What are the biggest challenges in your academic processes?
At our recent webinar, we asked attendees to share the biggest challenge they face in their academic processes. The answers were varied:
27% said that faculty members don’t always feel included in decision-making or that they know how decisions are made.
24% said that academic planning takes up too much time that could be better spent elsewhere
18% felt that there are too many moving parts, while 13% feel they are making decisions without all the information they need.
11% of respondents noted that it is challenging to determine the ROI of faculty teaching efforts, and 7% said that it is very difficult to keep track of and manage faculty workload.
The underlying thread is that every college and university struggles with academic planning—especially with teaching assignments. Those processes are outdated, manual, and incredibly slow. Thanks to PeopleAdmin’s new collaboration with Duke University’s Teaching Assignment Management System (TAMS), it’s easier than ever to ease these burdens. If you’re one of the many academic affairs professionals struggling with complex academic planning processes, read on for some key takeaways from our October webinar, “New Tools to Optimize Faculty Activity.”
Faculty involvement makes all the difference
Throughout HigherEd, academic planning efforts take up huge amounts of time for academic affairs teams. David Bowersox, Vice Dean of Finance & Administration at the Duke University School of Nursing, spoke about the “marathon course assignment meetings” his team used to attend before TAMS. But it isn’t just the planning itself that takes up administrative time—it’s also handling faculty questions, requests for changes, and explaining the logic behind course assignments. In short, when faculty don’t feel involved and don’t know how decisions are made, the teaching assignment process takes even longer to ensure everyone is satisfied.
This is one place where TAMS can make huge improvements for your team. With one centralized system that utilizes algorithms to suggest the best teaching assignment, academic affairs can easily collect faculty preferences and quickly demonstrate why any given assignment was made. Faculty suggestions are based off of preference, workload availability, and who has taught a course historically – so faculty have a full view into the decision-making process (AND academic affairs has all the information they really need). When you build trust between faculty and academic affairs, it can make a huge difference.
Academic planning has a lot of moving pieces, and spreadsheets and manual processes mean it’s difficult to keep track of everything. That’s especially true of one very important factor in course assignments: who has taught which course before. For many offices, that information isn’t available, is too difficult to track down and compile, or is inaccurate. This means that it’s tough to differentiate between a professor who has taught a course ten times and one who has never taught it. It also means that faculty have little access to their historical teaching records, so when they need to report on their teaching history for promotion and tenure review, or for an external project, collecting that information is a struggle.
TAMS offers easy access to historical teaching records during the course assignment process, and as reports for both academic affairs and faculty, meaning that everyone has the information they need, when they need it.
You might be missing out on savings
Only 11% of respondents in our poll noted that their top challenge was visibility into the cost of courses and the ROI of teaching efforts—but since that information has not historically existed for HigherEd, many academic affairs teams might not know that they’re missing out. At most colleges and universities, there is no way to see whether your full-time faculty are over- or under-scheduled, or if you’re unnecessarily supplementing courses with part-time faculty. But it is possible to make sure all faculty hours are fully utilized, optimize your teaching assignments, and find cost savings. TAMS can help reduce instructor budgets and give full insight into costs for any course, section, program, or even campus.