MSI Fellowship Week: How Academic Policies Affect Faculty During COVID 19 by Jeton McClinton

I am Jeton McClinton, an associate professor of Higher Education at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. I use qualitative research a lot in my work from teaching to applying it in many of my research projects.  Why you may ask well, simple, I like how it smoothly supports culturally responsive research practices. Most recently, I am using qualitative methods to collect faculty perceptions concerning how CoVID 19 affected their work/life balance. 

The Coronavirus disease, a deadly pandemic has affected the whole world and every nation is struggling to combat its dire consequences.  This worldwide crisis has also called for significant changes in work-related policies to mitigate the spread of the virus. I am focusing on significant changes in the education sector policies related to schooling formats, remote learning and working conditions, and how these policies affected faculty during CoVID.  I should say the first wave of CoVID.  Faculty members are not only trying to keep themselves safe from this outbreak but also trying to adjust from the dramatic shift in policies. Now the question arises, what are the faculty concerns regarding these changes in policies? Speaking from my personal experience, this remote learning/work from home severely disturbed my work/life balance. It has blurred the line between work and family life due to an increased workload, work interference in family time, and work-related fatigue which resulted in work-family conflict. It also hampers research and publication activity due to limited time and workload management. This online teaching environment is somewhat new to many faculty and somewhat difficult to rapidly learn and adapt to this environment. Unless, of course, you were already a techie. This pandemic has also made it difficult to provide virtual academic support as well as emotional support to students who themselves are facing difficulties related to the sudden transition from physical to remote learning. In this period of uncertainty, job security is in doubt as the university budget and hiring are at a halt and furlough announcements have been made.

Lessons Learned:

In response to CoVID-19 and new policies, faculty suggest creating a comprehensive view of the prevailing situation by incorporating public health, economic and political information into the insights of staff, faculty, alumni, students, and their parents to make productive adjustments for a realistic operating model. Moreover, by keeping in mind the current uncertainty and adapting an intellectual approach and changing workload timelines and conditions into a flexible yet systematic way to deliver solutions. 

Get Involved:

Furthermore, to reverse the effects of negative policies and the drop in productivity, what faculty want from academic leaders is to work together and develop policies that evaluate and acknowledge their struggle during this speedy transition to online teaching. Also, the negative impact on course evaluations can be avoided by using a written form that reflects the transition to online teaching, training for online platforms, the need for resources for online classes, and the need for support concerning effective online teaching in the future.

Hot Tip:

For the evaluation and appreciation of efforts, faculty members think that institutional leaders can evaluate and appreciate their efforts and emotional support by encouraging them to document mentorship, services, training, and support they have provided to students as well as junior colleagues in this time of crisis.

Culturally Responsive Approach 

Taking a glimpse into the cultural approach, often non-tenured lines are mostly dominated by women. In the era of CoVID-19 non-tenure ranked faculty members are vulnerable to unemployment due to implied contractual renewal limits, freeze in institutional hiring, and a faltering economy. So, institutions need to devise equitable guidelines and services for both tenure and non-tenure ranks.

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: https://www.eval.org/Education-Programs/Minority-Serving-Institution-Fellowship/MSI-Fellows  Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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