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Implications for Faculty Support

What types of institutional support would help faculty members as they/we work with visual materials?  The cross case analysis contains a synthesis of suggestions drawn from all four case studies.  The faculty survey analysis assesses faculty interest in making curricular use of visual materials, identifies perceived barriers, and includes faculty responses to a few proposed approaches to providing curricular support.  Additionally, the study conclusions include a list of the implications of the study findings in terms of supporting faculty members.

Faculty Members Interest in Curricular Uses of Visual Materials

The faculty responses provided a clear indication that the visual has taken hold in the Carleton curriculum: 91% of faculty respondents reported having encouraged or required students to interpret visual materials, 62% reported having assignments that prompted students to create visual materials, and 76% have had students present them. Finally, 71% of faculty respondents reported having assignments that prompted students to express ideas visually. While these figures do not quantify the number of assignments in a given year, it is clear that curricular uses or creation of visual materials is an accepted practice at the College.  (Faculty Survey Analysis, p. 70)

Faculty Member Responses to Support Mechanisms

Three-quarters of the faculty respondents would like additional support for their curricular uses of visual materials for themselves and their students. This is a strong endorsement for additional curricular support. There was a more restrained response to some of the ideas put forward as mechanisms to provide this support. The most muted response was to the notion of team-based support, an idea that only 41% of faculty respondents endorsed. The curricular support model the College ultimately adopts will by necessity rely on members of work groups that span organizational units. The multiplicity of media types, information sources, and tools associated with visual materials will require the expertise of academic support professionals throughout the institution. The coordinated nature of this effort may be necessary, but it should not be mistaken as a rallying cry for faculty members, and, in fact, “team-based” may be a phrase that does not resonate with Carleton faculty.  


Finally, 61% of faculty respondents were interested in finding out about additional sources of curricular support at the College. Just over half of the respondents expressed an interest in getting help in coordinating support efforts in cases where they are working with several support staff members. Faculty responses to an open-ended question were particularly helpful in identifying faculty concerns about curricular projects that involve multiple staff members. At its best, a curricular support model will clearly identify sources of support and have sources of support tailored to assignments in use, and coordination of efforts will require a minimum of procedural overhead for faculty members.  (Faculty Survey Analysis, p. 74)

 Implications for Faculty Support

As the College considers ways of improving curricular support, care should be taken to:

  • Provide opportunities to discuss assignments
  • Make clear the current sources of curricular support for both students
  • and faculty members
  • Provide team-based support for selected assignments
  • Continue to refine our understanding of “visual literacy”

Academic support professionals from academic departments and support units will need to work together to provide support for the multiplicity of media types, information sources, and tools associated with visual materials. Whatever mechanism is developed to facilitate work across organizational units should place a premium on clearly identifying sources of support, tailoring support to specific assignments, and coordinating efforts in such a way as to require a minimum of procedural overhead for faculty members.  (Conclusions, p. 95)

  A full version of the study is freely available here.