In the early Fall of 2001, the Senate Educational Policies Committee (SEPC) discussed the need to formally assess University support of teaching efforts for Part-Time Faculty faculty. In fulfillment of the mission of the SEPC, the committee initiated plans to develop a comprehensive survey to assess satisfaction with resources and support within the University community. It was felt that such a survey could provide valuable information to provide input for a better teaching environment for part-time faculty and ultimately the interests of our students.
Over the next several months the committee developed the items for the questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of items related to physical resources and support (office space, access to copiers, mailbox, and supplies), academic support (grading assistance, faculty orientation and guidance, adequate resources to develop syllabus and courses), and faculty communication issues (invitation to faculty meetings, being included in curriculum and decision making within the department). In late November, a pilot study of the draft questionnaire was conducted through two large undergraduate departments of English and Mathematics to provide input. Based on the results of this pilot survey, 23 support items and five background questions were included in the final survey. A subcommittee was also formed to address the qualitative issues related to the hand written comments following the questions.
A request was made for mailing labels of all part-time faculty at both the Pittsburgh Campus and regionals (excluding the medical school) through the Office of Computing Services and Systems Development (Jinx Walton, director). A total of 798 questionnaires were mailed on December 1, 2001 with a request to be returned by January 1, 2002. A letter of request accompanied this from Drs. Thomas Metzger and Evelyn Talbott of the SEPC. A total of 138 responses were received by the deadline. Data were entered into SPSS 10.0 for Windows. Two additional questionnaires were returned after the analysis was completed. The overall response rate was 17.5%. This response although low, is not unusual for mail surveys, which are typically in this response range. It was decided to focus on specific items on the questionnaire in total as well as written comments after each question. Unfortunately, stratification by department resulted in numbers, which were too low to report at an individual department or school level.
The Distribution of length of time employed at the University of Pittsburgh is shown in table one. The mean number of years of employment at the University of Pittsburgh among responders is 5.9 (S.D.=7.2). However, responders reported teaching 10.6 (S.D. 10.4) years at the University level. A total of 16 or 11.8% were employed less than a year, sixty or 44.1% reported 1-3 years of service, 25% were employed 4-9 years and 19.1% have served the University ten or more years. The Responses from the College of General Studies and Arts and Sciences (Table 2) accounted for 63 or 46.3% of the total respondents. Regional campus responses accounted for 26 of the 138 (18.8%). The schools of Information Science, Business, Dental Medicine, Education, Engineering, Nursing, Public and International Affairs, Public Health and Social Work comprised the remainder of responses.
|Length of Time||Number||%|
|< 1 year||16||11.8|
|Mean years 1||5.9 S.D. (7.2)||100.0|
1 = 2 missing
|Valid||Arts & Sciences||57||41.9|
|Pub. & Int. Affairs||1||0.7|
|Associate (Clinical) Professor||11||12.8|
Course enrollment/ Use of Course Info:
The average reported class size was 28.2 persons for the first course reported being taught per semester. Nearly fifty percent of part time faculty also taught a second course during the same term with an average enrollment of 25 students. Usage of Course info /Blackboard was reported as follows: not at all: 74%, very little: 5%, somewhat: 11.6%, and to a great extent: 9.1%.
The Senate Educational Policies Committee (SEPC) Survey of Part-Time
Instructors contained 23 questions relating to support of departmental teaching
efforts. These are shown below in descending order of percentage agreement.
