Despite lingering pandemic-era challenges, faculty satisfaction is up as faculty focus on what brings them meaning--connecting with students.

Faculty satisfaction up as many embrace higher ed’s “new normal”

Despite lingering pandemic-era challenges, faculty are focusing on what brings them meaning--connecting with students

Key points:

As pandemic related challenges slowly wane, and instructors find better strategies for dealing with ongoing changes in education, faculty job satisfaction has risen significantly over the last year, according to the latest research from edtech provider Cengage.

Faculty are still navigating challenges when it comes to managing student expectations, student mental health needs, new technology, and plagiarism, however, and they want more support from their institutions to address these issues.

Cengage surveyed 1,024 faculty members at two- and four-year institutions for its second annual Faces of Faculty research report. The research helps better understand faculty needs, concerns, and realities in the wake of the pandemic.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Faculty report high levels of job satisfaction. Faculty job satisfaction jumped from 64% in 2022 to 84% in 2023. Interactions with students and a better work-life balance are key satisfaction drivers. Inversely, the number of dissatisfied faculty dropped to 11% in 2023, down from 26% in 2022.
  • Faculty have more stability in their day-to-day, have less burden from managing multiple modalities and are “working smarter.” Just 9% of faculty said their role changed significantly in 2023 vs. 42% who said the same in 2022. Faculty are less concerned about managing multiple modalities – less than half (43%) said it was a relevant issue in 2022, compared to 78% in 2022. A consistent need to produce creative content, lectures and videos continues to be a relevant issue in 2023, but more faculty are borrowing content (79% in 2023 vs. 49% in 2023), and fewer are creating content (16% in 2023 vs. 42% in 2022).
  • Changing student expectations and student mental health needs continue to be challenges for faculty. Shifting student expectations and adapting to student needs is a relevant issue for 58% of faculty and a top issue for 41% of faculty. Many faculty (79%) are being less rigid and more accommodating when it comes to deadlines. While fewer faculty feel a need to maintain constant communication with students (50% in 2023, down from 61% in 2022), the perceived need to provide mental health assistance for students has increased (40% in 2023 vs. 34% in 2022).
  • Plagiarism and cheating in the wake of new technology such as generative AI are a growing concern. Combating plagiarism and cheating is now a top concern for nearly half of faculty (49%), compared to 37% in 2022. More faculty are using anti-cheating software (52% in 2023 up from 49% in 2022). To learn more about faculty opinions on generative AI, see the blog post here.
  • Faculty want more support from their institutions. Faculty feel they are getting support from institutions when it comes to communication on key issues such as cheating and content needs, but they want more tools such as instructional technology support and software and hardware at their disposal to combat cheating, plagiarism and the demand for new content.

“Faculty have shown tremendous resilience and resourcefulness as they weathered new challenges since the pandemic, and we are happy to see their job satisfaction is improving,” said Kim Russell, Vice President, Research, Cengage. “As a research-driven organization with customer needs at the heart of our work, we want to shine a light on the evolving needs of faculty, including more institutional support, to ensure they can focus on what they do best – engaging, connecting and creating those light bulb moments for their students. As new technology like generative AI changes how we learn and work, we are finding across research initiatives that faculty want more support and more tools to ensure a successful learning experience that meets student needs.”

This press release originally appeared online.

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Laura Ascione

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