Community college faculty members play an increasingly important role in the educational system in the United States. However, over the past decade, concerns have arisen, especially in several high demand fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), that a shortage of qualified faculty in these fields exists. Furthermore, the average age of community college faculty is increasing, which creates added concern of an increased shortage of qualified faculty due to a potentially large number of faculty retiring. To help further understand the current population of community college faculty, as well as their training needs and their satisfaction with their jobs, data needs to be collected from them and examined.
Currently, several national surveys are given to faculty at institutions of higher education, most notably the Higher Education Research Institute Faculty Survey, the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, and the Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement. Of these surveys the Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement is the only survey focused solely on community college faculty. This creates a problem because community college faculty members differ from faculty at 4-year institutions in several significant ways.
First, qualifications for hiring community college faculty are different at 4-year colleges or universities. Whereas universities and colleges typically require their faculty to have a Ph.D., community colleges require their arts and science faculty to have a only master's degree and their career faculty to have experience and the appropriate training and certification in their field with only a bachelor's degree.
The work duties and expectations for community college faculty are also different at 4-year colleges or universities. Community college faculty typically teach 14 to 19 credit hours a semester and do little, if any research, whereas faculty at 4-year colleges typically teach 9 to 12 credit hours a semester and are expected to conduct research and publish their findings.
In addition, community colleges often have what is referred to as an “open door” policy of admission meaning that students are not required to have a particular score on a college placement test, such as the ACT or SAT, nor are they required to have a specified high school grade point average or rank. Most 4-year colleges and universities require a minimum score on a college placement test in addition to a minimum high school grade point average or rank. Because of these differing entrance requirements, or lack thereof, community colleges often have a higher percentage of students needing remedial or developmental coursework.
This dissertation reports on data collected from a survey administered to full-time faculty at all 15 community colleges in Iowa. The survey was administered using Qualtrics software with assistance from the Office of Community College Research and Policy at Iowa State University. The results of the study were used to further examine who community college science, engineering and mathematics (SEM) faculty are in terms of their demographics and background, along with investigating factors from the survey that contribute to their overall job satisfaction. Multiple regression analysis on these variables along with gender and age examined different models for predicting overall job satisfaction.