Supporting College Teaching
Providing excellent instruction is a key priority across colleges and universities in the United States, but the on-the-ground experiences and needs of college teachers are often taken for granted. When approached thoughtfully, evidence about how faculty teach can be used to make meaningful interventions into their day-to-day activities, which in turn benefits their students.
Today, we’re publishing a new issue brief intended to serve as a resource for institutions working to improve their support for college instruction through cross-unit coordination and collaboration. We are also excited to announce two new initiatives focused on college teaching: a national survey and a forthcoming partnership with seven universities.
New issue brief: Who Cares About College Teachers?
An essential step to refining an institution’s underlying strategy for advancing teaching and learning excellence is to understand the models for instructor support at universities and how evidence about teacher practices and needs is used to inform those services. This new issue brief outlines which units on campus have instructional support mandates—including institutional research, student services, the library, information technology, and teaching and learning centers/faculty development—and explores how they gather evidence about teaching practices.
With a summary of the third-party instruments support units typically use to evaluate college teaching, including FSSE, HERI, EDUCAUSE, Tyton Partners, LibQual+, LibSat, and MISO, the brief serves as an up-to-date guide for those who provide instructional support services and oversee teaching and learning at their universities, as well as for organizations who provide instructional resources and tools.
US Faculty Survey: instruction edition set for winter 2024
For over 20 years Ithaka S+R has surveyed teaching and research faculty in the US, and we are excited to announce the program will be continuing with an instruction-focused edition of the survey. The survey is designed to be informative for a variety of higher education stakeholders, ranging from those who teach and support teaching day-to-day to instructional resources providers and higher education decision makers.
In January 2024 we will send an invitation to a random sample of instructors at four-year colleges and universities in the US. We’ll be asking them about:
- The full array of services available to support teaching at the university, including through the library, IT, and the teaching and learning center
- The materials and tools used for teaching, such as open educational resources, learning management systems, and virtual lab modalities
- Their experiences navigating threats to academic freedom and the emergence of generative AI technologies
We anticipate that we will publish our findings in the spring. As with past cycles, the full dataset from the survey will also be made publicly available through ICPSR.
Instructional Support Assessment Institute: announcing our 2024 partners
Evidence about instructional activities can be used to improve the services that universities provide to support their teachers, as well as to foster collaboration between instructional support service units. We’ve designed a program for colleges and universities to take stock of the services that support those who provide instruction on a regular basis at their institutions.
Seven universities will join together in 2024 to participate in our Instructional Support Assessment Institute: Arizona State University, California State University Northridge, Murray State University, Willamette University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, and University of Manitoba. Together we will gather evidence that will allow institutions to create a coordinated, cross-campus strategy for instructional support, including the capacity to track their instructors’ evolving practices and needs on an ongoing basis.
As part of the institute, we will train teams drawn from the units responsible for providing instructional support at each institution, such as the library, teaching and learning center, IT, accessibility services, and faculty development office. Each team will review and update its institution’s approach to assessing instructional support needs using instruments designed by Ithaka S+R. They will then design and conduct a new assessment of their instructional support services in fall 2024, and connect with their cohort peers for cross-learning opportunities along the way.
If your institution has a strategic priority to improve instructional delivery practices, the institute is designed to help facilitate those goals. We are interested in bringing together a new group of interested schools in 2024, and if you think the program would be a good fit, please send an expression of interest to Danielle Cooper (email@example.com) who will provide a prospectus detailing the timeline, capacity expectations, and cost.