Chad Evans

Graduate Student  -  Sociology and Statistics  -  University of Pennsylvania

email  -  office 280 McNeil Building -  phone 215.584.6986

How Satisfied are Contingent Faculty with their Jobs?

The HERI Faculty Survey provides information on the overall job satsifaction of postseciondary faculty.  Below (in blue) is a plot of the overall job satisfaction reported by part-time and full-time non-tenure track faculty members.

The vast majority of faculty, it is clear, are satisfied with their jobs.  In fact, nearly a quarter report that they are "very satisfied" with their position.  This goes against several reports which claim that the level of dissatisfaction among fixed-term lecturers and instructors is quite high.  Academic research has consistently found post-secondary faculty to be satisfied with their work.

One important note, however, is that overall job satisfaction can in some cases obscure important nauances to faculty experiences at work.  Professors, for example, may be highly satisfied with their level professional autonomy but highly unsatisfied with opportunities for advancement.  In fact, the HERI faculty survey asked these two questions and above (in green) their responses are plotted.  We see that contingent faculty, indeed, have very different experiences in these two areas.  Most express satisfaction with the autonomy and independence of their positions, but are unsatisfied with opportunities available for career advancement.

With a greater number of survey items on satisfaction, we can examine whether there are patterns (correlations) in the satisfaction experiences of faculty.  Indeed, the HERI faculty survey asked a total of twenty satisfaction-related questions.  Nineteen of these were about particular facets of work (e.g., satisfaction with salary, satisfaction with colleagues, etc).  There was also a measure of global satisfaction  or overall job satisfaction of the faculty member.

Using exploratory factor analysis, I performed this analysis on the nineteen satisfaction items.  My analysis allowed for four factors in accordance with the number of eigenvalues, parallel analysis and optimal coordinates.  The four factors that emerged from the analysis are tabulated below.

Items from the first factor tended to relate to the satisfaction adjuncts feel for the work itself.  These include course assignments, course content, administrative support of those courses, and independence.  Another latent factor to emerge from the data was the satisfaction derived from working relationships.  This involves the satisfaction that come from working with competent collegeus and the relationships with those collegues in the workplace and outside of work.  The third factor the analysis identified were terms of employment.  This included satisfaction with salary, teaching load, opportuntieis for scholarly pursuits and job security.  Finally, a benefits factor was identified.  This included the satisfaction with workplace benefits like healthcare, retirement programs and tuition remission for dependents.

Structural Equation Modeling of Faculty Satisfaction

Using results from the factor analysis, I fit a structural equation models to the data.  My approach was based largely on recommendations by Kline (2011).  The first model consisted of the four latent satisfaction components and their measurements (the measurement model), as well as a random vector of personal and  institutional-level characteristics (structural model).

Latent Factors to Emerge from an Exploratory Factor Analysis

Next, modification indices were used to determine whether correlations should be allowed between highly correlated measurement items.  Finally, in step-down fashion, I removed non-significant regressors from the structural part of the model.  The final model is below.