The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing

How Do You Want to Improve Yourself? Nursing Education Administration and Faculty Attitudes Toward Types of Faculty Development

Norma A Dunkley, EdD, RN

Abstract

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to survey the perceived effectiveness of: (1) on-campus workshops, (2) off-campus workshops, (3) consultations, (4) leaves, (5) grants, (6) courses or seminars, and (7) special assignments for the faculty development of academic roles of nursing faculty. Faculty roles considered were: (1) classroom teaching, (2) clinical teaching, (3) research, (4) service to the institution, (5) community service, and (6) leadership. The samples of the study included 12 nursing administrators and 105 full-time and parttime faculty of the 13 nursing programs in the City University of New York (CUNY). Faculty development grants were rated highest by both administrators and faculty members. Both rated off-campus workshops second. Administrators and faculty perceived developmental activities in the area of research as most effective, followed by classroom teaching, clinical teaching, leadership, service to the institution, and community service. Faculty perceptions of the effectiveness of the seven techniques of faculty development were uniformly higher than administrator perceptions. Faculty members perceived development for classroom teaching, clinical teaching, and service to the institution more positively than did administrators.

Abstract

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to survey the perceived effectiveness of: (1) on-campus workshops, (2) off-campus workshops, (3) consultations, (4) leaves, (5) grants, (6) courses or seminars, and (7) special assignments for the faculty development of academic roles of nursing faculty. Faculty roles considered were: (1) classroom teaching, (2) clinical teaching, (3) research, (4) service to the institution, (5) community service, and (6) leadership. The samples of the study included 12 nursing administrators and 105 full-time and parttime faculty of the 13 nursing programs in the City University of New York (CUNY). Faculty development grants were rated highest by both administrators and faculty members. Both rated off-campus workshops second. Administrators and faculty perceived developmental activities in the area of research as most effective, followed by classroom teaching, clinical teaching, leadership, service to the institution, and community service. Faculty perceptions of the effectiveness of the seven techniques of faculty development were uniformly higher than administrator perceptions. Faculty members perceived development for classroom teaching, clinical teaching, and service to the institution more positively than did administrators.

Faculty development programs began in the early 1970s and mushroomed throughout the 1980s as the issues of faculty vitality became more pressing on colleges and universities across the nation (Centra, 1985). Increasingly, colleges and universities are engaging in various forms of faculty development for academic growth. Forms include exchanges and sabbaticals, special assignments, engaging in new teaching experiences, and workshops for improving teaching techniques, advancing new skills and knowledge about the teaching-learning process, developing new curricula, and working on teaching evaluation (Brown & Hanger, 1975). Several new mechanisms emerged to aid faculty members in developing their potential, including growth contracts (Seldin, 1980) and development centers (EbIe & McKeachie, 1985).

Most faculty development programs are directed toward improving scholarship under the assumption that increased or updated knowledge in faculty's subject fields will lead to improvement in course content. Some programs, such as workshops and development centers, are primarily devoted to helping faculty improve their teaching skills independent of course content.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Evaluations of faculty development programs (Blackburn, Pellino, Boberg, & O'Connell, 1980; Burns, 1986; Eble & McKeachie, 1985; Maneth, 1987; Menges, Mathis, Halliburton, Marincovich, & Svinicki, 1988; Scott, 1987) have produced mixed findings. Cohen (1987) noted that faculty development workshops have generally been poorly attended and have resuited in few measurable changes in faculty behavior. He stated that faculty members are resistant to faculty development programs unless they are conducted by people within their own discipline. Yet, EbIe and McKeachie found that, when properly funded, faculty development programs can lead to significant faculty renewal, a finding supported by the research of Menges et al. (1988).

Carmon (1992) reported the use of faculty development in the successful revision of a nursing education curriculum. Hanson and Waters (1991) reviewed a Kellogg-funded project in gerontology that increased faculty knowledge and positive attitudes toward aging, suggesting that faculty development is an effective way of improving faculty performance in specific areas. Hodgman (1991) and Williamson (1990) described programs that employed faculty practice as a method of faculty development to help nursing faculty members retain skills in clinical practice. Tagliareni (1991) outlined a program that developed a partnership between nursing homes and an associate-level nursing program to provide improved geriatric care and incorporate geriatrics into the curriculum.

