Supply and Demand Analysis of Industrial Teacher Education Faculty
Illinois State University
A 1998-1999 survey of American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) member institutions focused broadly on faculty across all program areas as defined by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The introduction to that study stated that for several years reports, with little reference to differences among disciplines, had circulated which indicated too many persons with doctoral degrees often competed for too few university faculty positions. This AACTE study, which consisted of a two-page survey, was attached as an addendum to the Annual AACTE/NCATE Joint Data Collection Survey. A return rate of 54% was achieved. The instrument asked institutions to report on the number of openings for each of the 19 program areas for the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 academic years, as well as the anticipated openings for 1999-2000. The instrument also asked for the number of applicants responding to each opening and the number of searches that failed.
Results of this study began to provide evidence that countered earlier perceptions of over-supply. Increased demand was reported, as indicated by an overall 34% increase in the number of university faculty openings. Respondents indicated that this situation appeared especially true in career and technical teacher education faculty positions (Castle & Arends, 2000).
Previous Studies of Industrial Teacher Education Faculty
The results of a 1999-2000 survey of department chairs listed in the Industrial Teacher Education Directory (Bell, 1999) were reported at the annual conference of the National Association of Industrial Technology (Custer & Daugherty, 2000). This instrument sought information on the number of positions advertised and the type/specialization of position. Additional information was sought on the number of applicants per search, qualifications sought, failed search rate, starting salary, and beginning rank. A separate instrument was requested for each opening reported. Results indicated that the number of qualified candidates for positions were often small when compared to candidate pools in other academic areas. Most positions were considered to have been filled with qualified candidates (Custer & Daugherty, 2000), but 23% of searches were reported as failed.
Erekson & McAlister conducted studies in 1986-1987 and replicated in 1987-1988, reporting results of surveys of heads of departments where university technical and related instructor faculty searches had been conducted (Erekson & McAlister, 1988: McAlister & Erekson, 1988). The methodology used in both the 1986-1987 and 1987-1988 studies was to search for job announcements in the Chronicle of Higher Education and direct mail position announcements that cross listed with listings in the Industrial Teacher Education Directory. The position announcements were analyzed to determine both specializations requested and credential requirements. Follow-up surveys were then sent to department chairs, soliciting information about these specific searches. The surveys asked questions about number of applicants, number of qualified applicants, search success, factors important to search committees, and difficulty in hiring qualified faculty. The response rates for these surveys were 95% in 1987 and 92% in 1988. These researchers reported high failed search rates and very small applicant pools. They predicted future shortages of qualified candidates for technical and related faculty positions.
In 1985 a study was conducted to attempt to predict supply and demand of qualified candidates for industrial teacher education and related faculty positions based on age distribution of then existing faculty, retirement projections, and the number of doctoral graduates in industrial education. A survey was sent to department chairs of programs listed in the Industrial Teacher Education Directory. There was an 89% response rate to this survey. The results indicated that vacancies due to potential retirement could easily exceed the number of graduates completing degrees at that time, thus creating a shortage of qualified persons to fill technical and related teacher education positions (Erekson & Lundy, 1986).
Need for Further Study
The perception that there is a need for additional study of supply and demand for qualified persons with terminal degrees in industrial teacher education and related disciplines was further supported by a review of the 1995-1996 through 2001-2002 editions of the Industrial Teacher Education Directory, as well as earlier data reported in the Erekson and Lundy (1986) study. Although some data were missing, the data presented in Table 1 suggests declining numbers of persons receiving doctorates from institutions listed in the Industrial Teacher Education Directory since 1983-1984.Table 1
Technical/Industrial Teacher Education Doctorates Granted
1Erekson & Lundy, 1986; 2Dennis, 1995-1996; 3Dennis, 1996-1997; 4Bell, 1997-1998; 5Bell, 1998-1999; 6Bell, 1999-2000; 7Bell, 2000-2001; 8Bell, 2001-2002
83-841 95-962 96-973 97-984 98-995 99-006 00-017 01-028 Ph.D. 99 94 85 93 98 71 62 Ed.D. 66 63 65 23 36 40 36 Doctorates
There has been additional discussion of the common perception that there is a shortage of qualified faculty in technology education (Rogers, 2001); however no further published studies were identified that specifically explored the supply/demand situation for individuals with technical specializations interested in applying for industrial teacher education and related technical positions. With little recent information about availability of qualified faculty, program decision makers find themselves forced to consider options for expansion, contraction, and reconfiguration based on anecdotal information and older data. It is believed that there is a need for additional information on the supply and demand status of the job market.
