The Contexts of Academic Work: What Matters to Faculty. ASHE Annual Meeting Paper.Report as inadecuate

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In order to understand how college faculty incentives and other policies influence faculty behavior, this inquiry used case studies to gain insight into faculty motivation and work behavior. Data collection involved semi-structured interviews with the department chairs and seven or eight tenured faculty in each of four departments and with each department's academic dean. Research was conducted at one research university and one comprehensive university. Analysis included tabulation of supports and constraints, comparison for similarities in themes, within-case analysis of each department, and a cross-case analysis for similarities and differences in policies and faculty responses. Four policies emerged as particularly important to faculty in at least three of the four departments: merit pay, course load, course releases, and admissions. Overall, the analysis showed that what administrators say matters is frequently not what matters to faculty. For example, annual merit raises matter far less to faculty in this study than administrators think they do. When incentive policies were perceived as "pressures," they were not any more likely than regulations to motivate faculty. Faculty spoke of their perception that myriad policies serve actually to ensure that while teaching gets done, it does not impinge on research opportunities. (Contains 43 references.) (JB)

Descriptors: Academic Deans, Case Studies, College Administration, College Faculty, Department Heads, Higher Education, Incentives, Policy Analysis, Research Universities, School Policy, Teacher Attitudes, Teacher Behavior, Teacher Motivation, Universities

Author: Colbeck, Carol


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