparation can be a very stressful time for faculty and institution leaders. If a comprehensive system is not in place, the effort required can lead to a focus on gathering the relevant data only for accreditation purposes.
Standards set by accreditation agencies such as The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) mandate that colleges and universities provide complex data points about faculty, but that can be difficult, especially for schools still using an analog system. Institutions must prove faculty are qualified to teach in their fields, which demands detailed credential data and transcripts. Many requirements often go beyond credentials and require great effort to gather and report data from research, teaching, and service. Professional accreditation agency requirements, for instance, can have complex sufficiency levels for each and require a great deal of effort to gather, analyze, and compile in the required reporting format. Combined, these requirements can burden faculty and staff with months of work when this information is stored in various formats and locations.
Comprehensive faculty success systems offer undisputed advantages by addressing all of these concerns. They offer invaluable time savings and reduce by continuously collecting and aggregating the data needed. Most will support a variety of outputs, including those required by common accreditors, so that leaders can focus on the information presented. Furthermore, comprehensive systems are inherent evidence of how the institution supports its faculty’s development and ensures a fair and regular review process — key interests of accreditors and faculty alike.
Harnessing faculty data for positive action
The moment institutions gain access to critical faculty data, they have the opportunity to employ this information for the betterment of both institutional and student success. Collating and presenting faculty data such as teaching strategies, research advancements, service contributions, and student feedback can illuminate faculty accomplishments, assess the effectiveness of their teaching methods, and identify areas needing improvement.
Faculty success is intrinsically tied to student success. By leveraging the data-driven insights gathered, institutions can determine gaps in faculty support and collaborate with faculty to refine teaching methods, promote scholarship, and ultimately enhance the student experience. In doing so, they align their actions to meet the institution’s overarching goals and improve student outcomes.
The importance of supporting faculty success cannot be overstated, particularly in the current climate of declining enrollment and educators finding it challenging to maintain engagement and passion in their roles. By leveraging tools that promote faculty success, institutions can bolster faculty satisfaction, improve student retention, and safeguard the vitality of their institutions for years to come. In essence, faculty success isn’t merely an investment in educators – it’s an investment in the institution’s future.
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