GoodWork in Higher Education

Phase I: 1999 - 2002

During Years 1 and 2 of the study, we surveyed the terrain of higher education and interviewed 20 scholars of higher education in order to identify current challenges in the domain and specific institutions that are currently perceived as outstanding. We then selected one or more schools representing each of five institution-types: community colleges, tribal and historically black colleges, other liberal arts colleges, teaching-centered research universities, and new-model providers (e.g., for-profit institutions).

During Years 2 and 3 of the study, we focused on 10 of the nominated schools (the "core" schools), where we asked a variety of each school's stakeholders to nominate the individuals most responsible for its excellence in undergraduate education. The set of more than 1,000 internal nominations that we received comprises a valuable data set in its own right. More immediately, the nominations allowed us to identify "good workers" at each of the 10 core schools. We conducted interviews with 6 to 13 of these individuals per school, resulting by late spring 2002 in a sample of 90, including administrators, faculty, trustees, and others. We also interviewed the formal leadership (i.e., the president and/or provost) of 6 more nominated schools (n = 10), for a total sample of 100 putative good workers. Finally, we then interviewed another half dozen "wise people" of higher education in order to discuss the findings of the study with them and gather their reflections on the state of the profession today.

An article was recently published in Change Magazine. "Mission Possible?: Enabling in Higher Education"

Phase II: 2003-2005

While analyzing our data, we realized that our already rich database can be built upon in ways that would further illuminate the pursuit of GoodWork in higher education. In particular, we are eager to gather students' perspectives on their experience at the core schools. Doing so would allow us to assess the relationships between the stated mission and work of exemplary institutions and their "good workers," on the one hand, and what the students themselves say they are experiencing there, on the other. We are currently engaged in a study to do just this.

©2011 Stanford Center on Adolescence