Dr Angela Dobele has long had an interest in academic workloads. She has recently been accepted for publication in the Higher Education Quarterly.
Tell me about your current research
In conjunction with Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, from Griffith University, we are working on research about academic workloads within a University environment. Our study focusses on two Australian Universities.
We think that insights from the workload study will assist three specific areas of university life. First, it can help University councils and boards to promote gender equity and manage workloads in an increasingly competitive environment. Second, it can help line managers and supervisors with work force planning for individual staff and department or division planning aligned with key performance indicators. And finally, our results can help individual academics seeking promotion, wanting to benchmark their performance against others. We are thrilled that one of the papers in the workload project has recently been accepted into Higher Education Quarterly.
Why is this so important?
The past 20 years have brought major workload changes for academics globally, with the feeling that an academic in today’s global higher education industry has three full-time jobs, in terms of research output, teaching quality and administration or leadership functions. Following Government reforms, the Australian higher education sector has been forced to become commercial. The need to research workloads in this ever changing environment is needed.
What have you discovered?
Our research to date reinforces the axiom ‘publish or perish’ as it is the number of research papers published which increases the chances of internal promotion. Other observed workload characteristics (number of courses taught, number of students, research income and the number of research grants awarded) did not increase the odds of internal promotion. The results may also aid incoming academic staff and staff evaluating employment opportunities as to the best moves for them in terms of career advancement and support. While such a measurement tool is not yet available, Universities may soon find themselves answerable to a more demanding employment force. An understanding of workload patterns could benefit staff considering a move.