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
graduate school attended, career age, and rank
cacy, institutional commitment, personal interest in teaching, and percent time pre-
ferred to give to teaching
and institutional preference, consensus
and support, and colleague commitment to teaching
(perception of the environ-
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.
.... .o,,,~ .
.... °,,,°., .
... °°,,.o .
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.