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National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF)


NSOPF provides valuable data on postsecondary faculty that can be applied to policy and research issues of importance to federal policymakers, education researchers, and postsecondary institutions across the United States. For example, NSOPF data can be used to analyze whether the size of the postsecondary labor force is decreasing or increasing. NSOPF data can also be used to analyze faculty job satisfaction and how it correlates with an area of specialization as well as how background and specialization skills relate to present assignments. Comparisons can be made on academic rank and outside employment. Benefits and compensation can be studied across institutions, and faculty can be aggregated by sociodemographic characteristics. Because NSOPF is conducted periodically, it also supports comparisons of data longitudinally.

The Institution Questionnaire includes items about 

  • the number of full- and part-time faculty (regardless of whether they had instructional responsibilities) and instructional personnel without faculty status;
  • the distribution of faculty and instructional staff by employment (i.e., full-time, part-time) and tenure status (based on the definitions provided by the institution);
  • institutional tenure policies and changes in policies on granting tenure to faculty members;
  • the impact of tenure policies on the number of new faculty and on career development;
  • the growth and promotion potential for existing nontenured junior faculty;
  • the procedures used to assess the teaching performance of faculty and instructional staff;
  • the benefits and retirement plans available to faculty; and
  • the turnover rates of faculty at the institution.

The Faculty Questionnaire addresses such issues as respondentsí employment, academic, and professional background; institutional responsibilities and workload; job satisfaction; compensation; sociodemographic characteristics; and opinions. The questionnaire is designed to emphasize behavioral rather than attitudinal questions in order to collect data on who the faculty are; what they do; and whether, how, and why the composition of the nationís faculty is changing.

The Faculty Questionnaire includes items about

  • background characteristics and academic credentials;
  • workloads and time allocation between classroom instruction and other activities (such as research, course preparation, consulting, work at other institutions, public service, doctoral or student advising, conferences, and curriculum development);
  • compensation and the importance of other sources of income, such as consulting fees and royalties;
  • the number of years spent in academia, and the number of years with instructional responsibilities;
  • the role of faculty in institutional policymaking and planning (and the differences, if any, between the role of full- and part-time faculty);
  • faculty attitudes toward their jobs, their institutions, higher education, and student achievement in general;
  • changes in teaching methods, and the impact of new technologies on instructional techniques;
  • career and retirement plans;
  • differences between those who have instructional responsibilities and those who do not, such as those engaged only in research; and
  • differences between those with teaching responsibilities but no faculty status and those with teaching responsibilities and faculty status.