James Madison University
Office of Institutional Research


Research Notes

Volume 13, Number 1 March, 1998


The Office of Institutional Research at James Madison University conducts every other year a survey of faculty activity. While minor changes have been made to the survey forms from year to year, essentially the same information has been collected since 1972. Information from these surveys has been used for a variety of purposes, including accreditation studies, the NACUBO Benchmarking Project, support of grant applications, and the clarification of the public's understanding of faculty workload and responsibilities.

Full-time faculty and all other individuals who taught a course for credit completed the Fall 1997 survey. The Office of Institutional Research identified a total of 575 full-time faculty as being eligible for inclusion in the survey. Of these, 495 returned usable survey forms for a response rate of 86 percent, down significantly from the 94 percent reporting in 1995. See Table 1 and Table 2 for summaries for full-time faculty.

Full-time faculty reported an average of 55.2 weekly hours of activity, slightly up from 53.7 in 1995. In Fall 1985 the average was 52.4 hours. Departmental means ranged from a low of 46.2 to a high of 62.1 weekly hours. The average number of weekly hours devoted to direct contact with students in class meetings was 10.0 (11.4 in 1985) and the average number of hours spent in preparing for class was 15.2 (15.3 in 1985). This equates to about 1.5 hours of preparation for each hour spent in the classroom. This year the survey was modified to more clearly delineate instructional activity beyond class meetings and preparation for class. Faculty reported an average of 2.6 hours in other contact activities such as individual study supervision, review sessions, thesis and dissertation advising, supervision of graduate student research, and supervising internships and student teachers. Faculty spent an average of 3.7 hours in pedagogical development, including curriculum development, mentoring junior faculty and teaching assistants, and activities related to enhancing their own teaching effectiveness. Faculty spent an average of 5.4 hours in advising and counseling, including office hours, academic program advising, writing recommendation letters, and non-credit instruction. Overall, instructional activities consumed 36.9 hours per week (31.3 in 1985), or 66.9 percent (59.8 in 1985), a rather large increase from 62.1 percent in 1995.

The proportion of time being devoted to research, professional development, and scholarly activities by full-time faculty was down from 18.7 percent in 1995 to 17.2 percent in the Fall 1997 survey. The 17.2 percent reported this year was down from 19.9 percent in 1987, which was the highest proportion reported thus far. In Fall 1985 the percentage devoted to research, professional development, and scholarly activities was 17.9. Professional development of faculty is part of the University’s planning priorities. For the second time we asked faculty to report the average number of hours spent in professional development. The average full-time faculty member spent 2.0 hours (3.6 percent of total time) per week in professional development. The percent of hours devoted to research, professional development, and scholarly activity has been relatively consistent for more than ten years; however, it has moved up from 5.6 percent of reported time in 1972.

An additional 129 individuals with faculty responsibilities returned usable survey forms. Of these, 129 (down from 138 in 1995) were part-time faculty who averaged 7.0 weekly hours of direct contact with students in class meetings. The 16 administrators who responded to the survey spent 31.3 (up from 24.0 in 1995) percent of their time in instructional activities. The distribution of effort in average hours per week and the percentage distribution of effort for full-time faculty and for other personnel are indicated in the tables which follow this narrative. See Table 3 and Table 4 for summaries for all other reporting staff.

Questions regarding this and previous faculty activity surveys should be referred to the James Madison University Office of Institutional Research.

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