Re-Examining Faculty Incorporation of Diversity in Courses; Faculty Time

Re-Examining Faculty Incorporation of Diversity in Courses; Faculty Time

Allison BrckaLorenz — NSSE’s annual results, Engagement Insights: Survey Findings on the Quality of Undergraduate Engagement, featured two stories from their faculty companion survey, the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE). The first story focused on ways faculty can bring diversity into more aspects of the curriculum, and the second story focused on how much time faculty spend on various scholarly activities.

To re-examine how faculty members incorporate diversity into their courses, a set of items was appended to FSSE for 42 institutions. These items were adapted from a set administered in 2007 and rooted in a model that illustrates how each element of a course (e.g., purpose, pedagogy, learners, instructors) can be inclusive of diversity—or not. Results from 2017 validate findings from 2007 and suggest that institutional commitment to diversity plays an important role in how much faculty include diversity in their courses, and that—despite calls for greater inclusivity—the incorporation of diversity in courses has not increased over the last decade.

Faculty Time. Given the array of expectations and increased scrutiny from various stakeholders (students, families, administrators, policy makers, etc.), faculty members face multiple, often conflicting demands on their time. FSSE examined how much time more than 16,000 full-time faculty spent on teaching, research, and service activities, and identified five distinct groups. This categorization of faculty based on their allocations of time raises interesting points of discussion as to how or why such divisions come to be, and affirms that even faculty in specialized roles will not likely be able to focus solely on a single kind of activity.

See more details on this story and more findings from the 2017 administration of NSSE here.

Annual Results—Director’s Cut!

Not everything can be included in a publication as brief as the NSSE Annual Results. Here are some findings that didn’t make the final cut!

  • A new measure of faculty members’ perceptions of the commitment to diversity on their campuses related strongly to the two diversity inclusivity scales, indicating an important positive relationship between the inclusion of diversity into faculty members’ courses and their sense of the commitment to diversity held among the students, faculty, and staff at their institutions. As a consequence, institutional efforts aimed at improving the inclusion of diversity in the curriculum should focus not only on improving indidual faculty practice but also aim at raising institutional commitment to diversity.
  • Course characteristics were also important predictors in the model, particularly the course format and diversity requirement measures. Interestingly, faculty who teach in classrooms at auxiliary locations were much more likely to include diversity than their colleagues teaching on campus, a result that deserves additional study.