How to Improve Faculty Satisfaction at uw tacoma coache fellows’ Report to uw tacoma Faculty Assembly July 2014

C) Nature of Work (Research, Teaching, Service)

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C) Nature of Work (Research, Teaching, Service)

UW Tacoma’s faculty response in work (research (2.80), service (2.96), and teaching (3.28)) put UW Tacoma toward the bottom of all comparison institutions and all participating institutions. This should be alarming because these are the core areas of academy and our core seems weak, and thus likely to influence all other aspects of faculty dissatisfaction.

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As detailed in the COACHE Provost Report, while pre-tenured faculty show distinct dissatisfaction on issues related to research and teaching, associate professors show distinct dissatisfaction with regard to service.

Research: UW Tacoma has taken research productivity as one of its core values. The Office of Research and Scholarship Support has been operating to support faculty and students in finding grants and funding support for academic research. The Associate Vice Chancellor for Research was appointed in spring 2014. However, faculty responses indicate a high-level of dissatisfaction for their work as researchers at UW Tacoma. Faculty assessed UW Tacoma in terms of research on items listed below. On a 1 – 5 scale, their responses indicate problems in almost all areas, except for faculty’s ability to shape their own research area and trajectories:

  • Time spent on research: 2.54

  • Expectations for finding external funding: 2.93

  • Influence over focus of research: 4.25

  • Quality of grad students to support research: 1.81

  • Support for research: 2.74

  • Support for engaging undergrads in research: 2.88

  • Support for obtaining grants (pre-award): 2.93

  • Support for maintaining grants (post-award): 2.73

  • Support for securing grad student assistance: 1.66

  • Support for travel to present/conduct research: 2.79

  • Availability of course release for research: 2.08

Some of the units on campus, such as the Institute of Technology, rely on graduate students. Not only did faculty indicate a deep dissatisfaction about securing graduate student assistance (1.66), but they also could not access quality graduate students to support research (1.81). Overall, UW Tacoma has few graduate students compared to UW Seattle.

Service: UW Tacoma faculty members are expected to do service as a core part of their work. Faculty assessed UW Tacoma in terms of service on the items listed below. On a 1 - 5 scale, their responses indicate problems in almost all areas of service.

  • Time spent on service (2.92)

  • Support for faculty in leadership roles (2.35)

  • Number of committees (3.13)

  • Attractiveness of committees (3.16)

  • Discretion to choose committees (3.43)

  • Equitability of committee assignments (2.76)

  • Number of student advisees (3.27)

We believe that three factors further heighten the service load of faculty at UW Tacoma. As a growing institution, expectations for service are high due to institution building, such as new program development, curriculum development, and hiring. Relatedly, since much of the faculty growth happens at junior faculty level, there are not many faculty members with expertise in institution building, so that most of the service load falls on the shoulders of few senior faculty. Finally, the university’s core identity as an “urban serving university” often involves additional faculty service activities related to community outreach and community service.

Teaching: Teaching is a primary function of university faculty, and on our campus, teaching excellence has been one of our most identifiable missions, as evidenced by the work we all do towards faculty development and innovations in pedagogy. In the survey, faculty assessed UW Tacoma in terms of service on items listed below. On a 1 - 5 scale, their responses indicate problems in almost all areas of service, except for “discretion over the course content”.

  • Time spent on teaching (3.51)

  • Number of courses taught (3.06)

  • Level of courses taught (3.06)

  • Discretion over the course content (4.15)

  • Quality of students taught (2.80)

  • Equitability of distribution of teaching load (2.75)

  • Quality of grad students to support teaching (1.79)

[Action Plan]


Regularly Assess and Recognize Faculty Research [In a year]

  • Assess units for their research productivity and support.

  • Share and recognize faculty research: For example, IAS has a faculty brown bag talk every other week with the support of IAS leaders.

Allocate Resources [In 1-3 years]

  • Secure more graduate and undergraduate student assistance for faculty. Especially in units such as the Institute, without improving the quality of graduate students to support research, it is almost impossible for UW Tacoma faculty members to increase research productivity.

  • Provide support for maintaining grants: There are no specific support guidelines for maintaining grants after their awards. Although Indirect Recovery Cost comes to each program unit, the program unit does not have specific guidelines of how the budget is spent and on what.

[Action Plan]


Articulate and Assess [In a year]

  • Clarify the place of service for tenure and promotion.

  • Ask unit chairs to assess faculty’s service load periodically.

  • Remind unit chairs to be cognizant of possible excessive service load of faculty of color and women faculty.

Recognize service [In a year]

  • Encourage campus leaders to consistently and frequently recognize faculty who volunteer for service.

[Action Plan]


Regularly Assess [In a year]

  • How units asses faculty teaching both in terms of effectiveness and load.

  • How units are supporting teaching.

Allocate Resources [In three years]

  • Expand the programs offered by the Teaching and Learning Center help faculty on pedagogy, including how to build successful assignments, how to provide useful feedbacks on student writing; how to create a syllabus that students actually use; how to navigate online learning tools like Canvas.

  • Create a teaching academy at UW Tacoma, similar to the one on the Seattle campus. Such an academy for teaching excellence could be offered to faculty members of every level and could include programs such as how to integrate interdisciplinary pedagogy into the classroom, or how to utilize new techniques such as the “flipped classroom.”

[Best Practices for Service from UWT and Other Universities]


  • Research and Scholarship Support at UW Tacoma,

  • Research at UW,

  • UW Tacoma 2013-14 Facts,

  • Graduate Student Statistical Summary,

  • Division of Research and Economic Development at North Carolina Central University,

  • Research Foundation, The State University of New York (SUNY) - Buffalo State,

  • Research at University of Massachusetts (UMass) – Lowell,

  • Research and Economic Development, The University of North Carolina Greensboro,

  • Grants and Research Office, University of St. Thomas,

  • Teaching:

  • Teaching and Learning Center services: The TLC supports our faculty by “providing feedback on syllabi and assignment sheets, in-class workshops on various topics, assistance with problem solving and early-warning support, and support for working with multicultural/multilingual students.”

  • Teaching Forums: sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Center, IAS, and the Office of Undergraduate Education: topics range from Service Learning to Using Technology in the Classroom. Riki Thompson, one of the originators of this program, also keeps a blog which features her summary of the forums along with a podcast of each session.

  • Core Faculty Development Workshops: The Office of Undergraduate Education also holds several pedagogy workshops throughout the year, designed to help Core faculty understand the needs of first year and first generation students.

  • Online Learning Instruction Support:

  • UW Seattle Faculty Fellows Program:

  • UW Seattle Teaching Resources:

  • UW Seattle Scholarship of Teaching and Learning:

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