Two- and four-year faculty appear to be finding their footing in the “new normal” following the upheaval during Covid, according to a new Cengage report.
Despite the changes brought on or accelerated by the pandemic, more faculty are finding satisfaction with their roles, says the annual report, which gauges the needs and concerns of higher education faculty post-Covid. More than eight in 10 faculty members (84%) say they are satisfied with their current position as educators, up from 64% in 2022.
Faculty report that their top three satisfying components are teaching students (69%), having professional autonomy (54%), and advising and mentoring students (35%). Among the 11% who responded that they were dissatisfied — a drop from 26% in 2022 — the driving factors are pay inequity (68%), mental health and well-being (68%), faculty support (62%) and job expectations (59%).
Cengage surveyed 1,024 faculty members at 696 two- and four-year higher education institutions.
Role-changing has slowed
While changes and challenges brought on by Covid, such as learning to teach on multiple modalities, have subsided, others have emerged, such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in teaching and learning. Still, faculty report less change in their day-to-day roles than a year ago. Just 9% indicated their role had changed significantly in the past year, compared to 42% in 2022. About 62% said their roles stayed about the same, compared to 21% who said the same in 2022. Most faculty (between 71% and 75%, depending on role type) said they are teaching the same number of courses as last year.
It also appears that faculty are becoming more flexible to students’ needs and expectations. It’s become a relevant issue for 58% of those surveyed, and a top issue for 41% of them. Among faculty members who feel comfortable handling this themselves, 79% say they’re being less rigid and more accommodating with students, the report says. About a quarter of them are updating their syllabi and policy language for clarity, it adds.
The survey also gauged what is concerning faculty. The top ones center around plagiarism/cheating due to AI, and mental health and counseling for students. For the latter, the report found concerns arise when there is confusion among students whether the services are available and where they are on campus.
“While many faculty are willing to help in this area, some of our survey respondents cited challenges connected to vetting and understanding the validity of students’ various concerns, and often question the toll on their own mental health as well as their own qualifications (or lack thereof) to support students this way,” the report says.