Financial Alignment with Inclusive Teaching Effectiveness (FAITE) Working Group
We are a working group of experts at the intersection of student access, inclusive and effective instruction, and institutional financial sustainability. Our goal is to advance evidence-informed and cost-effective decision-making to improve learning and inclusion in undergraduate STEM education.
Conference on Aligning Financial Decisions with Inclusive and Effective Instructional Practices
In 2023, the FAITE working group collaborated with the Bay View Alliance (BVA) to seek funding for a workshop designed to further align financial decisions with inclusive and effective instructional practices within higher education. The workshop will bring three groups together that rarely, if ever collaborate with one another: change agents focused on making inclusive and effective instructional practices the prevailing norm; skilled practitioners of data analytics, and campus business officers at the department, college, and campus levels. The focus of the workshop will be to explore how to use budget information and analytical data to demonstrate that innovative, evidence-based, inclusive teaching practices make sound financial sense. Planned activities for the working group through 2024 are to plan and carry out this conference.
Working Group Resources
Financial Impacts of Change - The FAITE working group created this resource list to share tools and examples that can help with evidence-based fiscal decision-making.
Knowledge Claims and Guiding Questions
We explore how techniques and expertise from economics and related social sciences can be applied to STEM higher education to evaluate and promote change initiatives aimed at improving student success. This working group is focused on exploring the costs and benefits of change at multiple levels: individual, department, and institution. When considering the impact of change in higher education, it is important to integrate economic and social costs/benefits, including effects on equity and inclusion. We welcome questions that have arisen from your specific experience.
We need diverse practitioners and researchers to understand how to achieve financial alignment with inclusive teaching effectiveness. This includes academic change agents, learning analysts, and business officers as we build a shared commitment to intellectually sound models for relating investment in inclusive academic success to the flow of resources while achieving that success. In the short term, we expect a learning curve in all groups as we become familiar with the terms, goals, and models used by each other.
Costs and Benefits of Department-Level Change. Previous research on change initiatives related to pedagogical innovation has focused primarily on costs and benefits to individuals (e.g., time costs to instructors, incentives and rewards for changing teaching practices) and groups of students (e.g., changes in learning outcomes in a class section or course), although there is increased research activity analyzing efforts to implement and assess pedagogical innovation at the department level.
Missing from these analyses is the potential financial benefit to the institution of improved student performance, e.g., improved retention, persistence in a major, and graduation rates, among other possible measures. Typical analyses of pedagogical change initiatives also fall short of capturing the ongoing cost or savings in faculty time invested beyond the initial learning curve in using improved teaching methods. Since savings or returns on investment are not tracked, neither are there systematic recommendations for how institutions might use any financial gains from improved student outcomes to continue to invest in course and program success. Specific questions that arise include:
- How do we use analytical data to effectively measure departmental incomes in a way that incentivizes improvements in teaching, learning, and student success?
- How do we recognize and address perverse budgetary incentives for teaching improvement at the department and college levels?
Costs and Benefits of Institutional Change. There has been relatively less work done on the costs and benefits of change at the institutional level. The working group views this as a critical area of emphasis, given the lack of previous research and practical guidance for higher education leaders, as well as the potential impact on student success. The issues that arise here include:
- What kinds of institutional data inform and influence change, and in what ways? What are the impediments to the use of existing metrics, and what can be done to reduce them?
- How do institutions appropriately measure the financial and social costs and benefits of institutional change initiatives aimed at improving student learning outcomes, persistence, and graduation rates? Are there cost-benefits to passing more students or fewer students through courses?
- What data on the financial and social costs and benefits of institutional change efforts are needed by chancellors/presidents, provosts, and deans to effectively evaluate potential projects and initiatives aimed at improving student success at an institution? How does this vary by institution and student type?
- How does the "change process" differ across institutional types - community colleges, public four-year institutions, private four-year institutions, R1, and comprehensive regional institutions - and how does institutional context regarding costs and benefits of change influence "what works" for promoting change at the personal, department, and institutional level?
- Which instruments will need to be built or improved for institutional decision-making aligned with inclusive teaching?
- Andrea Beach, Western Michigan University (andrea [dot] beach [at] wmich [dot] edu)
- Linda Slakey, University of Massachusetts Amherst (lslakey [at] umass [dot] edu)