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An assessment of a faculty development program at a research university

Elizabeth Ann Dale, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Although the need has been recognized for over two decades, ongoing, formative, and comprehensive assessment of college and university faculty development programs often does not occur in a systematic and thoughtful way. Furthermore, a review of the literature on faculty development shows that successful evaluation research has not been widely publicized to administrators of faculty development programs nor replicated by other researchers. The purpose of this research project was twofold--to design an assessment model and to test this model through actual data collection. The two-phase assessment process went beyond rating participant satisfaction with individual services offered by the Center For Teaching (CFT) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Phase I, quantitative in nature, is a statistical analysis of a range of demographic characteristics of faculty who had chosen to participate in campus-wide workshops over four academic years. In Phase 2, qualitative in nature, interviews were conducted with members of the instructional faculty representing both users and non-users of CFT services. The process was designed to assess benefits and behavioral changes that resulted from participation, to explore issues related to institutional impact, to uncover factors which influence participation and non-participation, and to evaluate services provided by the CFT. The quantitative analysis of the demographic characteristics of instructional faculty attending campus-wide workshops produced the following findings: there was a significant difference between expected and actual attendance for the Colleges of Nursing and Food and Natural Resources; for instructional faculty, males were under-represented and females over-represented; those holding the rank of Professor were under-represented and Assistant Professors and Lecturers were over-represented; and technology workshops attracted the largest average attendance. Through the qualitative analysis nine major categories of findings emerged; the major ones included: the CFT has helped the University make a legitimate claim that it has made a significant contribution to teaching, active learning strategies were incorporated into the curriculum as a direct result of CFT participation, insights were provided for extending the impact of the CFT on campus, motivations for participation and non-participation were uncovered. Triangulating methodologies resulted in a research design that functionally answered the research questions.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Dale, Elizabeth Ann, "An assessment of a faculty development program at a research university" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9841858.