Although an emerging awareness exists for the need for faculty development and renewal, such programs and their related research are in their infancy. Systematic data are unavailable about faculty and administrative openness to faculty development programs. EbIe and McKeachie (1985) concluded that, among other factors, the programs had to involve faculty in planning and development and had to have administrative support.

This lack of data holds true for nursing education. Although a review of nursing journals indicated an increasing awareness of the need for faculty development, few programs were reported as implemented. Although several studies (Dunkley, 1991; Mechanic, 1988; Nichols, 1987; Williams & Blackburn, 1988) have shown the need for faculty development in nursing education, little progress has been reported in nursing faculty development.

Dunkley (1991), in a survey of 12 nursing education administrators and 105 nursing faculty members at the City University of New York, found that faculty members perceived greater needs for faculty development in research, service to the institution, and leadership than did the administrators. These findings did not support the trend of previous research that indicated lower perceptions of need to participate in faculty development by faculty than administrators. Dunkley attributed the difference to the changing context of nursing education, whereby nursing faculty were becoming increasingly integrated into academic faculties with attendant demands for doctoral level education, conduct of original research, and assertion of professional leadership.

Nichols (1987) compared the perceptions of 663 nursing faculty members and 26 nursing administrators about faculty development needs. Faculty ranked areas of developmental needs in the following order of priority: (1) research, (2) classroom teaching, (3) leadership, (4) clinical teaching, (5) institutional service, and (6) community service. Administrators ranked needs similarly, except institutional service and clinical teaching were reversed in rank. Administrators consistently perceived greater needs than the faculty for faculty development in all areas except community service. Faculty members perceived the administrators as less facilitating of faculty development than did the administrators. Also, faculty members perceived the nursing institution and the college or university as less supportive of faculty development than did the administration.

The data suggested that faculty weTe resistant to development programs with the exception of those that remove them from teaching obligations. Centra (1985) reported that, at all levels from community colleges to universities, faculty preferred less teaching time than they actually had and more time to devote to scholarship. Administrators perceived faculty as resistant while faculty members perceived administrators as unsupportive of faculty development.

The nursing profession is attempting to meet the expectations of an academic environment, resulting in a rising demand for faculty development in nursing. Nichols (1987) identified six areas for possible faculty development, based upon the roles nursing faculty perform: (1) classroom teaching, (2) clinical teaching, (3) research, (4) service to the institution, (5) community service, and (6) leadership. These have been reported by Nichols as areas in which nursing faculty are evaluated in their academic roles.

Blackburn et al. (1980) identified seven types of faculty development programs: (1) on-campus workshops, (2) off-campus workshops, (3) consultations, (4) leaves, (5) grants, (6) courses or seminars, and (7) special assignments. These categories are similar to those of Menges (1980) and Uhlig and Haberman (1987) and correspond to areas identified in Centra's (1976) factor analysis.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this study was to survey the perceived effectiveness of the seven types of faculty development for the academic roles of nursing faculty and administrators. The research questions that guided this study were:

* How do nursing faculty members rate various methods of faculty development for themselves?

* How do nursing education administrators rate various methods of faculty development for their nursing faculty?

* What differences exist between nursing faculty and nursing education administrators in their ratings of methods of faculty development in Nichols' (1987) six areas?

Table

TABLE 1Administrators and Faculty Evaluations of Effectiveness of Faculty Development Techniques

TABLE 1

Administrators and Faculty Evaluations of Effectiveness of Faculty Development Techniques

METHODS

Sample

The samples of the study were drawn from the population of 15 nursing administrators and the approximately 150 full-time and part-time faculty of the 13 nursing programs in The City University of New York (CUNY). All were surveyed by a mailed questionnaire. Surveys were received from 12 administrators (80.0% return rate) and 106 faculty members (70.7% return rate).

The administrator sample consisted of 12 women with a median age of 53.3 years who were tenured (11 of 12), employed full-time (11 of 12), and occupied the positions of associate and full professor. Most had doctorates (7 of 12), many years of experience both as a faculty member and as a member of their present institution, and had more than 5 years of experience in their present administrative position.

