How are Faculty and Staff learning about Programs and Services on Campus?

Last week we introduced the start of a 4 post series sharing findings from Phase 3 of the Supporting Student Success research project related to how more than 900 faculty and nearly 600 staff members at 11 different institutions learn about, become aware of, refer and partner with programs and services to support student success.

Our first post looks at the ways and frequency with which faculty and staff learned about programs and services on their campus that support student success. This comes first as we see learning about the programs and services as the foundation of the hopeful awareness, referring and partnering examined in the upcoming posts.

Faculty and staff were presented with 9 different ways or opportunities to learn. Four were from different campus stakeholders (faculty, student affairs staff, academic department staff and students); two were from campus events like meetings or PD events; and three were from more static sources including listservs, handbooks, and web searches. Faculty and staff indicated if they learned about programs and services in each way ‘never’, ‘annually’, ‘once a term’ or ‘more than once a term’. The tables are designed so that the source is written vertically and the horizontal bars present the faculty and staff response for that source Individual Sources

The table above shows from which sources and how frequently they learned about programs and services. Students affairs staff learned most frequently from other staff, while faculty learned fairly equally from other faculty and their own academic department staff. Of these four sources faculty learned from student affairs staff, and students the least often.

table with 2 items

The second table focuses on specific events. Faculty learned about programs that support students far less than staff from both Professional Development events and especially scheduled meetings. Regular team or departmental meetings are a consistent source of learning about programs and services for staff.

pict with three

The final table focuses on ‘static’ sources of learning. Both groups reported learning from listservs/emails they were members of, and neither utilized institution handbooks much at all. Staff relied heavily on their own web searches to learn more, while half of all faculty members reported never having searched the web to learn about programs and services.

Taken together we can see that staff are much more likely to learn about programs and services in regular meetings, from the student affairs colleagues and searching out information, on their own online.  Faculty learned from listservs, academic program staff and their own faculty colleagues. They learned much less often from student affairs staff.

What might we take away from these findings? If the goal is to better share the multitude of programs and services that support student success with faculty and staff alike, what opportunities might we seize?

We pose a couple ideas to get the conversation started.

  1. A fairly large number of faculty reported never learning about programs and services in meetings (42%) and an even larger percentage reported never learning from student affairs staff (52%). This suggests an opportunity for student affairs staff to develop targeted, short presentations that could be presented at a faculty meeting. Imagine what you would convey in 5 minutes with talk, video and a visually-appealing communication piece that directs faculty to learn more about your program, service or initiative from your website.
  1. A substantial percentage of faculty and staff reported they had never learned about student success programs and services from students. As educators, if we are to truly walk the talk of being student-centred, an opportunity exists to learn more by getting out of our offices, walking around campus, and chatting with students. Regardless of the size of our campuses and institutions there is always something to learn. You never know what you might find out in the Tim Horton’s queue.
  2. What is the process for introducing new faculty and staff to campus? And how much, if any of it, involves making them aware of the programs and services available to them to help students?

Now it’s your turn. Does anything surprise you about the data we have shared above? What do you, your department, your division do to help staff and faculty become aware of programs and services on campus? We invite you to “leave a comment” and share your ideas in the space below.

Coming next week. How aware are faculty and staff of the programs and services at their institutions?

Supporting Student Success Summer Blog Series

Supporting Student Success Summer Blog Series

Over the past three months, our research team has travelled across Canada and the United States to present findings from the third phase of the Supporting Student Success study. Those who attended our ACPA, AERA, and CACUSS presentations were eager to discuss initial findings and implications. Several colleagues expressed interest in replicating these conversations with stakeholders on their campuses and wanted to know when we would publish our findings… ideally a.s.a.p! We are thrilled by the enthusiasm, so much so that we are introducing a weekly summer blog series that will expand upon previous presentations by exploring the research questions and associated findings in greater detail.

You might be wondering: what’s all the buzz with these findings? Chances are, you’ve encountered conversations where faculty and/or student affairs and services staff perceived a lack of knowledge of each other’s roles, programs and services, resulting in frustrations and challenges for best supporting student success. At the same time, you can likely recall instances when shared knowledge and mutual understanding have promoted student success. It is interesting for us to consider how personal interactions and experiences have shaped our perspectives towards faculty and student affairs and services colleagues, and whether these are representative of what one might encounter in other departments and/or campus contexts.

An exciting outcome of Phase 3 of the Supporting Student Success study is the opportunity to compare our own experiences and perceptions with a national sample. In 2014, we administered surveys at 9 universities and 2 community colleges located across Canada (BC, ON, QB, NB) with a goal of measuring faculty and student affairs and services staff’s awareness of and engagement with institutional strategies aimed at promoting student success. Building from the qualitative themes that we developed from the interview and focus group data collected during the first two phases of the study, our survey instruments measured faculty and student affairs and services staff members’:

  • Awareness of programs and services to support student success
  • Engagement with others across campus to support student success
  • Perceptions of their department and the institution’s retention efforts

The first round of data collection included 1501 complete responses (909 faculty and 592 staff); the faculty population included full-time and part-time faculty who taught undergraduate courses in the 2013-14 academic year. The staff population consisted of all those who reported to the Senior Student Affairs and Services Officer (SSASO), with the exception of one institution in which housing, residence life and recreation staff who reported to a different supervisor were also included. It is important to note that on two campuses where French was the primary language of instruction, participants received all study communications and survey materials in French. The survey instruments were recently administered at an additional 13 institutions; the coding process is underway for these institutions and we look forward to including this data in future analyses.

We encourage you to visit our blog on a weekly basis to engage in a discussion of how faculty and student affairs and services staff compare in terms of:

  • June 18: Learning about student support programs and services
  • June 25: Accuracy of awareness of student support programs and services
  • July 9: Referring students to support programs and services
  • July 16: Engagement in cross-campus partnerships aimed at supporting student success

We especially look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas. What possible implications for policy and practice do these findings suggest to you? Please be part of this virtual conversation by “leaving a comment” in the comments section below each post. To receive copies of upcoming blog posts via e-mail, use the ‘subscribe’ function located in the upper right hand corner of the blog’s homepage. You can also engage with us at any time on our Twitter account: @CdnStdntSuccess.

Next week’s blog entry will explore how faculty and student affairs and services staff compare in terms of how they learn about student support programs and services. Until then, consider finding a moment in your week to reflect upon:

  • The ways in which you’ve learned about student support programs and services
  • How your colleagues and/or institution have supported this learning
  • Examples of additional communication strategies and/or resources that if implemented, would likely support learning about programs and services

Until next week,

The Supporting Student Success Research Team

Research Findings Part 2: Faculty Perceptions of Student Affairs

Last week we shared a presentation delivered at #csshe2013 on “What Defines Student Success? A Multiple Choice Question.” The slides can be viewed in our post and downloaded here.

Today, we share slides from presentations which focused on Faculty/Student Affairs interaction – a seemingly hot topic at the #acpa2013 and #cacuss2013 conferences. Our presentation is called “Faculty Perceptions of Student Affairs and Services.” It is based on interviews with faculty about their understanding of the work of student affairs and services. We share quotes, pictures and a video (uploaded later) that highlight how faculty (sometimes called the ‘other side of the house’) perceive and what they know about the work of student affairs and services. The slides and the full notes can be downloaded here  from the “Presentations and Publications” tab.

As always, we hope this blog can be used as a place for dialogue. We are curious to know where you have found success in educating faculty about the work that you do and how you have learned about faculty culture and rewards structure.

– Jeff Burrow