Faculty wary of data, accountability efforts

Many instructors say they rarely interact with assessment tools

College faculty and administrators are cautious about embracing new institutional data and accountability efforts, according to Inside Higher Ed's 2016 Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology. 

Inside Higher Ed partnered with Gallup to poll 1,671 faculty members and 69 administrators responsible for academic technology at a range of institutions.

The report shows that respondents are largely disillusioned about data-informed assessment efforts, with just 27% of faculty and 34% of administrator respondents saying they believe such efforts significantly improved the quality of teaching and learning. Meanwhile, 65% of faulty and 46% of administrators say they believe these initiatives are mostly designed to appease accreditors and politicians, not actually improve education.

The problem may be attributed in part to instructors' lack of interaction with assessment data. Fifty-four percent of instructors say they do not receive this data and just 37% say they have a stake in conversations about how colleges will use assessment tools. 

Infographic: 6 roles for faculty in student success

However, three-quarters of administrators say their institutions are taking part in meaningful discussions about the use of assessment data. In comparison, just 38% of faculty agree with this view. That discord is reflective of an often strained relationship between administrators and faculty, says Ed Venit, senior director at EAB.

"Once again you have these two groups that don't seem to be on the same page," Venit says, noting that it is not a problem of communication, but rather "ownership."

According to Venit, colleges and universities that have excelled at bringing faculty and administrators together have taken advantage of resources on campus, such as statisticians and social scientists, to make informed decisions about using assessment data.  

"It enfranchises them," Venit says. "It brings them into the fold." (Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, 10/24).

Related: You don't have to sacrifice academic rigor to improve student outcomes

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