Finding ways to support faculty members is important for understanding how institution leaders can improve faculty experiences. Often, researchers conducting studies on faculty members present aggregated results, as if they are a monolithic group but disaggregated information suggests otherwise.
In our session, "Support by any other name: Disaggregating supportive environments for faculty" presented at the 2018 Assessment Institute conference, researchers analyzed data from the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) using three scenarios to demonstrate how disaggregating results could be useful for analyzing specific faculty needs. Two scenarios used actual data from anonymous institutions while the other scenario used all eligible responses for the relevant items. The three scenarios were as follows:
- A large research university interested in looking at campus climate within disciplines
- A state college concerned about several recent incidents involving discrimination and harassment
- A small school struggling with the use of their quantitative data
Scenario 1 broke down the data to look at how different groups respond to certain questions; this may point institutional leaders to further examine whose experiences are actually being captured when aggregated results are used for decision making. Scenario 2 informed us how institutions can disaggregate responses by department to implement faculty training based on departments with best practices in place. Finally, Scenario 3 illustrated how that disaggregating small populations, rather than combining their results, works and helps to ensure that all voices are included in decision making. Figure 1 below is an example of how researchers can report on and protect small population identities when examining disaggregated results. The symbols in the table reflect the different ways groups responded to the question without using numbers, which would potentially expose identities of respondents. The "=" means that the group responded consistently on the item, whereas the "+" and "-" represent whether a group responded high or low on the item, respectively.
For more details about this study, check out the slides from the presentation.