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The Journal of Higher Education 74.1 (2003) 112-115

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Understanding Faculty Productivity: Standards and Benchmarks for Colleges and Universities, by Michael F. Middaugh. Jossey-Bass, 2001, 233 pp. $34.00. ISBN 0-7879-5022-X.

Michael Middaugh, Assistant Vice President for Institutional Research and Planning at the University of Delaware, has become widely known as an expert in the field of faculty productivity and instructional cost analysis. His recently published book, Understanding Faculty Productivity, traces the evolution of the National Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity, now informally known as the Delaware Study, from its inception (by Middaugh) in 1992 to the present.

Middaugh's primary thesis is that "colleges and universities have done a horrible job of communicating to both internal and external groups precisely what faculty do and how well they do it" (page 1). He presents the benchmarking data available from the Delaware Study as a credible means of responding to requests for accountability—from both institutional administration and external publics—since they provide quantitative performance measures of who is teaching what to whom, by academic discipline. More recently, the Delaware Study has also introduced qualitative performance measures to its analytical framework.

Middaugh begins the volume with a review of the research on faculty productivity by The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Joint Commission on Accountability Reporting (JCAR). He presents NCES tables resulting from two surveys conducted as part of the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF)—one done in 1988 and another in 1993. These tables show both the mean hours worked per week by full-time faculty by Carnegie classification and by program area (for 4-year institutions), and the percentage distribution of those hours across teaching activities, research activities, administrative activities, and other activities. Middaugh argues that these data represent largely self-reported input measures, and do little to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the concrete products of these hours spent in various activities, particularly teaching, which constitutes the greatest block of time?
  2. Which students are being taught by which faculty and with what results?
  3. Are undergraduates being taught by those faculty in whom a college or University has the greatest investment—tenured and tenure-track faculty?
  4. Are students graduating with marketable skills? Are they going on to graduate study?

Middaugh also reports that the NSOPF data include tables demonstrating productivity (again, self-reported) in major non-instructional categories of activity—refereed or juried publications, reviews and non-refereed publications, books and book chapters, monographs and technical reports, presentations and exhibits, and patents/copyrights/software. He questions whether these are the "right measures" to reflect faculty productivity, and suggests that a linkage between [End Page 112] the time spent in teaching or research activity, and specific outcome measures from those activities, is required.

Next, Middaugh focuses on the work of the Joint Commission on Accountability Reporting, which was established in 1996 by several of the major higher education associations in Washington, DC He credits JCAR with providing "tangible measures for discussing the higher education enterprise," since its focus has been on output measures with consistent definitions and reporting formats (p. 51). JCAR combines measures for describing faculty assignments during an academic year, with baseline output measures of faculty activity—student credit hour production, student retention and graduation rates, postgraduation job placement, and professional licensure pass rates. Since Middaugh was a member of a JCAR technical work group on faculty activity, he takes particular care in describing the contributions of this group, especially the concept of a "service month" as a unit of work equivalent to one person working full time for one calendar month. The service month is allocated by function in the JCAR studies, i.e., by teaching, research, or service. In terms of JCAR's shortcomings, Middaugh claims that the methodology does not work well for complex institutions. Since it measures instructional activity solely in terms of student credit hours, it overlooks faculty time devoted to instruction in zero-credit classes (such as discussion and lab sections), as well as to direction...


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