In an attempt to address that need, the following research questions were formulated. What are the program chair perceptions related to:
- recent demand for faculty in industrial teacher education and related positions,
- perceptions of the future demand for faculty in their units,
- how frequently searches in industrial teacher education and related programs have failed,
- pool sizes of qualified applicants for industrial teacher education and related instructor positions,
- degrees of difficulty in hiring industrial teacher education and related instructor faculty, and
- factors search committees consider most important when evaluating applicants for industrial teacher education and/or related instructor positions?
Description of the Study
Earlier studies of faculty supply and demand trends in industrial teacher education and related technical teacher programs used the annual Industrial Teacher Education Directory, either directly (Custer & Daugherty, 2000; Erekson & Lundy, 1986), or indirectly (Erekson & McAlister, 1988: McAlister & Erekson, 1988), to identify the target population. As in the 1980's, programs currently listed in the Industrial Teacher Education Directory represent a broad array of teacher/trainer education and technical specializations, including industrial education, industrial technology, engineering technology, technical teacher education, technology teacher education, trade and industrial teacher education, and training and development. For this reason the population surveyed was again selected from the listings in the 2001-2002 Industrial Teacher Education Directory (Bell, 2001-2002). Participants were mailed a cover letter, informed consent document, survey instrument, and a stamped self-addressed return envelope. In the cover letter they were asked to anonymously complete and return the survey instrument by mail using the stamped self-addressed envelope enclosed with the mailing. The instrument was sent to 153 chairs or heads of programs listed with graduates; 58 usable surveys were completed and returned, for a 38% return rate.
Based on select questions reported in the previous studies of supply and demand for faculty in the field, this survey asked chairs to report on faculty searches conducted during the 2000-2001 academic year and openings anticipated in the 2001-2002 academic year, as well as perceptions of the degree of difficulty in filling faculty openings in any of 35 industrial teacher education or related technical areas of specialization. The 35 specializations were identified through an analysis of frequently listed faculty positions in recent editions of the Industrial Teacher Education Directory. The survey instrument asked respondents to report on numbers of applicants per search, how qualified the applicants were, and how often searches failed. In addition, they were asked to indicate the degree to which pools of applicants were of adequate size, the extent to which the respondents expected additional faculty to be added to the program in the coming year, and the relative importance placed on a variety of factors when determining potential faculty qualifications. The instrument was reviewed for validity by two university faculty persons who had previously studied this subject, and minor revisions were made based on their suggestions.
Instruments and specific data from previous studies in the field were not available, so no statistical comparisons were attempted as a means to identify trends in results. Only description statistics were applied to the data, as the survey was conceived as a status study. To place these findings in some historical context, however, the findings are presented in Tables 2, 3, and 4, alongside results from previous supply-and-demand studies conducted within the field.Table 2
Most Frequently Searched Disciplines
1McAlister & Erekson, 1988; 2Custer & Daugherty, 2000
1987-19881 1999-20002 2000-2001 Teacher ed
There have been some shifts in the patterns of position specializations most frequently searched since 1986-87. Professional teacher education and specializations in or related to manufacturing, graphic arts, electronics, CAD, and construction have consistently remained near the top in number of searches reported. The demand for engineering technology faculty has increased noticeably, and specializations in or related to woods and polymer technologies have become decidedly less frequent as specializations sought.
The reported rate of failed searches in technical programs appears to have been relatively consistent since 1986-1987. Respondents to this study indicated that 32% of their searches for technical and related faculty positions in 2000-2001 failed. This search failure rate is similar to those reported for technical and related faculty positions in 1986-1987, when 32% of position searches failed (Erekson & McAlister, 1988), and in 1987-1988, when approximately 33% of position searches did not result in a hire (McAlister & Erekson, 1988).
In contrast to these search failure rates, Custer and Daugherty (2000) reported a failure rate of 23%. The AACTE member institutions reported that across all disciplines, 24% of searches failed in 1997-1998 and 27% in 1998-1999 (Castle ≈ Arends, 2000). Castle and Arends (2000) described this as an alarmingly high failure rate and suggested that when coupled with increasing demand for faculty, one could predict greater shortages of qualified faculty across all disciplines in the future. They reported search failure rates of 75% for career and technical or vocational teacher education, averaged across 1997-1998 and 1998-1999, and nearly 19% for technology teacher education searches for the same period. While these figures suggest large variation from year to year and across reporting sources, search failure rates which are regarded as alarmingly high in other disciplines seem to have been common for technical and related faculty searches over an extended period of time.
