For over 20 years Ithaka S+R has tracked teaching and research trends through a national survey of faculty. Today we are excited to share several updates about the program.

Working with our data

Last year we published the findings from the US Faculty Survey and in parallel we have been working with the incredible staff at ICPSR to ensure that the associated data is made openly available at the highest level of quality for current and future use. The latest dataset is now available alongside the survey data from our other national survey projects.

If you are interested in working with our data, we are always happy to serve as a resource and welcome you to get in touch! For some ideas for getting started, one strategy is to consider how multiple questions can be analyzed in parallel, and we have a guide on the survey’s “partner questions.” Another approach is to take a deep dive into a particular topic. As one example, check out our conversation with Yasmeen Shorish and Liz Thompson at James Madison University about the findings around open educational resources.

Our future plans for tracking research and teaching trends

Over time as universities have increasingly oriented their mandates towards student success, we expanded our efforts in parallel, creating a local surveys program with instruments that universities could administer to students and conducting qualitative investigations into unique pedagogical practices in business, teaching with primary sources, and to foster data literacy in the social sciences with hundreds of partnering researchers at institutions in the US and beyond. As universities continue to redouble their commitments to teaching and learning we are also evolving our approaches, most notably by dedicating increased attention to instructor-specific practices.

In order to ensure that we can increase our focus on teaching practices through our national survey program without losing our focus on the research enterprise, we are planning to pilot a new approach by fielding two separate national surveys on an alternating schedule going forward. One survey will target faculty members as instructors and one will engage them as researchers. By taking this approach we will be able to retain the unique insight we’ve developed through US faculty surveys without continuing to add to the length of the instrument. It will also give us the opportunity to dive more deeply into both areas of focus while continuing to include and update questions we honed through the earlier US Faculty Survey.

Next steps

We are beginning to develop a survey focused on how instructional needs are evolving. Instructors will be invited to identify and provide their perspective on the instructional support services provided by their colleges and universities. The survey will also examine how instructors are developing course content, with a focus on how they are navigating a variety of formats (open educational resources, audiovisual, mobile, adaptive, digital cultural heritage materials) and incorporating emerging pedagogical skill sets (data/analytics, AI literacies, virtual lab experiments, hybrid modalities) into their teaching.

In the coming months we will be engaging with a variety of stakeholders for insight into how we can scope our new instructor survey to best meet the needs of the higher education community. We will also be developing a new program in parallel for institutions who are interested in working with our instruments and data to assess their instructional support services. In the meantime, our preexisting instruments for running surveys of students and faculty are still available for use. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about our current or future offerings.