The recent publication, Attitudes on Innovation: How College Leaders and Faculty See the Key Issues Facing Higher Education, based on a survey by Maguire Associates, Inc. of roughly 1,200 faculty and 80 presidents from four-year colleges around the country, found that while faculty and administrators continue to differ in opinion toward the current situation and the future possibilities of higher education, there seems to be a good deal of agreement over many key topics.
With increasing tuition prices and a recovering economy, the value of higher education in the United States has been a recent subject of much debate. The public has become wary of the return they are receiving on their investment, and the faculty agrees. Only 31% of faculty members believe that the higher education system is providing a “very good” or “excellent” value, compared to 57% of presidents (page 6, Figure 3). In an effort to cut costs, many recent innovations have involved technology and online tools. Presidents and faculty agree that less emphasis should be placed on these practices; rather, efforts should focus on changing the model of teaching and learning.
While professors and teachers feel mostly positive about many innovative concepts in pedagogy, such as adaptive learning, technology that increases interactions among students, and competency-based education, they continue to disapprove of MOOCs. Faculty members have been increasingly criticizing MOOCs over the last year. Despite this, about one third of faculty and presidents concur that students who complete a MOOC should receive credit from the institution offering the course.
Hybrid courses that combine both face-to-face and online components received overwhelming support from presidents and faculty. Eighty-five percent of faculty and eighty-three percent of presidents believe that hybrid courses provide many more benefits than online classes alone (page 15, Figure 15). Combining different innovative ideas, rather than merely shunning initiatives such as MOOCs, could be the solution to increase student learning. This idea is being tested by a group of liberal arts colleges in the west, led by Dominican University of California. According to Dominican’s president, Mary B. Marcy, "This is about taking what we do well and the things that work well for students and continuing to evolve them for contemporary students.”
External factors such as the economy and technological advances have shaped higher education debates as of late, and will continue to do so. However, one thing is clear: presidents and faculty members believe that change is needed, and that faculty should implement this change.