Number of Applicants
In the 1987-1988 study, participants reported that the average number of applicants per search was 17.3, with a range of 0 to 67 (McAlister & Erekson, 1988). The 1986-1987 study did not report the mean number of applicants per search. Results of an unpublished 1999-2000 study presented in 2000 the average number of applicants per search as 9.6, with a range of 0 to 34 (Custer & Daugherty, 2000). Participants in this survey reported a mean of 8.5 applicants for each search, with a range of 0-117. While there is not enough data to predict trends, this data does seem to suggest that the number of applicants for positions related to industrial teacher education may have been declining since 1988.
A decline in the number of applicants per faculty search was also reported in the survey of AACTE member institutions asking for feedback on faculty applicant pools for 1997-1998 and 1998-1999. The average number of applicants for technology teacher education positions reported was 8.2, and the average for vocational teacher education position searches was 11.2 across 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 (Castle & Arends, 2000).
The AACTE study, across all teacher education related disciplines, reported a 19% decline in the number of faculty position applicants. Across all disciplines, the average number of applicants decreased to 12.7 in 1998-1999 (Castle & Arends, 2000).
Shifts in applicant pool sizes emerged as illustrated in Table 3. The percentage of applicant pools with nine or fewer applicants seems to have grown dramatically. This shift could foreshadow an increase in the already high search failure rates in the future for technical and related programs.Table 3
Percent of Applicant Pool Sizes per Industrial Education/Technical Search
1Erekson & McAlister, 1988; 2McAlister & Erekson, 1988; 3Custer & Daugherty, 2000
Applicants 1986-19871 1987-19882 1999-20003 2000-2001 0-9 36.1% 37.8% 57.1% 63.4% 10-19 31.2% 28.6% 17.5% 26.8% 20 or more 32.8% 33.6% 12.7% 8.5%
In the late 1980's, it was suggested that small pools of qualified applicants could lead to situations where unqualified faculty were hired (Erekson & McAlister, 1988; McAlister & Erekson, 1988). However, the average number of applicants for positions searched may be declining; and the percentage of qualified applicants reported in technical and related faculty searches appears to be on the rise, from 39% in 1986-1987 (Erekson & McAlister) to 60%. This suggests an improvement in the quality of available candidates.
Difficulty in Filling Positions
Asked to judge the overall adequacy of the pool of qualified candidates with terminal degrees for departmental specializations, 44 participants (75%) judged it "inadequate", while 10 (17%) indicated it is "about right." This seemed consistent with the difficulty of hire ratings reported in this study for a wide range of potential technical and related faculty positions.
Participants were asked to rate overall difficulty of hiring qualified persons for 35 technical and related education positions (on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being very difficult and 10 being very easy). Participants in this study reported an overall difficulty of hire of 3.97, with a median of 3.0 and a standard deviation of 2.69. Telecommunications faculty were rated as the most difficult to hire among technical specialties, and trade and industrial vocational teacher education faculty were rated as most difficult to hire among teacher/trainer education related specializations.
This was similar to ratings collected in 1986, using the same scale, when the average hiring difficulty reported was 3.77 and the median was 3.07. In 1986-1987, electronics was identified as the most difficult technical position to fill (Erekson & Lundy, 1986). Again in 1987-1988, researchers asked the same question, using the same 1-10 difficulty scale. In that study, the average hiring difficulty reported was 3.38 (McAlister & Erekson, 1988). The use of mean numbers for this purpose masks the wide variation in responses. It was not uncommon to see one respondent give a difficulty of hire rating of 1 and another give a difficulty rating of 10 for the same type of position. This extreme difference in perceptions seemed to indicate that there is a great deal of variability in hiring technical and related faculty, possibly depending on such factors as salary, location, laboratory quality, resource availability, teaching loads, institutional reputation, and other variables.
