Inside Iowa State
Sept. 12, 1997
Most employees use professional development options
by Anne Dolan
A substantial majority of all ISU employees (88 percent) participated in professional development activities last year, according to a survey taken in February. The participation rate for professional and scientific staff and for faculty was highest, at 94 percent and 95 percent, respectively. And 78 percent of merit employees surveyed said they had attended a professional development activity in the previous 12 months.
Assuring faculty and staff opportunities for improvement professionally is an important objective under the Strategic Plan goal that addresses a stimulating environment and supportive community at Iowa State. At meetings of various employee groups, President Martin Jischke emphasizes that all ISU faculty and staff should have at least one professional development experience each year. Faculty and staff development is an element in support of ISU's aspiration to become the premier land-grant university.
The study was conducted by the President's Office to determine what kinds of professional development options faculty and staff are using, assess the level of participation and learn what factors prevent employees from attending activities.
The survey was mailed to approximately 60 percent of all permanent faculty and staff. About 85 percent of those who received a survey completed and returned it. Answers were grouped according to which employee groups respondents belong to (faculty, merit, P&S) and which college or administrative units they work in.
The most popular professional development activities for faculty members were on- or off-campus conferences, attended by 86 percent of the respondents, and self-directed studies (67 percent). P&S staff also used conferences (79 percent). On-campus courses or workshops were a popular choice of activity for P&S (71 percent) and merit (61 percent) employees. And 33 percent of merit employees attended off- campus courses and workshops.
Participation in "other" kinds of professional development varied from 13 percent for merit employees to 34 percent for faculty. "Other" includes things such as reading professional journals, attending professional meetings, taking classes for academic credit, leadership activities or learning computer software.
Reasons for not participating
Of the 12 percent of respondents who said they had not participated in a professional development activity in the previous year, most said they were too busy, personally couldn't afford the cost, or did not want to use personal time. Other reasons cited were lack of department funds, lack of awareness of opportunities, topics offered were not applicable to the employee's position, disinterest and lack of support by a supervisor or department chair.
For those who want to review the complete study, "A Study of ISU Faculty and Staff Professional Development Experiences," is available on the President's Office World Wide Web homepage, in deans' and department heads' offices and at the Parks library reserve desk.
Professional development preferences at Iowa State
Iowa State homepage
Type of activity
Off campus course/workshop
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