Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Critical issues that postsecondary faculty members face today.
The most critical issues facing faculty within postsecondary educational institutions include having under-prepared students, increasing enrollments, maintaining and developing current skills, which typically translates to an increased workload. With the development of federal and state regulations, compliance and accreditation policies there is an overwhelming population of students that are entering educational institutions under-prepared to face the rigors of a postsecondary education. Faculty members are having to adjust their teaching methods to address not only the many different learning styles, but also attend to students that may need some extra tutoring and training to get them up to speed within a particular class. Writing and math seem to be the skills that some students are lacking the most, therefore faculty have to act as pseudo-instructors for theses areas within their own classroom.
Faculty members are often tasked with teaching to larger populations within the classroom where registration caps are being increased to meet the demand of increased enrollments. Not only does this add difficulties and challenges to managing a classroom with more students, but it creates additional strain on the volume of work that needs to be critiqued and graded and the ability to give individualized time to each student. Sometimes room capacities and available equipment is taxed and creates inefficiencies in delivering the curriculum.
Maintaining credentials, certifications and overall professional development is critical component and requirement for most faculty members. In light of accreditation standards, campus regulations, and the economic climate, it can be challenging for faculty to find the time and financial resources to stay current with their development. Many educational institutions look at the volume and quality of development each faculty member maintains and how this directly translates into the classroom. Some institutions view development as only a requirement and are less invested into type of activities being done, which can lead to disengagement by the faculty member when their development is not taken seriously (Shapiro, 2014).
Potential strategies for handling these issues.
Overall, educational institutions can help mitigate some of these issues, by providing support systems to help faculty work through these concerns. Many strategies for handling these issues do translate into financial investment, but the costs should be balanced against the quality of education being delivered by the institution and by the faculty. In regards to increased enrollment and class sizes, perhaps offering additional sections or online sections of the course can be created to alleviate the over extended capacities. Having smaller class sizes allows the instructor to manage the population better and can give more strategic feedback and critique to each student. It can also ease the pressure on equipment and other campus resources being utilized for the class.
In regards to development there should be an outlined plan for each faculty member that balances the requirements of the institution, the needs within the curriculum and program and the interest of the faculty member. By strategically planning finances and resources, there should be a designated budget that affords the faculty to attend conferences, workshops and other development opportunities annually. Although required at some institutions, it should be encouraged and positively reinforced that faculty maintain their professional development. By creating a faculty development committee that is comprised primarily of faculty, they can lead the process and consider development opportunities that are more viable to the faculty, campus and individual programs. They can also track the progress and provide support from a lateral relationship role rather than an administration or management level.
Shapiro, J. (2014). Community of Scholars, Community of Teachers.