Faculty at Work - Focus on Teaching

Faculty at Work - Focus on Teaching - Research in Higher...

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Research in Higher Education, Vol. 32, No. 4, 1991 FACULTY AT WORK: Focus on Teaching Robert T. Blackburn, Janet H. Lawrence, Jeffery P. Bieber, and Lois Trautvetter Within the framework of cognitive motivation theory, selected personal and environ- mental motivational variables for faculty in English, chemistry, and psychology from community colleges, comprehensive colleges and universities, and research uni- versities were regressed against faculty allocation of work effort given to teaching. The data came from a 1988 national survey. Gender (sociodemographic); quality of graduate school attended, career age, and rank (career); self-competence, self-effi- cacy, institutional commitment, personal interest in teaching, and percent time pre- ferred to give to teaching (self-valuations); and institutional preference, consensus and support, and colleague commitment to teaching (perception of the environ- ment) were entered into regressions. R 2 were generally strong (.86 for community college chemists) and significant. For all institutional types, self-valuation and per- ception of the environment motivators significantly accounted for the explained vari- ance whereas sociodemographic and career variables did not. ~m.,,,. ..,,,m . .... .o,,,~ . .... °,,,°., . ... °°,,.o . ..... °,°~°. ...... .,°D ........ The annals of higher education show a recurring concern about the quality of teaching going on in our colleges and universities. Today's current debates, however, seem more heated and certainly more prolonged. They began in the late 1960s and continue unabated today. Even those who do not believe the quality of teaching is in as serious disrepair as many claim do agree that peda- gogy needs improvement. A common assumption is that faculty could teach better if only they would try harder. Consequently, the colleges and universities have employed a num- ber of strategies to increase motivations. Some of the incentives are in the form of rewards--if not merit raises and promotion, the prizes for outstanding teacher of the year or public recognition in newsletters. Other motivations come in the form of invited experts to stimulate interest or instructional improvement Robert T. Blackburn, Janet H. Lawrence, Jeffery P. Bieber, and Lois Trautvetter, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Address correspondence to: Dr. Robert T. Blackburn, Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, 2117 School of Education, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259. 363 0361-0365/91/0800-0363506.50/0 © 1991 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
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364 BLACKBURN, LAWRENCE, BIEBER AND TRAUTVETTER centers with available grants. All are designed to motivate faculty to engage in activities that will improve instruction. None of these institutional strategies takes into account the differential self- valuations faculty make with respect to their teaching. They also fail to recog- nize faculty perceptions of what the environment/organization desires and sup- ports. Our study investigates the degree to which cognitive motivation theory can account for faculty teaching behavior. Succinctly, cognitive motivation theory
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Faculty at Work - Focus on Teaching - Research in Higher...

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