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Stanford asks faculty to take online survey on undergraduate teaching

The university will email the questionnaire – the first comprehensive survey of the faculty on undergraduate education in more than 20 years – to faculty in all seven schools.

L.A. Cicero Harry Elam portrait

Harry Elam said the questionnaire marks the first time Stanford has conducted a comprehensive survey of the faculty about undergraduate teaching in more than 20 years.

Harry J. Elam Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education, is asking faculty to complete an online survey to help determine the next steps Stanford will take in its continuing quest to improve undergraduate education.

The survey is designed to build on the momentum created by the 2012 Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford University (SUES), a comprehensive examination of the goals of undergraduate education in the 21st century.

"With the impetus of SUES, we want to strengthen and enhance the culture of teaching and learning in undergraduate education at Stanford," Elam said. "To achieve that, we need to get a better understanding of what currently works for individual faculty members and for departments in terms of  their undergraduate teaching experience. The faculty survey will help us do that."

Elam said the questionnaire marks the first time Stanford has conducted a comprehensive survey of the faculty about undergraduate teaching in more than 20 years.

The university will email the Faculty Survey on Undergraduate Teaching to faculty in all seven schools today. It is expected to take 15-20 minutes to complete. The deadline for completing the survey is Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 5 p.m.

When faculty members complete the survey, they automatically will be entered in a raffle for gift certificates. Stanford is giving away 30 gift certificates: five to Southwest Airlines or Amazon.com valued at $500; five to Southwest Airlines or Amazon.com valued at $250; and 20 to Amazon.com valued at $25.

The survey, which was designed to measure the faculty's commitment to and involvement in undergraduate education, has five sections: perceived rewards for participating in undergraduate education; experiences with undergraduate education; teaching interests and practices; demographics; and questions from the Office of Accessible Education and the Registrar's Office.

In the "perceived rewards" section, for example, one question in the survey asks faculty to rank their response – strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, strongly agree – to the statements, "Undergraduate teaching, advising, and/or informal mentoring has the potential to: help me develop new research questions in my field; identify students who can contribute meaningfully to my research/scholarly projects; keep me excited about my chosen discipline/area of study; I don't think that engaging with undergraduates is linked to my research/scholarship in any significant way."

In the "teaching interests and practices" section, one question in the survey asks faculty if they are interested in participating in any of the following activities:

  • pre-major/freshman advising
  • honors thesis
  • teaching a massive open online course
  • other online teaching
  • teaching service or community-engaged learning
  • teaching problem/project-based learning
  • "flipped classroom" where students acquire content outside of class (videotaped lectures) and in-class time is used for active engagement

Elam said Stanford will share the results with faculty and faculty committees, such as the Undergraduate Advisory Council. The university also will share the results with department chairs, school deans and campus centers. One of those centers is the Center for Teaching and Learning, which is devoted to promoting excellence in teaching at all ranks as well as excellence in student learning inside and outside the classroom.

"We will let the faculty know explicitly how the results of the survey lead us to certain ends," Elam said.

Last year, the Faculty Senate approved two major SUES recommendations: new breadth requirements, known as Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing, which are designed to help all undergraduates gain essential skills or capacities; and new courses, known as Thinking Matters, which are designed to welcome freshmen into intellectual life at Stanford and to help them develop the critical and analytical skills required for rigorous university-level work.