SUNYergy Archive: Access to All IssuesSUNYergy Volume 15. No. 3 July 2013 link to archives final issue notice. Article title Ithaka and Potsdam: Faculty Survey by Jenica Rogers (Potsdam)

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In the spring of 2013, SUNY Potsdam's College Libraries ran the pilot local survey version of Ithaka S+R's long-running national Faculty Survey. We administered the same survey instrument used in the national survey to our facultylink to the Ithaka survey, and in doing so, we got a dataset about their beliefs about scholarship, libraries, and teaching with technology and information resources that is directly comparable to the national results.

So how did that happen? I was invited to participate in the first local survey pilot in large part because in 2011 I blogged about my strong reaction to the Ithaka 2010 Library Survey, in which library directors' opinions are sought and compared to the faculty survey. I then shared those thoughts at an ACLTS panel at ALA in 2011, and as a result began an ongoing professional conversation with Roger Schonfeld, Ithaka's Program Director for Libraries, Users, and Scholarly Practices. In 2012, he invited Potsdam to participate with a handful of other campuses in their pilot for a local version of the survey.

My experience with the survey has been extremely positive. For a campus my size, the survey cost $5000, and the Libraries and the academic deans partnered to fund it. Because of our small campus faculty population, an expedited Institutional Review Board application was necessary due to the potential for reverse identification of respondents based on demographic data. However, expedited review is complex but not onerous, and gives the survey legitimacy in the eyes of other campus researchers. Soliciting participation was no easier than for any other assessment activity, but we achieved 30% participation through blast emails, solicitations at campus governance meetings, and requesting that the deans facilitate communications. Ithaka provided a basic report with charts and tables for all data points in the instrument, as well as the full dataset for both Potsdam's survey and the national result set. Review and analysis of those results will then be done at Potsdam.

Though Ithaka delivered our results in April, I've fallen prey to the traditional problem of assessment: now I've got the data, but the time to do something with it is elusive. Assessment is always far more work than you think it is. As of early July, I'm working with a library staff member, Alex Gomez, to more fully analyze our data. Alex and I are collaborating to prepare several reports for campus use: a Libraries report, an Academic Affairs report, and a faculty/technology development report.

A small sample of results and uses from each area:

Libraries
Where 63% of national faculty say they start their research at their library’s online catalog or a specific online database, 75% of Potsdam respondents do; and only 18% of our faculty start their research on the open web vs 34% of national respondents. On a different question, comparing results shows that while only 61% of national respondents prefer print books for in-depth reading cover-to-cover, more than 80% of Potsdam faculty still prefer print. These and other data points will be a part of our discussion at this summer’s Library Staff Retreat, and will help us to frame our outreach and services to faculty as we embark on our next strategic plan.

Academic Affairs
The survey asks a series of questions about what kinds of intellectual resources faculty assign to students -- (31% of Potsdam faculty “often” assign scholarly articles to lower-division undergraduates vs 25% of national respondents), how often they use various online teaching tools (45% of national faculty make lectures available online for upper-division courses, vs 32% of Potsdam respondents), what kinds of projects they assign to students (55% of Potsdam faculty “often” or “sometimes” assign audiovisual or digital media projects, vs 41% of national respondents), and more. How the deans and Provost will choose to use this data is yet unknown, but it’s a rich resource as we consider the future of our curriculum, faculty development needs, and our readiness for initiatives like Open SUNY.

Faculty/technology development
This is a clear and key use of the data, as questions about research and teaching with technology are scattered throughout the topic sections of the survey. Of interest to me is that while about 75% of both national and Potsdam respondents both say that it’s extremely important that they have “More time to learn about digital research activities and methodologies” and “Help in understanding how digital research activities and methodologies could be thoughtfully integrated into my research”, when it comes to the need for “Technical support and advice on implementing digital research activities and methodologies in my research,” 91% of Potsdam respondents rated this Extremely Important, vs 78% of national faculty. Clearly, there is a strong national need for better faculty support in digital research methodologies, and we have a bigger than expected gap at Potsdam. These data will help our Teaching and Learning Technology Roundtable and our new Instructional Development Center frame our goals for faculty support.

As I noted earlier, my experience with this project has been extremely positive. It was easy, Ithaka was lovely to work with, and the data are well-presented and usable. In the future, I would be very interested in comparing our Potsdam results to datasets from other SUNY comprehensive colleges, or the SUNY system in general, if that data were available. With the current data, I can compare our results to our national peers, but if we’re to continue working in concert as our notion of systemness evolves, ought we not be comparing ourselves to each other, as well? The potential is there, and this is an extremely useful tool on that path.

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Cover Story

Ithaka & Potsdam

SUNY and EDS

SUNYConnect & Link Resolvers

Features

SUNYLA 2013

EResources and Mobile Access

Digital Repository Requests

 Features

Additional SUNYConnect Updates

Focus on SUNY Libraries

 

How to Contact Us

Linkable Links