Blog Assignment #2

First ERIC Search

I’m doing this as an exploratory exercise, since I don’t know much about this kind of research. I created a RefWorks account and will be doing more reading this week when I narrow my topic and I’ll add the citations as I go.

First search

“Faculty” and “compensation” 1995 to present

Did not narrow it down any further to see what kind of articles I would get—436 total, which seems like a lot!

Many did not seem to pertain to me—not in the US or not about higher education. Will definitely narrow by level next time.

Getting a lot of articles about “trends” or “history” of faculty compensation—very broad—but nothing with results/dependent variables. One article, which is full text, states in its conclusion that universities are “concerned” about faculty compensation. Duh. NEXT!

One result is about faculty concerned about compensation for online classes. This is not something I had previously thought about, but it really combines the topics I was examining. I might research this further, but I’d like to come up with a question about it first.

A lot of the current research about faculty compensation is focusing on adjuncts, as they are the majority of instructors in this country. I looked through the articles, and while they are very interesting, I don’t think they would be helpful in my research.

After browsing about 40 articles (and looking at the full text of ten of them), I became bored and that’s when I knew I had to refine my search.

Second Search

“Online” and compensation” 1995 to present with higher and adult education level s selected

One of the things the summer department is interested in doing is giving money back to the departments for growing their programs, so this is something I hope to find more info about relating to online education.

Just 38 articles were returned back—much more manageable! A few clearly won’t help, but there is one about teaching nursing online. One of the things I’ve learned already is that when an article is a “survey,” as this one is, it will help my knowledge base but not always help me to answer specific questions I have. This dissertation is over 140 pages, so I did not read it, but the abstract says in the recommended section that “faculty perspectives were not studied.” The study seems relevant to creating a thesis but I would really like to use more studies that include faculty perspective if possible to have a broad viewpoint.

The next eight or so entries don’t really relate to my topic (online is the name of a source or it’s about ESL students), but the next catches my eye: it’s about the “Wal-Mart approach” to online education.  Reading the abstract, it has nothing to do with faculty compensation, but would definitely be something I would read through when doing more in depth research.

Thankfully, I find a great article about what LTU is doing to develop “best practices” for developing an online education program. It mentions some great points—having support services for online, letting faculty have a first crack at developing a class for online before adjuncts—which I think I can tie to compensation.

Conclusion

I think I am starting to develop some questions I’d like to answer—the main one being “how can we best compensate faculty for developing and teaching online classes?” This would definitely be a qualitative research question. I know I’m getting closer, I just hope I don’t get too overwhelmed with topic choices!

It’s becoming easier to see how to conduct this research. Sometimes I’ll read through an abstract or article and become fixated on one keyword or phrase and realize that it might be helpful to look up that term too and see what’s been written about it.

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One thought on “Blog Assignment #2

  1. I think you’re on the right track with your search. These are tricky topics, because I don’t think there has been much research on the implications of faculty compensation. Most of our knowledge is simply descriptive. There are three organizations that do annual salary studies. The focus of each of these surveys differs slightly, and I think they mostly cover full-time faculty, but you might want to check out their websites… just to see if they have any helpful information: AAUP (the American Association of University Professors), CUPA-HR, and Oklahoma State University. I like your potential research question. I would stick with something that you think will be useful to you in your current job. You could even use VCU faculty as your sampling frame. Let me know how I can help as you move forward.

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