Remember the Faculty Work Survey of 2014? Read it again!

In 2014, our fearless colleague in Sociology, Dr. Michael Garr, conducted a Faculty Work Survey here at Wilkes. The results were reported in the Fall 2014 Wilkes AAUP Newsletter, which you can view, with Dr. Garr’s photo, on that part of our website.

You can also read the results right here.  The part that stands out most now, to this Wilkes Faculty member, at least, is that our faculty tend to work just as many hours per week after tenure as before.  Faculty commitment is consistent and authentic to our campus.  What a gift to have such colleagues!

2014 Faculty Work Survey Results–Dr. Michael Garr

The local chapter of the AAUP requested a survey be conducted on faculty workload at Wilkes University. An online survey was constructed that asked faculty members to estimate the time they spent on various activities for the past month. These activities were grouped into types of activity: Instruction, Scholarship, Communications, Meetings, Service, Family and Miscellaneous.

Since work varies within a semester, the Wilkes faculty was randomly divided into 3 roughly even groups to be given a survey at different times throughout the semester in order to provide an overall picture of work during a semester. The first group (n = 56) received notification to complete the survey in early October to ascertain the level of work during the early part of the semester. The second group (n = 56) received its notification to complete the survey in early November to ascertain work levels during the middle of the semester. Finally the third group (n = 55) received notification to complete the survey in early December to get an idea of workloads during the latter part of the semester. Of the 157 faculty members who received a request, 132 opened the survey and 121 completed the survey yielding a response rate of 77%.

For each question, response categories rated the amount of time spent on an activity: 1 = no time, 2 = less than one hour, 3 = 1 -5 hours, 4 = 6 – 10 hours, 5 = 11 – 20 hours, and 6 = more than 20 hours. In addition, faculty were asked about their rank (1 = Assistant Professor (n = 31); 2 = Associate Professor (n = 56); 3 = Full Professor (n = 22); 4 = Professor Emeritus (n = 0); 5 = full-time, non-tenure track (n = 10); and 6 = part-time faculty (n = 2). There was also a question regarding gender: 1 = male (n = 59), 2 = female (n = 55), and 3 = prefer not to answer (n = 7). The statistical analysis comparing different ranks and different genders excluded full-time, non-tenure track faculty and part-time faculty, as well as those who preferred not to answer the gender question, due to low subsample sizes.

Estimating the time a typical faculty member spends per week is difficult to establish.  The difficulty is due to the fact that ranges of time were used as response categories to the questions on the survey. Midpoints of those ranges were used to calculate the mean time. So means that fell between 1.00 (no time) and 1.99 (less than an hour) were assigned the time .33 hours (or about 20 minutes). Means that fell between 2.00 and 2.99 were assigned the time .67 hours (or about 40 minutes). Means that fell between 3.00 and 3.99 were assigned the time of 3 hours (the midpoint of response category 3). Those means that were between 4.00 and 4.99 were assigned 8 hours (the midpoint of response category 4). A mean time was then calculated across all the mean scores for all the activities. The resulting mean was 42.72 or that the typical faculty member worked approximately 43 hours per week.

Not surprisingly most time is spent on instruction. Instruction had a mean score of 3.31, followed by communication (mean score of 2.68), meetings (mean score of 2.34), scholarship (mean score of 2.20), family (mean score of 1.97), service (mean score of 1.88) and miscellaneous (mean score of 1.73).

Each activity is examined in terms of rank and gender. Overall, there were few statistically significant rank or gender differences. One activity where a rank difference is found is “preparing for teaching” (F = 6.531, p. = .002). Assistant professors (mean score of 4.52) spend significantly more time preparing to teach than associate professors (mean score of 3.98) or full professors (mean score of 3.55). Another rank difference is found in “preparing for committee work” (F = 5.403, p. = .006). Associate professors (mean score of 2.70) spend significantly more time preparing for committee work than either assistant professors (mean score of 2.23) or full professors (mean score of 2.14).

Rank differences are found for various DPC activities. Just in DPC work such as attending classes, reviewing materials and writing reports, significant rank differences were found (F = 9.382, p. < .001). Again, associate professors (mean score of 2.31) spend significantly more time on these activities than assistant professors (mean score of 1.37) or full professors (mean score of 1.82). Not surprising, significant differences are found for compiling dossiers for third-year reviews (F = 12.594, p. < .001) and compiling dossiers for tenure or promotion (F = 5.301, p. = .006).  Assistant professors (mean score of 1.97) spend significantly more time compiling dossiers for third-year review than associate professors (mean score of 1.02) or full professors (mean score of 1.23). Similarly, assistant professors (mean score of 1.74) spend compiling tenure and promotion dossiers than do associate professors (mean score of 1.23) or full professors (mean score of 1.14).

Significant differences are found for two other activities. A small but significant rank difference is found in planning or hosting community events on campus (F = 3.457, p. = .035). Associate professors (mean score 1.92) are more likely to spend time on planning or hosting events than are assistant professors (mean score of 1.53) or full professors (mean score of 1.36). Finally a difference (F = 4.351, p. = .015) is found among ranks in how much time is spent on emotional or spiritual fitness. Assistant professors (mean score of 2.45) are more likely to spend time taking care of themselves through emotional or spiritual fitness than are associate professors (mean score of 1.98) or full professors (mean score of 1.68).

There are even fewer gender differences in faculty activities. Females (mean score of 2.96) are found to spend more time than males (mean score of 2.54) in preparing to teach a course in a future term (t = -2.222, p. = .029). Females (mean score of 3.58) spend more time than males (mean score of 3.12) corresponding with students (t = -3.055, p. = .003). Females (mean score of 2.91) spend more time than males (mean score of 2.60) attending faculty meetings (t = -2.278, p. = .025).

University faculty are professionals and hence their work activity is not directly supervised. While some faculty work more some weeks and less other weeks, it is encouraging to know that faculty on average work at least 40 hours a week. Given the opportunity to do less, faculty, at least at Wilkes, seem to do more.

A final note: Other methods of estimation of faculty workload can be used. The final response category, “20 hours or more,” makes estimation difficult because it becomes rather arbitrary to define a specific number of hours. The method used here is probably a more conservative method of estimation than those that attempt to attempt to flesh out the number of hours over 20 hours.

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