Respondents to the current survey reported 73 technical and related faculty searches in 2000-2001 and projected 60 for the next academic year. Asked to project faculty numbers stability, decline, or growth over the next five years, based on perceptions of enrollment trends, 15% (9) projected a decline in number of faculty, 15% (9) projected stability, 20% (12) projected an increase of one faculty person, and 43% (25) projected an increase of two or more. This was more optimistic than the projections reported in 1986, when a survey of technical department chairs estimated that over the same five-year period, 19% of respondents expected that their faculty numbers would decline, 10% expected at least one new position, and almost 20% expected that two or more positions would be added (Erekson & Lundy, 1986).
Hiring Decisions Factors
If the response to this survey is representative of the field, there has been a shift in importance placed on criteria for judging the qualifications of applicants for technical and related positions. When respondents were asked to rank criteria by importance in 1987, technical expertise was rated as the most important criterion; and possessing an appropriate doctorate ranked as number three in importance. Respondents asked this same question for this study reversed those two. Now it appears that possessing a doctorate rates as number one in importance and technical expertise as number three when search committees evaluate applicant credentials.Table 4
Ranked Criteria for Judging Faculty Qualifications
1Erekson & McAlister, 1988
Rank 1986-19871 2001-2002 1 Technical expertise Doctorate 2 Industrial experience Teaching experience 3 Doctorate Technical expertise 4 Teaching experience Industrial experience 5 Scholarly work Scholarly work 6 Recommendations Recommendations
When asked to report the average number of doctorates completed in their programs, the 11 participants who indicated that their programs granted doctorates reported an average of 4.64 per year. This totaled 51 graduates per year. Of that number, the respondents estimated that 27% (13-14) would typically teach in technical university programs.
Discussion and Conclusions
The results of this study could be considered as a case of good news and bad news. The good news was that almost 64% of respondents projected an increase of one or more faculty in their technical or related program over the next five years, if recent enrollment trends continue. However, if that projection for faculty growth proves accurate and applicable across the field, we could need as many as 25 additional faculty nationally per year over the next five years, plus additional numbers to replace retirees and persons who leave academia for other opportunities.
If the 27% figure reported for the number of successful doctoral recipients who will teach in the technical university setting is projected against the 98 successful doctoral recipients reported in the 2001-2002 Industrial Teacher Education Directory (Bell, 2001-2002), 26-27 graduates with specializations from across all technical and related areas may be entering the pool of potential applicants for future faculty searches each year. If the small number of graduates added to the pool of potential university technical faculty is compared against the 35 identified specializations frequently listed in recent editions of the Industrial Teacher Education Directory, it appears that not even one graduate is being produced in every specialization per year. To further complicate predictions, the respondents to this study reported searches either in 2000-2001 or projected for 2002-2002 in 24 different technical and related disciplines. With only a 38% response rate, it is reasonable to assume that demand numbers could be even larger if all programs had reported.
The projection of 26-27 new graduates available to hire as technical and related faculty assumes that the number of doctoral recipients will not continue to decline, as it has in recent years. These factors, coupled with the shift toward the increasing importance of the doctorate as a credential for faculty positions, exacerbates the potential for increasing shortages in applicant pools. One factor not considered here that may ease this situation is the possibility that technical persons interested in university faculty positions may complete doctorates in education and other related fields to complement their technical degrees, rather than pursuing doctorates from industrial education units.
Declining numbers of qualified applicants, when considered with the extreme variability in hiring difficulty ratings, may forecast spot shortages perhaps more in specific locations than in specific technical or related specializations. Wide variation in such factors as cost of living, salaries, resource budgets, personnel problems, institutional prestige, etc., may become more important as programs compete for faculty from very small pools of qualified persons.
Search failure rates in industrial teacher education and related disciplines have been consistently higher than in academe in general. Failure rates that create alarm in general in some cases might be seen as an improvement in many technical disciplines and industrial teacher education programs. However, we have lived with these high rates for more than 15 years. The intent here is not to cry alarm, but to observe that it is important to continue to monitor the future supply-and-demand situation in the technical and related disciplines. Furthermore, we should seek ways to increase numbers of qualified applicants for faculty positions to assure that opportunities for growth in the field are not offset by an inadequate supply of qualified faculty. The number of extraneous variables that could potentially impact the supply demand situation for technical programs reaches far beyond those explored and discussed in this study. If numbers of industrial education doctorates granted continue to decline and the demand for industrial teacher education and related faculty increases, the difficulties currently encountered by some search committees will be compounded in the future.
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Brown is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Graduate Studies in the Department of Technology at Illinois Sate University in Normal, Illinois. Brown can be reached at email@example.com.