The faculty had a median age of 49.6 years, about 20% were male, were evenly split between tenured and non-tenured members, and tended to occupy the lower academic ranks of instructor (18 of 106) and assistant professor (53 of 106). Most (80 of 106) did not have doctorates, had been at their present institution for fewer than 6 years, and had been faculty members for less than 10 years.

Instrumentation

Two survey instruments were constructed by the researcher for this study. The one for faculty members contained items on effectiveness ratings of each of the seven methods of faculty development for each of the six faculty roles. The instrument for administrators contained parallel questions. Administrators were asked to respond in terms of their perception of the developmental needs of faculty members in their department.

The developmental activity categories were those used by Blackburn et al. (1980). For each of the seven developmental activities, respondents were asked to rate their perceived effectiveness in improving performance in each of the faculty roles. Effectiveness rankings ranged from 1 (not at all effective) to 4 (very effective). A total of 42 items, six each for the seven developmental activities, comprised the tool. Content validity estimates were conducted by Nichols (1987) and Blackburn et al. (1980). Both concluded that the instrument was representative of the universe of developmental activities. Summary measures were developed by summing the percentage of moderately effective and very effective responses for each item and computing a mean percentage for e¿ich developmental area and for each technique. Comparisons of administrator and faculty means were conducted using t tests, since the data were at the interval level of measurement. Where homogeneity of variance assumptions were not met, separate variance estimates rather than pooled estimates were used in the computation of t.

FINDINGS

Table 1 presents the mean percentages of "moderately effective" and "very effective" responses by administrators and faculty for each technique of faculty development. Faculty development grants were rated highest by both administrators and faculty members. They both rated off-campus workshops second. For faculty, special assignments ranked third, but were rated seventh by administrators. Faculty rated sabbaticals and leaves fourth, but administrators rated them sixth. Seminars were rated fifth by faculty and fourth by administrators. Consultations were ranked sixth by faculty and fifth by administrators. On-campus workshops were ranked seventh by faculty and third by administrators. Faculty members evaluated faculty development techniques more positively than did administrators. The faculty rated special assignments as significantly more effective than did administrators. Similarly, faculty members indicated greater preference for sabbaticals and leaves, outside contributions, and seminars than did administrators. No significant differences were found in perceptions of effectiveness between faculty and administrators for on-campus or off-campus workshops or for developmental grants.

Table

TABLE 2Administrators and Faculty Evaluations of Effectiveness of Faculty Development Related to Faculty Roles

TABLE 2

Administrators and Faculty Evaluations of Effectiveness of Faculty Development Related to Faculty Roles

How do faculty and administrators view the effectiveness of faculty development for the faculty roles of classroom instruction, clinical instruction, research, service to the institution, community service, and leadership? The data in Table 2 present the mean percentages of "moderately effective" and "very effective" responses for each faculty role.

Faculty perceive developmental activities (Table 2) in the area of research as most effective, followed by classroom teaching, clinical teaching, leadership, service to the institution, and community service. In no case did fewer than two-thirds of the nursing faculty respondents rate faculty development in a faculty role less than moderately effective.

Administrators, although generally less enthusiastic about faculty development activities, generally agreed with faculty members (Table 2) in rating them highest in effectiveness in research. This was followed by leadership, service to the institution, classroom teaching, clinical teaching, and community service. Significant divergences between administrators and faculty members on perceptions of effectiveness were in classroom teaching, clinical teaching and service to the institution. In each case, faculty ratings were higher.

DISCUSSION

Faculty perceptions of the effectiveness of the seven techniques of faculty development were uniformly higher than administrator perceptions. The differences between the perceptions of administrators and faculty members on the effectiveness of faculty development raise the question of why faculty perceive faculty development more positively. First, perception of effectiveness may be influenced by perception of need. Dunkley (1991) reported that faculty perceived greater need than administrators. If this is the case, faculty may perceive the methods used for faculty development as more effective than do administrators. Second, with the exception of special assignments and on-campus workshops, the rank order of faculty and administrator perceptions are identical, even though there were significant differences in evaluations on all methods except grants and on-campus and off-campus workshops. Third, administrators rated on-campus workshops second and special assignments seventh, while faculty members reversed the order. The low ranking of oncampus workshops by faculty lends some credence to Cohen's (1987) observation that faculty are less favorably disposed to on-campus workshops than other methods of faculty development.