|Item||Strongly disagree/disagree||%*||Strongly agree/agree||%*|
|18||Acessible department mailbox?||10||7.6||122||92.4|
|20||Fair evaluation by dept. chair?||5||9.6||47||90.4|
|7||Secretarial support adequate?||15||12.2||108||87.8|
|14||Adequaate time/resources to prepare course/syllabus?||20||16.4||102||83.6|
|9||Dept. appreciates my efforts?||23||20.4||90||79.6|
|6||Full access to supplies?||26||21.1||97||78.9|
|21||Adequate guidelines on course content?||26||21.1||97||78.9|
|16||Dept. provides adequate grading guidelines?||28||24.6||86||75.4|
|12||Access to dept. computers for teaching?||31||25.8||89||74.2|
|22||Match preferences with course offerings?||20||26.0||57||74.0|
|28||Dept. does a good job supervising and communicating to p/t faculty?||34||28.8||84||71.2|
|25||Adequate knowledge of university policy?||37||31.6||80||68.4|
|23||Dept. encourages professional development?||31||34.4||59||65.6|
|19||Regular evaluation by dept. chair?||30||36.1||53||63.9|
|10||I'm included in dept. decisions?||49||41.4||68||58.1|
|13||Adequate office space?||55||45.8||65||54.2|
|27||Encoouraged to apply for full-time position?||32||53.3||28||46.7|
|17**||Rarely have opportunity to interact with faculty teaching same course?||71||61.7||44||38.3|
|11**||Dept. does not include me inn academic life?||74||62.7||44||37.3|
|15**||Insufficient grading assistance?||52||65.0||28||35.0|
|24||Informed of tenure stream criteria?||60||71.4||24||28.6|
|26||Dept. has part-time committee?||45||83.3||9||16.7|
* % of valid responses
** Reverse order indicates a satisfactory response
Based on the proportion indicating a satisfactory response, the items were assigned to three categories.
1. High satisfaction (at least 75%). Instructors indicated they were very satisfied with the following:
Accessible department mailbox?
Fair evaluation by department chair?
Secretarial support adequate?
Adequate time/resources to prepare course/syllabus?
Department appreciates my efforts?
Full access to supplies?
Adequate guidelines on course context?
Department provides adequate grading guidelines?
2. Moderate satisfaction (50 to 74%). Instructors responded that they were moderately satisfied to the following:
Access to department computers?
Match preferences with course offerings?
Department does good job supervising and communicating to part-time instructors?
Adequate knowledge of University policy?
Department encourages professional development?
Regular evaluation by department chairperson?
Opportunity to interact with faculty teaching same course
I'm included in department decisions?
Adequate office space?
3. Low satisfaction (less than 50%). Responses to the remaining items were less than satisfactory in their department and should be of some concern.
Encouraged to apply for full-time position?
Informed of tenure stream criteria?
Department has part-time committee?
Overall there appears to be a relatively high degree of agreement among responders related to satisfaction with physical resources provided at the Pittsburgh and regional campuses. This includes: 92.4% who agree or strongly agree that as a part time instructor they have access to a departmental mailbox, 87.8% report adequate secretarial support and 83.6% report adequate resources to prepare their course syllabus. Although 74.2% report strong agreement to agreement with adequate access to departmental computers for teaching purposes, 25.8% indicated they did not agree that there was adequate access. In addition, only 46.7% reported that there was adequate office space provided.
There was moderate to high satisfaction with academic support. This included:74.0% who strongly agree or agree that the department matches preferences with course offerings, 75.4% that the department provides adequate grading guidelines, and 71.9% that the department does a good job offering sufficient orientation and adequate knowledge of University policy (68.4%). Of less degree of satisfaction or agreement were the areas of faculty communication such as: being informed about available tenure track and full time positions for part time faculty (28.6%) and the existence of a committee that addresses part time interests (16.7%).
Recommendations of the Committee:
Based upon reading and assessing the qualitative comments as well as the quantitative responses from all of the participants, the SEPC recommends the following:
1. P-T faculty ID cards should be valid from August to August (or July to July). This will enable the instructors to access library and University resources in order to prepare their courses. Presently, ID cards can expire during the middle of the term.
2. On a yearly basis, CSSD should make Part-Time faculty aware of all workshops as well as computer resources to aid part time instructors. In addition, each department should supplement this information with a memo stating what access to department labs/computers each part time instructor can expect. Additionally, CIDDE should be encouraged to make a special effort to inform part-time faculty of Course Info/Blackboard resources.
3. On a yearly basis, each department should prepare a statement concerning their grading policy for either specific courses or general guidelines for courses.
4. On a yearly basis, each department should inform part-time faculty exactly how the evaluation of their teaching will be implemented. This should include a statement as to whether or not they must have an OMET survey conducted.
5. Any department/school, which employs 10 or more part time faculty, should consider forming a part time committee to facilitate communication among both full and part-time faculty.
6. A survey of part-time faculty should be administered every 3 to 5 years for further input.
The issue of access to computer resources is becoming increasingly important as more and more emphasis is placed on access to course materials via the Internet. Access to computers for teaching purposes by part time faculty should be addressed at a local level within regional as well as the Pittsburgh campuses.