It is likely that faculty members are more positively disposed toward sabbaticals and leaves than administrators because sabbaticals and leaves are relatively unrestricted times in which faculty can pursue their individual goals. For administrators, faculty leaves and sabbaticals necessitate finding replacements and managing additional work. Perhaps they are less likely to be positive about the beneficial effects. Special assignments are also likely to require that faculty be released from some teaching obligations. Outside consultations may provide a threat to institutional loyalty, in which faculty members use the university as a base for entrepreneurial activities that may interfere with their roles as teachers and scholars. For example, professors' consultation activities may interfere with their teaching schedules or committee participation, creating conflicts with students and colleagues and reducing their effectiveness in the academic environment.

SIGNIFICANCE OF FINDINGS

The conditions at CUNY are most likely similar to conditions in nursing education programs across the country. Administrators are older, have more training, and hold higher degrees than the majority of the faculty (National League for Nursing, 1987). Faculty are being pressured for greater participation in leadership in the nursing profession, more effective teaching of students from a greater variety of backgrounds, and an increasing involvement in research as criteria for retention and promotion (Roode, 1987).

It is likely that the administrators of nursing education programs, although possessing doctoral degrees, achieved tenure during a time when there was less pressure for nursing faculty to pursue doctoral level education and engage in original research. In their positions as administrators, they are more likely to be concerned about issues of quality of classroom and clinical teaching.

Nursing faculty, however, are concerned with the increasing necessity to pursue academic careers as nursing educators, and are likely to view faculty development techniques as more effective, especially in the areas in which demands have increased. Faculty members may be caught in a situation of rising expectations of their academic capabilities and may think that university-provided support for upgrading academic skills may be an effective way to help them cope with the increasing demands. The data from this study suggest that faculty viewed development as most effective in research. This corresponds to the increased demand on nursing faculty to engage in original research as a requirement for retention and promotion.

LIMITATIONS

It is important to point out that although over 100 faculty members participated, there were only 12 nursing administrator participants, even though they represented a population of 15 nursing administrators. The study was limited to nursing schools and departments at CUNY. The data suggested that, within this system, nursing faculty viewed faculty development very positively and more positively than did nursing administrators. Both faculty and administrators viewed faculty development as most effective in research, the very area where nursing faculty need additional help for retention and promotion (Roode, 1987). The data from this study suggested that nursing faculty perceive development programs as effective in helping them develop new skills in all academic roles, especially in research. The high levels of endorsement of the effectiveness of faculty development activities may suggest that they may be positively disposed to participation.

CONCLUSION

Further research needs to be conducted on the extent to which nursing faculty actually participate in faculty development programs and the results of their participation. In addition, such development programs need to be evaluated and the results disseminated so that practitioners and researchers can build a body of knowledge about the effectiveness of different methods of faculty development for the variety of roles occupied by academic nursing faculty.

REFERENCES

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  • Carmon, M. (1992). From anxiety to action: Facilitating faculty development during curriculum change. Nursing and Health Care, 13, 364-368.
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  • Tagliareni, E. (1991). Participatory clinical education: Reconceptualizing the clinical learning environment. Nursing and Health Care, 12, 261-263.
  • Uhlig, G., & Haberman, M. (1987). A study of faculty development practices in schools, colleges, and departments of education. (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED 289 857)
  • Williams, R., & Blackburn, RT. (1988). Mentoring and junior faculty productivity. Journal of Nursing Education, 27, 204-209.
  • Williamson, N.B. (1990). Nurse faculty practice: From theory to reality. Journal of Professional Nursing, 6, 11-20.

TABLE 1

Administrators and Faculty Evaluations of Effectiveness of Faculty Development Techniques

TABLE 2

Administrators and Faculty Evaluations of Effectiveness of Faculty Development Related to Faculty Roles

10.3928/0022-0124-19941101-11

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